I Want To Be Wonder Woman

I confess wanted to be Wonder Woman, who didn’t. It was the 70’s and she was beautiful, strong, and amazing.

I had the bracelets, but that’s a close as I came!

My daughter-in-law has some great insight on how we CAN be Wonder Woman in our homes…check it out!

Love The Mom Life

 

Where Am I Going to Church?

I often get asked where I’m going to church, *smile* I’ll get to that.

When we left the church in 2000 that we had helped plant in 1996 (let me be completely honest, we were kicked out for disagreeing with the pastor and “causing discord”), I was so hurt. I felt discouraged, displaced, and completely destroyed.

I have to add here…there was a day when I couldn’t admit that we were kicked out, I was ashamed and I would feel the need to explain, but not anymore. I will explain if asked, but I just don’t need to anymore. I know that Mark and I stood for what our hearts believed and would do it again, only this time I wouldn’t be ashamed.

Six months later when the group we were meeting with in our home grew too large for our house we moved into a building and had ‘real church’ (meaning we were in an actual building).

Six years of pastoring a growing church and it was finally time to focus on our own lives. Mark’s business (the only one we actually took a paycheck from) needed him more and we had just brought Lauren home from China so she needed me. We knew that it was time to hand the church over to our leadership team.

I was peaceful, content, and knew that we made the right decision. Thankfully, there was no pain or heartbreak this time, but I still had so many questions and didn’t understand the road we were now traveling. Why did I feel we didn’t need to be in church every Sunday? How could I be a Christian and not “plugged in” to a local church? I was a very good church girl and could preach a persuasive message on why we all needed to be there, but now, strand by strand, the fabric of that was unraveling for me.

I started this blog and began exploring what living for/with God really meant and my questions led me to a book titled “So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore” and a podcast called “The God Journey.”

The unraveling continued and God begin a beautiful work of knitting me back together by showing me that His love has always been there, that HE’s always been there, even in the midst of betrayal, loss, and pain.

Now I look back with gratitude for all that we walked through on this journey. The dark times brought me to the light. His light, His love, His grace.

This past year I read this amazing book which also gave me freedom to be myself and embrace the life I chose and not the one I was told I should live: Present Over Perfect. 

I have no desire to convince anyone that they need to do what I did, or follow the footsteps I’ve taken with my faith and choices. I just want to encourage you to follow Him. Trust Him. All of our paths are unique and yet similar in that as we lean on and follow Him, they will draw us closer to the Father and His heart…however that looks in your life.

So when I am asked about “where” I go to church, I smile, because it’s not about a place, church is not a place, the church is people, people who’ve chosen to follow Him.

I used to believe that the building a person sat in on Sundays was an indication of their faith, now I feel that nothing could be farther from the truth. Now I believe that that kind of thinking is just linear, and my walk with God has become so much more dimensional as my relationship with Him grows.

He is a part of every bit of my life. The times I’m doing “good” things, the times I’m blowing it, and everything in between. His love never changes for me and His grace is what draws me closer to Him when I need Him most.

As I write this I hear my former Pharisee-self asking “so now what, you just go off and do whatever you want, pray, sin, act a fool, and God loves you so it’s ok?” That is exactly what I would have thought if someone said all this to me when I was deeply entrenched in performance Christianity. Back in the day when I thought I knew best and believed it was my job to correct those who had it wrong, I would have looked down on the Me of today.

Ugh, no!

Living in His love does not excuse sin and it certainly does not encourage it, but gives space to the fact that we are so flawed, and yet we are loved. That love calls me to walk closer to him not farther down a path away from Him, though at times on this journey I admit I have strayed from the peace which comes from fellowship with Him.

So to answer the question, where am I? I’m right here. You might find me in a church building occasionally on a Sunday but more likely home with my family. Thankfully, I now know that the body of Christ is not a building we call church. I don’t forsake gathering with believers, it just looks a little bit different now. Please understand, please, I’m not AGAINST church attendance, I’m FOR relationship with God, however that looks in your life today.

I admit that I considered writing this post for about 3-4 years now but didn’t have the courage to do it. I was worried that it would ostracize me from people I care about or stop the requests for speaking engagements, but now, I hope it opens doors for deeper conversations. I am so happy to be in a space of freedom about my faith/church life and if I never speak in front of a group again, I am ok with that. I just want to share life with whoever God brings alongside me on this journey.

I really love this quote:

“Jesus didn’t leave us with a system to manage, but a Spirit to follow.”

Wayne Jacobsen, Finding Church

It feels so good to not be ruled by “shoulds” but able to follow my heart and hopefully His Spirit each day.

Sue

It’s a Noisy World Out There

Hello! It’s been a while friends, I’ve missed this and I’m hoping to get back to some writing this year.

Can you believe that Praise and Coffee is 10 years old?!

Hmm…might be fun to do an Anniversary Magazine…??

Anyways. I’m still having fun doing my “Real Moms” segment on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook and have had the awesome opportunity to sit in live for Tommy a couple times. So. Much. Fun!

Also, having fun at Mezzo Coffee House and we opened a gift boutique with over 30 local merchants- adjoining Mezzo- called “Marketplace at Mezzo” in Sept. 2016 and wow, what a lot of work blast! My sweet friend Sarah Knash has been incredible…it would not be open without her.

My daughter Steph has also been a HUGE help at both the coffee house and Marketplace. She’s actually the reason I dusted off the blog today. She wrote a post that I think is so timely and I think it will be a blessing to you. Check it out: Just a Small Reminder

Looking forward to more connection with you this year! Look for more inspiration on our Praise and Coffee FB page.

Much love,

Sue

 

Now Available In Print: Praise and Coffee to Go

Connect, encourage and inspire…
Now available in print!

Praise_and_Coffee_to_Cover_for_Kindle

Six Praise and Coffee Conversations to help you facilitate a Praise and Coffee group (or any small group or personal devotions) as you gather in coffee shops or around kitchen tables.
No preparation required.

Invite two to twelve friends to a coffee shop/restaurant or around your kitchen table. It’s that easy!

Consider these six conversations a springboard. Do not hold rigidly to them, instead let the conversations serve your group fluid and flexible. We pray they lead you into conversations that promote connection, encouragement and inspiration. No one in the group is required to participate, but do encourage anyone to share.

Praise and Coffee to Go is not intended to resemble a classroom with students and a teacher but, instead, a group of friends sharing life, laughter, tears and the desire to connect, encourage and inspire one another!

Praise and Coffee to Go is set up for gatherings of two or more, but of course you could use the lessons as a personal study or devotional.

And to answer the question: why this book? I thought you wanted these groups organic and self led???

I do. The reason I put this together is: so many women wanted to host a Praise and Coffee group with their friends but were uncomfortable with the idea of how to do it and what to say. I DO NOT want you to use these as a script, with ladies sitting stoic around a table, answering questions when she is called upon. I want you to use this as a springboard for conversation that will lead you to connect, encourage, and inspire one another. I trust that when we meet, 2 or 3 or more, and He is with us….He will direct the conversation. You don’t need a book for God to move among you, but I wanted to help you take some steps into conversation with this book.

$$? I certainly did not create this as an income source, I added pictures to make it interesting and I think I make about .12 cents per copy sold on Amazon…and only because they would not let me offer it cheaper.

I pray that this helps women do what God intended us to do, connect and love one another, appreciating that we are all unique and beautiful women.

We are hardwired for connection… Click here to read why connection is so important.
If you are interested in starting a Praise and Coffee group in your community, feel free to join our online group page:

Praise and Coffee Leaders

Leave Yesterday’s Mistakes Behind




yesterdays mistakes

 

Our past is a huge part of our future…our stories shape us and we become a women of our individual journeys. I don’t believe we can or should leave our stories behind us and think that we can just forget where we’ve been or what we’ve done.

But let’s not let our mistakes or sins keep us from the beauty that God has before us.

The ashes are a necessary part of the beauty, but don’t let the ashes direct us, let hope and trust in the Father direct us.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

Guest Post: Prayers for New Brides by Jennifer O. White

Hello ladies!

I’m going to dust off the blog and share a few things next week but today I wanted to let you know about a book that my online friend Jennifer has published. I love it when women take their ashes, brings them to God and He makes them beautiful!

Sue

blog PFNB Book Cover
Praising God for Marriage and Your Husband
Today we have a guest post from Jennifer O. White. Jennifer’s passion is helping people pray God’s Word for themselves and their marriages. She’s the veteran of one failed marriage and one rescued by Jesus, the marriage Savior. Her brand new book, Prayers for New Brides: Putting on God’s Armor after the Wedding Dress, helps brides recognize the spiritual battle in their marriages. With Bible teaching, scriptural prayer and action plans, she leads us all to show up, surrender and salute Almighty God who will strengthen and defend us against the evil one.

 

blog PFNB Quote Lyn Smith

 

For encouragement on arming your marriage with God’s Word, stop by Jennifer’s blog, Prayerfully Speaking, for a free chapter of Prayers for New Brides: Seeing Your Spouse as God Sees Him.

Get Out Of The Wake

boat-wake

When our kids were teens we had a 17 foot speed boat and took them tubing every summer. It became quite an adventure. What began as a fun family time quickly turned into “combat tubing” which included four tubes behind the boat, high rates of speed and acrobatics involving jumping over each other as we cornered and landing on top of the other tubers. The wake was their friend and often used to launch them into the air and Mom into a nervous break down. Thankfully it only made for great memories and no trips to the hospital.

The wake was a tool to propel them on to exciting heights but it could also be what held them back if they didn’t have the speed and momentum to get over it.

The wake can hold us back too.

We can spend our lives riding in the wake of our past, the words and opinions of others, and our own fears and insecurities or we can choose to get out of the wake and journey on uncharted paths.

What has been keeping you in the wake?

Who has been keeping you in the wake?

Whose opinion matters more than your hearts desire to launch out of the wake?

What fears are keeping you in the wake?

You are limited only by your belief that you have to stay in the wake.

 Isaiah 43:1-But now, this is what the LORD says– he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. NIV

 

 

 

Has God Been Call You To Step Out?

Have you been feeling God call you to step out? Do you want to start something organic and let God direct the movement and conversation?

You don’t have to wait for permission to grab some girlfriends or the lady at the bank who’s been on your heart and go for coffee.

We want to help you facilitate connection, encouragement and inspiration…

We are very excited to announce that our first in the series of Praise and Coffee to Go’s is available on Kindle for $2.99

Praise and Coffe to Go Volume 1

Available on Amazon

Six Praise and Coffee Conversations to help you facilitate a Praise and Coffee group (or any small group) as you gather in coffee shops or around kitchen tables.
No preparation required.

All you have to do is grab your Kindle or iPad and invite two to twelve friends to a coffee shop/restaurant or around your kitchen table.

Consider these six conversations a springboard. Do not hold rigidly to them, instead let the conversations serve your group fluid and flexible. We pray they lead you into conversations that promote connection, encouragement and inspiration. No one in the group is required to participate, but do encourage anyone to share.

Praise and Coffee to Go is not intended to resemble a classroom with students and a teacher but, instead, a group of friends sharing life, laughter, tears and the desire to connect, encourage and inspire one another!

Praise and Coffee to Go is set up for gatherings of two or more, but of course you could use the lessons as a personal study or devotional.

Conversations include:
Get Things Brewing: These include three ice-breaker questions to warm up the group. These are intended to launch comfortable, casual conversation. You can go around the table and ask the ladies each question or read each one and let the participants choose a question they would like to answer.

Steep: Scripture and thoughts to contemplate and consider how they apply to each of our lives.

Press It Out: This is the heart of your gathering, questions to spur conversation. Do as many or few of these as you like. Use them as conversation starters, not classroom questions. Note: if your conversation takes you in a different direction, GO THERE and have an authentic discussion. Connect, encourage and inspire one another!

Extra Shot: Some days we just need another shot; that’s what these are for. Take the discussion farther with scripture. Discuss how each of the verses apply to your life and help you become the woman God created you to be.

This is the first of many that we hope to publish for you and we also plan to have them printed, I’ll keep you posted about that!

The book is available on Amazon here: Praise and Coffee to Go

Special thanks to Ronel Sidney for ideas and encouragement and traveling this Praise and Coffee journey with me, you are the greatest friend and strength to me, and Anna Fontaine for helping me with edits early on in this process.
You are welcome to use these in groups not labeled “Praise and Coffee,” but if you are interested in starting a Praise and Coffee group in your community join our Facebook page to connect with other women who meet around the world: Praise and Coffee Leaders

Praise and Coffee to Go ~ Available on Amazon!

We are very excited to announce that our first in the series of Praise and Coffee to Go’s is available on Kindle!

Praise and Coffe to Go Volume 1

Available on Amazon

Six Praise and Coffee Conversations to help you facilitate a Praise and Coffee group (or any small group) as you gather in coffee shops or around kitchen tables.
No preparation required.

All you have to do is grab your Kindle or iPad and invite two to twelve friends to a coffee shop/restaurant or around your kitchen table.

Consider these six conversations a springboard. Do not hold rigidly to them, instead let the conversations serve your group fluid and flexible. We pray they lead you into conversations that promote connection, encouragement and inspiration. No one in the group is required to participate, but do encourage anyone to share.

Praise and Coffee to Go is not intended to resemble a classroom with students and a teacher but, instead, a group of friends sharing life, laughter, tears and the desire to connect, encourage and inspire one another!

Praise and Coffee to Go is set up for gatherings of two or more, but of course you could use the lessons as a personal study or devotional.

Conversations include:
Get Things Brewing: These include three ice-breaker questions to warm up the group. These are intended to launch comfortable, casual conversation. You can go around the table and ask the ladies each question or read each one and let the participants choose a question they would like to answer.

Steep: Scripture and thoughts to contemplate and consider how they apply to each of our lives.

Press It Out: This is the heart of your gathering, questions to spur conversation. Do as many or few of these as you like. Use them as conversation starters, not classroom questions. Note: if your conversation takes you in a different direction, GO THERE and have an authentic discussion. Connect, encourage and inspire one another!

Extra Shot: Some days we just need another shot; that’s what these are for. Take the discussion farther with scripture. Discuss how each of the verses apply to your life and help you become the woman God created you to be.

This is the first of many that we hope to publish for you and we also plan to have them printed, I’ll keep you posted about that!

The book is available on Amazon here: Praise and Coffee to Go

Special thanks to Ronel Sidney for ideas and encouragement and traveling this Praise and Coffee journey with me, you are the greatest friend and strength to me, and Anna Fontaine for helping me with edits early on in this process.
You are welcome to use these in groups not labeled “Praise and Coffee,” but if you are interested in starting a Praise and Coffee group in your community join our Facebook page to connect with other women who meet around the world: Praise and Coffee Leaders

Six Ways To Connect With Our Kids

six ways to connect with our kids

Taken from my “Real Moms of West Michigan” segment on Star 105.7 every Tuesday at 7:05 AM…

We have never had more information about parenting available to us, but often we’re still baffled about how to deal with situations with our kids.
I think that is because the more important part of parenting is not WHAT we do but WHO we are to our kids.

All the parenting skills in the world can not compensate for a lack of connecting with them as a parent, as an authority and as the one who is most reliable to care for them. Listening and letting them know that you care.

A lot of parents today are shrinking back because we don’t feel qualified to help or understand our kids and what is happening is that they are reaching out to each other, looking to peers to fill that void of connection. They’re looking to each other for social cues and direction but their peers are not equipped to guide them which can leave our kids on very unstable ground emotionally.

And yes, social media plays a huge role in this today. Instead of kids looking to parents as their compass and their validation, they are looking at “friends” and “likes” on their pictures/status’s.

The good news is that it’s not too late. Children want connection with us, they want to look up to us, no matter what they say or how they act, they have an internal instinct to need their parent.
So what do they need from us? They need us to lead with love and authority. Give them guidance. Be their parent.

I am doing a series on my Real Moms segment on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook, it’s about the Six Ways to Connect with Our Kids. We will go from the most shallow and most basic type of connection to the deepest level of attachment with someone because understanding attachment/connection is the single most important factor in knowing how to help our kids become confident, secure and emotionally healthy adults.

Much of this information was learned through reading “Hold On To Your Kids” by Gordon Neufeld.

1. The first one is SENSES.

Children have an instinctive need to sense who they are connecting with: sight-smell-sound-touch. Physical proximity is the most basic way we connect. Even though this is considered the most basic level of connection, it is extremely important in all relationships; and that hunger for closeness never goes away.

To apply that to parenting: spend time together, make eye contact, and make sure you still have physical contact with them. Hugs, high fives, wrestling when their little, touching their arm or shoulder or patting their back as they get older.

They need this from us all through life.

If you’re feeling distance from your child, you might want to pay attention to who they seem to need to be around. Are there peers whom they are driven to be with and at the same time putting up walls with you? Are they making some poor choices as they follow their friends?

This is not the time to just draw back and say– “well they’re growing up and this is normal that they want less to do with me.” Especially if you see their character changing for the worse.

Yes, they will grow up and leave the nest, BUT parents still need to stay engaged until they do leave the nest and remain connected because often they are searching for outside connection because they’re not feeling it with us.

Even and especially through the teens years they need to have connection with us…they need to know we are there for them and believe in them.

So, stay connected to your kids in the most basic of ways which is through their senses.

2. The second one is SAMENESS.

We start to see the need for sameness when our kids are toddlers as they mimic those who are closest to them. They are essentially trying to discover who they are so they start to assume our identity. They want to be just like mom or just like dad, so they copy us. Our words our actions our responses; they are paying close attention to everything we say and do.

This is an important part of connection and it continues on in life. It is a very strong drive for children to be the “same” as others. This breaks down on so many levels; it can be about them wanting the same brand of shoes that everyone is wearing or in extreme cases gang affiliation.

Parents, we really need to pay attention to who our kids are emulating and trying to be the same as. As they grow we see a pulling away and they want to be the same as others. Some of this is normal progression of a child becoming who they are…but be careful not to dismiss rebellion for individuality.

A child who is truly becoming their own person will be an individual in all circumstances and not just individual from their parents.

If you are feeling your child being sucked away from you, it’s time to step up and work on fixing that connection with your child because that is not normal or healthy. It is almost like we’ve just taken for granted that our kids will become teens and rebel, but that’s a mistake because true individuality does not mean rebellion.

So parents, let’s pay attention to our kids need for sameness, give them space to be individuals but also nurture their uniqueness and encourage their individuality by validating who they are. They will be drawn to those who accept them.

We’re seeing a generation of kids that are terrified of being different. They feel that “different” is wrong, it’s our job to give them a secure foundation to let their unique personality and individuality blossom. They need to know that they have a place to belong and be loved- no matter what.

3. The third is BELONGING and LOYALTY

Again we see this unfolding in toddlerhood as they lay claim to whatever they feel is theirs.
“Mine!”
This is all part of connecting, they even do it with us; MY daddy, MY mommy, they jealously seek to possess us.
We see this as they get older with BFF’s, and the tight knit relationships they form in junior and senior high school. Along with that comes loyalty; sharing and protecting each other’s secrets, taking their friend’s side.
This is a crucial part of attaching and connecting, and the thing we need to watch out for is if our kids are finding their sense of belonging and becoming deeply loyal to friends or peer groups and those relationships are becoming more important than the sense of belonging and loyalty that they feel in their family.

A child will be stronger emotionally and socially if their deepest ties and loyalty are to their family first.

Let them know how important they are to your family, that home is their first place of belonging and show them your loyalty to the person they are becoming by believing in them.

 

4. The fourth is SIGNIFICANCE

This is that sense of knowing that we matter, that we are held dear to someone’s heart.

It’s all about our deep need for approval.

Our kids will gravitate to those that will accept and approve of them.

A child can tell by our countenance if we approve of them, if we are glad they walked into a room.
Are we happy to see them? They will know it.
They desperately want to know that they matter, that they are seen and valuable.  They need to know that they are significant. Just like we all still do.
A few things to help our kids feel significant:
*Don’t minimize their feelings. Home needs to be the safe place for them to allow their feelings to be heard and understood.
*Encourage them to pursue their dreams. What do they love to do? Help them get better at it.
For those of you that said- they only like video games…get them out of the house, expose them to more things and places, opportunities.
*Listen to them, give them eye contact when they’re talking. Put down the phone when they’re trying to tell us something.
Our kids want to know that they are significant and the healthiest place for them to find their significance is the home. When they have the solid foundation of who they are at home, they can become strong, determined young adults.

 5. The fifth is FEELINGS

Kids and adults find closeness through feelings, warm feelings, loving feelings, affectionate feelings. We want to build solid connections with our kids and emotion is strongly tied to connection.
When a child connects emotionally to their parent, it forms an intimate attachment that is not easily broken. Even when there is distance between them AND even when there are challenges and peer relationships that might be interfering with our parenting. We need to have emotional attachment with our kids.
This is when connection goes from the shallow end of just being in proximity to each other TO connecting through a loving relationship.

This includes being vulnerable with one another and it is a riskier form of connection.

If you hear a child say to a parent, “yeah, whatever” or “I don’t care” – that’s defensive sign of a lack of attachment – it means the child is afraid of getting hurt by the parent so he becomes defensive against vulnerability – he protects himself from feeling vulnerable by putting up a wall.
As parents, we want to create a safe emotional environment for our kids to FEEL our love and affection.
Sometimes we get off track when parenting trials come along and we think we need more information. We feel we are not good enough parents because we don’t know enough about parenting, but that is not true. Parenting is not about being skilled, it is about the relationship we have with our children.
Parenthood is not a skill to be acquired.
Attachment is not a behavior to be learned but a connection to be sought.
Parents- you are fully equipped to raise your kids- even if you’ve never read a book about parenting. Trust your gut, follow the instinct that IS in all of us and nurture your relationship with your child as it works best in your family.

 6. The sixth is BEING KNOWN

To be close to someone is to be known by them.
This is closely related to last week- feelings. The feeling of being loved is so important…especially coupled with being known.
When a child is vulnerable to their parents and feels loved even in their failures, they are known deeply and the attachment/connection is powerful and they don’t fear rejection.
They put down their guard and let you in. This child will not want to keep secrets from their parents, they will trust that they will be accepted, loved and invited to be themselves.

Being known is the deepest level of attachment and connection.

This kind of relationship does not happen by chance and you can not assume that it will happen just because you are the parent and they are your child. This level of connection is nurtured and developed over time and trial and situations that show our children we are there for them and love them without conditions.
I’m not saying that it doesn’t involve discipline, but the focus of this relationship is not about just dealing with wrong behavior and correcting them. The focus is training and teaching our kids how to make the best choices.
Ultimately, a deep attachment with parents will help your kids become emotionally secure and independent.
REMEMBER Parenting is above all a relationship, not a skill to be acquired. Attachment is not a behavior to be learned but a connection to be sought.

 

Listen to segments here: Real Moms on Star 105.7

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