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

When the Journey Is Not What We Expected




journey trust praise and coffee

I look at my life and never could have imagined the journey that brought me to this place in my life.
I’m gonna be honest, I didn’t love every twist and turn and re-route along the way. I took some detours and jumped right into a few ditches along the way. BUT I love that God has been with me through it all and when I look back on even the most confusing and painful times in my life, I see Him.
I see His hand, I see where He was loving me and guiding me towards His plan.

Take a look around and see where He is in your current circumstances. He is there. He is loving you right now.

Hebrews 13:5

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” NIV
 My dear friend and ministry partner Ronel Sidney has shared some of her testimony, broken roads included, in this radio broadcast. I invite you to grab a cup of coffee and take a listen:

Courage Calls Us Out of Hiding

denise postMy very good friend Denise Dykstra posted this on her blog and I loved it so much I had to share it with you.

She pours her insecure heart out for all of us to see and bravely shares what so many of us would rather hide. The post: Praise and Coffee

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

Earning God’s Love ~When Minstry Gets In The Way

Gods love praise and coffee The story of Mary and Martha used to fill me with guilt for being busy until I realized that it wasn’t a story about a woman who was busy. Jesus basically (in my paraphrase) said, “Martha, you’re a worried mess and you need stop trying to get everything perfect for me. I want you, not your performance.”

Whether or not she was trying to earn His approval, love or just impress everyone; she missed the point and I know that I have too.

Anybody else?

Mary knew that the most important thing happening was at His feet. Listening, learning and resting in His love.

Shouldn’t this be easy??

Shouldn’t it come naturally??

Yes, I think it does, but many of us have forgotten how to live instinctively. We know in theory that we should put our family first, that God has given us the gift of family and they matter most. But we are busy meeting everyone else’s needs, sometimes even at the expense of our own families. We’ve lost touch with His still small voice that is always speaking to us about priorities.

When my grown children were younger, I spent so much time away from them doing church activities and it grieves me to think that the church even used to pay our babysitter so we could do the work of the ministry. I left my own children OFTEN, too often, and even though they were in good care (excellent in fact), they were not with their parents. I thought I was honoring God, but now I think I was looking for His approval through performance. I thought I would be a better Christian if I did more for Him. And yes, I enjoyed the accolades and approval of others, though it took me a long time to admit it.

I did not know how to be anything but busy. I did not know how to rest at His feet. I was striving to earn His love.

Yes, I was doing good things, God things. I would compare it to having the whole family home but busy in different rooms doing different things and never spending time together. You can call that family time, but without connection, we’re just existing together.

Of course there are busy seasons, but I encourage you to ask yourself:

Why am I doing this?
Who is benefitting?
Does it strengthen my family?
Does it draw me closer to God?

Our walk with God will not grow while we’re trying to earn His love. God’s love for you is not based on your performance, you can securely rest in His love when you stop trying to earn it.

Gal 2:19-20 The Message
 What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God.

Why Big Conferences and Mega Churches Are Not Enough

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world;
indeed its’ the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

If there is one thing we are figuring out in the past ten years, it’s that systems and bullet point aren’t enough. We’ve been doctrined to death. We have access to more Bible studies, commentaries and guides than Justin Bieber has Twitter followers.

But we’re still hungry and unfulfilled.

So we go to conferences. We travel meeting to meeting, getting there early to snatch a good seat. We stand outside the door smiling at the other ladies in line all the while implementing: “Operation Get Down Front” that was hatched in the minivan on the way to the coliseum. We spread out, putting two women at each door because Jesus always sends us out in twos. We make sweet small talk with the ladies around us asking where they traveled from and how many kids they have, all the while pretending that we’re not in a cutthroat race against these capri wearing, Bible toting, scripture quoting, sleep deprived women. The doors open and it is game time. We keep our plastic smiles painted on as we swiftly walk, careful not to actually break into a jog, to the seats we want, swerving around the pokey women who obviously have no idea how this works. Finally, we settle on a spot, one woman on one side and another on the other and we throw coats purses and Bible onto all the seats in the middle.
Whew, we made it, time to fall in love with Jesus!

Is that still working for you? Me neither.
Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy some conferences, and I will probably still attend a few, but I want more, I believe you do too. Crowds of Christians are stepping away from traditional churches/venues to find something more. Sadly I don’t think that stepping away really solves the heart of what we’re missing. I think we just need to get across the table and start connecting instead of lining up in rows next to each other listening to a speaker only to feel shame six months later when the life changing conference didn’t really change us. I’m not blaming the conference, I blame us. We want the easy fix. We want ten steps to freedom.

If we forget everything we know about church and church life, pretend we have never experienced any of it, then pick up a Bible and start reading the Gospels and book of Acts, and were asked to describe what the Christianity should look like, would you describe your life right now?

I think most of us would have to admit that we’re missing something.

Connections are what make life worth living. God is all about connections. Sometimes we get messed up in our thinking and we look at the Bible and see a set of rules, but it is a book about connection.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matt 22:37-39

Connecting with God and connecting with others.

Connection requires taking the risk to care about someone outside your own skin.
It’s the willingness to lower the gate on our heart and experience new possibilities. New places for us to unfold and come alive with a realization that we’re not the only one weary of these roads we travel. There are women just like you, overwhelmed with marriage, motherhood or maybe just getting themselves out of bed in the morning.

John Cacioppo considered by many as one of the fathers of social neuroscience says:

“Our survival depends on collective abilities not our individual might. Our very health and well being depend on our ability to form and maintain satisfying social connections with one another.”

Studies show that those who are connected with family and friends are happier and healthier people. The emotional brain feels safer when we belong and have a connection with others; our brain has a basic need for security and protection. We are social beings. We feel better when we have friends and do things that we enjoy together. The way people respond to us is often a cue for telling ourselves “How lovable and acceptable I am.”

God created us for connection; our bodies and brains are hardwired for it. The brain is a social brain. We have neurons constantly firing; processing new experiences, creating pathways in our brain that information and emotion can travel.

Rascal Flatts were (was?) right , life IS a highway!

But if the neurons are not being used, if they’re not firing, they die off, by the millions. When they die off, connections in our brain are seemingly left at the edge of a cliff without a bridge. Eventually these neurons prune, shrivel and die just like we do if we are isolated and disconnected. Our experiences and relationship are powerful interventions that keep us alive and thriving.

When we feel safe in relationship, we engage, we interact and we bond or attach. This process releases oxytocin in us and that calms the fear center in our brain. It causes us to relax and rest in the comfort of relationships.

When we are wounded in relationships, we can quickly become apathetic towards the idea of connecting with people. When we become apathetic, our brains essentially go “offline,” it’s similar to the act of playing dead so the lion won’t eat us feeling.
It’s paralyzing to our relationships and ultimately our lives.

Social isolation, has been linked to an increased risk of infectious, cardiovascular, and many diseases.

When we can’t or won’t socially engage through friendships involving eye contact, meaningful conversation or emotionally connecting, our brain goes off line and the fear part of our brain takes over. It leads to stress and anxiety and produces an increased amount of cortisol in our body.

Cortisol is secreted by the adrenal glands and has been termed “the stress hormone” because it’s secreted in higher levels during the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response to stress, and is responsible for several stress-related changes in the body. Small amounts of cortisol are good for us. It’ gives us a quick burst of energy for survival, it helps us run from lions and lift cars off our children, it heightens memory functions and lowers sensitivity to pain. Cortisol is an important and helpful part of the body’s response to stress, it’s important for the body’s relaxation response to be activated so the body’s functions can return to normal following a stressful event.

Did you know that higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream (like those associated with chronic stress and isolation) have been shown to have negative effects, such as: impaired cognitive performance, suppressed thyroid function, blood sugar imbalances, decreased bone density and muscle tissue, higher blood pressure and lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body, slowed wound healing, and other health consequences.  Over time, this seriously accelerates an age-related decline in health and well-being.

Most important, it also leads to increased abdominal fat.

Hello?! Healthy connections, are the key to losing our muffin tops!

God created us to live healthy and part of that is through meaningful connections. To keep cortisol low and oxytocin high we need to be connected to others. Family is one of the most important earthly connections we need but it’s not the only one. We also need friends. We need to connect with other women, especially those on similar journeys.

This, THIS is why I am so passionate about women connecting, encouraging and inspiring one another.

We’ve had a lot of interest in women starting Praise and Coffee groups in their community. It seems that once they realize that they just need to invite a couple friends out to a coffee shop or over to their kitchen table, they relax and jump in.
No centerpieces, door prizes or tackling women for a good seat, just real women, sharing life and stories around a table.

We believe wholeheartedly what the Bible says in Matt 18:20, that when 2 or 3 gather in His name, He comes.
No, you don’t need to call it Praise and Coffee, who cares what you call it, just do it!

But if you are interested in learning more about Praise and Coffee groups, we are holding a live chat in our online group for Praise and Coffee leaders. There is no cost, or sign up.
Click here to join us Tuesday, November 12, 2013 at 9:00 PM EST for one hour or so. Ronel Sidney and I will be giving you ideas and answering questions. By joining us that night you are not committing to anything, we DO NOT want you to feel pressured to do one more thing unless God is leading you that way.

You are loved.

More: Loneliness is Not About Being Alone

Connecting Beyond the Four Walls of Church

I’m having a great week. My girlfriend Ronel, who is also the National Director for Praise and Coffee, flew in from California on Wednesday.

Since that moment it has been non-stop coffee drinking, sharing stories and Praise and Coffee talk. Denise, my partner with the magazine, came over yesterday too to spend the day with us.

Here we are gathered around my kitchen table with notebooks and iPad’s galore. (Notice Melissa Mashburn is not here, we are missing her!)

I want you to know these girls a little better so I am sharing their recent blog posts.
I agree strongly with what both of them are saying and much of our conversation has been about “being the church” beyond the four walls of the building. The girls took to the computer and wrote out some of what we’ve been talking about.

I AMEN both these posts:

Denise’s post: Frustrated With Religion

Ronel’s post: Connecting Beyond Barriers

I realize some of this may not be popular, but the status quo is not working…women especially are searching for real life connection and purpose as Christians.

 

If any of this resonates with you, you will love the magazine that’s coming out this month. New ideas, new motivation and tools to reach out to the women God has in your life (hopefully the ones outside your church!).

Have a great weekend!

Please let us know your thoughts in the comments,
Sue

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