Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Farewell from Ms. Suzanne...

As exciting as it is to begin a new chapter in life, it is usually at the expense of ending another. It's never fun to say goodbye, but saying so here isn't so awful, because the people of First Baptist Cleveland have become family to me, and you don't ever truly say goodbye to family. You see, I have forever been changed, forever been shaped, and defined...nurtured and encouraged... challenged and sharpened because of the four years I have spent here. Indeed, Cleveland will always be a home for me. 

I know that God is moving in this and preparing a way for our good and His glory, even if at times it seems sad to us. I say us, because just as God is preparing to use me in new ways, He is with you and through you too! Which is just so exciting...an unknown, hopeful, purposeful, eternal exciting! 

Throughout this process one song has been rolling through my mind, through my heart, and on my lips. It played when I came for a day of interviews at Perimeter Church, where I will be serving beginning tomorrow. It's a Chris Tomlin song and my prayer for my life and for yours. I pray that you live this way and take steps...even seemingly scary steps, because your heart is to glorify God first and foremost. We are Girls for HIS Glory, right!?

"I Will Follow" (Chris Tomlin)

Where you go, I'll go
Where you stay, I'll stay
When you move, I'll move
I will follow...

All your ways are good
All your ways are sure
I will trust in you alone
Higher than my sight
High above my life
I will trust in you alone (trust in you alone)

Where you go, I'll go
Where you stay, I'll stay
When you move, I'll move
I will follow you
Who you love, I'll love
How you serve I'll serve
If this life I lose, I will follow you, yeah
I will follow you, yeah

Yeah! Amen!


Throughout the process of farewell hugs and shared memories, the e.e. cummings poem has resonated in my mind and heart...
"i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart) i am never without it..."

I don't think I could have said it better. I have been impacted greatly because of this season and in such a way that the way God uses me, the way I minister and love others, the way way I serve will forever be enhanced because of my time here. I will love more deeply and offer more compassion and grace because I was taught through personal experience. 

Thank you for loving me and welcoming me into your family. I will never be more than a phone call, text, tweet or facebook message away, and it is my prayer and desire that we keep in touch! I covet your prayers as I begin this new season loving and serving the girls and people of Perimeter Church in Atlanta. 

Oh! And stay connected with this blog - it is YOUR blog! I am excited to announce that Karissa Liebe (our latest guest blogger) will be posting on the blog this semester with all things Girls Ministry and some great challenges for you! She's pumped to be taking this on and I am too! She has a sweet heart for the Lord and Girls Ministry! I encourage you to get to know her! And know that she would love to have YOU guest blog too, just let her know!

Know I am praying for you and love you! Keep in touch!! :)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Why Worry? Guest Blog from @KarissaLiebe!


I have had so many blog post ideas streaming through my mind lately but have failed to stop and write them. Soon, I promise! In the meantime, I am excited to have Karissa Liebe share with you! Karissa is from Appleton, Wisconsin, is a freshman at Lee University and volunteers in our Student Ministry & Girls Ministry. She is such a joy to be around and I have loved getting to know her! I am confident you will relate, be challenged and be encouraged through her words below...I was! - Suzanne

~~~~

I have a tendency to worry. I worry about my family, my friends, and school, but more then anything I worry about my future. I have huge dreams to do big things for God, and I can hardly wait to see those dreams come to be. In the meantime I have acquired a horrible habit of worrying.
“What if I’m not qualified?”
“She could do this so much better then me.”
“Am I missing opportunities?”
The list goes on and on.
I know that God has my best interest in mind. I have memorized verses about waiting on God and not worrying, but I still do it. My worrying makes me sick inside, because I know God is so much bigger and definitely has a better plan than me.
Lately I have been really struggling with this battle. Over the past few months I have been working to rid myself from the things that hold me back. The last thing I have been dealing with is this issue of worrying. I’ve become frustrated because I want to be better. I want to have peace. I want to completely trust God with my life. I have been coming to the end of the rope.
Just as I was becoming desperate I ran across a verse that pierced my heart:
As for me, I am in your hands; do with me whatever you think is good and right. Jeremiah 26:14
I think God purposely waits until we are at the end of our ropes to speak these truths to us. I was just broken enough for these simple words to grip my whole being. Never be afraid to embrace the broken because it is often in these moments that God speaks the loudest.
Don’t worry, breathe, rest in his promises, and wait on the Lord he will never forsake the broken.

You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.
Acts 2:28
-Karissa



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A GUY Guest Blogger: Chris Dotson! "Suffering Leads to Joy?? Whaaat?!"

Hello Girls! 
I always love having our interns guest blog from time to time and especially love having our guys write. What girl doesn't like to hear from a guys perspective from time to time? Chris Dotson joined our intern team this semester and has been a ball of energy from day one! Chris is from Tampa, FL and is in his sophomore year at Lee University. He is never at a loss for words, but lucky for us, some of those words bring some great ideas to our team and Student Ministry. If you haven't gotten a chance to meet Chris, be sure to on a Wednesday Night! Enjoy reading below one of the life lessons Chris has learned along the way! - Ms. Suzanne          


             Have you ever had those times when everything is just not going your way? I’m talking about nothing, nada, zilch. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to catch a break. In those times, it’s so hard to see the Lord. I remember a time last year where nothing was going right for me. You see, I’m currently a sophomore at Lee University. I came to Lee as a freshman with a scholarship to run cross country and track. It was not much, but it was helping me get through school. Well, as far as running goes, nothing went right. I was injured repeatedly. First it was a stress fracture, next a pulled muscle, next a torn ligament. “God, why are you doing this to me? I thought you brought me here to run?” that was my question over and over when I prayed. I did not understand why this kept happening to me. To make it even worse, I started to experience rejection from my friends who were on the team. Because I was constantly hurt my teammates, without meaning to, began to exclude me. I felt alone.

 It was at this time of aloneness, that I had one of the most spiritual experiences in my life. Now no, I’m not saying the Lord appeared to me and spoke audibly to me, but He did something I will never forget. During this season of my life, I was not consistently in the Word. There were days at a time where I did not say one thing to the Lord. One particular night though, I felt like I needed to read Romans 5…don’t ask me why; trust me it was a God thing. I opened my bible and read these 2 verses that changed my life forever:
 “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing suffering produces endurance, and endurance character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5: 3-5 ESV).
It finally hit me. I had missed it so bad; so, so, so bad. You see, my whole life I had built up my happiness in other things; running, school, popularity, acceptance, girls, companionship, etc. The thing is, we serve a jealous God who will not allow us to find complete joy and happiness in the things of this world. Our happiness should be found solely in the Lord. When I finally grasped this, I understood why all these “bad” things were happening to me. God was trying to teach me something. He was showing me that I was placing my happiness in the wrong things. Like the verse says, “suffering produces endurance, and endurance character, and character produces hope” I was only going to gain hope in Jesus by going through these trials; and it took Jesus allowing me to suffer, to teach me this.
So now, I look at life differently. There is a reason everything happens (sounds cliché, I know). But it’s true! God has you in your circumstance, at your school, at your job, on your sports team, for a reason. Though there may be trials that cause you to suffer, remember this: instead of asking God “why, why, why?” ask Him, “How? How can you use me to glorify and grow in you in the circumstance I’m in?” I promise you that if you do this, you will always find hope in the dark times of your life.

- Chris Dotson 




Monday, October 8, 2012

FOR THE STRONG AND THE WEAK

Thursdays are my favorite. It's my earliest start day which makes it my hardest morning, but the reward is so worth it! I get to help with a coaches Bible study at 6:45 am, greet students on their way in as I leave, and then hit up a local coffee shop to prep and study for other upcoming Bible studies, team devotions, and discipleship groups I have the privilege of leading each week! Last week I had some sweet time studying in Romans 15 and thought I would share with you...as iron sharpens iron, right! 
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
Romans 15:1-7 (ESV)
Let's take this verse by verse and unpack its richness!


vs. 1 à Some of us are in seasons where we are strong and some of us are weak. There is always someone stronger than you and always someone weaker than you. It's your duty to come along side those that are weak and not just look out for yourself. 
vs. 2 à Focus on the other person and their needs. Learn their love language instead of loving them just how you receive love. This will build them up the most. 
vs. 3 à Christ did the most good for us, more than we could have ever imagined. He took on our sin - what could have been more selfless? He who knew no sin took on our sin, endured our sin and the conquered that ugly mess through His resurrection! 
vs. 4 à We weren't left alone to pursue this! We have the Scriptures to guide and direct, to encourage and testify and to give hope! But you can't have these without reading Scripture and knowing it. 
vs. 5 à With God we can have harmony. We can be "on pitch" and pleasing to one another and to God. We aren't alone, but many parts working together as planned in Christ. 
vs. 6 à Our objective always: to glorify God! Keyword though is "together". You have a part and you need other parts. Which means bearing one another's burdens and encouraging one another for greatness. 
vs. 7 à We were once (and still are) weak and Christ welcomed us for His glory. In response to His grace and mercy we too welcome and build up others so as a result He is glorified in us! May He be more and more glorified in us!!

For each of us, we will always go through seasons where our spiritual life is stronger or weaker at times. However, as we grow in our relationship with Christ the extremity of those spikes and pitfalls should decline greatly. The good news is there is always someone stronger than us that we can allow to pour into our lives, to encourage us exactly as we need encouraging, to speak truth (even when it hurts), and to challenge us to go deeper with Christ. At the same time, there is always someone weaker in our lives. Someone for us to encourage...and to encourage as they need it, now how we need it, to challenge, to speak truth to, and to be there for. When we allow strong people in our life and we seek out opportunities to pour into other, HARMONY takes place and God is GLORIFIED!


Who are you allowing to pour into you? Who are you pouring into? 



Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Jesus is Calling You to More!


You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)
I will never forget the “ah-ha!” moment when I realized what it means to glorify God, and to love Him. It really meant knowing Him. It meant understanding the magnitude of what happened on the cross and the depth of who He really is…a knowledge that only comes from spending time with Him and being in His word. This happened by going beyond just learning from what people were teaching me and instead truly delving into God’s word myself. It meant going beyond one or two verses and actually understanding a section in context, looking for parallels, promises vs commands, and yes, going to the dictionary and looking up words I didn't know. This was life-changing for me. For the first time I understood the obedience and discipline that was behind knowing God and also experienced a deeper love for Him than ever before (and continue to). This affected what it meant to glorify Him with my words and deeds (Colossians 3:17) because I was in the process of knowing God and thus how He received honor and glory from me.

This “ah-ha” moment is also what grew my desire for ministry. I wanted to help lead other women and girls to this same pursuit of knowing God and glorifying Him. That’s discipleship, right?!

So here’s where I have been challenged. As I am meeting with new girls, assessing where they are and where I can come along side them to encourage their spiritual growth, I am facing the phenomenon of the “2-minute feeding schedule”. When asked what their daily quiet times consist of, more times than not they respond with “Oh, I read Jesus Calling everyday.” And that’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Jesus Calling readings and I applaud them on their consistency. These readings have on many occasions been exactly what I needed to hear that day and a reminder of the precious promises God has for my life. 

But it’s just not enough. So here's my challenge:

One or two verses randomly placed in your day is not a substantial meal. You need more. You have “tasted that the Lord is good” so move beyond the milk that babies feed on and chew on some meat (1 Peter 2)! Desire to know context…to know what the author is saying and ask how you can apply it to your life. This doesn’t mean you must have an hour Bible study every day, but it does mean having a plan and working through Scripture over time.

I really believe that Jesus is calling us to more. He’s calling our students to more. He’s calling you to more.
I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me. (Proverbs 8:17)