(Robin) It is a blessing to have you join us. Please tell us a little about yourself.
(Susan) I love to pour encouragement into women (more on that later!). I live in central Illinois with my husband of over 20 years. Our oldest daughter is now on her own, and our youngest daughter will be leaving for college soon. Where does the time go? I absolutely love being a wife and mom.
I love long walks, warm weather and dark chocolate. To relax, I bake chocolate chip cookies…and then give them away. Want some?
(Robin) Being married for over 20 years, how have you built a successful marriage? What encouraging words would you give to a couple just starting out?
(Susan) Focus on the commitment. When Tim and I got married, I was looking forward to “playing house,” and it was a blast…but playing –or keeping – house is a lot of work. Marriage is tough. It’s not going to be smooth all the time, but moving through the struggles is worth the effort. In marriage, it’s as if there are three people to balance: the man, the woman, and the couple. Each will change and grow, and each needs attention, encouragement, and discipline.
(Robin) Throughout your life has there been a time of struggle? How did the Lord bring you through that time?
(Susan) If you find someone who hasn’t gone through a struggle, please let me know, because I’d like to find out what that might be like! I’ve handled struggles differently throughout my life - sometimes trying to persevere on my own strength and other times trying to ignore anything was wrong. Of course, the best times have been when I’ve fully relied on God, but I have to be honest, when I’ve cast my anxieties onto him (1 Peter 5:7), I’ve often reeled them back in!
What I’m so thrilled about is how God gives me the choice to rely on him – or not – through a trial. He could fix everything all at once, but that would give me only one chance to rely on him and choose to obey him. Instead, God works on me in stages, revealing new needs and offering deeper healing, and I get to trust him over and over, experience his comfort and strength over and over, and draw closer to him…over and over.
(Robin) You are part of a new ministry, LeadHer, that is in the works right now. I would love for you to share what this new ministry is all about and how others can be involved.
(Susan) I'm excited to be the National Events Director for LeadHer, which will launch on May 1, 2011. The purpose of LeadHer is to encourage, educate, equip, and exemplify biblical leadership for women so they can have a stronger impact within their spheres of influence. We’ll do this through local chapters, regional and local events, and resources. Our regional events, LeadHer Live, will be Friday/Saturday events where women will get to experience networking, service, workshops, forums, and more in fresh and relevant ways. These events are unlike any other women’s conference, and I can’t wait for women to experience them! We’ll also provide customizable events, LeadHer Together, for women to design and host so specific needs of women in each community can be met in significant and practical ways. Watch for more details on LeadHer on facebook.com/LeadHer and feel free to share a piece of dark chocolate when we meet!
(Robin) Besides being part of a new ministry, you have your own ministry at Pure Purpose. Please share how your ministry began and what have you been blessed by the most?
(Susan) My passion is to equip and encourage women, and God has given me some amazing opportunities to meet with groups and individuals to pour into them through speaking, writing and resourcing. I’ve sadly seen many women hurt…and often by other women, and I want to pour into all women to help them develop and nurture healthy relationships with others and God. I didn’t start with a big plan; I’m simply trying to be obedient one step at a time along the journey God has me on…and I’m having a blast!
Pure Purpose is my first women’s Bible study, and it began as a search for a study to challenge women of God to continue to grow spiritually in practical ways that impact everyday living. With several friends praying with me, I was convicted to write, and what a journey it’s been. I wrestled a lot with God in the beginning, certain I wasn’t supposed to be the one to write this study, certain I wasn’t supposed to publish it, etc. Many of my first ideas and plans have been set aside as God made it obvious that I was on the wrong track and needed to take a turn in another direction. The result is a study that I know is not mine, but his. He has blessed me along the way with a deeper passion for Scripture and fuller understanding of whom he is and his pure purpose in my life.
You’re invited to download a free sample of Pure Purpose on my blog at http://purepurposebook.wordpress.com/. I share encouraging and challenging blog posts at least twice a week and daily encouragement at www.facebook.com/PurePurpose. Visit me on both sites and introduce yourself. I’d love to get to know you. (You can also tweet me @susanhlawrence.)
(Robin) As a writer/speaker, what advice would you give to someone just starting out in their first pages or taking those first steps on stage?
(Susan) Obedience. It’s not about what you want, what you think you can do, or what you think you deserve. When you say “Here I am, Lord,” and commit to listening to and being obedient to his instruction, you’ll likely end up in places you wouldn’t have dreamed. Expect blessings…but not necessarily in a particular form. As you’re obedient, you’ll be who God created you to be. Don’t try to be anyone else, because if you’re not you, no one else will be!
(Robin) You too have a new bible study coming out! God is doing a work in your life. Praise the Lord! Please share this newest project with us.
(Susan) While leading a Pure Purpose women’s group, I was captivated by the emotions women experience. As I consult with women in ministry around the world, I hear the emotions pouring through their words. I see emotions dancing and weeping in their eyes as I speak at conferences. I sit across the table in a coffee shop and listen to the pain, joy, fear, and anxiety. I began to explore the emotions of God. We’re created in his image, yet so many of the emotions we experience entangle us. We feel like puppets responding to and making decisions based on our emotions. We excuse erratic behavior because of our emotions. We also enjoy life because of emotions. We passionately serve out of emotions.
Pure Emotion, the new Bible study releasing in June, is an emotional journey. I trust God to meet you wherever you are...and encourage you and challenge you to question some assumptions you make about your own and his emotions. God will reveal himself to you so you can declare the truth of his character, his emotions, and his purpose for you.
(Robin) We are a work in progress. What lessons is the Lord teaching you right now in life?
(Susan) Patience and perseverance. (And after watching how God works in our lives as I write studies, my husband hopes I never write a study on patience!) I try to embrace the lessons God teaches me. I want to soak up everything he has planned for me. It’s not always easy, but God doesn’t say faith is easy. This life is messy, so when those messy lessons happen, I try to (1) keep them in context and remind myself I’m not living in heaven yet, so I should expect “junk” in my life, and (2) trust that God has a masterful organization system in place, so my messes will be cleaned up to grow me and glorify him.
(Robin) What inspiring words would you give to one just beginning a new journey who is afraid of failure at every turn?
(Susan) Trust God…which I know, is easier said than done. The truth is if we’re obedient one step at a time, we’re not going to “fail.” Oh, we might fail according to the world’s standards, but failure in God’s eyes is growing away from him. When we’re obedient, when we seek him, we’re growing closer to him, and that’s true “success.” We’re not big enough to mess up God’s plans. Our choices are going to impact our relationship with him. There will be consequences. But when we trust him in the little choices, we grow toward him in big ways, and personally, I want to be closer and closer to him as my days go by. We only get one shot at this life. Live it well. God doesn’t expect you to be perfect – just faithful.
(Robin) What is the legacy you hope to leave behind?
(Susan) I want to be a woman of faith so those who have known me are encouraged to live by faith. And in my living by faith, I want to be authentic. I’ve struggled with living up to others’ standards (including my own) throughout my life. Authenticity is “being exactly and actually who you are,” and I’m a Christ-follower, so my goal is to be actually and exactly who he created me to be.
(Robin) Life throws us curve balls and we feel like ducking at times instead of standing and swinging. What advice would you give to one facing adversity?
(Susan) Listen to God and his guidance and comfort. Sometimes he wants us to crawl onto his lap and be wrapped in his arms to soak in his love and healing. And sometimes his love and healing requires bold action, accessing his courage and strength. He never asks us to do anything on our own, so why would we make a decision on our own? When adversity comes, whether he says, “Fight for your life” or “Take a step back,” we’ll be active as we trust in him for rest and peace as only God can define it.
(Robin) Looking back at yourself at the age of eighteen, what advice would you give yourself that you now know would have brought more joy and less wandering?
(Susan) I specifically get into this at the end of Pure Emotion, as I reflect on getting “stuck,” feeling pulled back into old patterns and hurts instead of trusting God to guide me through deeper levels of healing and persevering through the (often lengthy) process of replacing destructive habits with healthy ones. In all things, ask two questions: “Where am I?” “Where am I going?” Strive to be in the center of God’s will. When you’re not, move. When you are, trust God for the next steps.
(Robin) I love when women share beauty secrets. Beauty begins in the heart of a woman and flows outward. We complain so much about ourselves. Susan, what is one thing you love about yourself?
(Susan) My passion for encouraging women. It’s not always easy, but I try to hold a mirror up so women can catch of glimpse of who God created them to be. It’s so important we look at who we are in him…who he sees us as. When we start with our own image, our reference point will always be disoriented.
I also love my organization skills, too. It’s almost spring cleaning time…yippee!
(Robin) When you were a youngster, what were your dreams growing up? Have those dreams reached your wildest imagination or has God placed you on a different path?
(Susan) I had so many fun dreams! I wanted to be a zoologist, teacher, gymnast, writer, travel agent, wife, archeologist, mother, inventor…need I continue? I haven’t done all the things I dreamed, and I continue to add more to my dream list, but accepted that God’s dream list is much better than mine, and I’m hanging on for this wild ride of faithful purpose he has me on!
(Robin) If you could share in one word what you want your life to say in 2011, what would it be?
Friends, hasn't it been awesome having, Susan, with us today? I hope you will check out LeadHer and Susan's blog along with her new study, Pure Purpose. It is exciting to see a willing vessel for the Lord. Even more so to see all He is doing through them. Susan, you are definitly living a life filled with purpose! Many blessings to you and may the ministries you are involved in bring many to know the Lord and follow Him with a pure heart, filled with purpose!
Don't forget. Leave, Susan, a comment and you just might be the winner of her inspiring study. The winner will be announced next Thursday, April 7. Thanks Susan!