“Exhale” Book Study Week 3 Our Personalities and Quirks

Happy Friday Friend! I hope you are learning to love who you are as much as I am this week . This is actually one of my favorite chapters. As I have mentioned a time or two, my word for this year is “Grow”. This chapter has been one that has lead me to deep learning and leaning in as I continue to work on “Loving Who I Am.”

I am a “Connector” which when I read the strengths list wasn’t a surprise to me. I love making people feel welcome, being the center of attention, telling stories, and I am upbeat and optimistic.

Most of my life I have been upbeat and optimistic, and I am sure many of my family members would tell you I enjoy being in the spot light. As I have grown older, the spotlight isn’t as important, and I see the strength of making people feel welcome more prominent.

How about you? What was your personality type? Have you always had these strengths or have they developed over time? (I do have a fabulous give away)

So we can really focus on our strengths instead of our weaknesses, let’s start today by giving our weaknesses to God. Let’s start choosing to accept our God created gifts. I love Cheri’s words on page 121 of “Exhale”, “When you receive what is yours, you won’t “need” what is not. You won’t fall for the lie that it’s selfish to embrace and enjoy who God created you to be. You’ll stop trying to change who you are and -taking a big, brave breath- start being more of who you are. You’ll remember that you’re the beloved daughter of our creator King.”

Did you write key words about your personality strengths on Post-it Notes and place them where you will see them? Take a picture of your notes and post them in the comments!

Moving on to Chapter 11, Amy tells us that “When we look through our redeemer’s lens, our quirks become our strengths” (“Exhale” page 124)

Do you have a trait that you have hidden just to fit in?

How is or has God used your “quirks” in ways that you never expected?

How can you use your “quirks” in your community?

Amy tells us we need to:

“Abandon the Norm to Follow Jesus”

“Make a Ruckus to Make a Difference”

“Let Jesus join His Name with Ours”

Here are this weeks Extras for Diving Deeper into “Loving Who You Are”

Grit ‘N’ Grace Episode 88 https://gritngracegirls.com/episode88/

Grit ‘N’ Grace Episode 123 https://gritngracegirls.com/episode123/

Grit ‘N’ Grace Episode 137 https://gritngracegirls.com/episode137/

Grit ‘N’ Grace Episode 59 https://gritngracegirls.com/episode59/

Praying for you to have a wonderful weekend. Next week we will continue to learn to “Love Who We Are” in Chapters 12, 13, and 14!

“Exhale” Book Study Week 3 One You with One God

Well now, didn’t Cheri bring a whole new meaning to the word “disappoint” or should I say “dis-appoint”.

I could so relate with Cheri when she wrote on page 90, “many people who do not matter have had too much authority over my life.” The highly sensitive me has done this most of my life. These people that I have listened to because I thought they really cared or had my best interest in mind, when in reality they didn’t know me at all and their main objective was more for their gain. It’s exhausting, trying to please so many people that I have never needed to please.

I have taken a picture of Cheri’s text to herself on page 90 so I have it with me all the time. When I feel I am letting someone have unnecessary authority over my life, I can easily pop it up on my phone and read through the script.

Cheri’s Text page 90 “Exhale”

Also as an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) I am a reactor, a people pleaser. I have worked all my life not to disappoint people, but this is exactly what Cheri is teaching us to do. Brilliant! I love this concept of “Dis-Appointing” people in my life that have no real authority over me. I no longer have to react, I can “dis-appoint”. I can because the only true authority over my live is Jesus. And with his strength I can have the courage to “dis-appoint” these faux authorities.

Just like the man born blind, we can now see with Jesus and we can set boundaries we are comfortable living in for ourselves. Not anyone else, just us. Let’s “embrace our limits”. This week and moving forward to love who we really are, let’s turn to the only one without limits, God. We are “free to focus on our one-of-a-kind-specialty” (“Exhale” page96)

Who’s with me this week to take the “Faux-pologies Challenge”? Here is a fun record sheet link to keep track of which apologies you make should stay and which need to go bye-bye! https://exhalebook.com/wp-content/uploads/EXHALE_Ch_8_pg_98_Record_Keeping_Sheet.pdf

Here is a quick reminder of when to apologize and when not to:

Who do you need to dis-appoint in your life? Feel free to share in the comments this week. I have a great give away!

Now taking the lesson from Ephesians 2:10, that each of us has been uniquely created by our Heavenly Father to go out and do good works. Then why is it then, as Amy’s friend Debbie describes in Chapter Nine, that “Women spend the first half of their lives not living fulling because they don’t think they are enough- not old enough, not experienced enough, not skilled enough. Women spend the second half of their lives not living fully because they think they’re too much- too old, too irrelevant, too out-of-touch.”

Hey, I don’t want to be this gal either! And I am in the second half of my life now. Breath with me sisters!

I love how Amy breaks down for us the story of the Canaanite Woman. She was one women of faith and I want to be like her.

I am writing this post just as Hurricane Dorian has absolutely taken everything from thousands of people in the Bahamas in its path. The pictures we see on the news of the devastation is heart wrenching. You too at one point may have been a victim of a hurricane, flood, or other natural disaster. You may have lost everything in a fire as many of my friends did one spring day when their college dormitory burnt to the ground. Your story may include a devastating illness like Amy’s friend Jackie, or maybe you have survived abuse, rape.or overcome addiction. We all have our own story, unique to us, with circumstances that have been out of our control.

My friend, there is purpose in the pain. God uses these agonizing times in our lives to draw us into him, just like the Canaanite women was drawn to Jesus.

My favorite part of the Canaanite Women’s encounter with Jesus was when after he had appeared to respond quite harsh to her, she replies, “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Amy does a beautiful job on page 104 to break this down for us:

“What a quick response and a tremendous statement of faith! She was saying, “Even your crumbs would be enough for me.”

Zip on over to page 105. I was so excited to see Amy use the Greek word “agape”. It is one of my favorite Greek words. It is a HUGE love or as Amy tells us a “feast.” Sister don’t ever think that God is keeping the feast for someone else just because you have had a tough time or because you think your story has more bad endings than hers.

This is where I feel as women we get in trouble with Comparisons, and Social Media is the worst. I think we have seen plenty of blog posts about the dangers of comparing ourselves with what we are “seeing” on Social Media. We have to be real friend, most of us, me too, only post the good stuff. I have a childhood friend that now lives in California. Now she is one of the most real gals I know when it comes to posting on Social Media. She posts the good, bad, ugly, and in-between! As her late husband was going through cancer treatments, she posted real truth, hard truth. After he passed, she did the same, it was raw, from her aching heart. She posts the joy of her four children as they are living on now and the love and support they have from family, friends, and community. My friend will tell you how blessed she is today. You see, she has a huge faith in God! She knows that God doesn’t hold back crumbs but he has a feast for us all.

Take some time this week and “pray-cess” on how God has used His “creative power through you.” (“Exhale” page 109)

You never know who you will help by sharing your story. Feel free to share in the comments. What are you thankful this week?

“Exhale” Book Study Week 3 Loving Who You Are

Hi Friend! We are rolling on into Part 2, Loving Who You Are. I know for me I can look in the mirror and say there are parts of me that I love, but I know in my heart that Jesus wants me to love all of me. He wants you to love all of you too. During this section we are going to learn so much about ourselves with Amy and Cheri’s gentle guidance. But first, let’s take a few seconds to square breath:

Inhale: Love who you are, 2,3,4 Hold: 2,3,4, Exhale: Lose Who You Aren’t’, Hold: 2,3,4, Inhale: God’s Truth, 2,3,4, Hold: 2,3,4, Exhale: Lies you tell yourself, 2,3,4.

Let’s jump right in this week with a video from Cheri as she teaches a new lesson from the story of Mary and Martha!

I don’t know about you sweet friend, but as I was watching Cheri’s video so many scenarios from my past flashed in my mind of times I was listening to lies and didn’t even know they were lies. My senior year in college when my high school sweetheart broke off our engagement. I heard the lie: I’m not good enough. Then there was the time I missed passing my National Teacher Boards by one point. I heard the lie: You are a failure. And for way too long I listened to the lie alcohol whispered to me that it was the answer for everything.

How comforting, calming, and freeing it is to know I don’t have to listen to those lies. As Cheri so beautifully illustrated, when we know the truth of Jesus and His love for us that is all that matters.

Read the Truth in Ephesians 1:1-14 below. What words in these verses show you how God sees you? How does it make you feel?

Share your thoughts in the comments today. I will tell you it calmed my soul and filled my spirit with true JOY knowing that I am “chosen”, “loved”, “enough”, “blameless”, and “forgiven” by God.

This week we will be reading chapters 8, 9, 10, and 11. Get ready for some fun! I can’t wait to find out what your personality type you are. I’ll share mine with you later this week.

Until then, Remember to “Exhale”!

Here are the links you will need for this week:

Record Keeping sheet: https://exhalebook.com/wp-content/uploads/EXHALE_Ch_8_pg_98_Record_Keeping_Sheet.pdf

“Love Who You Are Personality Quiz” https://exhalebook.com/wp-content/uploads/EXHALE_Ch_10_pg_115_Personality_Quiz-compressed.pdf

“Exhale” Book Study Week 2: Meddling, Not-ing, Flipping, and Flopping

Hi friend! What an amazing week of Losing Who We’re Not! I told you on Monday we were going to be reading about two women in the Bible, The Woman at the Well, and Rebekah.

Today let’s focus our discussion on the “Meddler” Rebekah. Well, now that probably isn’t fair to call her names now is it. I am sure Rebekah’s heart was in the right place, she just wanted to help. But as Cheri reminds us on pg. 67, “Help is only received as help when the other person actually wants it.”

I have learned this lesson the hard way with my adult son. He has been out on is own for a minute now, and as a mom, I: See possible issues before they happen, see the negative consequences that could arise from choices made previously, feel the physical, emotional, and relational reactions that come with said consequences, invent plans to prevent issues from coming to fruition, and I take charge and carry out my plans no matter what or who tries to interfere.

Cheri says on pg. 68 that when we can say “yes” that we do the items above or those similar, we are living “Hypothetical Lives”. She continues on to say, “When we get caught up in hypothetical lives, what started as true helping quickly morphs into meddling.”

I recently did this exact thing with my son. I saw some possible issues that could happen if he didn’t do choice A. Immediately, my mind began racing to all of the negative outcomes and I was getting physically sick and emotionally drained. My plan was to make a few phone calls on his behalf, of course without consulting him, and phone calls I made.

Ka Boom!! Blow Up! WWIII! My help, or what I thought was helping was actually meddling. My son no more wanted my help than he wanted a hole in the head. He wants to figure these issues out for himself. He told me in a few words that “I was ruining his life!” Harsh, yes. True, no. Meddling, absolutely! All I needed to do was give him over to God! Someone once told me, “God doesn’t have grandchildren, only children.” I am His daughter, Jeff is His son.

Cheri gives us a fabulous chart on pg 72 to help us know when we are helping or meddling.

Check out this link to Cheri’s sheet to keep track of our unnecessary actions. It’s a great visual to help us see when we are meddling.

https://exhalebook.com/wp-content/uploads/EXHALE_Ch_6_pg_75_Record_Keeping_Sheet.pdf

Now let’s go Flipping and Flopping with Amy in Chapter 7.

Well, I can so relate to Peter. So many times I have left Jesus behind and gone out and done things my way, with not such fabulous consequences. However, every time I have come back to Jesus with a humble, redemptive heart, he has welcomed me with his love, grace, and forgiveness.

Amy does a beautiful job describing how we don’t have to stay stuck in our messes with two types of “Flips”

“The Redemptive Flip” (Exhale pg. 81-82)

I love how Amy describes this “Redemptive Flip”, the actions we take after we have messed up. She writes on pg. 82, “Need to lose who you’re not? Need to turn away from all the flops? Need more faith than you can muster up to face the difficulties of a shift? That’s what repentance is for, and that’s what our Savior is here to do. When we need deep change, we repent, receive grace, and start fresh.”

I don’t know about you, but reading that paragraph makes me feel like “Exhaling” a huge sigh of relief. God is so good! We don’t have to stay stuck in our flops and mess ups. We can fall on our knees, as that beautiful song goes my mom sings at church at Christmas, and Jesus will meet us right there!

“The Preemptive Flip”

Amy also tells us we can, “Lose who we’re not by staying out of the weeds”. When we hear a warning and whispers from God, we need to listen and obey. This is how Amy describes it on pg. 83, “When He shows us our weaknesses, let’s humbly plead for His strength to rush into our gaps”.

The idea here is to listen and learn from God’s word. “If we react to God’s warnings by turning to Him for the help we can’t live without, many times we can avoid the pain of failure completely.” (Amy Carroll pg. 83 “Exhale”)

Wow friend, you have come to the end of part 1, Losing who you’re not! We aren’t going to lose who we aren’t over night, but with Jesus’ help and our willingness we are on a great start!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Meddling and Flipping today in the comments. Feel free to comment on each other’s posts and please if you want to share your prayer requests.

Next Week get ready to start “Loving Who You Are”, it’s going to be a fabulous journey, friend!

And if you want to dive in deeper check out Cheri’s Blog Post, “How to Know if You Are Helping, Meddling, or Rescuing” https://cherigregory.com/being-helpful/

And

“Grit ‘N’ Grace” podcast “How to Level Up Through the Power of Simple Truths” https://gritngracegirls.com/episode102/

“Exhale” Book Study Week 2 Labels and Borders

Hi Friend, I hope you are loving this week’s reading! In chapter 4 Cheri breaks down the story of “The Women at The Well” . I don’t know about you, but for me, Cheri brought a whole new meaning of this story to me.

I used to read this story and just see a women who would have been rejected by people because of her past. Then Jesus speaks to her, which she knows is weird, right, she is a Samaritan woman why would this man give her the time of day. But Jesus sees so much more in her. She is a human being, created by the Father, to be loved and accepted. Not a wrong interpretation, but Cheri takes it further and I love it!

Check out page 53, “What would it be like to be a woman who leaves her jar at the well?’

When Jesus tells the women to run back to her town to tell everyone who she has met and to come meet him too, she leaves her jar at the well. Now friend, this isn’t a little old Ball jar she has carried to get water. Take a look at what she was carrying. And it was probably much bigger than the jar pictured here, but you get the idea.

Cheri goes on to say, “So you carry that heavy jar full of fears from your past all by yourself. You’ve carried it for so long, you know just how to balance it; how to hold your head up, how to tighten your grip, how to suck in your gut, now to throw your shoulders back, how to take your next step.”

Boy can I relate! Can you?

I love the next thing she writes, “To encounter Jesus and leave it all with Him. It’s not that the past doesn’t matter, but now something new matters more,”

“She is no longer a girl gripped by fear, she is a women held by faith.” (Cheri Gregory)

And so are we! We can leave our jars at the well! Leave it all with Jesus. When I got sober over eight years ago, I literally left my “jug” at the well with Jesus. I no longer had to be a girl gripped by fear, I could be a woman held in faith. Now, it wasn’t an over night thing, and I am still a work in progress, but today I know that whatever comes my way I don’t need to take a drink to get through it, I can take it to Jesus! He will get me through today, tomorrow, and the next.

Here is a link to a picture frame you can print of and put your picture in. https://exhalebook.com/wp-content/uploads/EXHALE_Ch_4_pg_56_for_3X5_pic.pdf

https://exhalebook.com/resources/

This is for a 3×5. If you would like a larger frame that can be found at the second link.

Now let’s jump into Chapter 5 with Amy.

Amy introduces us to “The Principal of Intention”.

She defines “The Principal of Intention” as ” We say the words our Father is telling us to say and not one word more”. “We do the things our Father is telling us to do and not one iota more.”

When I first read this I was so glad Amy threw in a “Mercy” there, because I was thinking to myself, “Are you kidding me!” Say and do ONLY what the Father tells me to! I’m in BIG TROUBLE!

But seriously, this concept is something I have been “pray-cessing” on since I read the book for the first time. Yes, I am on my third read as I am sharing the study with you. And I am sure it won’t be my last.

I know, though, in my heart, “The Principle of Intention” is how God wants me to live, it’s how I need to live. It’s how Jesus lived.

Amy explains that “God’s directions become our boundaries.” And heaven only knows I need to set up some boundaries with a few people in my life, one being my adult child.

I love how she sums it up on pg. 64, “We can let go of worrying that God’s boundary lines won’t be for our good, or that they will leave our family, friends, or co-workers adrift. Jesus shows us that faithful following, even when it clashes with someone else’s agenda, sets us in a place to enjoy God’s glorious work.”

Well, this has been a big check in, I’d love to hear your thoughts on becoming a “Woman held by Faith” or how you are living out the “Principle of Intention” and setting boundaries in your life. Remember you will be entered in this weeks drawing.

I am praying for you this week. Remember to “Exhale”!

If you would like to dig deeper this week, here are two more resources for you:

Grit ‘N’ Grace Episode 10 “Overcoming Error Terror” https://gritngracegirls.com/episode10/

And

Amy Carroll’s Blog “Why You Should Think Of Yourself When You Give” https://amycarroll.org/why-you-should-think-of-yourself-when-you-give/

“Exhale” Book Study Week 2: What Will You Do With Your Leftovers?

Welcome back for another amazing week of “Exhale” Book Study! Amy and Cheri have an amazing week of reading for us that at least for me have had me “pray-cessing” quite a bit!

Chapters 4-7 are chalk full of practical ways, backed by Biblical principals, and of course Amy and Cheri’s life experiences to help us see that change is possible.

This week we will be reading about two amazing women of the bible, one only known as, “The Woman at The Well” and Rebekah. Hold on tight friend, these two women are going to teach us a thing or two (maybe three or four!)

But first, we have Amy on the video this week telling a story about her grandmother who grew up during the Great Depression.

God uses our left overs, just like he did with the loaves and fishes when he fed the Five-thousand.

Comment today how do you think or how do you see God using your leftovers?

I’ll go first. Talk about some left over pieces, I have left a trail behind me, enough that even Hansel and Gretel could find me. (And I have moved a lot over the years!) Slowly but surely with the Grace and Forgiveness of my Savior, Jesus, I am picking up those leftover pieces to make positive changes in my life that affect everyone around me. God is using those pieces today to show me that I am more than the names I have given myself in the past as we discussed last week. He is my strength. He is my guide today. Today I know that I no longer have to drink alcohol to hide my fears. I can cling to the Truth of His Word, His power, His love. I can do His will. I can, I just have to be willing. You and me friend, we just have to be willing to “Exhale”!

Let’s do it! “Exhale”!

I’ll be checking back in with you on Wednesday. Until then I’ll leave with you “Breath Prayers” from Amy and Cheri. They are amazing prayer starters when you need to breathe.

https://exhalebook.com/wp-content/uploads/Breathe-a-Prayer_final.pdf

Don’t forget to leave your comments to be entered into this weeks drawing. Also, if you feel comfortable to leave your prayer requests in the comments, I will pray for you. You can also pray for the person who commented above you.

“Pray-cessing” through Competent Mistakes

Hi Friend. We have “Exhaled” through week 1.

Have you taken a minute to try a little “Square Breathing”? I love it. When I start to get a little anxious or feel that “Error Terror” start creeping in I just take a quick minute to breath. Let’s give it a go!

This week we’re reading about making “competent mistakes”. I don’t know about you, but when I read in Cheri’s Chapter 2, “I was more terrified of nothing than I was of failure.” And she goes on to say, “Doing nothing is worse-far worse-than making a mistake”.

Seriously! You mean I need to do something and take the chance of ….FAILING!!

I love Amy’s words on page 27, “Change and growth happen on the inside for a long time before anything exhibits on the outside.” She says a second later, “We can set aside our fear of trying to change by understanding that failure isn’t the worst thing that can happen. It’s a part of growth.”

For me, acceptance that failure is just a part of life and part of growth, I also have to find acceptance with the wave of feelings that come with change.

Cheri addresses our feelings on page 35. If you’re not there yet it’s okay, but I don’t want you to miss what she says here. Cheri writes, “What if your feelings are telling you about the state of your heart after you gave the best you had? After you opened yourself up? After you were bravely vulnerable?”

But here’s the real doozie, “Feeling bad while you’re learning something new doesn’t mean you did bad. Often, it’s a signal that you’re getting really good at making competent mistakes.” (Cheri Gregory, “Exhale”)

Wow! Boy have I needed that tid bit of info for awhile! But really how freeing it is to open up and be vulnerable, to learn and grow no matter where we are in life. And sister, we can do it all with the strength of Jesus!

I love the word Amy and Cheri introduce in the book, “Pray-cess” If you haven’t found it yet, there is an amazing glossary in the back of the book. On page 224 is the definition of “Pray-cess”.

I’m spending some time this week “Pray-cessing” over giving myself permission to fail and not quit.

Romans 8:31 reminds me, ” What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

My question for today:

How do you see your life changing when you hand your mistakes over to God and trust Him to take care of them and you?

Let’s “pray-cess” over this question. I’d love for you to share your thoughts in today’s comments.

I will have a drawing each Friday for a fun give away. Be sure to comment to be entered in the drawing for a set of thirty-one Bible verse cards from the Grit ‘N’ Grace Girls Etsy Store!

Each Friday I will post the links to the “Grit ‘N’ Grace” Episodes. Amy and Cheri give us a great resources to add to our tool boxes. Click the links below! If you haven’t listened to Amy and Cheri, you are going to fall in love and learn so much!

Day 2: https://gritngracegirls.com/episode136/

Day 3: https://gritngracegirls.com/episode111/

Day 4: https://gritngracegirls.com/episode127/

Before you go, Amy and Cheri ask us to “Write a prayer to ask God to do His work in you until its completed. As Him for clarity and strenth for the difficult truths” I’ve shared my prayer below, feel free to share yours or any prayer requests you have in the comments. I’d love to pray for you!

Heavenly Father, Your word tells me that the good work you have started in me will be carried out to completion. I ask for your spiritual wisdom and insight so I may grow in your knowledge. I pray my heart be flooded with light so I can understand the confident hope you have given me. Father, when I feel weak and not enough let me remember “Your grace is sufficient and your power is made perfect in my weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9a). Lord you are my strength and my defense when I feel I am stuck or when I feel responsible for everyone. Be with me as I pray-cess through and make the necessary changes that I have so needed to make. In your son’s holy name, Amen.