“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 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/

“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.

Zacchaeus Wasn’t So Wee and Neither Are We

Exhale Book Study Week 1

Hi Friend, this is my mid-week check in to see how things are going with, “Losing who you’re not”. This week we are reading that Zacchaeus lost who he was when he climbed up in that huge sycamore tree to see who Jesus was.

When I first read the story of Zach in Luke 19:1-10, memories of vacation bible school flooded my mind. I so remembered singing the song about Zacchaeus. He was a tiny, wee little man as the song goes, he had to climb up in the tree to get a good look at Jesus. The song goes on to tell us that Jesus sees him in the tree and He calls his name. “Hey Zachaeus, I’m going to your house, come out of that tree dude!” (my paraphrase) Zachaeus was so pumped that Jesus was coming to his house!

What this children’s song doesn’t explain is that our boy Zach is not a popular person in his town and that he has cheated many of his friends out of a lot of their money by keeping some of their money he has collected for taxes for himself, making himself quite the rich man.

But Jesus chose Zachaeus’ house to visit that very day. Coincidence? I think not.

Just as Zachaeus knew he needed to run to Jesus to make some needed changes in his life, we can do the same. Just as Jesus knew Zachaeus’ name, he knows your name and mine too!

WOW! Can you feel a sense of calm wash over you when you hear that Jesus knows your name? I sure do.

Our Savior is calling us just like he called Zachaeus to run to him. He created us, He can change us.

Through his strength, guidance, and power we can grow to be the women He created us to be. Love the women He created us to Love, and Live the one life he created for us to live.

As we read the introduction through Chapter 3 in “Exhale” this week we will see that we are not:

“Stuck Permanently”

“Required to Be Perfect”

“Responsible for Everyone All the Time”

Now take a deep breath my sweet sister and “Exhale”. God is calling your name. He is waiting for you to run to him. Allow God to draw you into the Son this week. As Zachaeus grew in so many ways that day, get ready to grow exponentially in Christ as you “Exhale”!

I’d love to hear from you in the comments. “What would you like to gain from this study?”

Don’t forget when you comment, you are automatically signed up for the give away each week. You will love the prize! Directly from the “Grit ‘N’ Grace Girls Etsy Store!

“How Your Story Changes”

“Exhale Book” Study Week 1

What an incredible launch party Amy and Cheri threw last week. If you missed it you can jump over to the Grit ‘N’ Grace Girls Facebook page to watch!

I am so excited to “Exhale” with you starting this week and through the next five weeks. We are going to jump right in today with a video from Cheri Gregory. She has an amazing personal story to share along with a story that appears in three of the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke about a women who is changed.

Click on the video below to watch, then we can discuss some questions from Amy and Cheri’s “Study Guide”.

What are some names you have given yourself that you need to give up to take your God given name, “Daughter”?’

I’ll go first. “Quitter”, “Not Enough”, “Dumb Girl”, “Fool”. Just to name a few. Daughter sounds so much better, doesn’t it!

Let’s get the discussions going: Each post I will share a question or two based on the “Exhale Study Guide” Feel free to comment on 1 or all. Also You can reply to other’s comments as well. You can feel free to share your thoughts on your reading and pray-cessing too. Encourage each other as we learn to “Lose Who We’re Not, Love Who We Are, and Live our ONE Live Well!

What is Something you would like less of?

What is Something You would like more of?

After completing “Exhale” what is one thing you desire to learn, benefit, or change?

Comment below to be entered in this weeks drawing. I can’t wait to “Exhale” with you, my fellow “Daughters in Christ”.

Here is the link to find the Bible Verse Comparisons Cheri referenced in the video https://exhalebook.com/wp-content/uploads/Bleeding-Woman-parallel-accounts.pdf

New Look New You!

I am so excited about the new look of Living Joy Today and our first ever online book study, Exhale. https://exhalebook.com/

During our study we will learn to:
Lose Who We Aren’t
Love Who We Are
AND
Love Our One Lives Well!

Do you find yourself apologizing unnecessarily?

How about giving authority over your life to people that just don’t matter?

Or

Do you need to set a few boundaries?

These are questions I have found the answers to in Exhale and I am learning to live my one life God created just for me, even after lots of decades. Change is possible at any age! By allowing God be our change agent.

Comment below, “I’m ready to let God be my change agent” and join me the last week of August and September to study “Exhale” by Amy Carroll and Cheri Gregory.