Friday, July 25, 2008

Introducing Suzanne Eller - and CONTEST

The Contest

1. During this blog tour, any reader who responds to Twila Belk at iamstraightway@aol.com with the name of a church or organization that is interested in having Suzie in as a guest speaker, will receive all three of Suzie's books (up to 10 sets will be given away on a first come first serve basis).


2. If any of your readers contact Twila regarding a Bible study group or book club wanting to use Suzie's materials, their groups will receive conference calls from Suzie to kick off or conclude their studies.


3. All readers who post a comment regarding Suzie's books will be placed in a grand prize drawing on August 2, 2008, for a delightful gift basket (see description to left).

The Mom I Want to Be
Harvest House Publishers
Author: T. Suzanne Eller
ISBN: 978-0-7369-1755-1
Retail: $11.99

The Mom I Want to Be

Being a mom is a great joy and a great responsibility. But what if you have a painful past, a background that didn't include a good role model for parenting? What if your experiences have given you an unhealthy view of motherhood? How can you be the parent you want to be without dragging along your history?

Suzie Eller knows from experience that a mother is influenced by the mothering she received as a child. In her book, The Mom I Want to Be, Suzie shares from the brokenness of her own growing-up years and compassionately discusses how bitterness and anger can be transformed into hope and determination when a woman turns her past and her future over to God's care. Suzie draws attention to a rarely addressed topic, detailing how to put shattered legacies back together, restore broken images of motherhood, forgive the unforgettable, set boundaries that make sense, and let go of yesterday so a new today and tomorrow can be embraced.

The author says, "This is a book for women and moms, but especially for women who want to find wholeness, healing from the past, and specific helps to give their children better memories than they received as a child." She wants her readers to know they don't have to repeat the unhealthy patterns from their childhood. With God's healing power at work in their lives, women can become the moms they want to be.

What Others Are Saying
"I truly believe all parents WANT to be good parents, but some lack the skills or are themselves weighed down and stagnated by an injured inner child. This amazing book offers thoughts and direction to overcome hurtful memories and improve your parenting skills. It is positive and liberating."
Brenda Nixon, author of Parenting Power in the Early Years

The Woman I Am Becoming
Author: T. Suzanne Eller
Harvest House Publishers
Retail: $11.99
ISBN-10: 0736920307
ISBN-13: 978-0736920308

The Woman I Am Becoming

Overarching themes such as identity, relationships, faith, and destiny provide readers a fresh approach to finding their way in this world. Author, speaker and mentor Suzie Eller offers young women an honest and faith-filled look at the journey to completeness. In The Woman I Am Becoming: Embracing the Chase for Identity, Faith, and Destiny, she acknowledges the pressures to look and act a certain way, and helps women explore key questions:
What is a real woman?
Where do I fit?
What should I look like?
Who should I be with?
Where am I going?
What about my faith?
Suzie shares her own story teamed up with life applications, as well as real-life advice from women further along in the journey who are still in the process of becoming. Concluding questions help readers assimilate what they've read into their own lives. As twenty-somethings absorb the book by owning their emotions and meet God in a new way, they'll begin to understand the woman they're becoming.

What Others Are Saying
Wow, is this a much-needed book! Since I, like most women, ventured into my twentysomething and married years far from home and the influence of older women who had been around the block, I so appreciate Suzanne's heart to create a way for young women to gather and receive that sort of input and counsel.~ Shaunti Feldhahn, Author of For Women Only and Coauthor For Young Women Only
Real. Raw. Relatable. For women from all backgrounds trying to figure out this thing called life.~ Kerri Pomarolli, nationally known comedian and author

Making It Real:
Whose Faith Is It Anyway?
Publisher: Kregel
Retail: $11.99
168 pages - paperback
ISBN 978-0825425431
Making It Real: Whose Faith is it Anyway?
A recent statistic said that over 80% of Christian teens abandon their faith for a season. Author T. Suzanne Eller says, "As someone who has ministered to teens for a long time, I believe that teens leave a support system only to have to find out what they believe, as opposed to what they've heard in a sermon or celebrated as a family." Making It Real starts that journey now, rather than later so that they are not one of the 80% who aren't sure what they believe anymore. Whether the reader is a first-time Christ-seeker or a seasoned believer, the book is for teens wanting to know God on a personal life-changing level.

Making It Real helps teens grow their faith, no matter where they are spiritually--into a dynamic relationship with God.

For teens asking questions about their faith, like:

How do I make my faith more personal?
How do I turn to God in both good and bad times?
Where is God leading me?
Is my faith a relationship or tradition?
Family faith is awesome. Youth church is a place where teens can grow. But personal faith is a one-on-one journey. Making It Real is great for individuals as well as small cell or discipleship groups or Sunday school classes.

What Others Are Saying
Making It Real will engage you and take you on a faith-building and life-changing journey,leading you daily to a powerful one-on-one encounter with God. This book connects this generation with a message that is relevant, inspiring and definitely needed.
~ Beau Herbert, President Youthfire.com
About the Author
T. Suzanne (Suzie) Eller is the author of five books and over 600 articles and columns. She is a contributing writer to Today's Christian Woman, cbn.com, and Enrichment Journal. Suzie is a youth culture and parenting columnist, and a community mentor in The Woman of Vision program. Her books include The Mom I Want to Be, The Woman I Am Becoming: Embracing the Chase for Identity, Faith, and Destiny and Making it Real: Whose Faith is it Anyway? Suzie is a sought-after inspirational speaker who ministers internationally to groups of all sizes. She has been featured on hundreds of radio and TV programs. Suzie and her husband have three children and make their home in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. For more information, visit http://www.daretobelieve.org/
Author/Speaker Available for Interviews

The Woman I Am Becoming

Describe the passion or burden behind writing The Woman I Am Becoming.

I've worked with teens in different ways for nearly two decades. I'm lucky, because that means I now have a lot of connections and friendships with twentysomethings and even those in their early thirties. I don't have all the answers, and that is not what this book is about, but I have had the privilege to come along side these amazing young women as they ask tough questions.

We're encouraged scripturally as older women (that's me!) to teach the younger women. For me, the definition of teaching is to talk about the issues that matter to them. First, I need to know exactly what that is, rather than assume that I know. Second, I need to be open to a dialogue, a conversation between women at different stages of life, and I love that part of this book. I also love that in real life. It's not a one-sided relationship, but I learn from them and perhaps I can share insight gained through experience, or through bumps (or crashes into brick walls) and thus we all are stronger.

I receive e-mails from all over the nation, and even from as far away as Nigeria or South Africa or West Africa and other parts of the world from young women who say, "I read your book today and it answered a question I have been praying over." That's priceless to me. Many have become Facebook friends and we continue to stay in touch.

You made sure to gather the input of several young women (twentysomethings) for the book. What was the common thread or theme in their stories?

Transition. They were making every critical decision in their lives: who to love, where to live, what to do, wondering what God expected or wanted from them at this stage. This was true, regardless of whether they were 21 and in college or 28 and a wife and mom to two. It was just different in intensity.

If you could give sort of a coming-of-age speech to women in their twenties who are just now finding their way in this world, what would be your three main points?

You are a work in progress - be patient with the process. Learn from it.
You fit - we are not all alike and aren't meant to be, and there is a niche for you. I can't take your place, you aren't meant to take mine, but together we can make a difference
Your "calling" is to love and know God daily - we make it too complex. We are looking at the five-year or ten-year plan, and many times we miss the opportunities all around us--right where we are right now.
This age probably has the hardest time fitting in at church. The women's groups seem to be more for married women with children, and the college and career class is starting to feel too immature. What do you recommend for women who want to be involved at church, but don't feel like they fit in?

Margaret Feinberg, author of Twentysomething, says, "What makes a difference for twentysomethings who grow in their faith and one who grows stagnant or falls away? Without fail, relationships and community are most often cited as the determining factors for growth."
Community is a word that is strong among twentysomethings. They have left or are leaving the familiar world of family. Even if they are still close to family (distance or otherwise), the way their family perceives them may remain the same, but the reality is that they are changing. They are no longer the rebellious 16-year-old or the really smart cheerleader or the screw-up or the good daughter. Labels have fallen away as they are educated, make new friends, attempt to find a spiritual community, make relationship choices or face heartbreak, live financially on their own, work their way up the career ladder, have babies or wait to have babies, etc. They have moved from child to adult. Family is just as important to them, but they are looking for new sources of strength and encouragement.
The same difficulties arise in finding a church. Where do you find your niche? It's like a black hole in ministry among many churches. The twentysomething comes home and finds out that the youth group is mostly 13-year-olds and definitely not a good fit, or the singles group is comprised of mostly divorced men and women in their 40's with very different needs. Where do they fit?

So, I ask twentysomethings to redefine community as becoming a part of something larger. You contribute. You take. These people matter to you.
I encourage them to create community right where they are. For some, the biological family remains the primary community. Others find community in small groups or their community becomes four or five couples who meet in their home or at Starbucks, or four or five close friends who remain connected and close. The secret is that one community does not take away from the other. But it's still vital.
The Mom I Want To Be

This book isn't the typical lighthearted motherhood book. What sets your book apart, and how does it explore territory seldom covered in books designed for mothers?

It's definitely not a fluffy book! This is the book I didn't want to write. I've taught "Pushing Past Your Past" for the past five years at parenting conferences. At one, I was approached by the director and also by their publisher and asked to consider writing a book for women. I hesitated because it's one thing to share my childhood experiences, and what God has done in a workshop or keynote, but another to publish it and put it in the hands of women across the nation. If it helped many women, but destroyed my mother (by telling our story) it wasn't worth it.
And yet she encouraged me to write it. I invited her to join me, to share her story and to show how generations of dysfunction can continue if there is not healing, as well as practical helps and tools. I believe she added depth and wisdom, and it has ministered to many women, whether they were the victim of abuse or neglect, or the ones who are trapped in dysfunctional parenting methods and want help.
The Mom I Want to Be addresses the past, the present, and the future. It shows how to learn from the harm of your past, how to let go, how to forgive, how to trust again, and how to view the world from an adult's perspective, rather than that of the once-harmed child. It shares very practical steps on how to shape your children's memories now rather than focusing on the memories of your past, how to set boundaries for parents or people who are still dysfunctional, how to parent with resources and healthful parenting methods as opposed to familiar patterns from the past, and much more. It offers a lot of interactive study and questions and encouragement, as well as a 12-week small group study for women who want to take this to their church or friends or MOPS groups, etc.
It's still the book I didn't want to write, but I'm so glad I did.
Why did you feel the need to address these issues?

The first time I shared my "Pushing Past the Past" workshop I looked out over the crowd. They looked like women who had it all together. And yet as I spoke, I could see the defenses lowering and we connected as women with a painful past. After that first workshop, women lined up down the aisle, out the door, and around the corner, all who wanted to share a little bit of their story, or to ask questions, or to request prayer, or just to hug me and cry as they said, "you just told my story."

Did you find this book required an extra dose of raw transparency on your part?

It's so raw. But it's just as raw about God's amazing grace and transformation in my heart and for my family as it is about the hard times.

Did this affect any of your own relationships?

In good ways. My brother read this book and I'll never forget his words: "I've read other books and wondered if they understood what I went through. As I read my own sister's book, I knew that not only did you understand, but I know how whole you are. I knew that I was reading truth that could change me." That was worth the pain of writing the book--a thousand times over.

It also affected my mom's and my relationship. At this time, we were close and had been for a long time. But I learned about things that she had never told anyone--that she was molested at five, the insecurities she had when she was a suicidal mom and crying for help and no one was listening. It added a deeper level of compassion for the person who is my mom.

One of the issues you mention in the book is forgiveness. What's the hardest part of forgiveness to get right that's also the element that causes the biggest victories?

To let go. A lot of times we hold on to unforgiveness, waiting for someone to change, or someone to say they are sorry. Maybe they will one day, but maybe they won't. I want to be whole today, for my children and me. I let go because it cuts the tendrils of the past that keep me from growing. It starts the process of removing bitterness or rage or sorrow from my heart and mind.

I want to fly, and if letting go is part of that I'm willing to let go.

How can a mother let go of her past in order to give her children a better present and future?

First, go back and take a good look at what harmed you. Put it all out on the table. Learn from it. I didn't know my biological dad as a father, but I still learned from him. He was absent, so I learned the joy of being at my kid's ball games or feeling the soft touch of a baby's hand on my cheek. I was fully in the moment when my children walked down the aisle (my children are all newlyweds) and married their spouses.
My biological father chose not to be a part of my life, and I can't change that, but I'm willing to learn from his mistakes and do better with my own children.
Second, many women have faced things that are so grievous. Letting go doesn't make those injustices right or okay. It simply says, "I won't let the past continue to burden me or harm my relationships with my children or spouse." If you were neglected, abused sexually or physically or emotionally, you may find it difficult to let go. I did. But I was willing, and that was the first step. I invited God into the process. It took time. Healing is often a life-time journey. I would encourage women to seek counseling if they need help during that time, but also to open their minds to the possibility of what God can do with a willing heart.
Making it Real

How can teens own their faith rather than inherit it from their families?

At some point we all need to make a decision as we ask this question: Whose faith is it anyway? It's especially crucial for teens because they leave a support system and their faith is questioned, or they hit challenges and obstacles and dig deep for God and come up with a 1,000 sermons or their parent's belief system and it's often just not enough. Statistics say that over 80% of young adults walk away from their faith for a season. For some, that's just a statistic. To me, it's names. I could sit with you for hours and talk about the young adults who abandoned their faith for a season, and those who have never come back, and those who lost their way and are now in situations or circumstances that they never expected to be in.

Faith is so much bigger than hanging out in a church. It's knowing and loving God, and being loved and known by Him.

You talk about four "faithbusters." What are they?

Living your faith by feelings - Teens get tripped up when God is only as big as their last experience--whether an awesome camp moment or a colossal mistake. Living by feelings is roller-coaster Christianity at it's best. You are close to God and you are up. You make a mistake and you bungee down. The problem with living faith by feeling is that you turn to what feels good at the moment, instead of God when you don't feel Him or feel worthy.
Confusing tradition with faith - Traditions are amazing, but intimacy with God is making Him more than a habit. Going to church doesn't take the place of seeking God, or being honest with Him about your life, or carving out a part of your day to hang out with Him. It's not a to-do list. It's relationship.
Making faith a group activity only - I've worked with teens for a long time. I can tell you every gross food game; I can proudly say I've conquered mud mountain; I've watched teens connect with God in a beautiful way as a group in worship or service. But sometimes teens wait for the music or hype or youth pastor to tell them when to worship God. Worship is more than a song. It's becoming a follower of Christ, even if no one else chooses that path. It's knowing where to turn if the people you trust, like your youth pastor or believing parents, walk away from their own faith.
Living on borrowed convictions - A lot of teens (and adults) start thinking about education at a young age. It's a goal. But are we as educated about our beliefs? Too often Christians have enormous amounts of education, but only a 6th grade knowledge of their faith. I don't say that to be condemning, but to encourage believers to dig deeper. Do we know who God is? Do we understand the act of the Cross? Do we understand scripture and how it applied then, and how it applies today? When you live on borrowed convictions and you have to live them out in the real world, it's tough. That's why I wrote Making It Real. I love discipleship. I wanted a resource that a teen could take and it be relevant and real and deep, but not complex.
Isn't it scary for a teen to doubt his faith, or to ask the tough questions?

Many parents are fearful when a teen questions their faith, but let's look at it another way: they are trying to make it personal. They need to understand why they believe, and as they do their faith becomes a life-long journey, as opposed to just going to church.

If your teen came to you and said, "I don't get calculus," you'd most likely try to help them by giving them additional resources or support or encouragement. You wouldn't react with fear or anger.

So, what do you do when a teen is trying to "make it real"? During that time, you still go to church as a family, but you understand that Christ didn't drag any of us to the foot of the cross. You let your teen know that you trust that he or she will find their way and that you are praying for direction. You offer resources. It's important that your faith remain vibrant and intimate, as you turn to God and pray for your child. The average teen hears a thousand messages about spirituality or skewed perceptions of Christianity. My daughter once said, "when I thought about it, Mom, I thought about your relationship with God and I knew it was real and that was enough for me." Your influence spiritually is so much greater than you realize. Trust God. Pray. Ask for guidance. Continue to honor God as a family, but encourage the individual journey of your child. His or her faith may not look exactly like yours, but if the foundation is Christ, then they are well on their way to an intimate relationship.

General

It seems your life calling has taken on so many different themes. You have a heart for student ministries, young adult women, and mothers. What's it like writing and speaking for three different people groups? How are the dynamics different, and what one thing remains the same no matter the group?

The overall theme of my ministry is "becoming." If you look at what I teach or write, you'll see that theme stamped all over them. I dare to believe that God is who He says He is, and I want to become all that I can be as I follow Him. I love to share that same theme with others, no matter their gender or age.

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The Source of Confidence by Heidi Dru Kortman

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