Over the next two months, I will be featuring the Christian women involved in the Inspired conference on October 20th, which my daughter Charity Elliott is hosting. This conference is for women – no matter your religion or beliefs. The Inspired conference is designed to: help women be their best selves by pursuing their dreams, learning about excellent nutrition and women’s mental health strategies, developing meaningful relationships, and overcoming life’s most challenging obstacles.
Susanne is our master of ceremonies and will liven up your day with her laughter, her fun personality and her ability to see the loveliness in each woman she meets. For more details click HERE
Sue and I have been friends for over ten years, and she is one of my closest friends. I have learned a lot from Sue through our friendship as she encouraged and supported me, and made me laugh through some of my hardest days. My wardrobe has significantly improved since meeting Sue, and she has also helped me see the best in others. I cherish her friendship and know she is a beautiful blessing to her family, friends and to me.
Life With Susanne
A Little About Me
When Cindy asked me to write about myself, I must admit, I saw it as a daunting task. I am not a writer and sometimes find it hard to express myself with written words. So here we go…
Growing up in a Christian family, we went to church at least three times a week. I was an only child. I can remember long hours of playing by myself, being creative, knitting, writing stories, drawing and lining up my stuffed animals and teaching them math and English. My parents bought me my first Sony Walkman in grade 3. Needless to say, I had hours of enjoyment and of course, rechargeable batteries! My mom and dad were hard-working, and in the winter they had closed the motel and were able to take a long break.
This morning when I was talking to my husband Dean, I said that a lot of my stresses growing up was with schoolmates. I did well in school by grade 4. However, some of the students were rough and tough. In order to cope, I pushed back. By grade 8, I remember crying every morning for over a month, begging to stay home. My dad would open his bible and read a psalm or scripture to comfort me while my mom always showed me love.
My home was a haven of safety. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t the best kid on the block! The bright side was that I always had great friends at church that were fun to be with. Often times after Sunday morning service, we would go to each other’s houses for the afternoon and play. My parents were always hospitable to new people in the church or people struggling giving wisdom and encouragement.
Through the teen years, I had quality friendships in the youth group as well as mentors like my grandmother and youth pastor. They would listen, pray, and give me help when I needed it.
Another anchor throughout my life was music. Whether playing the piano, composing/improvising music and listening to Christian artists, I can honestly say I do not know where I would be without God using people and music in my life.
I met the love of my life at fifteen at a church camp on Manitoulin Island. Four years later, I left for Florida to Southeastern University in the late summer of 1992 and Dean was attending Laurentian University. After two years of dating long distance, we married after being about 40 days together in each other’s presence. My dad always told me “it’s the quiet ones you have to look out for since you may not know what they are thinking.” Dean was and still is the most gentle, quiet, thoughtful and good-looking guy in my eyes!
Years later, with the births of two children, I can say I am so incredibly thankful to the Lord for His love and faithfulness. We were able to homeschool for about 10 years while we both worked from home; we spent many hours together as a family, learning, laughing, playing games, playing the piano. Both children went into the public school system at different times. At that point, there was so much going on in our lives; having two small groups in our home, running a children’s ministry, leading worship, teaching piano privately, Dean doing itinerant ministry and running our motel business. It was overwhelming; our cup was running over!
A Typical Day
Since we put the children into school, things are different. Joel has his drivers license, which helps out a lot. With activities the children are involved in, our son doesn’t mind running errands or driving Cadence to where she needs to go. Although we are in our full, busy swing at the business, summer is a break from teaching.
Dean and I have had a dream to remodel a house. Three months ago, we bought a fixer-upper between two nice houses. I feel like we are living the dream! Six days a week, Dean goes to work on the reno house while I work at the business; answering the phone, preparing the rooms so they can be cleaned, doing laundry and checking in customers. We have a great staff that help with cleaning and desk.
Working on the renovation has been tricky, difficult, fun, scary, a learning curve, and very physically demanding. I have fallen through the floor (don’t worry, it was only three feet down) and fell off the ladder ripping my lulu lemon shorts….all in one day.
On Saturdays, my parents come to help with the business so Dean and I can work together at the reno. To date, we have much accomplished inside and out. I think we have done over forty dump runs so far. The landscaping is finished, and Dean is presently siding the house as I write. I am taken aback by people we have made friends with, at local businesses and even our neighbours.
There’s nothing like having four teenage boys to help with digging and landscaping or even two teenage girls pulling nail after nail tirelessly out of the studs out of this approximately 100-year-old house. My mother in law got down and dirty, cleaning the basement. She worked so amazingly hard! Hard work and very satisfying. You can imagine, our children have been by our side.
Below is a pic of our reno: before and after. Field of Dreams (right across from a baseball field)
Joys In My Life
I recently read Chip Gaines book, and I can relate to getting into bed with muscles aching and a smile on my face. I joke with Dean every so often and call him MacGyver; a jack of all trades. It’s amazing to see him go at this project and even attempt things he’s never done before! Nothing brings more joy to me than transformation. I love taking an old piece of furniture, upcycling it (with Dean’s help) and seeing the result!
*The shed we painted: before and after.
Watching a whole house start to come together piece by piece is amazing. I am not a dreamer. My husband is a visionary; I am a follow-through kind of person. We are a team, all the way!
I love seeing the lightbulb moments with my piano students when something clicks, and they understand a sequence of notes on a page; it’s fascinating to me to watch how people learn. It was and is a pleasure to teach our own children.
I believe that is the greatest honour in life; to parent, to mentor and show our children how to live for the Lord.
Seeing my daughter’s spiritual life bloom over the summer; serving at camp and building deep friendships. Watching the growth of my son; learning to be more assertive and independent. Recently, we had an international student go through the ultimate transformation by asking Christ into his life. Leading people to Jesus brings a most tremendous joy! I think about the party in heaven when that happens!
Struggles in my Life
As there are many demands, I sometimes feel like I am juggling and all the balls have to stay up in the air! I have to remind myself that it is not all about me. From preparing healthy meals to the difficulties of being in customer service and multi-tasking, I struggle with boundaries. I often feel on alert and needed. Being constantly interrupted during the busy time, I struggle with memory. Learning to ‘just be’ and not just do, I plant myself in who I am in Christ and have to be aware or else I will slip into performance mode.
Learning from the very worst teachers in leadership positions, I have watched the mistakes and failures. Pride is in all of us, at different levels. At the core, we all want to be right. Being very active in ministry, we have had to step back and re-evaluate situations as well as friendships. That’s a deep detox. I thank God for close friends like Cindy and Stephanie that were there for me.
Moments with Jesus
Balance in life is key, and I ask the Lord for help. So many distractions keep me from sitting at His feet. This is the highest place. Being in His presence and letting him lead brings perfect peace. In the morning, I am thankful and ask God to bless the day. During the day, I remember the scripture about praying without ceasing. I haven’t figured that one out yet.
One thing I have learned is that God wants all of me. It doesn’t matter if I am on stage leading worship or not. The love of God is what changes me.
Wherever you are, know that God is with you. Sometimes when you have been hurt, it is not easy to trust or be vulnerable again. I have been there and still struggle. We like to think we have things all figured out. You only have everything to gain by falling into his everlasting arms! As you put Him first, you will find Him; He will direct.
Alisa Turner has written a song “My Prayer for You.” The lyrics have spoken to me, I want to share them with you:
Have a listen, be encouraged and let the Lord minister to you. Listen HERE
I hope you enjoyed Sue’s post and learned how trusting in God can be an incredible blessing in your life. Would you like to read about another woman who had to learn to trust God when she became a single mother with nine kids? Read Life With Maria, click HERE
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