This summer, I had the privilege of leading a group of women through your new book, Your Sacred Yes: Trading Life-Draining Obligation for Freedom, Passion, and Joy. When I was given the opportunity to review your book, I knew immediately that this was a book that I wanted to give more attention to than a quick read-through. Five of us met consistently for six weeks. Each week we’d read two chapters and complete the related workbook pages before connecting to watch the DVD and discuss how we were being stretched and refined.
I could fill this letter with platitudes about each component (the book, the DVD, the free workbook) and how much we loved them (because we truly did, and if pressed, I couldn’t tell you which of the three I liked more), but I need to share something else here.
I think you and I first met back in about 2007 at a little CAN (Christian Authors Network) retreat at a hotel in the Cities. Just a few of us were there … Cyndy Salzmann, Mary Connealy, Susan May Warren, Sharon Hinck, you, and me. (My apologies if I’m forgetting anyone.) Though I may have blanked on some names, there are things I will always remember about that weekend. I remember that you welcomed this newbie who didn’t have a single book title to her name. I remember waking up early and finding you curled up on the couch in our suite with a big mug of coffee in your hands, your Bible open on your lap, and your heart deeply engaged in prayer. (I remember feeling like I was walking in a holy space and ought not interrupt.) I remember you jumping up to wash the dishes anytime someone put a cup or spoon near the sink (and I laughed when you mentioned that old tendency to be “that good” in this book). I remember you reading from There Were Two Trees In The Garden and quoting Francis Frangipane. (I came right home and bought the book and got acquainted with Mr. Frangipane’s vast work.)
There was one moment that stands out more significantly than all the others because you said something that changed the trajectory of tmy ministry. (You know the breakfast date you describe in chapter 1? Yep, this was you passing that counsel on to me – for all I know – maybe before you’d had your own eye-opening breakfast date.) I shared with you that I had spoken 67 times to MOPS groups in the last year. (I was a new speaker and felt like I was “doing my time,” gaining experience for not even enough money to cover my babysitters and gas, but was oh-so-hungry to share God’s Word straight out, which I couldn’t usually do in this setting.) That’s when you pulled me close and, though you didn’t claim what you shared to be a Word from God, I believe it was. You said, “Vicki, God has something more for you, but as long as you are giving so much of yourself away, you won’t have the capacity to go deeper when He calls you to do that. Speak less often. Go deeper.”
You didn’t use the words “sacred yes”, but you may as well have.
My schedule the next year looked vastly different, but sadly I didn’t apply the wisdom in all areas of my life. My closest friends will tell you that, for years now, I nearly always responded to, “How are you?” with “Busy!” I was still giving away my yeses.
I pretty much cried my way through “Your Sacred Yes.” Yep, big ol’ mascara-running-drop-to-my-knees-ugly crying.
You see, for the last few years, I had given away so much of myself, that I had nothing left. I said good yeses, but not necessarily sacred yeses, and I certainly didn’t understand the necessity of my sacred nos. I often told my husband Mike that if people really knew everything that was on my proverbial plate, they would have me committed. (He’s a psychologist at Mayo and he agreed, which wasn’t comforting.) The hardest thing to share is that this “Christian author, speaker, Bible teacher” (not to mention Christ-follower) and God weren’t speaking and I couldn’t focus on His Word, so my Bible stayed closed. You see, I was busy keeping all of my precious plates spinning while deeply grieving through a long season of watching my best friend die by degrees as a result of cancer. I was soul weary. I was in a spiritual desert. I was going through the motions … and “Your Sacred Yes” led me Home. (Honestly, there aren’t enough Amazon stars to give a book that does that, so 5 will have to do. Also, I’m really glad you know your worth isn’t measured by Amazon stars or in (wo)man written reviews.)
I want to share some of the things that you said that resonated so deeply, causing me (and Mike) to prayerfully reprioritize and make some hard, but necessary changes in my life.
“We’re not called to a busyness that drains us; we’re called to an abundance that trains us” (p.25).
“When we miss the greater promise written over our lives, others miss out on something God intended to give them through us” (p.34).
“So how do we discern the difference between un-appointed busyness and God-ordained fruitfulness” (p.35)? [This resulted in me evaluating and categorizing all of my commitments into two lists: Busy vs. Abundantly Full and Fruitful. Not an easy task – just saying.]
“… we stepped up beyond what God had asked us to. … The need does not always dictate the call” (p. 45) [Wait. What? Stop the press! Reading this was a game changer for me.]
“More rests on God’s shoulders than on mine” (p. 62).
“When we’re sloppy with our yes, we miss out on God’s best” (p. 63). [Ouch.]
“What would need to change in your life—how do you need to rearrange your day—so you can experience regular deep contentment, joy, and confidence with God” (p.63)? [Note: because I’d been meeting Jesus every morning on the deck to read this book and pour through my Bible using your workbook, I was hearing His voice again for the first time in a very long time, and I KNEW the answer to this immediately. It was from Him – no doubt about it. Sa-weet!]
“If we’re serious about following His (God’s) direction in our lives, then He gets to say—from day to day—how we live, how we give, how we serve, how we pray, what we say, and what we do with our day” (p. 118).
“Our no matters because our yes matters more. And anytime we say yes, we say no. If we say yes to working too many hours (beyond what God has asked of us), we say no to family and friends and the sacred life rhythm God offers us” (p. 134).
“Walking in God’s yes for us calls for diligence with the things that matter—if we truly want to abound in every good thing God has for us” (p. 151).
“Our enemy, the devil, camps on the assumption that if he baits us into busyness, we’ll forget about our adoption as daughters and sons. And sadly, he gets away with this scheme far too often” (p. 170). [Man your stations, friends! Be ready to fight and DON’T be baited into busyness!]
“We have nothing to prove and all of eternity to live for. Oh, the love of Jesus. May we stand courageously, pray tenaciously, and love audaciously. May we give our whole lives as an offering to Him” (180)! [Yes, and Amen!]
So, Susie, thank you for allowing God to use you to write this book to me. That may not have been your intent and countless others will no doubt feel the same way, but I truly felt like this was a gentle, but firm love letter that redirected my steps. (You seem to have a way of doing that in my life without even knowing it.) We have made some hard, but necessary changes in the Tiede house, and more will undoubtedly come, but it’s good and we’re following His lead. My book is marked from page one to the very end. My workbook is filled to capacity. These are treasures and I’ll be revisiting them again and again and pointing people to this beautiful book and its message – starting here.
With holy enthusiasm, much gratitude, and an abundantly full life and heart,
Read more about Susie Larson and Your Sacred Yes HERE.
What a few others from our Summer Study had to say about this study …
In the recently released movie “Mr. Holmes” the plot deals with living selfishly, doing only what meets your needs and ambitions. Susie’s study, “Your Sacred Yes” helps put the godly perspective on living and doing what He deems holy, His best not just for me, but for all. “Our goal is to find such freedom and wholeness in Christ alone that we truly enjoy the way He loves us, which freely enables us to spill out His love to others” (p. 93). I appreciated finding venues to assess my lifestyle, and in my daily connections with Him find joy and confidence in my ‘no’ and in my ‘yes’ as I do the next thing.
This study is one I want to go over again and fine tune in my schedule and mindset.
“Your Sacred Yes” by Susie Larson provides insight as to how to prioritize God’s Word in establishing life-long goals. I especially felt the workbook pages provided in-depth questions that are thought provoking and meaningful. Chapters in the book along with the video lessons are real-life applicable, and I feel a great deal of affirmation in knowing Susie has a lot of life learning experiences she shares with her reading audience. Reflecting upon these experiences, she is honest with her reader about how life is messy at times, and as we faithfully rely on the Lord, we grow. “We embrace the God-given vision for our lives–and we see this as our sacred duty: to guard our hearts and lives as ones who are set apart for Him” (p. 167).
I truly appreciated at the end of each chapter she allows time for authentic personal reflection and prayer and she included a Faith Declaration. “Life is a gift, and my time is a gift” (p. 183). I would highly recommend this resource study for all women.
“Your Sacred Yes” was a gentle, affirming, upward-tugging lift to my spiritual life. I am in a season, and profession, where I am the caregiver to many. The needs are never-ending. God used “Your Sacred Yes” to reaffirm that I also need to be one that I provide regular care to – both physically and spiritually. Susie has a beautiful way of encouraging, exhorting and challenging all in the same sentence. This is a book I have recommended to another Bible Study that I have been part of for 25 years. What a gift it has been to me to learn that part of saying “yes” to God includes saying “no” to others, that the only approval I need is His, and that I am free to be a work in progress. I will read this book again and again – in order to obtain, and maintain, a clear vision of the specific “yeses” to which God has called me.