Lesson 10: Grace for Where We’re Placed

The first day we visited a community with a literacy class I cried on the way home from our visit, and I cried as I talked to my roomie that night. My heart was broken, and I couldn’t muster up hope for the women I had met.

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Yes, there were glimpses of hope– a class where women were learning to read, to do simple math and to improve their way of life. Another woman who was tailoring with a sewing machine given as a wedding present, setting an example for other women in the community. There were also the irresistible, bright-eyed children that raised our spirits being brought up by their survivor-mamas.

But there was no doubt that for now, these women were trapped in the mire of poverty. In their desperation, they worked long hours and left tiny children home alone. They lived in homes where hygiene was an unknown luxury. They struggled with sickness and hunger and the pain of abuse.

Before we left the literacy class that would culminate in two months, the women had asked the leaders with us, “What’s next?”

I wondered the same thing. What’s next for these women? To me it looked like nothing was next. It seemed like nothing would change. Poverty and despair would stretch on forever. I wanted to airlift these women OUT of their surroundings. OUT of poverty. OUT of a situation where they weren’t valued.

Josh and Jennifer, our hosts from Mission India, reminded me, “Amy, this is just the beginning. Change takes time. If you could come back here in five years, you’d see the change.”

Several days later when we visited Raju and his community, I realized that Josh and Jennifer weren’t just trying to make me feel better. It’s true! Change takes time, and God is faithful.

Once this realization sank in, I started to ask myself. What if I actually could have airlifted those women out of their situation? What would happen? I knew the answer wasn’t the pain-free solution that I sought for them.

They wouldn’t experience the joy of watching God at work in their circumstances.

They wouldn’t gain the confidence of being an agent of their own life-change.

They wouldn’t be able to bring the hope of Jesus and a new life into their own community, a place God had assigned them.

Isn’t it the same for us? We may not live in the depth of the worst poverty in the world, but we’re all experiencing the ravages of a fallen world in some way. We’re all suffering the imperfections of a fallen paradise. Maybe you are…

In the misery of an unraveling marriage.

In the fear of financial ruin.

In the pain of having a wandering child.

In the despair of infertility.

In the throes of unwanted singleness.

In the tension of living honestly in a corrupt work place.

In the midst of hurt with a friend.

Do you wish you could be airlifted out? Do you daydream about changing your location with the hope of changing it all? I know I’ve felt that way.

Instead of an air lift, I’m praying for a heart lift for us. Courage to stay and watch for God at work. Love for the hard-to-love around us. Patience to wait for incremental change to happen over time. Divine strength to bear the load.

I’m praying for grace to abound in the place God has ordained for us to become more like Himself and to make a difference in the lives of others. Just like Raju is transforming his God-given community… And the beautiful project manager in pink is changing the community where God has placed her… I’m praying that we thrive.

I’m praying for grace in our space.

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Assignments:

The reading assignment this week is Chapters 7, 8 & 9. This is the last week of three assigned chapters, so don’t give up! We’re almost there, and here are some tips for keeping up:

  • Read with a pen or highlighter in your hand. Even if you only read and highlight, you will still feel up to speed with the group and able to participate.
  • Add on the other pieces only as time allows, but don’t feel badly if you can’t get to them.
  • Do another exercise from 50 Ways to Leave Your Perfect

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Lesson 12: You’re Right Where You’re Supposed to Be


In Lesson 10, I shared about a grace for our place, and I wanted to give you a graphic that shows you that God’s Word backs that idea.

Acts 17-26

You can download this picture and print it by clicking on the graphic above.

As an extra resource, I want to share a ministry that I love founded by a woman I adore. Amy Lively runs How to Love Your Neighbor ministries which is rich with resources about how to reach out to your neighbors.

Since we’ve been talking about both building community and serving, I wanted to give you a place where you can find tangible ways to live that way in your own neighborhood. Click here to visit How to Love Your Neighbor’s site.

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I’m so sorry I’m resource obsessed, but I’ve got one more for you. Cheri Gregory and I have a podcast for reforming perfectionists, people-pleasers, and highly sensitive people called Grit ‘n’ Grace. Find out a little more below.

How to Deal with a Difficult Person

What do you do when someone’s perfectionism is driving you around the bend? When the relationship is about to end?

Valuing perfection over people shatters relationships. Join Cheri and me as we tease out practical solutions for being on both the giving and receiving end of relationship-eroding perfection.

Click on the graphic above to listen. (And don’t miss the terrific FREE download “Curious Questions to Ask to Keep Perfectionism from Taking Control”.)

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Lesson 13: How to Do Hard Things When You Think You Can’t

True Confession Time: I like things to be easy. I’ve even believed that things should be easy– that if something is God’s will, then it will be easy.

Most Americans believe this lie.

Indian believers know better. They follow Jesus in the hard places of hate, beatings, shunning, and jailing. One leader for Mission India told us,

Our friend should know.IMG_20160428_030654628_TOP

He lives in the area of India where Christians experience the most hardship and persecution. It’s the heartland of India, and it’s home to more unreached people groups than any other part of the world. 60% of Christians there face some kind of persecution, some of it severe. “Freedom of religion laws” which are actually anti-conversion laws force Christians to be very careful about sharing the freedom found in Jesus. Baptism is banned and has to be done in secret.

Hmmm… And I get upset when somebody sends me an email that throws me off kilter.

As my youngest son likes to say, “First world problem, mom.” Yep.

We want easy, but our spirit responds to the hard things the Spirit gives us.

How do we do the hard things when our flesh cries out for easy? We have to refine our motives to one thing.

Too often my motives are mixed with ambition, with a look-at-me attitude, with pride, with a desire to impress others or gain approval. Any of that resonate with you? My thoughts reveal my mixed motives, and I’m not the only one. Here are some ways some of my Facebook friends know they’re off track:

  • “When you start to serve with the thoughts of others having to serve you in return”
  • “When you start to compare your work or load to someone else’s.”
  • “When I expect people to notice and mention all that I do.”
  • “When it becomes a duty instead of a joy.”

Oh, ouch. Me too!

We have to refine our motives down to one– love.

What looks like service is vanity when the motive is other than love.

How do we serve with joy? How do we do hard things when we think we can’t? We ask God to purify our hearts to a singular driving motive… LOVE.

That’s what I saw in India as I watched the believers do their work. That’s what I want in my life too, because persecution, or doing hard things, doesn’t diminish joy. It increases it. Check out this little snapshot of brave leaders worshiping:  (Click here if you’re a subscriber).

I say to myself and to you… Choose hard things. Do them with great love. Increase your joy.

To learn more about the persecution and hardships Indian believers face so that you can pray:

  • “Like” Mission India’s Facebook page by clicking here.
  • Sign up for daily prayer prompts via email by clicking here. I have signed up for this, and I absolutely LOVE it! It honestly takes me about 30 seconds to read the prayer prompt and pray it. Big impact with little time!

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Assignments:

The reading assignment this week is Chapters 10 & 11. This is the last week of reading, so determine to finish strong! We’re almost there, and here are some tips for keeping up:

  • Read with a pen or highlighter in your hand. Even if you only read and highlight, you will still feel accomplished.
  • Add on the other pieces only as time allows, but don’t feel badly if you can’t get to them.
  • Do another exercise from 50 Ways to Leave Your Perfect.

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Lesson 15: A To-You List

In video #5, my friend Carol Byrd talked about a list that actually gives her life rather than sucking the life right out of her. She calls it her To-You List. Brilliant!

As our last free download for Thursday Thrills, here’s a special graphic to get your juices going on your own To-You List.

To-You List

You can download and print this graphic by clicking on the picture above.

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Lesson 16: Some Final Thoughts

Today is the very last day of our online book study of Breaking Up with Perfect, and I really can’t believe it’s over! When I started dreaming about this project months ago, I was completely overwhelmed thinking about the amount of work and hours it would take to put it together.

Can I tell you the truth on the other side?

Every hour I invested… all the brain cells I’ve strained… each and every one of the words I’ve typed…

The joy you’ve given me as you’ve joined me in breaking up with perfect has exceeded any investment I’ve made on my end! It’s TRUE!

That’s the way it always works in God’s Kingdom because we can never out-give God. Whatever we invest is multiplied.

I ended my book with the picture from Revelation 7 of every nation, tribe and tongue gathered around God’s throne. What a thought! For those of us who have followed Jesus, we’ll be in that throng. I can’t wait for that day because in that throng will also be my friends from my trip in India.

As our last challenge, I want to leave you with a little video I made. It’s a new snapshot (the first one is in Breaking Up with Perfect) of four spiritual generations.

Your challenge is to start today dreaming of your own spiritual generations. Break up with perfect, and open your life. Start with one woman. Invest your all in her and teach her to do the same. And then let’s all plan to meet–to pick a spot to get together– in the throng in front of Jesus, the Savior who has given us all so that our investment is eternal!

(Or click here to watch.)

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Thank you so much for purchasing and reading Breaking Up with PerfectIf the book was a blessing to you, I’d be honored if you’d tell others! You can:

  • Leave a review on Amazon by clicking here. Your input truly matters to others.
  • Consider leading a small group. I’ve created a Leader’s Guide just for you that you can see by clicking here.
  • Tell a friend. I know that you’re an influencer in your group, so your recommendation of the book carries weight! Let them know about this free online book study resource too.

Thanks for anything you do to join me in creating a movement with others who want to kiss perfection good-bye and embrace the joy God has in store for us!

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