Today’s post was inspired by a timely message given by Beth Guckenberger who is serving as Interim Pastor for a local church here, The Vineyard Cincinnati.

I’ve written many posts highlighting my friend Beth. She and her husband took and assignment from God some 20+ years ago to begin a great work caring for orphans.


“Back2Back Ministries is the best orphan care organization operating in the world today.”

-Steve Biondo, President, Tim Tebow Foundation

This year, Back2Back launched a new global ministry, TRAMA FREE WORLD.

Breaking the cycle of childhood trauma

Trauma Free World is a community dedicated to helping people around the world heal from childhood trauma. We are headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA and offer training all around the world, as well as online for anyone with an internet connection or mobile phone. Trauma Free World partners with leading trauma researchers to adapt cutting edge trauma research into training that is accessible to all, regardless of literacy level, and applicable across cultures.

I hope you will take a look at these life changing ministries, and prayerfully consider participating in them!

Beth’s Message comes from Romans 14. “How to Love When We Disagree!” You can listen below…I promise you will be greatly encouraged by it!

Bullet Journal Spread for Bible Study & Devotionals

I am currently reading Beth Guckenberger’s 40 day devotional “Reckless Faith” -a 40 day journey to saying yes.

Beth Guckenberger has compiled forty life-changing messages to encourage a life of reckless faith. This devotional journey walks through the adventure and joy that follows a yes to Jesus. Through a unique approach of reflecting on experiences to create internal change and external action steps, each day tells personal stories of when she accepted a challenge to grow. Some stories take place on the mission field and some around her table, but all hold insight to inspire a life with Jesus, who longs to work in and through us all. This journey will help you: – Experience reckless faith adventures – Relate biblical truths to your daily life – Understand God’s heart for others

About Beth

Beth and her husband, Todd, live with their family in Cincinnati, Ohio where they serve as Co-Executive Directors of Back2Back Ministries. After graduating from Indiana University, the Guckenbergers moved to Monterrey, Mexico where they lived for 15 years. Between biological, foster, and adopted children, they have raised ten children.

Beth is the author of eight books including adult and children’s titles. She travels and speaks regularly at conferences, youth gatherings and church services. Her style is based in story-telling and she draws from her vast field experience as a missionary, Bible teacher and parent for illustrations of biblical concepts.

Beth is an incredible story teller, and for this visual learner, she illuminates truth like no other. The Lord has blessed her with the ability to communicate spiritual truth with a humility and compassion that completely draws you to HIM. Through the power of the Holy Spirit you will be moved. She speaks from experience out in the trenches, doing God’s work…stumbling along the way, as she becomes more like Christ with each step. She invites you into her journey and you walk away friends:)

Today, I want to share my process for journaling this 40 day devotional with you. It can be used to journal any devotional or scripture study, but works perfectly with the way Beth sets up each daily entry in her book.

Above is my Journal. Baron Fig Confidant. (Slightly smaller than A5) There are definitely aspects about it that I don’t like. I fixed one issue by painting the front and back with acrylic paint. (It has a linen like cover that picks up dirt and grease, yuk!) The layout of the book and the size are certainly to my liking, but the pages are very thin, and don’t hold up well with any heavier applications of pen/marker or paint. I primarily use watercolor and microns, so I can manage, but below is my FAVORITE dot bullet journal that will take almost ANY product without bleed through! (And I love the wipeable cover!) Size/A5

Each of the 40 days in “Reckless Faith” contain: an Experience, a reflection Scripture, Probing Reflective Questions, and an Action step. Below is how I set up my spread to utilize these elements.

Click on the image above for the printable pdf


I use the top left box (Date/March) to write the FACTS/TRUTHS I pull from the scripture highlighted(top right), using the 3,2,1 Method of Study.

In the “Action space” (left page top right space next to the Date/Truth box) I write my “Response” The ACTION God is calling me to take. I try to write this in the form of a plan that I can implement daily. Beth gives you a specific task to accomplish which is a great way to put what you’ve learned into DOING:)


In the top Right box I RE-WRITE the scripture. I find that the simple exercise of prayerfully re-writing scripture helps me meditate over it and remember it! Ask the Holy Spirit for direction and insight, He will teach you “the deep things of God that you do not know!” (1 Corinthians 2)

The vertical box on the lower left side of the right page is where I place a specific WORD that jumps out at me in the story Beth shares or a lesson point she makes. Sometimes, I write a phrase…it’s usually the main point for the day:)

On the lower Right Side (of the right page) I describe the Word box in more detail. Sometimes I add a visual using a drawing or photo.

I pre-cut thin, brown paper bags to use as a 3 x 4 background or I tear pieces of recycled bags and place “strategically” on any of the sections. I also pre-cut watercolor squares/rectangles to use for paintings/drawings. This way, you can create something outside your journal, and will get better results on watercolor paper. MANY TIMES, I cover up boo boos by adding paper! If I cannot correct an oops, I just grab paper, glue it in, and cover it up!

Devotions / Sue Carroll/
This is a COVER UP (left page bottom) over my notes section where I made a big boo boo!

I spend a big chunk of time each morning studying and creating my pages.(1-2 hours) I save time by drawing out the page layout structure, a week at a time, on the weekend. I typically do one, 2 page spread, 5 days a week and use the weekend to layout my pages so they are ready to fill in during the week.


I’ve included a FREE printable that you can use to make your own stickers! You can find sticker paper on amazon HERE.

Click on the image to access printable / then click on the title that comes up to print

Hopefully I’ve given you some resources that will be useful to you as you spend precious time with the Lord.

“The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.”’

“Look to the ROCK from which you were cut” -Isaiah

Hi sweet Sisters!

Do you ever get to the end of a great book and wish it would last longer?

This is how I feel about Beth Guckenberger’s latest book START WITH AMEN. 

In Chapter 12 (the last chapter 😩), Beth writes this:

I believe this is how God sees us, so firmly grafted into His tree that His history becomes ours. The stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are my stories. The tales of Daniel, David, Ruth, and Rahab are my family lore. Now that I am adopted into his family and considered a coheir with Christ, their faith is where I come from. “Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn” the prophet Isaiah challenged us (Isa. 51: 1). I am in this community, and by design, the more I identify with it, the stronger I will be.”

The Bible calls the community that goes before us the “great cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12: 1). They fought battles and stood firm. They trusted when it was hard and let go, surrendering to a plan written long ago. They embraced this live-amen theology in ways that leave me breathless…”

Isn’t it reassuring, that the cast list of THE GREAT WITNESSES are imperfect…just like you and me:)

God’s story, our story, is filled with “players”  that have highs and lows, faith & unbelief, obedience and disobedience; but in the end…God uses them all for His glory and our good, and still does…the story isn’t over.

Our story isn’t over.

Our bloodline, our heritage…lies within this community of faith. A community of imperfect believers who were able to look beyond the circumstances of life on earth, because they obeyed. Through them, we can see the thread of God’s glory running throughout the pages of scripture from beginning to end.

AND…because of  His mercy and love, He chooses to rebuild…sending “someone from the outside” to enter in and level the playing field…It was His plan all along.

We’re messy and complicated…a dysfunctional family at best, yet at the core, very simple.

God is love. God loves us, despite our wandering hearts.

And it is by FAITH & through HIS POWER that we are able to join this cast of overcomers…we’ve already been written into the story.

We can’t easily grasp the reality of what lies beyond our human reasoning and understanding, but the faithful witnesses listed below chose to hunker down and lean in hard anyway, setting aside their own agendas for the will of God…

forever “growing” our family tree.

“These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. (Heb. 11)”

We are in this together Sisters! You and me, Abraham and Noah…Rahab and David.

And so amen. If you’ll ask me to administer justice and conquer kingdoms, so be it. If you rescue me from flames and swords and enemies abound, I’ll credit you. There is a better resurrection ahead. Amen. There is a communion with you I’ll prefer to any other. I confess my sins. Forgive me, amen. I adore you, your ways, your plans, your nearness. Where you go, I’ll go. I’ll struggle along the way, but I trust you’ll give me what I need. Oh, dear Jesus . . .” 

-Beth Guckenberger

Beth, I’d like to read more, but I know that the there is more story left in you. There is more to be written, so I will look forward to your next book…God’s good work in you, passed on to others.

“Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn” (Isaiah 51:1)

Blessings fellow witnesses!



“It’s Time To Write A Scroll Of Remembrance”

GOOD DAY! Today is a new week…a chance for a new start:) Thank you Father.

In response to Chapter 12 in Beth Guckenberger’s book START WITH AMEN.

The Book of Remembrance

Malachi 3
16 Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. 17 “They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. 18 Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.

“Those who FEARED the Lord SPOKE with ONE ANOTHER.” Community. The Body together.

“The Lord PAID ATTENTION & HEARD THEM…and a book of remembrance was written before Him of those who feared the Lord and & ESTEEMED HIS NAME.”


“THEY SHALL BE MINE, says the Lord of hosts, IN THE DAY WHEN I MAKE UP MY TREASURED POSSESSION, AND I WILL SPARE THEM as a man spared his son who serves him.

My God…OUR God…pays attention to us, hears us, and WHILE WE ARE STILL SINNERS (against Him) He counts us as a TREASURED POSSESSION…granting us mercy through His grace.

Now that’s something worth writing about! That’s something worth remembering, right?

But, we get up each day, forgetting the last act of tender mercy our Father showered upon us.

I TRY not to, but it happens in this mess of flesh in which I’m contained.

Anyone who know me, knows I have REAL trouble with numbers, dates, times, schedules.  My bestest friends are so kind and full of grace and often reach out to remind me of things I am suppose to do and places I am suppose to be!

It’s so easy to get distracted…we NEED one another…read the above text again…

“those who feared the Lord spoke with one another …and the “Lord paid attention and heard them”

Over and over we are reminded in scripture…love one another, encourage one another, serve one another BE with one another…this is where God reveals the beauty of relationship…they way He designed them to be. It is the way He unifies the body for one purpose…to LOVE…in Him.

So in this section of scripture I am drawn to the truth that there are other ways that God teaches us to REMEMBER.

Remembering is critical…recalling His provision and faithfulness gives us the confidence to keep moving forward. God tells us so:)

Recording His truth, writing about His faithfulness, is key to REMBERING…

and in remembering, our FAITH is strengthened and reinforced.



I LOVE what Beth’s says about it’s purpose…

“This record will benefit us on days when we forget where we’ve been and our appetites get the best of us. It’s a gift we’ll give ourselves and each other, and it can be left behind to encourage the saints yet to come. It should read like one long so be it and have the sound of surrender embedded in each line. In the end, all that we write, all that we’ve done, and all that we are comes from him. It’s with him and by him that we cry out, “Dear Jesus . . .”


If you are a journaler, take heart…”not only will you give yourself a precious and lasting gift… you will leave behind much needed encouragement for the saints yet to come!”




What if EVERY city gave Jesus it’s keys?!!


God is mighty and just and He is faithful to bless obedience.

He moves MOUNTAINS through it…He restores people, and churches, and cities!

God WILL and DOES great things with the few and the weak.  It is when He moves in the most unlikely places that we sit up and take notice.

Beth (Start With Amen : by Beth Guckenberger) takes us to one of those unlikely places as she shares the story of CITY REVIVAL in Chapter 11 of Start With Amen. 

It began with a prayer, a dream, a vision…and through the obedience of one, God’s miraculous plan began to unfold in Monterrey Mexico.

“It was 2011, and in Monterrey, Mexico, where I was living, 1,782 people were assassinated in the much-reported drug war. The cartel conflict had grown so thick that by the fall of that year, people were no longer going out at night for tacos, a true sign of a Mexican crisis.”                       -BETH GUCKENBERGER

One Pastor, (Salatial) through the work of the Holy Spirit, moved from passive listening to action. I won’t go into all the details, because I REALLY want you to read BETH’S BOOK! The gist of the story is this. Against ALL odds, against the “push back of man” against the enemy who came to kill and destroy, one faithful follower began to do what God called him to do, without question. 

The result… A CITY THAT TURNED IT’S KEYS OVER TO JESUS CHRIST! Can you even believe that? Just wow.


Man, what if that became a greater reality …throughout our nation and the world… Cities that publicly handed over the their keys to Jesus!!! Get out of town! No, really… it’s enough to cause the enemy to “GET OUT OF TOWN!”

It IS possible…with Christ ALL things are possible.

It starts with us. You and me.

What specific action is God calling us to do TODAY? TOMOROW, AND THE NEXT DAY AFTER THAT? It takes a ready heart, willing to listen, willing to set aside personal agenda for God’s agenda.

Like Salatial, we have mountains to move, and it starts one rock at a time. EVERY DAY is an opportunity that the Lord gives to each of us.

What rock is He asking you to carry, to move, to lift up? I want to be more intentional about listening for the smallest of details, and following though with the hard stuff.

Instead of throwing stones, I want to lift them.

“I’m starting with the man in the mirror”  – Michael Jackson had it right.

It’s not about what someone else is or isn’t doing…it’s about me.


If we move the rocks God calls us to move, we can ALL have more tacos!


Let’s get hungry:)

Bless you,





Go to the Tent

Today, I’m in Chapter 9 of Beth Guckenberger’s book Start With Amen.

The  visual connection with Beth’s scripture reference today is a reminder of our heritage…our ancestors…(the Israelistes) and their relationship with The Father.

Exodus 33:7-10

The Tent of Meeting
7 Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.” Anyone inquiring of the Lord would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. 8 And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. 9 As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. 10 Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to their tent.

It’s  a familiar tradition throughout time…to pitch our tent, to put our stake in the ground.

But the Lord did not intend for us to singularly and independently set up our tent…His plan was for us to do it together…with Him.

When we stop and listen, we enter into what the Israelites called the “tent of meeting.” It’s ridiculously special to have a standing invitation by the Creator to connect on how I feel, what he wants, where we’re going” -Beth Guckenberger 

I love this visual…God’s tent. -That in this simple, humble abode, God chooses to meet with us.

Does it not send you to a place of awe, to recognize that are BIG God wants to meet with us in our lowly little tents?????

…and our response…

we often don’t’ stop to meet. Instead we rush off to the coffee shop for our mug o’ joe and then on to the rest of our day that WE have scheduled.

His schedule, His plan, has eternal purpose for our good and for the good of others!

My favorite part of this scripture is this:

Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to their tent.”

Worship inspired worship. Praise inspired praise. Love inspired love.

When we refuse to stop and listen, we do not inspire worship, we do not inspire praise, we do not inspire LOVE.

When we refuse to obey our GOOD Father, we become a “sour note” …distracting from the BEAUTIFUL score that God is orchestrating for our good, and the good of countless others.

Can you hear that clunker?  It’s easy to pick out that conflicting sound isn’t it? Especially when it’s someone else’s instrument! (Yuk)

( This analogy is especially real for me…yes, I was in the band)

When we are in harmony with God and in turn, with each other we are a lovely instrument, that adds depth and wonder to His piece.

And it all starts in the tent.

Pitch that tent in the land of HOPE (Acts 2:25-28 MSG), and remember that EVERY note is a part of God’s BIG Symphony. We all need a daily “sound check” to tune our instrument, right?!!

Bless you!







What’s in it for me?!

I’ve often linked the phrase ” What’s in it for me? ” with a BIG FAT negative. It’s a selfish statement, right? If I do this for you, what am I going to get in return?  I usually try to do a “self check” (prodded by the Holy Spirit) when serving, speaking, sharing, or posting.  Because…my history would label me as a “people pleaser” and long ago, my primary purpose in serving others, was to serve myself a heaping helping of “you’re ok Sue!”

I still continue to ask the Lord to reveal my true motivation, and set me straight when needed, but when I read from Chapter 9 in Beth Guckenberger’s book, Start with Amen,  I was reminded of a different perspective! One that sees the “what’s in it for me?” as a postitive.

I came to this conclusion as I read Beth’s story about the Taxi driver.

I was in Mexico City, needing a cab to take me to the embassy. The hotel called a secure taxi service, and within minutes I was riding with Ignacio, a man who had been driving a cab for decades. Pretty quickly, we engaged in a spiritual conversation. He told me what was wrong with the church and with Christians. I listened, jumped in where appropriate, trying to insert truth with grace. As we neared my destination, I concluded with, “Maybe the Lord brought me to your backseat today because he wanted to stir your spiritual pot. He is undoubtedly pursuing you, Ignacio.”  -Beth Guckenberger (from START WITH AMEN)

Well, the story goes on, and let me just say, the Lord crosses Beth’s path with Ignacio again!

The thing that the Holy Spirit brought to my mind as I read this story is this:

We can more easily see when God is calling us to minister to a brother or a sister, and be excited that our GREAT God would use little ol’ us to do His good work.

But, we can also walk away from this amazing blessing without seeing what was “in it for us.”  It is in those precious moments, when the Lord allows us to be used, to pour out His glory and His love on another, that He does a GREAT WORK in the message deliverer.

He uses ALL THINGS for the GOOD of those who love Him:)

I often walk away from serving (when my motivation is pure) feeling WAY MORE poured into, than I “poured out.”

That is just how GOOD our God LOVES us! He blesses us beyond measure, when we simply obey.

I need to be reminded of this daily. ESPECIALLY  when I’m called to serve in ways my human emotions want to avoid!

Again, I thank Beth…who has a gift for extending visual truth to this visual learner! God bless you in your obedience ❤️

Let’s do some cookin’ !

Bless you Sister!



You came for me

For those of you following, you know I’ve been so touched and inspired by Beth Guckenberger’s book ; Start With Amen.

You can find it here.

As I continue to read in Chapter 8, Beth shares a story that reached down and grabbed me in a place that was so familiar.

“In extreme naïveté, I once went running alone in downtown Tiranë, Albania, and got horribly lost. No cell phone, no language skills, no idea where I was. Hours later, as though he were in a scene from an overdramatic telenovela, Todd, my then-boyfriend, came out of nowhere, looking like none of the thousands of people surrounding me, and I ran to him. My only words: “You came for me.” “

From Start with Amen by Beth Guckenberger

You came for me. With disbelief, those words reach deep…Deep into the fear of not measuring up, not being good enough…living with the lie that I might be alone, that I might be unloved. (But only by the “world’s” standards)

I imagine that day Beth describes.

Racing with panic, fear, hopelessness…lost and unable to find the way out.,. and then, someone you love, someone you trust, someone who you long for, is there to rescue you, and your heart sighs with relief and gratitude…hopeful that everything will be ok.

When I was about 10, I ventured out to our local amusement park with 2 friends. Mom dropped us off for a day of fun and newly found independence.

I should have followed my husband’s Grossie’s advice (which she followed without exception until the day she went to be with the Lord) “NEVER go anywhere with and uneven number…especially 3…you’ll find trouble.”

I think she was right.

The other 2 girls thought it would be fun to “ditch” me. (the trouble)

Not so fun for me.

I happen to be on the extreme end of the emotional chart, which didn’t help the situation. At the tender age of 10, I was already filled with lies about myself and was well on my way to the land of great insecurity. My first response was panic, followed by confusion, rejection, and fear.

I was alone. The girls I was with, well…I thought they were my friends. Friends don’t abandon…until they do. (Jesus knew this first hand)  I wanted to go home. I wanted to call my Mom to come for me…but, this was the first time I had been allowed to go without a chaperone and I didn’t want to prove myself unworthy of the privilege; besides, we didnt have cell phones back in the Stone Age. It wasn’t so easy to call.

I spent many hours wandering alone. Often hiding from the crowds due to embarrassment. My “friends” forgot about me and had a good time.

I was so thankful when the day was over, and my Mom came for me. The relief that washed over me when I was “rescued” by someone who loved me…someone who would take me somewhere safe, was overwhelming. (Of course, I didn’t say a word about it to my Mom 😕)

You came for me….me.


Jesus came for us all. No need to be embarrassed. We ALL needed saving!

If you have children, make sure you tell them they are loved by THE KING…beyond measure. Remind them every day, that they are NOT who their friends say they are…The Creator of the universe doesn’t make mistakes, and He made them for a great purpose, born out of a great love. In Him they are accepted, chosen, adopted, forgiven, redeemed, set apart and loved beyond understanding.

Our Savior came for

Every. one.




Worship like the Elephants!

Happy Friday!

Hoping that you are gearing up for a fun-filled weekend with family to celebrate the 4th of July! How did it get to be July already????

So, some of you may know that I’m reading a WONDERFUL Book by Beth Guckenberger called Start With Amen.  (YOU CAN FIND IT HERE)

In Chapter 8, Beth shares a story about a worship experience in Mexico.

“I was spending the day in a marginalized community in Mexico. I had with me twenty or so visitors, and I was trying to train their eyes on the unseen. I told them, “Don’t look at the houses around you. Look instead at their relationships. Don’t ask about food, about how much or how well they’re fed. Ask about provision.”

“This day, however, we were focused on the exchange, on balancing the equation by not giving without receiving. I told them we do a disservice when we give and don’t take. That might seem counterintuitive, but when we give and don’t receive, we subtly say, “You have nothing to offer me.” (And I get away with holding you at arm’s length). It was a beautiful day of tender and vulnerable leaning in, culminating in a worship service.” -Beth Guckenberger

Wow. Have you ever thought about that statement…

When we give and don’t receive, we subtly say -‘You have nothing to offer me.’  

The truth of the matter is, the only thing worth offering, we can ALL have in abundance, when we are bound to our Savior.

The idea that I might extend the message of worthlessness due to circumstance or status hit me hard.  I know that in my pride, I often deny help, when accepting it is always a win-win for all involved.  I often “decide” that the person wanting to help, already has too much on their plate without thinking through the possibility that God has assigned them to the task with good reason. In fact, I do exactly what I accuse others of doing to me…stealing joy.

As we give, we extend what has been extended to us; fulfilling our purpose to love others the way Christ has commissioned. As we receive, we are allowing that call to be completed, receiving provision from the hand of God. Win win.

This story of worship that Beth shares leaves me with the most beautiful image…of coming before the Lord with all you have, with every expectation of meeting Him, heart to heart. And bringing others along!

The analogy of the elephant brought it home for me. Corporate worship has a great purpose, one that completes (forgive my reference) the CIRCLE OF LIFE. As we come to the Lord He desires for us to bring others along…to lead our fellow elephants to the well of living water, like the bull…

Bull elephants release a subsonic sound when they find water. This sound is detectable within a thirty-mile radius. Humans can’t hear it, but elephants can, and they come in response to the call. Once gathered, the elephants naturally begin to tramp on the ground, aware that water is below the surface. As they stomp together, a phenomenon called liquefaction occurs. It’s a scientific concept explaining how the vibration loosens the soil, liquefies the sand, and creates a collapse of the ground that eventually forms a sinkhole full of water. The elephants literally tap into the water table.

With every respect to my fellow worshippers, it felt like the first woman who raised her voice signaled to the rest of us she had found water. As we moved toward her and sensed the water she was promising, the noise got louder, and the ground eventually gave way until we, like elephants, tapped into the living water source and all drank freely.” -Beth Guckenberger

I want to worship like the elephant! Leading others to the well.


Thank you Beth! I’ll never look at an elephant without thinking of the well of Worship!

In Him,