We are delighted to feature this interview from our Titus 2 woman series with Suzanne Eller, first published in the TREASURE issue of Joyful Life Magazine. Through her various roles—speaking, writing bestsellers, co-hosting her inspiring podcast, and advocating for women across the world who minister in the trenches—Suzanne Eller exudes the joy of Jesus, putting Him first in everything she does. We hope you, too, will be encouraged by the wisdom and experience this incredible godly woman has to share.
What is your salvation story?
I didn’t understand the beauty of faith as a teenager. Home was very hard at that time, and I was angry and hurting. A friend asked me to go to church several times, and finally, I said yes, believing if I went she’d be satisfied and stop asking.
I stood in the back of that church, angry at God. I saw that people believed, and wanted to understand. So I ‘challenged’ God—all 100 lbs. of me. I told him that I was mad at Him (if He did exist), but I wanted to know if He was real.
To this day I can’t explain what took place, except that I felt Him. I felt His love, and I felt Him reaching for me in response to my hurting, angry heart. Later, I walked away believing that God not only existed but saw me and was aware that things were hard. He also saw my heart. I was raw and a bit of a mess, but that “yes” to His love changed the direction of my life and has continued to transform the lives of my extended family as well. What a gift.
How do you prioritize your time with the Lord and what does this look like from a practical perspective in this season of life? What are your favorite Bible study tools and tips for studying God’s Word?
My morning begins with a long walk with my sweet guy. I’m not a morning person, so when I get back, I take care of the details that don’t require all of me, like emails.
Then I spend time with God.
I love that we are all so uniquely created. I am grateful that my time with Him isn’t dictated by an hour of the day, but by the way He wired me.
It works well, because after my time with Him I begin to write and study as I write my next book, or blog post, or work-in-progress. I asked God a long time ago that His presence would remain as I write. And He does. I love it when I’m studying or writing and am overwhelmed by a truth or something that I discover about His character or goodness.
For years I underlined and marked my Bible—and I still do—but I also love listening to the Bible or podcasts that teach from the Bible. I have also discovered Bible journaling. I’m not great at it, but it’s a beautifully creative way to study the Bible.
What is a significant character trait of God that you’ve come to know by means of walking through a trial and how did He reveal Himself to you through that season of struggle?
I’m a cancer survivor of 29 years. I was stage 3 at the age of 31, a mama with three little ones and a man I loved like crazy. The trait He gave me was surprising joy in the midst of struggle. It didn’t make sense, but I found pockets of it when I needed it most. Walking through that trial revealed what mattered. I have just turned 60 (how did it get here so fast?) and I love every wrinkle and those few extra pounds I gained. It’s all evidence of the years I’ve been given.
What is your best advice for women wanting to grow in the area of hospitality and what are some practical ways that you have intentionally engaged in it?
Just do it. Don’t wait until it’s perfect, because what you have to offer is enough. I remember people in my home church opening their home to me and other teenagers. To this day, I don’t remember what their home looked like exactly (the details), but I do remember how they made me feel.
That extends to adults as well. Have fun with hospitality. If it’s your gifting to be creative, run with it. But if it feels like stress or pressure, change your expectations. You have something to offer by simply opening your doors and kitchen table to others.
What was your most difficult season of motherhood or marriage and how did God use that season of struggle to grow you and strengthen your faith?
Richard was in a job for years that he didn’t love. Taking a leap of faith felt impossible because of the financial aspects. I watched my husband, who was vibrant and fun, go silent. For a season, I felt like I lost the guy I loved, simply because the night shifts and physical work was taking such a toll. I prayed for him nightly, laying my hands on him after he went to sleep.
While I shared my hopes with him, leaving the job was his choice.
This is where I struggled.
Trusting God to speak to him wasn’t hard. Instead, I struggled to believe my husband would hear Him.
It took three years for him to leave once we began praying about it. It wasn’t my timing, but it was his and God’s timing. He went back to school and became a therapist. Though we sold our home and many of our belongings to move to a small university city, I loved watching him come back to life.
God was in the waiting, I know that now and knew it then, but it wasn’t easy. God wasn’t idle at that time. He was working in both of us, asking us to trust Him.
In what way is the Lord growing and stretching you right now in your current season?
I left a beautiful ministry a couple of months ago—Proverbs 31 Ministries—after 14 years of serving as a writer and speaker. I loved working with them and will miss them, but knew that God was leading me into a new season.
It’s easy to walk away from something you don’t love or where there are hard feelings. It’s much harder to walk away out of obedience when things are good and you love the people and the ministry.
He’s growing and stretching me as I trust Him in this new season. I’ll still be podcasting, writing, and blogging, but I want to step more into advocacy. I’ve been hosting Together projects for the past three years, coming alongside women-led ministries serving in the trenches to help women with no voice. This has led me to nonprofits and ministries that may be struggling but are making a huge impact. There’s more to do and I’m asking God to show me what that looks like. I can’t wait to see what He has in store for the future.
What is one piece of advice or encouragement you received from an older woman that has had a lasting impact on your own life or family? Tell us a bit about the woman and the circumstances of her sharing it.
I was at ICRS years ago. ICRS is an International book convention for authors, publishers, and buyers. At that time I was still a newer author. I was at a publisher luncheon when Kay Arthur stood next to me and asked me to sit with her. She had a new book launching but pointed to my book when someone approached her. It was gracious and generous.
She leaned over and started giving me advice, gleaned from her own journey. At one point she said, “You’ll be tempted in every part of this to forget what it’s really about. Don’t let that happen.”
At the end of the luncheon, I walked a long hall and found a vacant bathroom and bawled like a baby. I didn’t realize until that time how I had always been the “mama” to others. Having a seasoned faith warrior speak over my life and calling with a mothers’ heart felt like an incredible gift. I don’t know if she remembers this. Likely, I’m one of hundreds she’s generously encouraged.
How have you been intentional about prioritizing friendships with other women? How has God used those friends as a means of grace in your life and to help see you through times of struggle?
This came later in life for me and it’s something I treasure! I’ve had good friends, but not necessarily friendships that I nurtured well. I have several friends, all who are very different from each other, and I put a higher priority on that.
When I was younger, I thought there had to be that perfect time. It doesn’t work that way in this busy culture. So I’m not afraid to text a friend and say, “Hey, I’m going on a walk. Want to join me?”
I did this just last night. A friend met me at a local lake and we walked a few miles together. We talked, laughed, and neither of us minded that we were wearing ball caps and ponytails and no makeup. What mattered was the connection.
What do you miss about the state of our culture, and specifically the state of biblical womanhood, from 20 years ago?
I want to be so honest here. Biblical womanhood can feel like a murky subject.
I love that Jesus always elevated the women He met. He respected women. He saw them. They were changed by their relationship with Him.
I want that for all of us, whether 20 years ago or 20 years in the future. Just to know His love, and understand He has a plan for us, and to step into that.
As a ministry leader—how has that commitment impacted your marriage and family and how has God met you in the various seasons of walking out that calling? How have you learned to balance your priorities and navigate the challenges of maintaining such a busy career?
I believe this is a tension for many women, in all areas, not just ministry. So I lay everything I do for the Lord before the Lord about every six months. I ask these questions:
- Is this something that I should continue?
- Has this season ended?
- Is there something new You have for me to do?
- Is there something that needs to shift (less/more priority)?
I believe that God is the One who calls us, and He will show us what to do. The more challenging part is laying something down that you love (I just did this), or giving less priority to something that you birthed and that season has finished. But if He is the one asking and it’s about Him, if we hold onto it, it’s no longer about Him, but us.
I also have a great cheerleader in my husband. He firmly believes in that call on my life and prays for me and encourages me.
Suzanne (Suzie) is an ECPA bestselling author, and podcaster. She’s an International speaker and Bible teacher, ministering to women across the U.S. and in several countries. Suzie has written 12 books and her latest, “Prayer Starters: Talking with God about Hard Times,” releases October, 2022. She’s the host of Prayer Starters podcast, and co-host, along with Holley Gerth and Jennifer Watson, of More Than Small Talk, both with the KLRC network podcast. Suzie is a popular media guest and has been featured on Focus on the Family, Aspiring Women, Harvest Show, 100 Huntley Street, KLOVE, Daystar and many others. Suzie lives in NW Arkansas with her family, and loves to kayak, hike, and dance with her littles at the farmer’s market.
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