Chapter 7 ~The Wellspring of Life

“We don’t have to be marked by where we’ve come from.” ~Jo Ann Fore

It’s amazing how we allow our past to dictate our future. I suppose, if we were honest, we would all admit to having a “secret”-something we don’t want the rest of the world to know. The problem with that is that the longer we hold onto our secret, the heavier it becomes. Maybe you don’t have a secret, but simply aren’t proud of where you’ve been or something you’ve done. God never intended for us to carry our burdens alone. He never promised a burden free life, but He did promise to never leave us or forsake us. He did say in Matthew chapter 11 verse 28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” 

Somehow we seem to manage to get this whole thing all wrong. We wrestle and struggle with areas of life and wonder WHY we are so miserable. We hold on to memories we’d rather forget. We harbor hate & anger and wonder why we can’t feel love. We recall words that have been spoken toward us or about us, and allow the torment to change how we think, feel, and live. I can relate to the fact that we internalize our pain, hurt, disappointment, shattered dreams, and worthless feelings. If you’re like me, perhaps you’ve tried to give your pain to Christ. Maybe you’ve prayed and asked God to take it away only to wake up the next morning with the heaviness of it all still weighing on your heart or in your mind.

“Sometimes it’s easier to hide behind the familiar pain, to replay the same old movie, repeat the same mistakes, blame the same people. But that’s not God’s plan.” Jo Ann Fore (pg. 136)

Through the chapters of our book, When a Woman Finds Her Voice, Jo Ann has helped us learn to stop the negative thinking and to guard our hearts and minds. If we do not learn to stop the negative thinking, we will never move from where we are into what God has for us! We can not think negative thoughts and whisper His words at the same time.  Jo Ann reminds us that this will be a fight, but God has called us to fight! “The fight starts with our hearts, that which matters most of all, the source of everything we do.” (pg. 137)

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Espesians 6:10-18 reminds us, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”

As we go through this week, I’d like to encourage you to remember who’s child you are! Let’s all look upward as we move onward! Knowing life won’t always be easy, but celebrating the fact that God has a plan for our lives and hope for our futures!

 

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Chapter 6~ What’s on Your Mind

“Position God as the Gate-Keeper of your thoughts. Ask him to condition your brain to think positively. To capture lies. To hope. To change.” ~Jo Ann Fore 

The mind is a tricky thing. Especially for a woman! One minute you can be having positive thoughts and life is good, then a few minutes later, you’re down on life and nothing is right. Can you relate? It’s amazing the lies we believe-if only for a moment. But what’s even more amazing is how they take root and seem to grow. Based on our life’s experiences we may struggle with thoughts like, “I’m a throw-away. No one would ever want me.”, “I’m not pretty enough.” “I’m too fat.” “It’s all my fault”. It’s difficult to capture those thoughts and throw them aside. Somehow we seem to ponder on them….and they grow. “…negative thought patterns can become habits, training our behaviors as they dominate and run our brains. Eventually we sink into these habits, and our brains get stuck in this antagonistic place…” (pg. 114)

As I was studying & thinking about all the things I think about (good & bad) I came across these two links by Joyce Meyers. I hope you will take the time to listen. I promise you that if you take time to listen, you will find her segments compliment our chapter this week very well! I’d love to hear (in the comment section) what you learned! 😉

Joyce Meyers-Think Like God Thinks Pt. 1

Joyce Meyers-Think Like God Thinks Pt. 2

 

 

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Chapter 5 ~ A Purpose for the Pain

“God is all-powerful and all-knowing. He is good, merciful, gracious, and sovereign. And if he has  a plan, I want in on it.” ~Jo Ann Fore (pg. 102)

Pain. We’ve all felt it. Perhaps maybe some more than others. It’s easy to get caught up in the “Why’s” of life, but Jo Ann asked a very good question about our pain….

“What if instead of asking “Why?”, we starting asking “What’s next?”. This question alone has the potential to change our lives.” (pg. 89)

I will never be able to explain certain things. It’s hard to imagine sometimes the things we go through or the pain we endure are for good. And in the middle of grief, sorrow, pain, broken hearts, and tears the word “good” rarely comes to mind. However, this chapter created a new way for us to look at life and pain. What IF the pain we’ve endured REALLY does have some good? Our lives can take on a whole new meaning if we surrender our hurt and our pain the Lord.

I’ve been listening to this song A LOT the past few weeks. Now I can just close my eyes and sing along. (Yes, God did say “make a joyful noise”!) By listening to the words and really letting them wash over me, I’ve been able to just close my eyes and let some things go. “So let it go my soul and rest in Him. The waves and wind still know his name….”

Take a few minutes to listen. I want to encourage you to close your eyes and just listen. But be ready to hit “play” again!

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Chapter 4~That Still Small Voice

“If you want to find your voice, you need to hear the voice of God.”

~Mark Batterson

The voice of God…have you heard it? I suppose we all have our own idea of how we think God’s voice sounds. I hear it in many ways. The laughter of my children, the “I love you’s” from my husband, and the soft nickers of my horses. I’ve learned lately that God speaks to us in so many ways. The words of a friend, or in the words of a song I just happened to turn on in the truck on my way somewhere. Just yesterday, I heard him in the words of a total stranger.


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I was sitting in my truck today outside Wendy’s yesterday finishing a phone conversation when a woman came and knocked on my window. She had taken a picture of the ramp on my horse trailer and wanted to make sure it was ok. I told her that of course it was! She went on to share with me how a tough anniversary was coming up for her this weekend, Oct 5th. She had been the wife to a Vietnam soldier and she explained how she lost him to a bottle of scotch. She shared with me her story and explained how horses had saved her. She thanked me for being there at that moment and she knew God had His hand in it. She thanked me for the words and the encouragement it brought her. She continued to share with me some other things, then looked me right in the eyes and said, “Don’t you ever doubt that God has His hand on you. You are encouraging others and making a difference in their lives.”  I reached out and hugged her, my eyes spilling tears. I don’t know her name. I have no idea where she came from, or where she went, but I DO know that her words mean more to me than she may ever know. The ramp on my trailer may have encouraged her, but let me assure you, the words she shared with me were heaven-sent.

ramp

 

I really can’t put into words what all this beautiful woman said to me. Her eyes made such a sincere contact with mine, and she didn’t even know me. It was like while she was talking, time stood still and only she and I were there.

“On this journey to find our own voice, we must first hear his.” ~Jo Ann Fore

Starting on page 73, Jo Ann listed the ways in which we can hear God.

1. God speaks through his Word. (Josh. 1:8; Ps. 119)

2. God speaks through others. (And I can vouch for this one!) (Esp. 4:12; 1 Cor. 12:27

3. God speaks through prayer (Jer. 33:3; Matt. 21:22)

4. God speaks through circumstances (Rom. 8:28)

5. God speaks through the Words of his Son (Heb. 1:1-2; John 1:14-18)

6. God speaks through sneak previews (Rom. 1:20; Ps. 19:1-4)

 

Do you feel like God has spoken to you? In the comment section below, tell me how has that experience helped you find your voice.

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Chapter 3 ~ Quit the Quiet (Why are you being silent?)

silence 2

“A forced silence is a dangerous imposter; painting a canvas of safety while plotting our demise. ” Jo Ann Fore, When a Women Finds Her Voice

(page 48)

Silence. I’ve never been good at being still. Or being silent. Ask anyone that knows me well and they will tell you that I’m a talker (too much sometimes) and a busy-body! Perhaps it’s because when I’m still and/or silent all the stuff I’ve buried comes up. Maybe it’s because my mind is rarely quiet… seems it works around the clock wondering, worrying, creating, praying, learning….  Silence has always been a struggle for me, until this year.

It’s not like it was the first time I’d been hurt. However, this spring, I came to know hurt in a much more personal & spiritual way than I’ve ever known before. Hurt so deep that I wrestled with it during the day & through the night. The word “anxiety” became so real to me. The head aches, stomach aches, and physical trembling haunted me. It’s amazing how the more anxious I felt, the more silent I became. My voice-in so many ways-became silent. And the quieter I became, the more miserable I was. My silence painted the canvas of my life with safety but all the smiles and “I’m ok, you?” ‘s only added to the torment.

Reading through this book, I’m convinced that “all things work together for good”, and God is showing me that all the pain and hurt will become part of my story. I’m not exactly sure how, yet, but I know He’s got a plan. With each chapter, I feel a momentum growing in my heart and when it all comes together, may I glorify His name with my words!  When Jo Ann wrote, “I imagine you, too, have been intimated or shamed into silence at some point. Maybe not an abusive silence, but silence still. I also imagine that must really hurt God’s heart-when we believe what we have to say isn’t important or valued.” (page 48) I KNEW she wrote those words for me. I’ve been absolutely intimated to be silent. My whole platform and story shut down, because I was completely intimated & hurt.  It didn’t resonate with me until now, that perhaps God has hurt over my loss of words. Perhaps I missed out helping some women because I fell silent.

“…God’s plan for us. He longs for us to be who we really are. To find and use our real voices. Our voices matter-it’s a valuable gift from God, and is designed to be used.” (page 49)

What would happen if we all took off our masks and just spoke our truth? What if we used our hurt to help the woman next to us? How FREE would you feel if someone just knew the truth?

“It’s something we all long for, especially when we’re hurting inside. Acceptance. Approval. Confirmation that we somehow matter. Ultimately, true validation has to come from God, yes, but healthy recognition sure warms the heart.” (page 51)

woman

In order for you and I to find our voices, we must forgive-we’ve got to let go. We’ve got to quit burying all the hurt and give to God-and LEAVE it. I know… easier said than done. Sometimes it seems it’s a daily battle-maybe even hourly. But letting go and letting God is the only way to break the silence and find freedom! We must make the choice to forgive and allow God to do HIS work. Jo Ann points out that the Greek word for forgive actually means “letting go”. And… if you’re a control freak like me, letting go can be the hardest thing you’ve ever been asked to do. When we let go, we have to let go of any control that we’ve had (in whatever sort of fashion) of our circumstance and TRUST that God will take care of us. It’s easy to say we trust God, but when it comes to the root of our pain and hurt, do we really?

“Forgiveness is the pathway to freedom, the passage to finding our voices.” (page 53)

What words spoke to you this week? How has God spoken to you through this book? In the comment section tell me how you’re doing! And let me encourage you to find a trusted friend this week in which to share your story with.

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Forgiveness…..

I th

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I thought maybe someone (besides myself) could use this.

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Chapter 2~ Outside the Garden-What are you burying?

“Hiding won’t protect our hearts forever. ~Jo Ann Fore

When A Woman Finds Her Voice page 37

shovel

It’s amazing isn’t it? How easily we can bury our “stuff”. The hurt, the pain…it’s much easier to hide when we just bury it. Words that were spoken in hate or anger. Or perhaps words that were never spoken at all. Maybe some of your pain is from nasty posts someone puts on facebook that are full of lies and hate but directed toward you.  Our pain can come in the form of memories we’d like to bury so deep no one would ever be able to find them. Perhaps your pain has left you with physcial scars that you can’t avoid looking at day in and day out. I don’t know about you, but it’s been much easier for me to deal with hurt, disappointment, let down, and bad memories by just burying them. The further I bury them, the less I have to deal with them. The deeper they are, the less likely they are to grow. Or so, I’ve thought…..

This chapter was a little challenging for me. Jo Ann brought up a lot of truths in this chapter that really made me stop and think. One of them, “Life as a poser we understand. But the day the desire to become what we had only pretended to be wages war against our pretender-selves-That is the day real life begins.” , helped me realize that by burying all my “stuff” I’m less authenic to my peers, my followers, and even my family then I’d ever thought. When she called me a “poser” I had to stop and take a breath! I strive VERY hard in my life to be REAL. Afterall, I KNOW that I don’t want to hang out with or be around fake women. Our world is full of them and I’ve always thought I was different. But guess what..?? I’m not. Until now, I’ve been just like them. I’ve wanted to have a spit-shined image and everyone think that I’ve got it all together, when in fact, I have NOTHING together! I’m a mother of 4 children that I worry about, pray for, love, clean up after, help with homework, play nurse for, along with a dozen other things. My house is totally lived in. It’s not a museum-although there are days-plenty of them-I wish it were. I own more horses than I care to post (yes it’s under 15), and they take a lot of time and care. My life is full of facebook posts that have been especially difficult for me to write lately, so I have just posted pictures. (I know…. I know….) I’ve been wrestling with so much STUFF lately, that I haven’t taken the time to realize that everything I’m truly wrestling with is all the stuff I’ve buried! And ya’ll, I’ll be the first to admit…. I do NOT want to dig up any of it! But with God’s help, I know I can. (I feel a big nudge…..)

What part of this chapter spoke to you? Are you ready to dig up your “stuff” and let God help you sift through it? He never said we had to do this alone. And maybe (if you’re like me) you’ve been motivated to bury it because you felt like you were alone. But God knows it’s there. He knows what’s holding up back and what we have to let go of and give to him.

What words did you highlight in your book this week?

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