I found It and I’m No Longer Afraid to Use It

My VOICE that is!

Unfortunately I started having my unavoidable life confrontational experiences when I was a teenager and as with everyone they continued into adulthood. The sad thing was I didn’t rededicate my life to God until 2002 and at that time I just tried to not have any conversations with negative connotations, but when I did have to have them they didn’t go well. Finally, after much studying of God’s Word and reading “When a Woman Finds Her Voice” I have, at the age of 42, found my voice. Now I am not always perfect, but with God’s help my voice allows me to have both hard and blessed conversations with many people.

Since I have started using my voice in the correct ways, I have found my relationships becoming stronger. My husband and I can be honest with each other without having to worry about the anger because we know if one of us doesn’t agree with other it is okay, we are going to work through it. It may mean in the end, we agree to disagree, on that particular subject but we both have the freedom to express our feelings. This has been even more beneficial since my husband was injured in November and we have been together almost 24/7 and will be until at least March.
I am able to try and explain to my daughter now, how she can have the dreadful confrontations that sometimes have to take place on the set, with the director or producer, in the work place or in dealing with parents as she is coaching their children but yet do so in a God honoring, respectful way. She can also do this with her own teammates, the owner of the studio, the Athletic Director at the school, the parents at the school and the co-head coach. As I mentioned to her, it is much better to learn this at age 20 as supposed to age 42. It will allow her to cultivate many more relationships than to burn the bridges.

The best thing I have found in using my voice is a closer walk with God, I realized one of the first and most consistent things I must do each day to find my voice is renew my mind and to do that I had to catch every one of the thoughts that entered my mind. Each time a thought came in I had to determine if it was something God would want me to think, if not I had to replace it. If a scripture or another truth of God’s didn’t come to mind fast enough I had a five statement pledge of faith I had memorized from another popular Bible study teacher that I would say to myself and that way no matter where my focus it was put right back on God.

Please don’t feel like these were quick, easy tasks. If you decide to go down this path there will be times of heartache, frustration, tears and times when you just want to give up as you wonder why you decided to go this way, just remember the enemy only attacks those he is threatened by and sees is getting closer to Christ. In the midst of the hard times you will have times that are happy, joyous, peaceful and loving. Leaving you to wonder why you waited so long to start this and do this. In the end as I continue to work through all of this I just know that I wouldn’t want it any other way, even in the bad times I will talk with God, turn on worship music, write in my journal, call a friend and sometimes just have a good therapeutic cry. You can do this with God on your side, nothing is impossible, just keep using your voice.

THE BEST BUT ONE OF THE HARDEST DECISIONS EVER

BEING OBEDIENT TO GOD

I am learning during this study to delight in my obedience to God as Lysa encourages us to do in chapter 7 instead of being defined by a number. This has never been and still isn’t easy for me. I am someone who has been dealing with my weight numbers since age seven, for a total of 35 years. I am learning, however, that if I hang in there with God I can do anything that is in His will, if I work at with Him, being Obedient.

This is not a time to use the excuse of evidentially it is not in God’s will for me to be thin. Well maybe looking thin is not in God’s will but I know eating healthy is in His will. I also should not say well I handed it over to God but He did not show up. This is not an issue where we should expect Him to do all the work. We put ourselves in this situation and therefore we need God to guide us, giving us His strength and peace and walking with us through this hard walk but we need to be right in there with Him working just as hard.

I have become more obedient to God and less defined by the number by first praying to God and listening to what I thought He was directing me to do and making sure I discussed it with my husband to see if he was getting the same direction from God.  I felt God told me to make sure I was only weighing myself no more frequently than once a week and sometimes not even that often. My father lives with us because of his health and our 20 year old daughter still lives with us so I talked with my husband and we made some food swapping choices and then relayed those to my dad and our daughter who were both on board and so gradually we have made the changes. No more vegetable oil, things we do decide to sear or fry is done in olive oil, more fruits in the house than junk food along with other changes.

Finally the other change I worked on last year and continue with it this year is the renewing of my mind. Although that can be a Bible study in itself I think it is important to be working on your thought process while you are trying to get healthy. The enemy knows food is one of your weaknesses so that will be one of the ways he will certainly try to attack you. Now every time a thought comes to my mind I immediately try to stop it and see if it would be a Godly thought, if not then I come up with a scripture or a Godly truth to replace it and if I can’t come up with something then I go straight to my five statement of faith pledge I memorized several years ago in another Bible Study. No matter what I do my best to get that thought replaced with a Godly one so I can grow closer to Him.

These are the things I have found that are working for me and my family. I do still get cravings but not has often except for soda. I don’t deprive myself of anything, if I still want sometime several minutes after the first thought of it then I go ahead with it in small amounts until I am satisfied.

When I am encouraging others, I fill then in on what my family has found that works but I also suggest the book to them. I also tell them to make sure they pray first to see where God leads them. If they think he is leading them one direction and it doesn’t work when they do it then go back and start over with prayer to make sure that is what He wants them to do.

Do You Have Your Word, if so What is it? Also, Will you be one of my five WINNERS?

Over the years I hear people talk about asking God for a word. “A word,’ I thought. Then the Bible study teachers, friends, those that had been talking about the “word” finally explained it. The “word” is the one they ask God for or He just gives them while they prepare for the next year. Of course, this may not work for everyone, others may have their own way of working things with God, but I kept thinking about this “word” and what would that be like. Then over time when I was gathering details on how this “word” thing worked, the different people listed the words, trust, fear, patience, faith, confidence, friendship, obedience, and on they went, I thought well I need to work on all of these along with many more so God how do we just work on one? How can I do any work for you, Lord when I have so much to work on? The Lord provided His response “Since you will never be perfect this side of Glory you will always have work to do with me, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work for me at the same time.” From that moment on I try to always ask God and wait to hear what we will be working on next. It doesn’t mean we only work on one thing for a year, we work on it as long as God feels we need too. As an example the word Fear we ended up working on for over two years. I’ve also learned in God’s sense of humor ways, I can think we are done with an issue and it can come right back and we are working on it again or sometimes we are working on more than one issue at a time. This past year God kept putting Psalm 25 and Psalm 91 on my heart frequently and I would even go to sleep at night having them read to me by my IPhone. You only have to read as far as the first couple of verses of each of those chapters to find out David is talking about his Trust in God. God helped me to see I was great at telling others to trust Him, and great at trusting Him in some matters, but not in ALL THINGS. So needless to say when I tried to get a new word from God for 2014 He kept telling me” Psalm 25 and Psalm 91 Trust”. My response was “but God look at all the places I learned to trust you this year. I’ve trusted you in all the medical things, I’ve started a chemo plan potentially for life, I’ve trusted you with my family issues, I trusted you with financial issues.” Finally, God was able to get a word in and was saying “hush! You may have trusted me during some of those issues but that is what you get for thinking!! I don’t think you want me to sit here and list all the times in 2013 alone that you didn’t trust me, now do you? We still have a lot of work to do and no that doesn’t mean your work with fear and faith is over because you will deal with fear and many of the other issues while you are working on trusting me even more and in all areas.” Ouch, well I guess my hoping for an adventure is at least going to come true, God must have one good adventure one planned for me with all the things He has been sending our way the last few months. We are trying to stay focused on Him, His adventure and what all He has planned for us in 2014. I hope you will all decide to follow along with us as we take this ride.

What about you, do you have any idea what you and God may be working on this year? If so how do you go about finding out what He may want you to work on with Him?

Five people that comment will be given their choice of a prize. If we only get five replies then you will all win! :) If more than five reply I will use a program, enter all the names and let it pick the five names at random. I will give you the name of the program I use if we need to do that.

Hearing The Voice

Do you hear it? No, not the noise of the television, the radio, or the kids playing not even the to-do list screaming in your head. I mean the real soft whisper, the one that you struggle to hear, the one many times you respond to in your mind saying “oh that was good, I need to make note of that, I will do it later,” then you get busy and usually forget.

Later that day, that week or that month you find yourself talking with others about how you don’t know how to tell if you are really hearing from God or if it is just yourself talking because it is something you really want. The conversation might also be with a friend discussing the issue where you just don’t hear God speak to you at all and you don’t understand why.

I have spent years bouncing between the two statements above, either not hearing His voice or if I was hearing a whispering voice wondering how I would know it was God. After spending all kind of time listening to podcasts, sermons, reading blogs, asking Bible study teachers, pastors and friends I finally realized a few things.

One, I was making this way too hard, analyzing way too much. Like most people I probably will not hear a booming voice out loud. That doesn’t mean I am not going to hear from God, it just means I’m going to have to listen closer.

Which brings me to number two to hear God I have to do the one thing I don’t like, spend time with myself, and no other noise. I don’t like doing this because it is easier to hear the convictions of things I do wrong and need to ask forgiveness (I don’t have a problem asking for forgiveness, I have trouble fighting perfectionism.) It is also time when I have to relive some extremely painful times in my life that still need healing and I keep looking every place else for it when I know the only person that can provide the healing is God.

While reading Jo Ann Fore’s book “When A Woman Finds Her Voice” I read this statement
“As you learn to recognize my voice, you will uncover yours-a voice directly tied to your identity and purpose, to my plans for you.”
Oh, I’m so grateful for this book, for Jo Ann listening to God and writing this book, for God placing me as part of her launch team, I can’t tell you how I have been blessed over the last several weeks. I can tell you I did get confirmation on one last thing of hearing God and of also finding my voice.

The final thing I learned was there were a few steps I needed to follow and as long as I do these things, God has yet to not show up in His perfect timing. Those steps are:

Get quiet and listen closely. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I do my best to remember it usually means God wants me to spend some time with Him. I can usually look back and see where I have not been doing my quiet time as I need too.

As Jo Ann stated “On this journey to find our voices, we must first hear his.”

If I’m not sure I’m getting a clear direction, God is accustomed to my hard head so I just ask Him to provide clarification or more of an explanation. I have so many stories on how He has provided this to me, from family members, songs, television shows, mail I have received or just the same message repeated, the same scripture showing up.

I make sure it lines up with scripture. I do my best to find out if what I think I should be doing is going to honor God and make sure He gets the glory.

Many women are now stepping out and taking a pledge to find their voices and help others, I am one of them, would you please join us, come on, take that first step of faith, there are many of us that are right beside you!

Pledge: I will become a Silence-Breaker, courageously speaking what God presses me to share.

Link to the Pledge: http://joannfore.com/take-the-pledge/

To purchase the book you can follow the link below:

Long link to the book: http://www.amazon.com/When-Woman-Finds-Her-Voice/dp/0891123873

Check out what Jo Ann Fore has to say: http://www.writewhereithurts.org/2013/10/when-god-calls-your-bluff

Have you lost it or found it???

What have a lost and found…..my voice!

Being part of a small local community was a blessing to me and my family, but unfortunately I found out how hurtful and difficult that same community would be, if I was completely honest about myself within that community.

My family started finally attending a local church and within a few months my husband and our daughter was saved and baptized. Then a few months later the church split. Wow, talk about major changes all in less than two years.

Within the course of a little over six years in the new church we had watched issue after issue come about among members and leaders. Everyone had their own stories, but so many, including myself didn’t feel comfortable enough to tell all and be transparent within the congregation.

Oh I wanted to tell all, I wanted people to understand why emotions were all over the place, why I had a hard time being comfortable and trusting people. I would make the decision that I was going to tell a friend what I was withholding, but every time I came to the most pivotal moment, or would ask for accountability partners, nobody wanted to listen or take on the obligation. So I just decided I didn’t want to hurt anyone else by being too honest, or by being too much trouble for anyone, therefore, I would just stay to myself. Speak when I saw the people and be nice, but just not expect anything from anyone. Then when the truth finally all came out, it hurt several people and we were basically ask to leave the church a few years ago. To this point, we have heard from a total of six families within the community and some of that was at the passing of my mother.

As a member of the launch team for Jo Ann Fore’s book “When a Woman Finds Her Voice, Overcoming Your Life Hurts and Using Your Voice to Make a Difference.” God placed in my life the following quote “When we stifle the need for connection, we sacrifice a healing intimacy and companionship, forfeiting the opportunity to unfold that which cannot be discovered in solitude.”

I completely agree with the quote, I could never imagine going through any part of life without someone to talk to, someone that can understand what it is like to be a woman, wife, mother, business owner, servant, sibling, caregiver and the many other hats we wear. We do not need a large community to help us find our voice and heal from all of our wounds. We just need to know God will bless us with the community He knows we need and wants us to have.

“There is nothing that replaces the open-hearted power of a live, intimate conversation with a trusted friend.” – Jo Ann Fore, “When a Woman Finds Her Voice, Overcoming Your Life Hurts and Using Your Voice to Make a Difference.”

Many of us have signed the Pledge agreeing to finding our voices and using it to help others. Please click on the link and come join us. Link to Pledge: http://joannfore.com/take-the-pledge/

To purchase an advanced copy of Jo Ann’s book, click the link below. Then on release date it will be shipped right out to you:
Link to book: http://www.amazon.com/When-Woman-Finds-Her-Voice/dp/0891123873

You can read more over at Jo Ann’s blog, Find Your Voice Make a Difference, just click the picture!

Jo Ann Fore

Finances, Teaching Your Child a Basic Necessity

There were many things we wanted to make sure our daughter, Kierstyn, was taught throughout her life, but three things my husband and I knew we wanted to make sure our daughter knew, as a young adult, before leaving home. None of them have been easy to teach but I found letting go and putting her in a “sink or swim” pattern has brought the best results. The three were, time management, basic household maintenance and finance management.  All are very important lessons to learn but the one that our daughter has resisted the most was the financial management.

When I left the apartment management business and went into financial planning/stock brokerage I learned so much, the first and most important question I had was “Why didn’t anyone teach my husband and I about finances and investing as we were growing up?” Instead we learn about it after we are neck deep in debt, have a child, a house we were outgrowing and NO idea about investing. Now they teach the very basics in school but still not what students need to go out into the world and be successful.

Tony and I came from families where inheritance in not an option. Tony and I have paid for funeral/burial for some of our family members and we help support children because the family members either do not have the means or refuse too. One way my parents did one better for me was teaching me about life insurance and always having your affairs in order. Because of that Tony and I made sure at age 18 we purchased our insurance and put a Will and Living Will in place. Then when I was pregnant we put everything in line for Kierstyn to have insurance and made sure our affairs were in order. This was crucial because Kierstyn’s heart condition has made her uninsurable for life insurance. Now at least she has some insurance if she has a family.

I had my first checking account when I was 16, so as soon as Kierstyn was old enough to open an account, she and I visited the bank and established her accounts. I was still one of the biggest control freaks ever at that time so needless to say Kierstyn, who hated math, would constantly resist all the pushing I did. In return I kept pushing her to learn about keeping a checkbook, budgeting, credit cards, compound interest and investments. Needless to say, it was not a pleasant time here at the Taylor home whenever a discussion needed to take place about finances. I kept letting go of some things a little at a time but was still controlling in ways of not giving her credit card advertisements when they came in and I was trying to keep track of her bank accounts. Finally I decided I needed to give in and just see how she handled things. I am happy to report, at this time, she is handling things well and has for the past year. She refuses to look at any advertisements, realizing her debit card works perfect for her. If she uses one of our cards that we have given her she always asks first, tells us what it was for and she pays us back or offers too. She is teaching dancing while going to college and has had no issues with her bank account that I am aware of. She does still live here at home but has actually ask if we would help her get her cell phone moved over to her name because she wants to take on more financial matters…She still hasn’t went in to talk to my former business partner about starting an investment account but I think that will come in time. Since I had to leave the business because of my health nose diving and my mother passing away things have been quite hectic but I continue to see positive steps forward, and since that is all God wants from us, how can we ask for any more from our child

Perfectionist “Unglued”

“the emotional demands keep on coming. Unrelenting insecurity. Wondering if anyone appreciates me. Feeling tired, stressed, hormonal. 

Feeling unglued is really all I’ve ever known. And I’m starting to wonder if maybe it’s all I’ll ever be.

 What kept me from making changes was the feeling that I wouldn’t do it perfectly. I knew I’d still mess up and the changes wouldn’t come instantly.

There is a beautiful reality called imperfect progress.

Imperfect changes are slow steps of progress wrapped in grace…..imperfect progress.

Progress. Just make progress. It’s okay to have setbacks and the need for do-overs. It’s okay to draw a line in the sand and start over again-and again. Just make sure you’re moving the line forward. Move forward. Take baby steps, but at least take steps that keep you from being stuck. Then change will come. And it will be good.

These honest words enabled me to begin rewriting my story. Not that I erased what came before, but I stopped rehashing it and turned the page afresh.”

 These are just a few lines from two pages of Lysa TerKeurst’s newest book “Unglued.”  Wow, what a powerful punch these words provide. Imagine reading the entire book.  That is what a group of over 15,000 people are doing with Melissa Taylor’s Online Bible Study (www.melissataylor.org) we have just read the first two chapters so far and I have already received so much from the book, the leaders and the other ladies in my small group on Facebook.

I mean let’s face it, life is hard on its best day, for someone who was raised as a perfectionist and that good, is not good enough, life, at times, just seems impossible.   I mean how are we to hold everything together with all the expectations not only others put on us but that we put on ourselves.  We are made to feel as if we should be superwoman all the time and if not, then we are not good enough.

I kept thinking I was doing well learning how to be a better person and how to handle things better but I still was fighting spiritual warfare, still coming unglued way too often.  I knew it was in my thought process but I couldn’t figure out the steps to take to fix it.  Well Lysa gave me those steps.  Every thought that comes in my mind, each individual one, I just stop and ask if it is a positive or a negative thought.  If it is positive, yay for me & God, if it is a negative thought then I try to find a way to correct it to make it a positive thought.  One major thought I had as I was reading the first two chapters was “where was this during the first 20 years of my marriage and when my only child, an eighteen year old daughter was growing up.” I then realized, God put this in my life now, for such a time as this.  Why I didn’t learn this before, I don’t know but He will let me know in His perfect time. For now, I am to continue focusing on God, this book, and being a better person today than I was yesterday. Does that mean I have it all figured out, not even close, but I am making progress, imperfect, slow, progress and for me, the perfectionist, it says a lot about who you can become when you allow God to work.

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