The Woman I Want to Be

A guest post from Heather Bleier:

I grew up in the security of knowing my parents loved me and loved each other dearly. I also knew Jesus as my Lord, Savior, and confidant and that He had a plan for my life. I was excited to find out what He had in store for me.

With a flair for drama, I’d break out into song anytime and anywhere…grocery stores were my favorite. When I was five, I boldly told my mom I was going to be the next Celine Dion. But as my faith grew, I decided to become a contemporary Christian artist instead. I joined every choir I could. By middle school I was in our church’s Praise Team and adult choir, plus two of my school choirs. I could picture myself being on stage one day, singing my heart out for God; perhaps sharing a duet with Celine Dion at one of my concerts.

Life, however, rarely goes the way we plan.

As a young girl a man exposed himself to me and tried convincing me to follow him into the woods. Although I didn’t go with him, it left me feeling confused and ashamed. My parents divorced while I was in middle school. If that wasn’t hard enough to process, just before I started high school, my ex-boyfriend sexually assaulted me.

I wanted to be strong for those around me, so I chose not to tell anyone.

Throughout high school I pressed on, pretending nothing bad happened. I became a skilled actress, fooling even myself. Food became the only controllable thing in my life; going without for days at a time. When I graduated, I moved to Austin, TX to go to college. It was supposed to be a fresh start. I was supposed to be able to leave my pain in San Antonio, allowing it to vanish from my memory. It didn’t. Instead, my wounds were torn open when I was assaulted again in the fall of my freshman year. I silently clung to the cross harder than ever.

Still, I felt broken and empty inside, useless for ministry or marriage. How could someone prevail, becoming a woman of purpose and confidence?

One night, I hit rock bottom. God’s Word told me He was with me, but I felt forgotten and alone. As I stood in my room in despair, I thought about taking my own life as I held a knife to my wrist. I begged God to tell me how any of my past would fit into His plans. I needed to know; otherwise I had no reason to remain in existence. It was just too hard.

There are no words to describe what happened next. The devil’s hot breath was in my ear, urging me forward. But then I felt God wrap Himself around me, holding on to all I was worth as I crumbled to the floor. He spoke Jeremiah 29:11 into my heart, and I fully surrendered my life to Him, my plans, and every broken piece of my heart.

Through every trial, every pain, I had to cling to the promises poured out in God’s Word. Instead of being ruled by my ravaged emotions, I learned to stand firm on His unshakeable Truths.

Healing hasn’t been easy. But it’s been possible as I have filtered my thoughts through God’s Word… which is unchanging, true, and from the One who loves His children beyond what we can hope for or imagine.

I have clung to Psalm 46, especially the first two verses. Regardless of how I “felt” the Truth remained, God was WITH me through every trial, every pain, and He caught every tear. This simple Truth stays with me even now when hard times come.

Music has been another way God has spoken His Truths and comfort to my heart in a BIG way. I found music artists that helped me stay focused on who God is and who I wanted to be in Him. Margaret Becker’s album Soul was the first Christian CD I remember owning and every song filled me with hope, comfort, God’s Truth, and some really awesome 90’s dance moves.

Every day I have to make a choice. I can either choose to be swallowed by my painful past or my daily circumstances. Or, I can have faith in God’s plan for my life. I now know faith isn’t about believing everything will turn out well…it’s about trusting God NO MATTER how things turn out.

To be the woman we want to be, we must see ourselves through God’s eyes. We must cling to the cross of Jesus Christ and to His promises. He does not falter when our emotions run circles around our hearts. His view of us does not change…ever. We will always be His children. As His beloved daughters we can become the women HE wants us to be!

As Renee shared in Chapter 11, God tells us we are: Chosen, Redeemed, Loved, Remembered, Secure, Able and Called.

These are Truths worth clinging to. We don’t have to be confident in ourselves rather, we must have confidence in God’s love. Confident that He sees us; He knows our hurts and where is needed. He also knows our whole story and how it fits into the lives of others.

I so agree with Renee: “I pray that you will become a catalyst for other women to learn to live in the power of God’s promises because they have seen it happen to you.”

I didn’t become a professional singer. God moved in my heart to become a Director of Christian Education. He showed me that my calling was to help lead others to His heart, to demonstrate trust in His plans above our own…no matter what may happen.

Thank you so much Heather for sharing your story so vulnerably because you wanted us to see and draw near to the power of Jesus’ healing and hope. You have reminded us that it’s in our brokenness and surrender that He uses our dreams and gifts – to offer others the same comfort, redemption and encouragement we have found in Him.

Friends, I pray Heather’s story touches your heart and brings you hope as we read chapter 11 and ask God to help us become the women HE created us to be. He has a plan and a purpose for your life!! And He wants you to give away each day – a little bit or maybe a lot – sharing what He’s given you through Jesus.

I love how He is using Heather now, and the power of His healing in her brokenness, in ministry as she leads a middle and high school youth group, teaches middle school religion, oversees their Sunday School program, and sings in the praise team. In 2010, she married her best friend and the love of her life, Daniel. They’re bringing their first bundle of joy into this world mid- December. Heather also volunteers at Proverbs 31 Ministries with Melissa Taylor on the Gather and Grow Leadership Team. Be sure to stop by Heather’s blog Revolt and find her on Facebook and Twitter.


Your Turn:

What part of Heather’s testimony touched your heart today?

Please share your thoughts, and if you’re in my online study, please ALSO share an answer or two from our Chapter 11 questions. Just clickShare Your Thoughts” below this post. Heather and I can’t wait to connect with you today. {If you are reading this via email, click here to return to my blog.}

________________

Click here for my blog post: How to Beat the Bully of Doubt 

The winner of my Confidence Boost giveaway is Erin Maxwell {announced July 26, 2012}.

About Renee

Renee Swope is a Word-lover, story-teller, heart-encourager and grace-needer. She's also a wife, mom, friend, daughter and author of A Confident Heart, a Retailers Choice Award winning book that became a best-seller and has been published in six languages, with over 150,000 copies sold. Renee is speaks around the country at women's events and and serves on the writing team for DaySpring’s inCourage blog. For twenty years, Renee served in leadership at Proverbs 31 Ministries and as former co-host of the ministry's radio program, “Everyday Life with Lysa & Renee.

Comments

  1. Heather! I have heard bits and pieces of your story before but never like this. Wow! Girl you are amazing, and as you know, serve an amazing God. What a story of redemption. It’s seems strange that knowing all your junk makes me love you even more – but it does! Those things Satan convinces us to hide can be the very things that draws anothers heart close to ours and reminds us that we are not alone. Thank you so much for sharing this Heather! Love you so much and can’t wIt to hug you and bb next week!!!!! Love! Steph

    • Thank you so much for stopping by Stephanie! I am so excited about hugging you next week at She Speaks! There will be squeals of joy, that much is for sure :D.

    • amy martin says:

      Heather,
      Praise God for your trust & strength through the many tragedies in your life. What a light you have become. As others have said sharing your life & heart is such an encouragement.
      Thank you!!!!!!

  2. Donna B says:

    HEATHER,

    The way God uses you amazes and blows me away. I love your heart and amazed at the amount of love it contains not only for Jesus but for everyone else. Thank you for sharing your life, your heart and your love of God with us. I absolutely love this paragraph ….. “We don’t have to be confident in ourselves rather, we must have confidence in God’s love. Confident that He sees us; He knows our hurts and where is needed. He also knows our whole story and how it fits into the lives of others.”

    Thanks for saying Yes to God, sharing your story and being such an amazing example of a woman after God’s own heart!! Love ya and can’t wait to see you and rub your belly! ;0)

    • God truly is amazing. He knows exactly where healing is needed in our lives and never fails to send our rescue. He gives us purpose for everything we have ever gone through, we simply have to have faith and trust in Him to say yes!

  3. Kristi Seat says:

    Heather,

    Your story is astounding. Your honesty and vulnerability touched my soul. Although I ache for you, I know that it is in the redemption of your story that God has been able to use you to touch others through your words, compassion and heart for God. It is through great pain that we can find great hope. You have been such an inspiration to me and, like Stephanie stated, the revealing of your story speaks volumes to your true heart.

    I literally began bawling because I could see myself in so many elements of your story. I’ve sang since I was a child and I remember riding my bicycle down back roads or to the beach and singing without a care in the world who heard me. And, I laughed when you spoke about Celine Dion because that was my dream which led me to show choir and dreams that I would become another Joni Mitchell until I failed at the guitar. Yet, I have been broken in so many ways since then and I could just feel the pain that you must have endured. Isn’t it wonderful to find a God that will allow us to sing again? To dream again? To find a new purpose for our lives simply by drawing closer to Him?

    Thank you for sharing your story. I know it must have been difficult but it touched me so greatly. God has given you a great gift of compassion and love for others. Thank you for inspiring me today to have more courage and begin projects that the Lord has been beckoning me towards for some time. It is in the pain and the struggle that God can be glorified and I am so thankful that you followed His will for your life. Love you dear sister!

  4. Stephanie says:

    Wow! That’s all I can say. This is exactly what my broken heart needed today.

  5. The part that says: pretending nothing happened.
    Isn’t that just what the world wants us to do, pretend it never happen, especially if it is family related abuse.
    Hide it, stop crying over it, forget it and just get over it!
    It is like the story in the Bible about poor Tamar and her brother who raped her. David never acknowledged the hurt, the pain or sorrow she was feeling inside.
    God is the only one who can lift us up from the pain we are experiencing.
    His Word is a comfort in the time of need. Praise the Lord!
    He is our Hope!

    • How truly wonderful to know that God sees and knows even our hidden pains! We are truly blessed by a God who loves us so much that He steps down from his throne to hold us in His arms!

  6. Oh wow – I am here in tears. Heather you had already touched my soul and heart in this Bible Study reminding me so much of my daughter and what God has done in her life, but now I am truly touched of about you have allowed God to do in your life. Sweet child you are so beautiful and you REALLY are touching hearts and lives in your ministry. My favorite speaker in the world right now is Beth Moore and she had a similar experience not to the depth you did. I am so thankful that God sent her and you into my very old life to minister to me. Thank you for sharing your story and yes I still have tears rolling down my face – so very sorry you had to go thru this pain but God always uses the pain if we let Him to make us a better person. Bless you young lady and many blessings to that precious baby on the way who is privileged to have a Mom that loves the Lord the way you do!

    • God does use every pain and every joy for His purpose in our lives. Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing, even the hard stuff, because God had a plan for it all along. I look forward to this next season of life as I prepare for mommy-hood!

  7. I love what you wrote here Heather. It spoke so very much to me today. Touched my heart & brought tears to my eyes. I needed that today. Thank you for sharing your story.

  8. Thank you Heather. I was just telling a young woman I work with today that her past does not dictate her future, God does. That there is healing possible from anxiety and depression, and that God wants to restore her. I can speak those words to her because they have been true in my own life. Your words brought tears to my eyes but security to my heart. We can do ALL things through Christ who gives us strength!!!!

  9. Heather Thank you so much for sharing your life stories , hurts , wounds. With the encouragment that God has redeemed you and made you new. Praise the Lord. I had claimed this scripture Jerimiah 29:11 for my young daughter (Beth) shortly after her ex-boyfriend sexually assaulted her and she became the victim of dating abuse. As a mother I was hurting deeply. As I know our heavenly father grieves for us. It is a long hard road and she is only 18. I know our Lord has a plan for her life. I continue to encourage her and hold her up in Prayer. Thank you for your lifes work and helping girls/women understand that they have no shame in abuse. God bless you sister!

    • Your daughter is blessed to have a mother who will walk with her through this time of healing. I pray that God would continue to strengthen you as well as you support your precious daughter.

  10. Heather: What a terrific testimony. God has been leading me to begin a ministry/law firm that will bring God’s truth and healing to women and families that have been devastated by sexual assault, addiction and other evils, bringing light to their darkness. God keeps sending me stories like yours as reminders of what needs to be done for His children and His glory.

    You are an inspiration and testament to His power.

    May He continue to bless you richly.

    Mary McAlister
    Providence Justice Group

    • Mary, may God make your path clear as you seek to follow His will. There is such a need for healing in this and other areas that many keep hidden. May you be a vessel for His healing in the lives of others!

    • Natalie says:

      Dear Mary M.
      I praise God for you! I am praying that God would lead and direct me and use me as I too feel a passion to help women who have survived sexual assault by using the legal field (I am an attorney). I love the name, “Providence Justice Group.” You too are an inspiration! God bless you and your work for His Kingdom!
      Natalie

      • Natalie, Thank you for your response. I’m an attorney as well. I’m been working for a nonprofit, but I have sensed that they have lost their way and that God is calling me to go out on my own. A very scary thought for me as the family’s breadwinner and for someone who is used to a regular paycheck. but He is faithful and is the true Provider. Would love to keep in touch. My email is memesq@hughes.net.

        Blessings,

        Mary

  11. Heather, I’m so glad the devil’s hot breath was no match for the Word of God!

  12. I appreciate you sharing your testimony. You have dealt with your pain and past in such a healthy way. I am still struggling to do that.

    I grew up in a Pastor’s home and knew all of the right answers, yet I had low self confidence, sought attention from guys and ended up making bad choices. I was clinically depressed and made an attempt on my life my Junior year. I did better for awhile, but married too early to someone who was addicted to pornography. He cheated on me and left me after only one year of marriage. So there I was, a Pastor’s daughter, working in ministry at the church, but divorced at 22 years old. I felt like a failure. But God brought a wonderful man into my life and I got married again and have been married for 12 years. We tried having children, but I couldn’t ever get pregnant, and somehow I felt punished for my past indiscretions, even though others told me that wasn’t the case. I also felt I wasn’t good enough for my husband and that he could have had children had he married someone else.

    We were blessed through adoption with our wonderful son, and we are trying to adopt again, but that is such a difficult journey. It just always seems like everything is done the “hard way” for me. I know I just sound like a whiney baby… but I don’t feel I have truly ever processed my pain and what has happened to me the right way. I think I still feel like I have “done something bad” to deserve all of this and I keep trying to “do better” so better things will happen. I sound ridiculous I know. I wish I could the truths of this book through to my head and heart the way you have. I pray that some day I will. I am really trying very hard to do that.

    Thank you for putting yourself out there in this way. And thank you Renee for writing a book like this. I am really believing that this time I will find my way out of these feelings. God bless you both.

    • Shawna, understand how you are feeling. There were many times when my past got the best of me and those feelings of brokenness would return along with shame and guilt that weren’t mine. What kept me grounded was God’s Word. I would repeat verses, reminding myself that I was no longer broken, but made new in Christ. The shame and guilt were lies from the enemy and though he tried to imprint them on my heart, God’s Word replaced them with His Truth. Perhaps working through your emotions with a Christian counselor would help. Sometimes, what is needed is godly counsel to help us process everything from the outside. I’ll be praying Shawna.

  13. Thank you Renee for twitting this post. I felt so related to Heather’s story. I have the best parents in the world, but for some reason I have always felt empty. I have known Jesus for a period of eight years. I have seen His miraculous hand over me so many times, but I still struggle with a lot of things, and my heart is full of darkness. I have battled with my weight for a long time, and when Heather said she spent days without eating, well, I know how that is. I also know what it is to spent day after day eating until you’re sick, and also vomiting because you ate too much. Oh, and other thing that reminded me of my personal story is the fact that Heather sings, and I sing as well. I am part of the worship team in my church, and I’m actually majoring in music, but I still have a lot to learn, I am not very good. Thank you for bringing light into my heart. 🙂

    • I love to hear that you are pursuing a music major. There’s always so much to learn, but God will be faithful to show you what direction to take. I hope that you will begin to see yourself through God’s eyes, a beautifully made child of the King of kings.

  14. Heather C says:

    I have never shared my thoughts online before. I was searching for comfort yesterday when I came upon Renee’s page and signed up for emails. I just opened my email and read this story and literally was unable to breath for a second. I am amazed how God led me to where and what I needed at the right moment.
    I come searching for comfort for the same situation. I too was sexually assaulted when I was younger and then last year I was raped and was in the hospital for three days needing two blood transfusions. My life was ripped apart from me when my 6 year old was temporarily taken from me in fear this person would return. I lived back in a wooded area with no houses around me. I was forced to move into a safe house and then to a new home. I totally gave up on God and tried to handle things my way which almost eneded my life. I took too many pills and was on life support for three days.
    Thank you Heather for your story. I needed that desperately. With the support of my church, they have helped me to remain faithful and trust in God with everything no matter how tough life gets. I have been faithfully reading God’s word and in prayer, allowing God to lead me in the right direction, and look where it lead me. It is amazing how God works. I think with a little more time I will be able to be as confident as you. Thank you again for your story, as it hit my heart at the right time.

    • Heather, my heart breaks to read what you’ve been through, but I thank God for giving you a supportive church home with members of the body of Christ who are walking with you through this. Have you ever heard of Wendy Blight? Her story of God’s powerful transformation in her life made a huge difference in mine. I would encourage you to visit her website: http://www.wendyblight.com and pick up a copy of her book Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner.

      I pray that God would continue to pour out His healing into your life.

    • Heather, I am so deeply sad and heart broken to hear what you have been through. I would love to send you a copy of Wendy Blight’s book. As Heather shared, Wendy was also violently raped and her book will speak to the depths of your heart. Please email me at aconfidentheart@gmail.com with your address if you wouldn’t mind me sending this to you.

      Soo thankful for the Body of Christ that is surrounding you with love and prayer. You can heal friend. It will take time but Jesus has healing for you. Praying for you!!

  15. When i started reading this book, i thought i was ok, but revelations through His Spirit have shown me otherwise! He helped me see myself more clearly and who Father God desires me to become! I want to be who He wants! I am trusting Father to hold me to His plan for me. I must listen to His voice more and more.

    • Yes! God’s story through Renee’s life has a powerful way of helping us see who we are through the eyes of God! Praying that as you continue to dig deeper into His Word, you will see yourself more and more clearly.

  16. Charlotte Richardson says:

    I cannot believe how true all of this rings in my life. In fact I started counseling with a new christian counselor that specializes in food disorders (extreme obsessive compulsive eating) and we have been discovering connections with past sexual abuse that I never considered a part of my current struggles. After all, it happened way long ago and I have acknowledged it to others. Hmmm………. I have never read the book but have been curious about it. Now I am excited about it.

    • Sounds like you and your counselor are making headway. I pray that as you continue to unpack your past, God would reveal anything that is hidden so that complete healing can begin.

  17. Natalie says:

    Dear Heather,
    I am joining you from Renee’s blog. I’m thankful to Renee for having you as a guest. Thank you for being vulnerable in sharing with us your weaknesses and struggles. By sharing your weakness, we can see how He is strong in our weakness! Hearing about how God worked in your life gives me hope that he is working and will work in my life too. I too have almost believed the lies that life was too hard to go on. Praise God that he has always been with us and helped us through those times and that today we stand in Christ.

    What spoke most to me from your post was:
    (1) “But then I felt God wrap Himself around me, holding on to all I was worth as I crumbled to the floor. He spoke Jeremiah 29:11 into my heart, and I fully surrendered my life to Him, my plans, and every broken piece of my heart.” The Lord has been repeating Jeremiah 29:11 to me these last few days after several stressful conversations between him and I where I repeat, “I don’t have a plan!” Isn’t it amazing how God weaves together emails, devotionals, messages to talk to us?! And what brought tears to my eyes, and again now as I write this, is the imagery you use about God’s embrace. I woke up this morning peaceful, a change from the past days, because of a dream I had last night. I dreamt that I was being lovingly hugged by someone. It was a sweet embrace, soothing and loving. It was an odd dream because I didn’t know who was holding me so lovingly, but it brought me peace in the dream. Assurance that everything was as it should be. In reading your story, I began to think of that embrace as Jesus, my bridegroom’s, embrace of me. Jesus is embracing me now and has always embraced me and will continue to always embrace me. Regardless of the circumstances.
    (2) “Through every trial, every pain, I had to cling to the promises poured out in God’s Word. Instead of being ruled by my ravaged emotions, I learned to stand firm on His unshakeable Truths.” This is something the Lord is telling me to do and I am learning, slowly…very slowly but surely, applying to my life. My emotions ravage so quickly and seem to knock me down. As you later eloquently stated, “We must cling to the cross of Jesus Christ and to His promises. He does not falter when our emotions run circles around our hearts. His view of us does not change…ever. We will always be His children. As His beloved daughters we can become the women HE wants us to be!” My emotions do run circles around my heart at times!! But I will remember as you said that HE does not falter. His view of me does not change, even when my view of me changes. What encouragement and hope to know this! Thank you for the truth you have shared with us!
    Also, I too love music! It’s an amazing way that God speaks his encouragement and truth to me! I listen to christian songs at work to re-focus on Him and his promises, often singing the same song over and over in my head for it to sink in!
    God bless you and the awesome work you are doing to further His kingdom.

    • Our Father blesses us in such incredible ways! I just love how He brings comfort and reassurance through seemingly little things like you said, an email, devotion, and music, all tying together a message from His heart to ours.. I hope His peace continues to rest in your heart, even when emotions can get a little nutty. Thank God He remains the same and so does His love for His children!

  18. Heather, thank you for being brave and allowing God to work through the pain in your life. Your story is both sad and beautiful. Sad because I wish you never had to go through the pain and sad because so many women can relate. Beautiful because God brought beauty out of the ashes. Your story shows us that restoration and hope are possible.

    Love you. Thank you for always being willing to let God use you.

    Renee, thank you for featuring Heather on your blog today!

    • Like you I wish fewer women could relate, but I give God thanks for not giving us more than what we can handle and only what fits into His greater purpose for our lives.

      I love you too Melissa and I look forward to seeing you next week.

  19. Karri H says:

    Heather,
    I too, can relate to almost all of your circumstances…I defn believe God places people in your life for a reason and know that I was meant to read this entry….I am moved to tears right now just remembering all of the bad things that I did and that happened to me.. I now cling to God more than ever and sometime find it hard to fathom that he still loves me no matter what,, His grace and mercy are outstanding and I am beyond thankful for his forgiveness…I have totally turned my life around and even though I fall short everyday, I do my best to let people see Jesus through me…. THANK you for sharing your story with us!!!
    Blessings and Love,
    Karri

    • Karri, God’s timing never ceases to amaze me as He brings us what is needed at just the right time. His unfathomable love and grace also keep me in constant amazement! It’s so good to hear that you allow Christ to shine through you! That is the greatest witness!

  20. Jessica H. says:

    Thank you for sharing, Heather. It wasn’t until just last year that I finally told someone (even though I didn’t tell her the entire story or about every time) about something that happened to me that left me confused and unable to fully trust anyone (as though I didn’t already have enough trust issues from growing up never knowing my dad). I still see the people that robbed a piece of me often so I am constantly reminded of what happened, but I choose not to dwell on it. Instead, cling to His promises and trust Him.

    • Jessica, sharing with a trusted friend is a wonderful first step toward healing. I pray that God would fill you with His peace as you continue to place your trust in Him. Healing isn’t something that comes easily, but God will never leave your side and will provide the strength that is needed to move forward, becoming the woman He desires you to be.

  21. WOW!!! I like so many others can relate to your life’s story. My life hasn’t turned out as I planned, I turned to food, and I thought I could leave my past behind me too. As I was reading your story I realized that I am “angry” and a bit hardened. It is so good to connect with others who have moved past these things and are blessing others. I hope to join you in doing that one day. Heather, thank you for sharing your story. Renee, thank you for your book and this study.

    • I pray that God would soften your heart so that He can complete his work in your life. God provides us with opportunities to bless others with our lives, even while we in the midst of healing…and He can use you too Lora. Praying that He would lay out a straight path before your feet.

  22. Teresa R says:

    My dad would never tell my mom he loved her, if she asked if he loved her he would say “hell no”. They divorced then remarried. I was date raped, went through a time of sleeping with any guy who wanted to be with “the fat girl”. I had an abortion at age 17, married twice to the wrong men,gave up another baby for adoption, moved in with another man who did not treat me right.
    I found out just how much my Heavenly Father loved me – one day as I was alone in a pool, I heard God say, “why are you settling for 2nd best when I want to give you my very best?” It was a monumental turning point in my life. He would connect me with the man to whom I am now married and who is my soulmate. I am reminded each day of God’s awesome love.

    • God can bring beauty from our brokenness. I am so sorry for what you’ve had to go through Teresa, but thankful to hear how God has brought restoration back into your life! God’s love for us truly is astounding! Praying for many happy years with your husband!!

  23. Hi Heather, thanks for sharing your story, I am very inspired by your courage to follow Jesus and heal. I love this Jeremiah verse. A sweet sweet friend of mine introduced me to it a few years ago as she was encouraging me to seek God’s plan for me, a plan that most of my family think is absolutely insane. It’s the plan I believe God placed in my heart as a young child, the plan I later veered off because of not trusting in Him and looking for love, confidence and purpose in the wrong places. As I was brought to my knees and realized that I was not able to maneuver things myself the voice that often had been right there, His voice, lead me to see that I needed to fulfill an unfinished plan. It’s now much harder to do being a mom, wife and the sole provider for the family and my doubts still creep in, but that’s when Jeremiah 29:11 comes in and my focus is back on. I think what I doubt the most is my own ability to “hear” God and not have my own plan twisted in to what I “think” is His plan. I pray for clarity, wisdom and perspective to ensure I am on the right path doing His work instead of this world’s. Thank you Ladies!! I LOVE what you guys do, the encouragement you spread. I once in college was touched by a Heather who followed Jesus, but sadly my maturity was lacking and I had to endure a whole slue of hardship in order to recognize some 15 years later that she had the right idea! Praise the Lord for eventually bringing me around! 🙂

    • Monika, I just love hearing how you are following God’s plan for your life and where you believe He is leading you! There were many in the Bible who didn’t follow God’s will right away, like Jonah, but once they did everything fell into place. I pray that as you continue to seek His will daily, He will straighten the path before you, give you strength, provision, and clarity.

  24. Connie J. says:

    Reading this makes me think that maybe I haven’t really healed from the sexual abuse I endured as a child. I have always had trust issues and now I am wondering if part of that had to do with the abuse. I never really talked about it with anyone. I always felt different from every one else. It wasn’t in the good way either. I became a very good actor. I pretend that everything is OK when really it isn’t. I know that the pain and trust issues are affecting all my relationships, even my relationship with God. I have trouble believing that anyone can like me even when I do stupid stuff. The worst part is that I don’t even know where to turn for help. We barely make enough money to pay our bills at this point and I have no insurance. (My husband is on disability and my daughter has state insurance.) Sometimes, I don’t know how I make it through each day. This is where I give credit to God. It’s the only explanation of why I can go through everything I’ve gone through and still be sane. There’s a lot more to this story, but I don’t want to make this post too long.
    Anyway, I have been hearing and seeing Jeremiah 29:11 a lot over the last year. I still haven’t fully figured out what it is supposed to be saying to me. Maybe I just haven’t really sat down and let it get into my heart. I think I’ll just have to slow my life down and spend some quiet time with God and let Him come into the hurt places in my heart and just allow Him to heal me and show me His love.

    • Connie, I understand what you mean about pretending everything is okay when it isn’t, I did the same thing. Talking it out with someone I trusted helped me a great deal and when I was a little older I did go to counseling for a little while. Since I didn’t have much money either and I still didn’t want people knowing what had happened, I went to a free clinic for those who had gone through sexual abuse, rape, and domestic violence. Though I would have preferred a Christian counselor, she did help me process through a few things that needed to be unpacked. Perhaps there may be a free clinic in your area as well. I found mine by going to our city’s website and searching there.

      Keep Jeremiah 29:11 close to your heart sister, though His message many not be clear yet, He will reveal it completely when He knows you will have a better understanding of His calling in your life.

  25. Heather,

    Wow!! Although I know your story, God has truly anointed your telling of it today. Your words are going to minister to many women who are hiding a secret that for years they have been ashamed to tell. Your story is a beautiful witness to God’s Hope. Thank you for making yourself so vulnerable. I pray that many women will meet Jesus in the midst of their shame, pain, and grief!!!

    Your story is beautiful, and you are a true treasure in the Kingdom of God. May God continue to use you to bring many to the hope and healing found in Christ.

    Love you,

    Wendy

    • Thank you so much for stopping by Wendy, your example of courage is what has made it possible for me to step out in faith. I cannot tell you how excited I am to finally meet you next week! I love you too, see you very soon!

  26. Heather, you are Isaiah 61:3 and 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 personified. Beautiful YOU… your life is what “beauty for ashes” looks like… Through YOU, I can see how the Father of compassion, the God of all comfort comforts us in all our troubles so we can pay that gift forward and give comfort and hope to others. Thank you for being a ray of sunshine and hope. Thank you for your heart of compassion and wisdom. Thank you for your courage to be so vulnerable. Through you, God is healing many. I love you sister.

    • I love you too Noelle! My hope is that others will find comfort and strength through my story, God’s work of healing in my life. Healing is possible for everyone! See you soon sister!!

  27. I am so glad I read this today. It made me realize I not alone. Thank you father God. And thank you Renee. God Bless Lynne

    • I thank God He lead you here today, so that you would be comforted in knowing you are not alone! He is with you through everything that comes your way, He will never leave you, nor forsake you! Peace to you!

  28. Samantha C. says:

    Thanks for sharing your story Heather!! It has been a much needed encouragement to me today 🙂

  29. Susan M. says:

    Heather, thank you for sharing your story, the part about pretending that nothing bad happened and going on with life and being strong sounds familiar. We try to be strong and instead we need to let God be strong for us. You have a great future ahead of you~enjoy it to the fullest.

    In chapter 11 question #1 ~~~ my image of God has totally changed, I do see Him as being enough and I take time out to PRAISE Him during the day the day He has given me. All day long I need to remind myself the because He is my help I sing in the shadow of His wings~~~He holds me in the palm of HIs hand and I am made for Him and He takes care of me because we are precious in His sight. Our minds get carried away sometimes but we need to stay grounded and reel our thoughts in and bring them back to Jesus and go to His words and remember where we come from. Thanks Renee for the study~~~Sue

  30. Thank You Heather for sharing your heart! Pretending nothing happened…. Yes, I totally understand this.. so often in the past I have had to pretend. But , Gods truths are so worth clinging to… He has shown me thru this how to see others *pretense* with HIS eyes and be able to love them with His love….

    I know our wonderful lord will continue to use you and God Bless your baby and family!

    • Clinging to God’s truth is better than simple comforts. That’s what brings the greatest comfort, His unshakeable Truth. How wonderful to know that He loves us no matter what pretense we put forth. Blessings to you as you love others like He does!

  31. Anonymous says:

    Thank you, Heather, for sharing your story. I was waiting on the Lord for an answer when I asked, “Lord, how can I be around someone who doesn’t want me around and still put a smile on my face and act like it doesn’t bother me when everything is to be done their way or no way?” I’d rather be alone than to where I am not wanted. Proverbs 15:17 really describes my pain, “Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred.” and upon reading what you posted, “Every day I have to make a choice. I can either choose to be swallowed by my painful past or my daily circumstances. Or, I can have faith in God’s plan for my life. I now know faith isn’t about believing everything will turn out well…it’s about trusting God NO MATTER how things turn out.” And I was able to smile through the rain because I was sure he knows and cares about my pain and all he wants me to do is trust him during these times. I am blessed to have sisters in Christ who are in their own lives waiting on the Lord with patient endurance.

    • Dear sister, I am so glad you found comfort in His Truth today. In so many ways, it really is a choice whether we rest in Him or wrestle on our own. He will always be faithful to send rescue. I am constantly amazed at the love He has for us, He sends what we need at just the right time!

  32. Through every trial, every pain, we have to cling to the promises poured out in God’s Word. Also we should learned to stand firm in all trails and give thanks to him whether good or bad.

    Thank you for sharing your story with us and also lifting my spirt.

  33. Phyllis says:

    I finished A Confident Heart last week. It was like reading my own story in some ways. Confidence has never come easily for me. Most of my issues stemmed from derogatory comments when I was young from classmates and my older brother. I’m 51(almost 52) and still struggling with confidence issues. But have made some progress thanks to your book. Have a ways to go for sure…but up until now I have never felt the right to my opinions and thoughts. That has changed in the last few weeks. My husband and I are working towards repairing our marriage and it’s such hard work and I’m having to learn it’s ok to tell him my thoughts and feelings and to let him know that at times his reactions to that are not helpful….thanks for your story and the book….I look forward to sharing and recommending it to other.

  34. Winston says:

    Beautiful testimony. Distinguished and bold.

  35. Such a sweet and honest testimony — thank you so much, Heather. It is always so wonderful to watch Jesus at work in the life of a heart who chooses to believe His Truth instead of our own feelings or the things the world says about us. Thank you for sharing and I pray blessings over your ministry and the lives you will touch by being obedient to Him.

  36. WOW! What a convicting statement about making a choice to not be swallowed by our pasts and daily circumstances and CHOOSE to have faith in God’s plan. In the past few years I have struggled with my own past hurts and have overcome them with God’s help. I have chosen to believe in God’s truth and forgive myself because he forgave long ago! I now see myself as a beautiful daughter of God (not everyday…) and choose to live for Him. He has brought many changes in my life, but I choose to believe that all is for HIS glory!!!

    Thank you for sharing your story. I have copied the lines about choosing to have faith over circumstances into the front of my journal to remind me everyday about choosing GOD.

  37. Heather,
    Its amazing how God works in themes. I said almost these same words yesterday:

    Every day I have to make a choice. I can either choose to be swallowed by my painful past or my daily circumstances. Or, I can have faith in God’s plan for my life.

    I was thinking about when Paul said, I die daily – 1 Cor. 15:31. We must choose daily to die to self and our hurt and live for Him. Thank you for sharing your testimony. I am so happy for your family and I am sure you will make an amazing mother.

  38. Hi Heather and Renee, coming into this post a bit late, but certainly thankful to have seen it. The part that resonated the most with me was the part about “…Still, I felt broken and empty inside, useless for ministry or marriage. How could someone prevail, becoming a woman of purpose and confidence?”.
    I have not had to deal with and endure anything remotely as difficult as your struggles, but the sentence did succinctly define the big “elephant in the room” for me right now about being ‘useless’ for, or ‘undeserving of’, certain things, particularly a loving marriage and family. I tend to be very candid and conversant with my faults and able to talk about anything, but flat-out saying (admitting?) how I felt about that in particular has obviously not been a strength of mine, and I feel like God is waiting for me to “get it together” with how I feel before I’ll be able to have any of that in my life (again). At any rate, I’m mostly a ‘lurker’ on the websites and blogs but I appreciate all of your excellent writing and sharing—sometimes you just need someone else to put how you feel into words, because you’re unable to do it yourself. Thanks again.

  39. Hey there, I’m a new blogger coming from Roermond, Netherlands who found you on http://reneeswope.com/2012/07/the-woman-i-want-to-be/. Do you have any suggestions for up-and-coming writers? I’m working on launching
    my own website soon but I don’t really know where to begin. Do you believe I should begin with a free site like Dotclear or shell out some cash into a pay site? There are so many choices out there that I’m completely overloaded.
    .. What would you say?

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