By, Noelle Rhodes
I became friends with Sharon in my late twenties. I was living in Northern Ireland as a missionary at that time and Sharon took me under her wing. She was a spunky, full of life Northern Irish woman who never stood still while she talked to you. She had so much joy pulsing through her veins that she would nearly jog in place while you had a conversation.
Sharon would often invite me to her house for something that she called a "cuppa”. A “cuppa” is simply a cup of tea often served with a plate of cookies. When I would arrive at Sharon’s home for a “cuppa”, she would always greet me with the most vivacious welcome. Sharon had a way of making you feel as though you were the one she had been waiting for. She would swing open the door and screech with glee,
“It’s Noelle! Noelle is here,” she would say in her Northern Irish accent, “come on in! I have been waiting for you!”.
After a big hug, she would take me by the hand and lead me to her kitchen which was tucked at the back of her house. It was then she would order me to “take a seat at the table” which was always strewn with her children’s school work and plates of half eaten toast. With one swoop of her arm, Sharon would slide the toast and school work to one side of her table and say,
“There. I cleared a spot for you.”
As I would settle into a seat, she would put the kettle on, pour the milk into a tiny jug and pick out a special mug just for me to use. She did not own matching mugs.
When the tea had brewed, she would pour it into the carefully chosen mug and walk it over to me - with a jug of milk in the other hand. She'd place my “cuppa” before me and as she slide a plate of biscuits towards my way she'd ask….
“Now, Noelle, What is your story?”
She would ask me this question nearly every time I found myself at her table. What she meant when she asked me this was,
“Tell me what is happening in your life. What you are most excited about? What is keep you up at night? What is going in your world?”
As I sipped tea, I would pour my heart to her… because she made room at her table for me to do so. Sharon would listen to me talk about what I was worried about...and what I was looking forward to… she allowed me to dream and plan for the future… and she even let me process the past. This was at a time in my life when I felt very lost in a very big world. I felt incredibly inadequate, anxious, and alone but not at her table.
It never failed that at some point in my story, she would stop me and say, “Ha! You just reminded me of something I read in the Bible today. Here let me tell you.”
Sharon would jump and grab her Bible and journal. Without hesitation, she would share with me what God had spoken to her and what she believed God was saying to me too.
“Look at that!” she would say, “God is speaking to your story right now!”
Somewhere between the first cup of tea and the third, I would realize at Sharon’s table that I had a story.
I had a story that God was in.
I had a story God was speaking through.
I had a story God was speaking to.
And I had a story someone wanted to hear.
I want to be a Sharon.
I want to clear a space and make some room for women in their twenties and early thirties tell their stories and hear what God has to say to them in the midst of their stories. This is why I am so excited to be apart of the new ministry of Her Life Speaks, “The Table”, a small group bible study for women 21-31 years old!
A table is not just a place where you can belong… a table is place where you can become who you are meant to be.
I can't wait to meet you at The Table.
By Denene C. Smith
I recently watched a YouTube teaching by Dr. Cindy Trimm, one of the most prolific speakers, foremost authority and author on Spiritual Warfare and Intercession. The teaching is entitled “Putting Yourself Where You See Yourself”, it is part 2 of a series; “The DNA Of Destiny”. This message had a profound impact on me as it regards to the power of thought and how our words can, do and will shape our atmosphere either positively or negatively.
Proverbs 23:7 says “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” On many occasions I have found myself placing constraints on my ability to realize my dreams and achieve my goals by negative thoughts and words that placed boulders and moats between them and me. I realized that not everything that has occurred in my life was orchestrated by the enemy but by words and thoughts I spoke. Dr. Trimm asked a profound question: “Who do you listen to the most?” I know many of us will say “oh God of course”, truth is we talk to ourselves the most and we listen intently. What are we saying to ourselves? Is it edifying? Does it catapult us into our destiny, or do our words place chains on our feet, make us stagnant, does what we say to ourselves keep us from growing in the word of God, in the revelation of the call on our lives?
I learned that I cannot let what I see in the mirror or my past prevent me from moving forward and accomplishing what I want to do. My past and my fears have nothing new to say to me, I am dedicated to redesign the way I think and revise the words I speak! It takes no more effort to think on those things that are holy and good than to think on the negative. I am fearfully and wonderfully made, there is no good thing that God will hold from me, because it’s His desire to see me blessed. So, I am taking hold of this new way of thinking and speaking and I intend to be a world changer, I want and will see my dreams realized, I expect the best from God because He is the best. I am repenting right now as I write this of every word I spoke over myself that was contrary to what Abba Father says I am, I submit my mind and my spirit to Him, Lord transform my thinking and my speech.
Will you join me?
Will you commit your thoughts and words you speak to yourself to our Father? I’ll ask you again, what are saying to yourself?
I’d love to hear from you and look forward to hearing how God has or is changing how you see or think about yourself.
By Lisa Samuels
My name is Lisa and I practiced Buddhism for 30 years. It was not challenging enough to continue and I felt spiritually disconnected and lost. My family are Christians, so I thought I’d give that a try.
This is how my journey to Christianity started. While seeking the way and visiting churches my experiences were similar to what I found frustrating with Buddhism. I prayed, “Lord, if you want me to be a Christian, I need your help to show me the way.”
God answered my prayer!
At the time I was working for the Bergen County urban League as a certified housing counselor. The first client that morning gave me a Christian prayer book. I was so happy to receive this gift, I began reading the prayers each morning.
One afternoon a client came in and her presence illuminated the waiting room. Amazed, I asked her what was it that made her shine so brightly. Smiling she said, it was God’s love and His Holy Spirit. Then she shared her testimony.
It was awesome to see what God had done in her life!
Before leaving she invited me to a Her Life Speaks women’s small group that studied the Bible. After a few sessions, I felt at home with these beautiful, compassionate women studying and sharing.
My new friend was so happy I was enjoying the study group, she blessed me with a beautiful Bible. While studying God’s word, I was calm and at ease even though my life was falling apart due to loss of employment and very little income.
Every Her Life Speaks study session ended with prayer requests. I asked for prayers for my finances. These understanding and compassionate sisters made it easy to ask for prayers without embarrassment. Whenever I was with my HLS sisters, I felt in my heart we were one with one another in God’s love.
During the first year I learned to pray and how to relate the Bible lessons to my life. The first study topic was Breaking Free by Beth Moore and it was at this time my business partnership dissolved. I felt misled and controlled by my business partner but continued to pray and study God’s word daily. The Breaking Free lessons spoke about “Beauty from Ashes”.
“All who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty from ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks the Lord has planted for his own glory.” Isaiah 61:3
Understanding and believing how broken my life was, I desired God to heal me. I continued to read Isaiah 61 “They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated for generations.” This verse was the truth of my life! I meditated on this verse and it felt like a miracle was happening in my life.
I was so grateful for meeting these enlightened women of God and to be a part of the Her Life Speaks sisterhood. Through it, God brought me joy and hope for the future. From the lessons of Breaking Free, God restored my confidence and trust in Him. I believe God loves me and I am beautiful in His eyes. I was able to see how God could and did work in my life by blessing me with a solution to my financial problem and a solution to my spiritual problem!
God is my Deliverer!
Being a part of Her Life Speaks these past two years and attending retreats has been a revealing journey for me. God has blessed me with abundance. I love studying the word of God with my HLS sisters in faith. When a problem comes along, I have God and my sisters to pray me through. I am so blessed and honored to be a part of this growing ministry.
I sat across the long solid wood mahogany table with a lump in my throat. I could see the lips of the lawyer moving but I had stopped hearing the words she spoke after she had said, “I believe it will cost conservatively $25,000 to get your son in the right school placement.”
Did she just say $25,000?
We didn’t have $25,000. Nowhere even close.
After the lawyer shook my hand and said, “ I look forward to hearing from you soon,” I stumbled to the car in a haze of anxiety. I knew our son needed a different school placement but I had no idea how we would be able to afford this lawyer to help us get what he needed. I felt utterly helpless.
Over a sink full dishes, I relayed the news from the lawyer to my husband that evening. He shook his head and said “We don’t have the money to hire her.” Tears streamed down my face as I said, “I know… but what are we going to do? Our son needs help.”
For several nights I tossed and turned in my bed. My mind was preoccupied with trying to find a way to come up with the money to hire the lawyer. What could we sell? Should we take out a loan? Could I pick up another part-time job to make it work? I battled through many sleepless nights... and on one particular sleepless night, I remembered that Her Life Speaks took prayer requests through their website online. So, I hopped on the site and asked for prayer.
Within less than 24 hours, I received beautiful prayers through emails of women I had never met. I wrote every verse down in a journal we keep for our family. I was moved by the prayers that the Her Life Speaks prayer team sent me. I could tell that they had really heard my cry and they had taken time to wait on Jesus to see what they should pray for. As I read through their prayers, I realized that we were not alone this fight for our son. Others had kindly volunteered to stand with us. This not only encouraged me…it empowered to believe that God would do something miraculous on our son’s behalf.
My husband and I decided to not use the lawyer but to simply ask our school district if they would be willing to pay for our son to go out of district for his education. If you are familiar with special needs education and IEP’s, you are probably saying to yourself, “That’s crazy! Districts rarely if ever agree to an out of district placement on their dime!” It’s true. They usually don’t... but we believed Psalm 121 for our son’s school situation:
I lift up my eyes to the mountains--
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip--
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you--
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm--
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
We walked into our IEP meeting and we asked the school district to send our son out of district for his schooling at the district’s expense. Without hesitation, they said “yes!” Not only did they say “yes”, they were so kind and helpful in helping make the transition as soon and as smooth as possible! There was no denying it: God had made a way! He had been our great Help!
I am so thankful for Her Life Speak’s firm belief in the power of prayer and for their willingness to stand with me in prayer. At times in life, we may feel helpless… but we are never hopeless. Prayer opens the door for all kinds of miraculous possibilities. We can put our hope in the Lord who can make anything possible!
On March 9, 2018, our Lord blessed Her Life Speaks’ 10th Annual Retreat with themes such as unity and love. Our guest speaker, Deidra Riggs, after giving her own life testimony, shared words of truth and His love for us from scriptures. She proclaimed to us the testimony about God that ultimately moved women’s emotions to a higher climate, just as the apostle Paul wrote in his letter in 1 Corinthians 2:1, “And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.”
Serving as a table leader that day, I was surrounded by multi-cultured Christians and non-Christian women. Throughout the retreat I heard comments like, “Deidra is not a powerful speaker” or “I’m not sure if she is filled with the Holy Spirit”. I realized that the speaker was not fulfilling their personal expectations they came for, so I started praying in the Spirit to my Abba Father, saying “what is going on, my Lord?” “I know your (His) presence is here with us, and your cloud of glory upon us”. Then I heard in my spirit Jesus saying, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A weak reed, swayed by the wind, what did you go out to see?” Matthew 11:7-8. Then the Holy Spirit showed me a scripture from 1 Kings.
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by…" 1 Kings 19:11
A great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake...
After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a still small voice"1 Kings 19:12
Then my Lord continued to speak to me, “is there any greater WORD than my words of LOVE?”
Our Lord spoke to us this day with a still small voice, a gentle whisper.
So many of us, as Christians expect our revival meetings to have a form of charismatic movements of wind, earthquake or fire (our Lord will show His manifestation of His glory as He wills, as He has done so stating it in the book of Acts until now) yet, let us be careful not to miss His unique ways of revealing, convicting and transforming those who have the ear to hear what the Spirit says to His church or to the believer.
As I continued meditating on those words of revelation in my spirit even after our retreat, my Lord awoke my spirit to the fact, to be careful regarding signs and wonders because in the last days the deceiver might use these to deceive even the very elect. My experience at this retreat was one-of-a-kind in regard to the message:
"Unity with one another through love, and to serve one another through love by washing each other’s feet" John 13:1-17
Her Life Speaks Prayer Leader
Her Life Speaks is all about Her testimony, Her life, and who God is in Her story. Here we write our stories in hopes of helping other women find their relationship with Jesus Christ.