Monday, May 3, 2010

Shelly Says ~ "Our Journey Begins!"

I thought this day might never come! It's the first official day of our Breaking Free Journey!

Whether you've signed up to follow along with the book or you just want to read the blog posts each day, I believe God will do amazing and wonderful things in and through you as you yield to Him and yearn to break free from that which binds you.

I have been praying for each and everyone of you and I'm SO excited that you are joining me on this journey to freedom! Grab your Bible, Breaking Free book, journal, water bottle (or coffee ; ) and a snack (or breakfast ; ).

Let's GO!

I first read the preface and introduction of Breaking Free on March 24th of this year at the Flying Biscuit Cafe in Charlotte, NC. I knew I needed to break free from something that was still holding me back, and I knew I had just the right bible study to help me discover freedom in Christ. I was ready to begin the journey alone when I felt God speaking to me about inviting other women to join me.

What? I could do this on my own; however, God had a different plan (see 3/25 blog post for more of the story).

If you have been following my blog and/or in recent contact with me, then you know I wanted this bible study to begin on April 19th. I had "the perfect plan" laid out for how I would study each section. I wanted the study to perfectly coincide with the personal retreat I felt led to attend in Mid-May. I was jumping the gun to get the ball rolling when I felt the tug to include others. When I obediently followed the tug, I expected 2 or 3 of my closest friends to join in and begin with me on April 19th. That was cool with me... I like small groups.

Wonderful plan, right? Not! Look more closely (if you haven't figured it out). There's a glitch (to the tenth power ; ) in the plan.

I this... I that... Me, Myself and I

While I did feel led to begin this study, I don't believe God led me to do all the planning. He already had the plan: All He asked me to do was facilitate (to know me is to know that I like to plan, so it's no big surprise that I jumped right to this task).

God let me do the planning for a while, and I imagine that He was amused by my efforts. Then, things started changing.

Some of you wrote to tell me that you were interested but couldn't get the book quickly enough or were concerned that your book wouldn't arrive in time. THANK YOU for writing! Those e-mails made me stop and question my "perfect plan" and forced me to look up and seek God's Perfect Plan for our study.

After a lot of prayer and thought, I felt like May 3rd would be a good start date. I kept questioning God... asking Him if we could move it up to maybe April 26th or the 29th... May 3rd seemed so far away.

Long story shorter, May 3rd stuck and here we are!

I can already see the good in God's Perfect Plan.

As I sat down to pray over the schedule for this study, I felt that it was important to spend extra time on Parts 1, 2 plus extra special attention to Part 3. As I laid out the schedule on the calendar, I saw a perfect fit! The part I felt led to spend the most time on fell right in line with my pre-scheduled personal retreat! Even the break I intended to take afterwards falls right in line with Memorial Day AND the study ends the Friday before the 1st July 4th holiday week!!!

It's amazing what God can do when I set aside MY agenda, get still and trust Him!

Here's another cool thing: I have a beautiful journal that has pre-printed Scripture on each page. On the page where I started writing the above story, there is an appropriate Bible verse...

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28 NIV

How true! How poetic! That God!

He is working for your good as well. He has gone before you, preparing this journey just for you. He has called you to this journey, and He won't leave you at the beginning to set out on your own. He will be with you all the way through and beyond. He has prosperous, perfect plans for your future (see Jeremiah 29:11).

I really like how Beth Moore explains that our journey will be a process. Things may not click right away, but be patient. With any process there is a multitude of feelings and experiences. I don't expect our journey to be any different.

So, let's press on... toward the goal for the prize that awaits us... FREEDOM!

Keep your eyes forward, on the prize, and don't stop to look back unless you hear a sister calling for help. She may have fallen and can't get up ; ) .

What spoke to you most in the preface and introduction?

Do you see yourself in any of the lessons that Beth describes?

What lesson do you think you need the most? The least?

What did you want to underline or highlight but were afraid to for fear that someone might pick up your book and find out too much about you?

What lesson do you think you need the most? The least?

What are your answers to the study questions in the back of the book?

Feel free to answer any of the questions above in the comments section below. You are also welcome to comment on anything, anytime. Don't forget about our prayer requests. Stop, Drop and Pray.

I look forward to the journey ahead! Let's BREAK FREE!!!!!!!!!


  1. The thing that really jumped out at me was that this journey is a process. I'm gonna need y'all to remind me of that! : ) Often times, I look for the immediate results and therefore get focused on the wrong things.

    The lesson that really got my attention is Lesson #5. I am so touched that God would take the time to help me in this way. I strongly believe that we have to know what's wrong before it can be fixed. If we know why we are continually oppressed... we can deal with those problems and break free. Just like Beth says in the book... we often just want to be set free but don't want to deal with the "whys." I really like how she puts it... {paraphrased} God wants us to know what went wrong so we can make different choices in the future.

    I didn't want anyone to find out that I got ahead of God in planning the schedule for this study. I did feel that it was important for me to share that because I want us to be as honest and transparent as possible. I do feel better after admitting that in my post! I originally was not going to mention that at all : ) I'm already catching glimpses of pure freedom!!! ; )

    Study questions: 1) I feel that addictions hold us captive... and it's not just the biggies like drugs, sex and alcohol... there are so many more. Think about TV. What would happen if you gave up 1 show per week and spent that time with God instead? Instead of being in front of the TV... being in front of His Word.

    2) I do believe we are oppressed by the devil. He lies... he is the prince of the airwaves ( See Eph 2:1-2

    3 & 4) Shelters come in all kinds of forms.... I believe the biggest one is our comfort zones. We hide behind whatever shelter is available so we don't have to get out of our comfort zone and do something radical. I love the Casting Crowns Song "Voice of Truth." It is the song that encourages me to step out of my comfort zone and says it all! It's amazing what happens when we step out of the boat we're in and reach for the hand of God!

  2. The biggest thing I took away from the homework is that even as Christians, we are not safe. We think that once we become a Christian, we've done what we need to do. It's only the beginning. The enemy is out to steal what we have and keep us from experiencing the life God has for us.

    I love Romans 8:28! God is working in our favor!

    And, I agree about the comfort zones.

  3. I am so thrilled to be a part of this study. I am a huge Beth Moore fan and with childcare costs and scheduling issues I can no longer be a part of my beloved group at church. So excited to finally experience Breaking Free! One of the many ideas that spoke to me during the introduction is the idea of shelters and strongholds. I am already feeling a sense of conviction regarding one of my shelters and how it has been become a stronghold. My thoughts on the questions:
    1. Absolutely Christians can be oppressed by the enemy and I would say we are some of his favorite targets. God loves all his children and values them greatly. When the devil sees another one of us with God, he attacks. In terms of captivity, anything- possesions, work, dreams, desires- bigger houses, nicer cars, etc. As Beth mentioned, a true relationship with God requires hard work and sacrifice. Sometimes we avoid this- if I become a "real" Christian, then I cannot do this or that or I will miss this or that. When in fact, the greatest joy, happiness, fulfillment comes from an active relationship with God. We take shelter in easy mundane task or jobs, but they become strongholds when we do them just to do them, rather than for the glory of God. They become strongholds when we use them for power, control, etc. Okay looking forward to this study!!

  4. JBM,
    Thanks so much for sharing your perspective on strongholds. Based on the emails I received today, several people were "stirred" by that part in the reading.
    So, already there is an awareness! And, your excitement made me smile! : )

    Simply being aware that satan is out to steal what you have helps. I'm reminded of 1 Peter 5:8 "... Be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." from the ESV

    But it sounds like you know that already. ; ) Knowledge is powerful!

    Thank you both for taking part in the discussion!

  5. What grabbed me from the beginning was Beth's statement "a prisoner unaware." I feel so much of the time I am unaware of what God wants for me or even what I want for me. One bright light tho is I do sometimes find that the Holy Spirit breaks through and takes over and I do things or say things that really surprise there is always what God offers us-HOPE! Lesson 2 is going to be an eye opener I believe as she mentions one of my biggest strongholds(it's way past being a shelter) my captivity of activity. God has to shout for me to Be still...I am really looking forward to Lesson 3-learning to use the equipment God has given us.Also 4 with its ray of sunshine-Victory always begins with a cry for help. HELP! This then slides right into Lesson 5-God willingly tells if we listen. I guess by now you all are aware I need the whole book and love that there is going to be alot of insight from all of you. Thanks Shelly, for suggesting such a blessing to all of us.

  6. Jan,

    You are so welcome! Thanks for blessing me with your presence and insight.

    I had an e-mail, yesterday, from another companion who said "a prisoner unaware" jumped out to her as well.

    I believe that's what happens to many of us... how we are drawn into captivity... we don't even realize it b/c we're walking around unaware of the lurking enemy. We must always be on guard and ready to fight with the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:13-15).

    I, too, suffer from the captivity of activity. Thanks for reminding me. I was just thinking about the many ways strongholds pop up in my life and that is one of them for sure. I'm a Martha! ; ) Can I tell you that God is using my sickness for good? He has been showing me how He wants to bless me while I've been forced to be still. He has me right where He wants me. ; )

    Do you remember my favorite verse? I mentioned it at the retreat last year... as the verse that jumped out of the Bible in April 2008 for me and I've been clinging to it ever since....

    Ps 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God..."

  7. Isaiah as a friend-I fear I would not have liked his message, but hope I still feared God and tried to follow his directions. I would have been a little scared and yes, gloating, to see him fearful, BUT then I would have loved hearing him remind me, he too does not have all the answers and CRIED OUT TO THE LORD. I know I will be doing alot of that now.

    Do you think Jotham was "hedging" his bets, not making some people mad, or did he think God would give him a "by", on one thing he had to know God abhorred? Ouch! Does God want us to be obedient in ALL THINGS? CRY OUT TO THE LORD!

  8. I think Jotham was just selfish and wrapped up in his own world. I also think Jotham suffered from what many women (in particular) suffer from... people pleasing. *Note: It takes one to know one... ie, I, too, have fallen prey to that stronghold.

    Thanks for that thought provoking question, Jan!

  9. What jumped out at me in the Intro was the definition of captivity:"A Christian is held captive by anything that hinders the abundant and effective Spirit-filled life God planned for him or her". That one sentence covers a lot! And Beth shows us that in her synopsis of each chapter. I want to learn more about these strongholds in Chap. 2. In chap.5 she says God wants us to learn the reasons behind what went wrong. I have found in my life that if I don't learn the reasons, God has a way of bringing me the same situation over and over until I finally get it! It's painful and I always wonder if I'm too stubborn to understand the reasons or if I'm just plain dumb!
    Also looking forward to Chap 8 and learning about the idols I didn't even know I had (Lord, help me!)

    Isaiah would have been way too tough to have as a friend. I would be overwhelmed by his knowledge and faith. I would not feel worthy to be his friend. And I would have been telling him to lighten up! But as Beth said, serious times called for a serious prophet.

    Uzziah just got way too big for his britches! After raising and commanding all those troops - 2600 warriors with 307,500 under them- he probably thought he could command everyone including the high priests. After all, what was anyone going to do to him in the face of that huge army? And way back then, that must have been an absolutely enormous number of men.Uzziah must have been quite rich too because he outfitted the entire army with all the equipment they needed.We've seen this happen all too often in our own times. Men and women who become rich and powerful suddenly think that they can use different standards to live their lives. They may not develop leprousy, but there are certainly consequences for our actions.

    Well, I've rambled enough. Look forward to all the other posted comments.

  10. Thanks for sharing, Sue!

    I agree with the first thing you said... "that one sentence covers a lot." I am so excited to see how this study will open our eyes to those things which we don't think about or forget or are ignorant to... that keep us from the relationship we were meant to have with God.

    I have found, in my life, that God brings up the same situation over and over again as well. Sometimes I wonder if He is waiting for me to make a different decision. I know He is a God of 2nd chances (... and 3rd.. and 4th.. etc...), so I often imagine Him watching as I am faced with the same thing... again... crossing His fingers that I'll make a different choice "this time." ; )

    I appreciate your insight and enjoyed reading your comments.