I recently had the opportunity to attend a Women’s Conference here in Owensboro. The name of the conference was Joy Comes in the Morning and it’s led by my good friend, Dr. Laura Murphy. Now many of you have heard part of her story, and the meaning behind this conference, is that she has lost several pregnancies and her mom and had to find her faith during a really hard time.

So the whole conference was just on being who God intended you to be, using your own special gift, walking through your experience on your own terms and really owning that experience, whether it helps or hurts you, because really, every experience shapes us in some way, and can help us to grow into who we want to be, or who we don’t want to be, and those are really the same thing, right?

A couple of the prompts that Laura and her team presented to the group were “What tears have you not allowed to fall?’ “What do you think of yourself versus what does God think of you?” “Have you allowed room for God to move in your life?”

I really like that last one because I think often we are so busy rushing around doing things our very own “right” way that we don’t leave room for God to move in our lives. You know we’re saying, God, right here is where I need you or right now is when I need you, but we are just placing our requests, our demands on Him instead of just surrendering to His will for us and our situation.

So this year the conference featured special guest Jessica Willis Fisher. If that name sounds familiar it’s because she was part of the Willis clan, a family musical group and won American’s hearts on America’s Got Talent. Jessica is the oldest of 12 children. They had a reality TV show.

Jessica came out several years ago with accusations that her father, the leader of their musical family sexually abused her for many years. Her father is currently in prison for multiple accounts of child rape. She talks a lot about trauma and how her life has been affected by that and how she is coping. She was very open and honest about the very rocky road to recovery and I just loved how honest she was. She really is just on a healing journey and I think speaking her story to other women is changing her and others. She grapples with the perspective of her trauma not defining her, she says it’s something she went thru, it’s not who she is.

She also says “Trauma is not your identity, it’s part of your biography.” It’s part of the perfect story of who you are and who you are becoming. One event, one mistake, one trauma is just part of your story. I say a lot just keep reading, just keep writing. Your story isn’t over yet.

Dr. Murphy’s event led me to read her book, Inside Out Upside Down, From Hopeless to Healed. This really is a beautiful story of heartbreak, hopelessness and healing.

She gives herself the description of living her life “on fast forward”. Always somewhere to be, something to do, always organizing and arranging and planning. I’m sure many of you can relate. By being scheduled down to the minute, we really believe we might be in control, and often something major happens that stops us in our tracks.

As she is writing she revisits this idea many times, coming back to the standard of eternity. Will this matter not tomorrow or next week but for eternity.? That should make our decision a little easier to make. And if it doesn’t matter in eternity, why are we so offended by things, why do we get mad or stressed about things that really have no significance.  I love this line in her book, “We always want time to slow down but time doesn’t change, it’s us who need to slow down.”

Laura says before the trauma that engulfed her life, she believed she had strong faith, but really her faith was circumstantial, so if things were coming apart around her, she would crumble.

Laura sees so many things through the eyes of eternity. For years I’ve said about her, how can she hear God talking to her? It’s because she is deep in His word, and His will and her prayers. She is always talking to God, looking for him in every person, every circumstance, everything that may seem like a coincidence to you and I is like a little message from her heavenly Father.

Laura shares raw pages from her journal after losing her sweet daughter Liv and describes the deep despair she found herself in. She talks about the best gifts others brought to her during this time, the things that were said that really brought healing and nurturing.

“Grief is like a mountain” she says. When you’re standing in front of it, it’s all you can see. She tells the story of some hikers headed to the top of a great lookout. Feeling fatigued and afraid they wouldn’t be able to finish, one hiker turned back, not knowing they were only 1/10th of a mile from the most breathtaking views they had ever seen. Those who finished, those who made it to the top of that mountain of grief recognized that they had to keep climbing because there is beauty at the top. Maybe the beauty, the sunrise, is for you, or maybe it is for someone else that may walk thru a similar circumstance.

Dr. Murphy shares her thoughts about the hallway season, when you feel trapped before an open door and a closed door. Visualize that for a minute, you’re usually in the hallway for just a short time and then you move to a new room with a new task set before you.

Laura tells her story from baby loss to perfect baby delivery and the growth of her family through a plan that she never could have imagined. Her book is filled with her favorite scriptures, thoughtfully included with explanations of how she used them in her journey. She is continuing to read her story, it doesn’t end with loss or grief, the night, the darkness does not last forever, just like it didn’t for Jessica Willis, and just like it won’t for you.

If you’re going through a dark season, reach out to someone, don’t go it alone. As women, we need each other, we need community. I hope this book helps you find your true joy.

Inside Out Upside Down

From Hopeless to Healed

Dr. Laura Spencer Murphy

Available on Amazon