Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Encouraging Others with Your Story

Dannah Gresh: God uses our stories not only to help others see who He is, but to draw them to Himself. Here’s Heidi Jo Fulk.

Heidi Jo Fulk: “Many more believed because of what he said.And they told the woman, ‘We no longer believe because of what you said, since we have heard for ourselves and know that this really is the Savior of the world.’” (John 4:41–42 CSB). That’s what my mission is!

When others hear the story of me and what God has done in my life, I don’t want them to believe just because of my testimony; I want that to drive them to His Word and to know it for themselves, because of what He says.

Dannah: This is the Revive Our Hearts podcast with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, co-author of You Can Trust God to Write Your Story, for April 16, 2021. I’m Dannah Gresh.

Oh, Nancy, yesterday was a many-tissues-required broadcast! as we heard the story of Heidi Jo Fulk.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Yes, and the challenge of trusting God with a story that she didn’t script, she wouldn’t have scripted, nobody would have scripted for themselves—through a diagnosis with a brain tumor at the age of twenty-three when she was early married and had started first teaching job.

And then the loss of the first pregnancy, the loss of that child. We had to close it yesterday; we didn’t even get to the unfolding of the rest of this story. I’ve been hearing this story for the first time, and I’m so touched by how God gave Heidi and her husband grace to trust Him in a way in which they’d never been challenged to before.

You don’t really know how you’re going to respond until you’re there. But now as they look back and they see the mercy of God and the kindness of God in enabling them to respond, trusting Him to write their story, it’s amazing!

Dannah: If you missed the first part of this story, be sure to listen in our archives at ReviveOurHearts.com to what we heard yesterday. Heidi Jo, welcome back to Revive Our Hearts!

Heidi Jo: Thanks so much, Dannah and Nancy. I’m so grateful to be able to continue this conversation with you both!

Dannah: We ended yesterday with you kind of in the middle of your story, choosing to proclaim God’s goodness even though you really were still in the middle of a lot of pain and change in your life. 

I’d love to say that then God showed up and put a pretty bow on it, but that’s not exactly how it went, was it?

Heidi Jo: No, although we did get some “bows” after we lost that first child. I did, mercifully, get pregnant shortly thereafter, and we welcomed our first daughter in 2003, and then another daughter in 2005, and then a son in 2006. So the “hallelujah chorus” seemed to be playing, and I was so grateful.

As soon as I found out we were pregnant again, I let my principal know that I would not be coming back [to teach] the next year. I finished out that year of teaching and then gladly stayed home with my children and was living that fulfilled kind of picture of what life was going to be like—even though I knew that there were still some practical realities of living with the shunt and the sort-of possibility of that tumor coming back. 

I would have checks and MRIs after each pregnancy (I couldn’t do that when I was pregnant), and the tumor was not coming back, and I was in good health.

But with three babies in a pretty short period of time, the shunt that drains into my abdomen was moving around quite a bit. When my son was five months old (my oldest daughter had not yet turned four, my second daughter was two), there was a day when I was supposed to go to the mom’s group at my church, but woke up throwing up and not knowing what was going on. 

None of this I remember on my own, because when a shunt fails and there is a ton of fluid on your brain, that pretty much takes away your cognitive abilities. So this has all been recounted to me, that the shunt failed and a ton of fluid was in my brain.

It took doctors a while to figure out what they were going to do with me, until the point that they had to end up drilling two holes into my head to relieve pressure, and then they replaced that shunt. That was in the season of young motherhood that this was going on.

Dannah: You say it so matter-of-factly, Heidi Jo. This was a big deal! I think you’ve just really gotten used to the story. You just had holes drilled into your head!

Heidi Jo: Yes, but again, that it happened in the season of young motherhood in some ways might have seemed like the Lord requiring too much of me. But once again, He had already taught me what His perspective looked like at the beginning of the brain tumor journey. 

So now in the throes of young motherhood, it was actually a mercy to me that I didn’t have the choice to be fearful or to really focus on how huge it was, this physical thing that just happened. Because I had to take care of a four-year-old and a two-year-old and a five-month-old.

I needed to still be the mom, and not in a pressure-y kind of way, but in a, “Thank You, Lord, that I have something else to pour myself into other than realizing the big thing that just happened!”

Nancy: I love how as you look back on this story, you keep talking about how merciful God was, and how kind He was. Things that in the moment don't seem to be the case. I think all of us, if we would look back with eyes of faith, we could say, “God, You have been merciful to me!”

Heidi Jo: And I’m not here to say that there weren’t hard, scary moments. There absolutely were! There were moments and days where I could just not physically do the things that I needed to do, but again, because I had that perspective of God’s mercy, I reminded myself of that.

And something else that I have not said, that I did at the very beginning of young motherhood, was . . . I had a friend who had challenged me for years (before I had kids) to have a daily morning time in the Word. I told her that she was crazy, that I did it at night and the morning time was not the time for me.

But when my first daughter was still a baby, I started having that early morning time. When I was waiting to see if she would go to sleep or not go to sleep, I decided one morning to go out to the family room and do my Bible study instead of just laying there waiting to see if she was going to wake up or not.

And that became a habit for me of spending early morning time in the Word. I go back to that, because those set patterns of early morning time in the Word were kind of a routined household. Those things are, again, a merciful thing that God gave me in those times of really serious physical stuff that was going on. 

I had that routine of time in God’s Word, and just the general routines of life. Because He had given that to me as a tool, then I was able to walk through that more difficult physical time because He had given me His Word and the tools of routine in our daily lives.

Nancy: Wow, what an important statement about being prepared in your relationship with the Lord and in your daily routines and habits of life—preparing for the difficult times that will come. How that stands you in such good stead in ways that you maybe can’t anticipate early on.

Dannah: You know, Heidi Jo, God’s Word tells us that He works all things together for good (see Rom. 8:28). It tells us in James chapter 1 that when we are under tribulation and trial, that we should stay under it so that the Lord can work out His perfecting and His will in our lives (see vv. 2–4).

As you look back in the rearview mirror and see what God has done, what was He preparing you for? What kind of gifts did He give you? How was this good?

Heidi Jo: The gifts He had given me were His Word and teaching. At first, when I was a classroom teacher, teaching was for students in a classroom. Then teaching became something that I was doing with my own kids. And then, as the Lord continued to grow me, that teaching began to be teaching His Word to women. 

I have a big story to tell of this testimony of God’s mercy and goodness through this big physical trial that God had given me—at first with the tumor and then with the shunt. As I began sharing that story with women in different settings, and then alongside that, continuing to be in His Word more and more, He opened up doors for me to be able to teach His Word to women.

But because I had learned such dependence on Him, I didn’t want to be dependent on just my story to lead women to some kind of realization or truth from me. I want Him to use that story, I want Him to use that story today. 

But I didn’t want women to just hear this story that was happening in my life and see the goodness of God just through my story. I wanted them to see God’s goodness from Him directly. I know that most of us are probably pretty familiar with the story of the woman at the well.

But it’s actually the back half of that story that is the most powerful illustration of what I’m talking about. After the woman goes and tells everybody what had happened, John 4:28–30 [CSB] says, “Then the woman left her water jar, went into town, and told the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?’ They left the town and made their way to him.” 

So they hear her story, and now they’re going to Him, Jesus. Verse 39 says, “Now many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of what the woman said when she testified, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’” 

So maybe there would be a woman that would hear the power and the mercy of God in my story and want to believe because of that. This is what was so powerful to me the first time I realized it, and now any time I’m teaching . . .

It goes on to say, “So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. Many more believed because of what he said.And they told the woman, ‘We no longer believe because of what you said, since we have heard for ourselves and know that this really is the Savior of the world’” (vv. 40–42). 

That’s what my mission is. In my family, for my kids as they’re seeing me live this out, as they see me and their dad live this out, when I am teaching women, when I am teaching girls (because I have the privilege of teaching third-grade girls, too), when they hear the story of me and what God has done in my life; I don’t want them to believe just because of my testimony. I want that to drive them to His Word and to know it for themselves because of what He says and what He reveals to them.

Nancy: Yes, there’s nothing more powerful than people encountering Jesus for themselves, and God has given you a testimony that may be an introduction to that. But how precious is it when they don’t just say, “Yeah, that was a great story, Heidi,” but when they say, “Wow, He is a great Savior!” and they’ve encountered Him themselves. 

Dannah: You know, Heidi Jo, as I listen to you, I know that the story is even more wonderful than that. Because as you were teaching women, God was also planting strength in you. I think He planted in you special strength through these hardships, and perhaps because you were in the Word and had this understanding of what it truly means to be a strong woman.

In the year 2012 you were watching television, and God gave you the discernment and a new calling and a new passion, because of being in His Word and understanding what it means to be a biblically strong woman. Tell us about that.

Heidi Jo: So, in 2012 I saw online that there was a new project—a combination of efforts from PBS and AOL—to document the stories of women. There were doing videos of all different kinds of women from all different walks of life, some very well known, some just kind of everyday women. They had made videos of these women sharing these stories.

I’m a woman. I want to hear stories of other women. As I started to watch some of those videos, I saw some that were really powerful stories, but some that were not proclaiming the truth of what I was learning in God’s Word about who He says women are, and what He says His purposes are for the world.

I was seeing a lot of other different things, and I was getting fired up about it! And because of that, and because I had been introduced to Revive Our Hearts by one of my really dear friends, I got on the Revive Our Hearts website on one of those days. I clicked from those videos right over to the Revive Our Hearts website. 

Nancy: Because you felt you were seeing the world’s view, not the biblical view, of what it means to be a woman who makes a difference.

Heidi Jo: Absolutely! Yes! At that time I think because you saw those women joining together to carry out that message, their own message of what their view of womanhood was, I think in that moment I desired other women to come around me. 

And I wanted to come around other women who were desiring to show the story of women through the pattern that God has set for us in His Word and through His Spirit.

Dannah: You sound just a little fired-up, Heidi Jo! 

Heidi Jo: I was fired-up!

Nancy: You know, this is the very early vision of Revive Our Hearts, even before you connected. This is a work that God did in my heart as I read a book by Mary Kassian (who has been on this program many times) explaining how the feminist movement developed through relationships and women who were in community with each other.

The passion in my heart was, what could God do if women who love Him and love His Word and are committed to walking it out, if they would band together to show a different worldview, a different paradigm, of womanhood? So God was doing something similar in your heart to what He had done in mine as this ministry was starting. 

Dannah: I think it’s more important than ever that we really don’t become complacent that the feminist movement has already had its impact. It’s having as strong an impact as ever even though it’s not at a resurgence or a new birth right now.

When we released Lies Girls Believe—which showcases a biblical model of womanhood for eight to twelve-year-old girls—that book very quickly went to the Amazon bestseller list. I was shocked that in that eight to twelve-year-old category of the list, it was bumping head-to-head with books written by feminists. 

Many of the same women who are in this documentary you [Heidi] were talking about, featuring women who were strong. I’m not sure they were the right kind of strong. So our children, our daughters are now being indoctrinated with this false message of strength. 

And we have to take action, and you did Heidi Jo. What did you do that day when you came to the Revive Our Hearts website?

Heidi Jo: I found a place where I could leave a comment. I said that I would love to hear Nancy’s reaction to the makers of these kinds of videos that I was watching. But I didn’t want to leave it there. I also said, “I am a woman who is loving my children and loving my husband and teaching other women the Bible, and I am trying to display God in every facet of my life!”

About two weeks later I got an email from Erin Davis that said, “Heidi, we just saw your comment and we’re wondering if you would like to write a blog post about this maker’s documentary for the True Woman blog?”

And that began my now-many-year involvement in writing for the Revive Our Hearts blogs, for the True Woman blog and for the Leader Connection blog.

Nancy: Erin recognized that God was doing a work in drawing you to Himself and to this message—good for Erin! She latched hold of you and said, “Come be a part of this counter-revolution!” (that sometimes we call it.) And how thankful I am. I had not heard this story before.

I’ve seen your writings on the True Woman blog [now called the Revive Our Hearts blog] and have appreciated your writing. But I didn’t realize that the entryway for you was feeling the passion and the mission that God has given us to see a new generation of women—an army of women—raised up who will say, “This is God’s way. This is God’s Word, and we’re committed to live our lives to be the right kind of strong!” 

I think our listeners can tell that you’re a strong woman, and I’m really thankful that you’re on our team, because you could be doing a lot of damage [in the minds of women] to the biblical worldview of womanhood if God hadn’t captured your heart with the beauty and the wonder of His plan for womanhood.

Heidi Jo: Yes! I think that is one of the most compelling and beautiful parts of Revive Hearts, is that I can be part of this mission and this way of proclaiming God’s truth with other women while I am still at home being a mom, while I am teaching in my own church.

We can still come together in this ministry and fuel each other and equip each other and sharpen each other to live that out in our own families, in our own neighborhoods, in our churches. And I think that is just an amazing part of what is happening at Revive Our Hearts. 

Nancy: So have you found sisterhood and camaraderie. I know you didn’t move here to Michigan to be part of our team, you didn’t join our staff, but it sounds like you’ve connected with some women who have really encouraged you—and you’ve encouraged them—in this mission.

Heidi Jo: Oh, absolutely! And that has often been a way that I was fueled in my own personal ways that I’m ministering, again, in my home and my church, to have that outside place where I was getting perspective from women. Again, like you’re saying, it wasn’t a woman in my church or in my neighborhood, but it was still that very real contact of interacting with the blog managers and then with the readers on the Revive Our Hearts blog. As I’m striving to write to convey a message that, again, I want to drive women to go to Jesus for themselves and find out His truth for themselves. 

I think about, “Who am I writing to? What is this woman walking through? What are the lies she’s believing? What truth is she confused about? What circumstance of life?” As I considered those things as I was writing, that enabled me then in the everyday parts of my life—the face-to-face interactions. I had considered that thing as I was writing, then I was able to more effectively minister, be a friend, be a wife, be a mom in the contexts that I was in. 

Dannah: And if you are listening right now, and Heidi Jo is getting you as fired up as she is getting me fired up, you can go to the Revive Our Hearts blog today and read a post written by Heidi Jo Fulk, and you can find all of her other posts that she’s written for this movement.

Nancy: I love, Heidi, that the Lord is using you in some other ways as well to speak into the public sphere. He’s given you a good mind and discernment and perception and insight into what’s happening in our world and what’s happening to women in our world. 

You’ve had some opportunities to speak truth, not just in the little bubble of the True Woman blog (some might think it’s just a bubble) but beyond that as well.

Heidi Jo: Yes, so not only in my own home church being able to teach women the Word and to lead women’s ministries at my church, but also I’ve had several opportunities within my community and within my children’s school to be able to proclaim truth in a winsome way. I am on the Sex Ed Advisory Board for the public school that my children go to.

Dannah: So you’re not taking the easy path here?

Nancy: You’ve got some homework to do!

Heidi Jo: No, and not the path that teenagers (I have three teenagers and a ‘tween) . . . That’s not their favorite thing that their mom is on the Sex Ed Advisory Board! So that’s a two-fold opportunity for me, right? That’s an opportunity for me to hopefully represent God’s truth within our public school district, but that’s also an opportunity for me. 

When my daughters were covering their heads as I was explaining this to them, I’m saying, “Girls! This is my opportunity that I can go and proclaim God’s truth in a way that is honoring to Him, but also honoring to these teachers whom I know are working for your good, that I believe are striving to teach children well. I want to come alongside them. I know it’s an embarrassing topic that your mom’s involved in, but this is what God is asking me to do, and I’m not going to say ‘no’ to Him just because it’s kind of weird that I’m talking about this with your teachers!”

Nancy: They will rise up and call you blessed some day! And they’re going to be infused with strength and courage in their own lives when their time comes to be saying. Their time is now, as students, but that’s going to help infuse them with courage to do the hard thing and to swim upstream.

That’s what we’ve often said to women in this movement: “You’ve got to be willing to swim upstream!” That’s not easy. When you’re talking about sexual issues in our culture, you are swimming upstream if you’re defending a biblical way of thinking. But what a legacy you’re giving to your girls with that. This is really the True Woman movement we’ve talked about so much, and I love seeing this illustrated, Heidi, in the ways that the Lord is using you.

Dannah: And it really is a movement, which means we need many women to carry the movement forward. And I love, Heidi Jo, your story and how you have us encouraged and challenged us. I love how God wove your story into the movement. 

I’m wondering, Nancy, as we close today, there might be a woman listening who says, “I have a story, and I want to be a part of the movement!” What should she do? What’s a good entry point? This might be the first time she’s hearing Revive Our Hearts. She may never have been to the website. What would you encourage her to do to begin to join this movement?

Nancy: Well, we’ve talked about a couple of things over the last couple days: first is just, in whatever chapter of the story God is writing in your life, I think you’d be encouraged by the book that Robert—my husband—and I have written called You Can Trust God to Write Your Story.

Heidi’s story has tapped into a lot of pain and a lot of unanswered questions that people have in their own personal lives and journeys. We want to make that available when you make a donation of any amount to help support this ministry and this movement of biblical womanhood, the True Woman movement, here at Revive Our Hearts.

Then, I’d encourage you to take a look on our website; we’ve posted a link to The True Woman Manifesto, which is a way of stating some of the things that we believe are biblical distinctives for our lives as women. Take a look at that, read it, there’s a place there where you can sign it. 

You can say, “I want to be a part of this counter-revolution.” That’s The True Woman Manifesto, and that’s available at ReviveOurHearts.com. And then just begin to pray; say, “Lord, in this season of my life, how do You want to use me?” Maybe you’re doing exactly what He has for you during this season, and just be faithful with it!

Maybe there’s something that He’s tugging your heart about, to say, “Here’s another way in this season that you could be engaged in helping women understand the truth that sets them free.” Don’t listen to someone else’s story and think, That’s what it has to look like for me. It may be very different for you.

I think Dannah and Heidi Jo and myself, we’re in different seasons of our lives and the ways that we’re advancing this movement look different from each other . . . so don’t compare. But, Heidi, I think your story has just sparked in some women some interest in saying, “You know, I want to be a part of what God is doing in raising up that army of women who love Jesus, who believe that truth is more powerful than deception, and who are willing to stand tall and faithful and to be courageous. He’s calling us to be His women who shed light in the darkness of this generation.”

So, You Can Trust God to Write Your Story, that resource is available for the hard part of your story that God is writing right now. Then, that True Woman Manifesto, and it will give you some areas where you can say, “I think that might be an area where God might be calling me to plug in.”

Get with other women! Sisterhood is so powerful! And, Heidi, you’ve talked about women God has put around you, who have helped you to walk through these hard places and to see where opportunities are.

Dannah and I have been at this sisterhood thing for a long time, and we have both “spurred one another on to love and good deeds.” (see Heb. 10:24 NIV) That’s what Scripture says we’re supposed to do. So ask the women in your life, “How could we be faithful as women in this season to God’s calling, not only for our lives but through our lives to reach others?”

Dannah: Amen. Thank you so much, Heidi Jo, for being with us today on Revive Our Hearts.

Heidi Jo: Thank you. It’s been an honor, it really has.

Dannah: So quick recap: Nancy and Robert’s book You Can Trust God to Write Your Story is available from Revive Our Hearts as a thank you gift for your donation, and the link to the True Woman Manifesto we mentioned is on the right side of the transcript of this program. You can go to ReviveOurHearts.com for that.

Let me remind you that you can also go to ReviveOurHearts.com and sign up for the Revive ’21 conference coming up October 8–9. You can join us either in person or online. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is head on over to ReviveOurHearts.com right now, whatever it is you want to do to and interact with us today, or give us a call at 1–800–569–5959.

Now, have you ever looked around and felt like you just don’t belong? I’ve got to tell you, that’s been a really big battle in my own life. One thing that has helped me to overcome is this solid truth: This world is not our home! Nancy will talk about that next week in a series called “Singing the Lord’s Song in a Foreign Land.” I hope you’ll be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth challenges you to be faithful to God’s calling. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.

About the Guest

Heidi Jo Fulk

Heidi Jo Fulk

Heidi Jo desires to know and live God’s Word, then teach and challenge other women to do the same. Heidi and her husband, Dan, live in Michigan with their four children and she leads women's ministries at her church.