I was brought up in a home where there was dysfunction and emotional neglect, lots of comments that were around, ‘you will not amount to anything.’ There was never laughter in my family home or visitors that would come, we were not allowed to go on school outings/camps, have friends over and so on. Our home was a silent home. The gifts my parents gave me were an introduction to Jesus (I was brought up in the Catholic Church) and a love for education (I was always a reader, a writer, a numbers girl; I love learning).
That journey of childhood and as a young woman was hard to navigate, I was shy, felt unworthy, and racked with guilt that I would never measure up and so on. I went through anorexia and suicide attempts. In my last year of High School a couple of friends shared with me about how I could have a personal relationship with God - that He wanted to be near to my heart. I opened up my heart to the Lord and allowed Him to begin the work of healing.
As I moved into my 20’s I had a deep hunger to grow in the Lord, I ate of His Word (Psalm 1 that my delight would be in the Law of the Lord and I would meditate on His Word day and night). It was the Word of God and prayer (through tears many a time!) that strengthened me and enabled the God dreams and desires within my heart to gradually begin to surface; they had been dormant because they had not been nurtured and given an opportunity to grow and to bloom. When God brought this revelation to me about nurturing a dream, I didn’t even know what that meant - but as I sat with Him I learned the power and promise of nurturing the dreams He puts in our heart, those things He whispers to us.
I trained as a Secondary School teacher and had a 15 year teaching career (accounting, economics, maths and business - all those yummy subjects that people groan about LOL!).
I loved teaching, I loved supporting young people to pursue their education and thrive in their gifts and talents. I was always in trouble with the Principal for doing things outside the box LOL - once he found me with my Year 10 boys maths class out in the back field, I was teaching them pythagoras using a fitness routine!
Whether it was camps or coaching water polo, I was there!. Half the time, I didn’t know what I was doing hhhaaaa, but God in His grace led me to enjoy things like putting up a tent! My first school camp (literally!) was a fishing camp. The students thought it was hilarious that I had never fished before (let alone never put up a tent or cook baked beans on a camp gas cooker!).But guess who caught the very first fish of the camp - YES ME!!!!!! See that is what the power of prayer can do! God’s sense of humour that is for sure!
I count it a privilege to have had the opportunity to pour in to students. They brought with them youthful exhibrancy, laughter, noise, silliness, certainly never silence. Those teaching years fed and restored my soul - my last teaching stint (Adelaide) the students gave me the ‘Megaphone Award.’ At first I was aghast as to why they would choose that award - surely I was not that loud (remember quiet, shy me!). They gave me the award because they said if they needed to see me for something or wanted help with their work etc, they would stand outside in the courtyard and listen to hear my laughter - when they heard the laughter, they knew where to find me! Truely our God is so good - from a ‘silent’ person to one being known for their non-so-silent (ie LOUD) laugh, that is our miracle working God!
As a teacher my heart always gravitated towards the ones who I could see were broken, spirits crushed, painfully shy, vulnerable to bullies, unloved and unwanted by parents. As I worked among the students my heart was MOVED and God began to whisper to me about retraining in Law, specialising in Child Protection I started my Law Degree - I clearly remember Day 1 as they put up photos of men and women with incredible legal minds, I felt a rising in my Spirit - “Lord that I would be a voice for the voiceless” was the prayer that was arising from my heart.
With my legal qualifications I went on to practice law for a short time before setting up my own consultancy business in business education, child protection and career development: PROPEL Consultancy - I wanted to see people propel in their talents, skills and giftings; their dreams BUT many could not understand me, my multi-passions, my thirst for learning, my desire to be in what was then considered male dominated fields of business and law. I spoke only to a few about the dreams in my heart - at the end of the day it is your actions that will speak louder than words, God is my vindicator not man.
At 39, God brought into my life a beautiful Fijian man - a Fijian Chief in fact (along with his 5000, oops I mean 50000, family members!!), we had a whirlwind romance and we married within 12 months of meeting. It took some time to adjust to this gig called married life - two become one, ouch that can be sooooooooooooooooo hard, with an extra layer of cultural differences on top; BUT God……..He is the one we run to, when our hearts our overwhelmed He is the Rock that is higher, our emotions may go up and down, but He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
We tried for babies, I got pregnant 3 times but miscarried very early each time. For so many years I had cried out like Hannah for a child, for children; even as a single woman I wanted to have children so that I could pour in of the Father’s love and kindness and cheer them on - those very things that I didn’t have in my childhood. Nevertheless that was not to be a breakthrough we got - God chose to fulfill this dream in other ways through the many children and young people I (and we) have had the opportunity to be a part of their lives, to impact and influence.
Gradually through some very dark days and PRAYER (ie tears!) we pushed through and rebuilt again for the next years ahead in our life journey with God. Hubby and I shifted to Australia in 2010, working first in Adelaide, then in Darwin and now here among the beautiful Aboriginal communities of the East Kimberley. I grew my business ventures again - with an underlying thread/theme of nurturing dreams, a strong call to encourage, to build others up, to infuse in them the strength of the Father that they too can rise again.
God whispered to my heart about founding an annual Christian business women’s conference - The Deborah Conference (Awake o Deborah Awake Judges 5:12). I kicked the conference off on my 50th birthday in Adelaide, a day after I got diagnosed with womb cancer………...and so began some more journeying , pain - physical and emotional, griefing. Loss in this earthly realm BUT God who stores all our tears in the water bottles of heavens
Today I am living here in Kununurra (East Kimberley) supporting indigenous women to start businesses, along with a few other projects and ventures I have my hand to, such as I am a Board Director (Australia) on a NFP Uganda Foundation supporting 250+ vulnerable and needy children - we have just begun some fundraising and work to build a Community School (www.barnabaslegacy.org) …….and I am slowly starting on my PHD journey (looking at how profit for purpose self-employment can be a therapeutic approach to complex/chronic trauma recovery (in particular, child abuse) for adult women.
All I can say is MY GOD is well able to do exceedingly abundantly above that which we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Thank you for letting me share my personal testimony with you. I pray that it has encouraged you, I love the scripture from Jeremiah 29:11-13 which is the theme verse for the KWE Community for the month of August. God’s plans for us indeed are for good, He is a good God. This journey of life we are on can throw at us numerous challenges - tough stuff, hard stuff, down right unfair stuff! “BUT GOD|”
Artist: Kerri Blades
One of my favourite artists is Kerri Blades. I have a number of her artworks. The artwork above is one that really resonates with me. That girl on top of the cage is me. My testimony is one where I felt like a bird in a cage and by the grace of God I have learned to fly free of the cage.
The butterfly in the picture, outside of the cage, represents to me how God has step by step taught me to fly again. Those things that held me in the cage have now become ‘a garden for His purposes’ - for His promise is He will take all things and work them together for good to those that love Him and walk according to his purposes in this hour (Romans 8:28)
The prayer closest is where I want to be found on the good days and on the days where I feel even carrying a mustard seed of faith in my heart is too much to bear. Time and time again through my prayers and tears I have learned over and over to pour my heart out to the Father at ALL times because He is a refuge for my soul. He is the same God yesterday, today and forever. He does not fail us, nor does He forsake us. When we seek for Him with all our heart, as Jeremiah 29:13 says we will find Him - that is where I want to be found IN HIM.
Here are some practical life and business tips to continue to PROPEL you forward in the plans and purposes that your God has for you!
Align your life and business with GOD’S WORD, what He says about you and what He has purposed for your business.
There may be things you have been through in childhood - trauma, abuse, pain - but determine that it STOPS with you, let it run into you and put in a stake in the ground that trauma, abuse and pain are not going to continue to the generation coming behind me.
Write down your DREAMS (for you, for your family, for your business) and the scriptures/words that God stirs in you for those desires and dreams (I use Trello, as a visual dream board and to put my scriptures down, https://trello.com/).
Find a picture/piece of art/item that represents the journey God has you on and/or has taken you through (or both!), that causes you to SMILE when you look at it because you can see, feel, sense all that our great God has done.
Go to PRAYER - over and over, even on the days when all you can do is cry, that is quite okay (God has plenty of tear-bottles to go around!!) I love using the app Prayer Mate - its a free app, I have it on my phone and put down the people, places, business development, praise reports etc I am regularly praying for (https://www.prayermate.net/app
Take ACTION STEPS as you are able (remember there are seasons/pockets of time in our life journey where REST and not always ‘doing’ are just as needed as the ‘being’). Ask yourself as you do that action/take that step ‘am I doing this as a GOD YES or a people pleasing yes?’
COACH YOURSELF - like running a race. If you want to improve your ‘techniques’, if you want to beat your ‘personal best’, what conditions will best allow you to do this?
What are 2 points that you gleaned from and/or resonated with you as you have read the Blog, if you would like to please do SHARE them with the other lovely women in the KWE community (perhaps in the comments section on the FB group page).
Blessings mighty women of God!
Maree Cutler-Naroba is a Business Strategist & Coach, Writer, Child Protection Advocate & Founder of Deborah Business Education Hub Maree is a multi--passionate entrepreneur and delights most in being able to champion Christian women, especially those who for whatever reason find themselves in a marginalised and disadvantaged position, to turn their God-breathed dreams into reality. Of equal delight to Maree, is her call to advocate for the protection of children from child abuse and neglect.
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