A Look Inside A Place to Belong
It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
Radio personality, recording artist, speaker and author Lisa Troyer finds herself heart-deep in ministries that are changing lives forever. Her incredibly successful Circle of Friends women’s ministry, formed over a decade ago, is growing in all directions. With partners Dawn Yoder and Jocelyn Hamsher, Lisa and her Circle of Friends offer women’s conferences, counseling services, worship music, life skills classes and marriage/family resources. No matter the outlet or the venue, Lisa uses her gift of encouragement, her influence and her resources to open doors for women everywhere to discover their significance and belonging through Christ.
Active on the business side of the music industry for many years, Lisa worked as a copyright administrator for what is now Provident/Integrity Music, as well as a consultant for well-known European Christian recording artists. In Nashville, she also sang demos for songwriters, but never dreamed of recording music herself.
After several years in Nashville, much to everyone’s surprise, including her own, Lisa made the decision to return home to join the family business and explore what kind of ministry God had planned for her. As Lisa began to develop a deeper, more intimate relationship with God and, subsequently, became more involved with the steady stream of hurting women God placed in her path, she knew that she had found her calling.
Lisa’s passion for God, authentic love for people and undeniable giftings have landed her dead center in the middle of a burgeoning ministry beyond her wildest expectations. She lives in Berlin, Ohio, with husband and best friend Bob, and their two precious children, Jillian and Christian.
Visit the author's website.
Every woman needs a place to belong—and that’s the underlying theme of the new book from Lisa Troyer, president of Circle of Friends Ministries, singer/songwriter and radio host. In A Place to Belong: Out of Our Comfort Zone and into God’s Adventure (Barbour Publishing), Troyer shares her own journey to acceptance as well as the story of a group of dynamic “women helping women” who call themselves the Circle of Friends. Troyer encourages readers to form their own circle of friends, a safe place of truth and love where women can develop lasting relationships and discover together the purposes of God for their lives.
Though refreshingly warm and simple, A Place to Belong is far from shallow. Troyer’s passion to lead others into the bottomless love of God compels her to plunge deeply into the heart of the issues all women face, but most keep to themselves. With tendencies toward depression, anxiety attacks and an eating disorder, she knows firsthand the bondage of secrecy and shame. “Living with a secret,” Troyer admits, “doesn’t make it go away. It doesn’t change your heart. As well hidden as your secret it, that is how deeply lonely you will be. I’ve been there. I know it’s true.”
In A Place to Belong, she explores five principles that address the heart-needs of women today:
* Acceptance, embarking on adventure in relationship
* Authenticity, exchanging the familiar for the extraordinary
* Affirmation, enriching the lives of those around you
* Accountability, receiving the comfort of companionship
* Action, stepping into the journey and walking into the purpose
By learning to apply these concepts, women will not only experience freedom themselves but will also develop a biblical, transformational ministry to lead others within their own sphere of influence to freedom as well.
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (September 1, 2011)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
This is my story. Acceptance means you can tell yours.
Day after day for four years in high school, I felt his eyes on me. His aftershave lingered in the aisle as he walked past rows of students, and I remember what his presence felt like when he stood close to me.
I kept his secret all that time and for many years afterward. Protecting him was not my agenda. I thought I was protecting myself.
I was not going to be one of those girls.
I was not going to get that kind of reputation.
He was a married man, and I was not going to give in to what he asked of me.
School is supposed to be safe, for crying out loud. He had no business doing the things he did, and I knew that at the time. But I was fourteen, a freshman in high school, and I didn’t want to walk the halls in my smalltown high school and have everybody see the cloud of inappropriateness that hovered over me. Who would whisper behind my back? Who would
pull away from me if they knew?
So I kept quiet.
He asked me out, and I kept quiet. He made physical passes at me, and I kept quiet. He offered to purchase alcohol for a friend, and I, sadly, accepted the offer. I remember the warm spring day in early May of my sophomore year when he asked if I needed anything for the weekend and suggested he join me for a drink. And I kept quiet. He looked at me in that way, and I kept quiet. I felt ashamed and confused, and knew this was wrong, but I kept quiet. I sat in his classes every year and earned awards. He was part of my day, part of my routine existence, and no one but my best friend ever suspected the things he suggested to me in private moments. She did not know everything, but she knew something was going on. But she kept quiet, too.
I wasn’t the first girl with whom this teacher behaved in inappropriate ways, and I wouldn’t be the last. I knew just enough about his previous victims to know their reputations were trashed. He was the predator, but they paid the price, and I was not going to let that happen to me.
So I said nothing.
But I had chronic stomachaches, repeated severe colds, wanted to sleep all the time, and hated going to school. School was never my favorite activity to begin with. I preferred to read what I was interested in and found little wonder in things that didn’t apply to my focus du jour. The heightened emotional pressure in high school made attendance even less motivating. My junior and senior years were especially difficult. My interest in music was increasing, but so were my level of frustration and signs of clinical depression, though I didn’t know the phrase at the time. I wonder now how I didn’t flunk out of school. Two elements of relief were my choral and humanities classes. I enjoyed singing and reading Wuthering Heights and other classic literature. I was thankful for the positive influence and encouragement of Penny McKey and Connie Evans, true educators in every sense of the word. Despite my emotional challenges, I managed to make the honor roll and progress toward graduation.
When I was a senior in high school, my stomach trouble took the form of a duodenal ulcer. Because the symptoms persisted after the ulcer healed, the gastroenterologist suggested my parents explore a psychological reason for my illness. I started seeing a psychologist, who officially diagnosed my clinical depression. His practice was not faith-based, but he had studied for the priesthood before getting married, and he encouraged my own faith. It was a safe place for me to say I was not okay without saying why I was not okay.
I still kept the secret.
After a while, my father had his doubts that the psychologist was doing any good, but I had recently turned eighteen. By the grace of God, the psychologist reminded me I no longer needed my parents’ permission to see him, and he offered to treat me for free for a few months. We spent a lot of time talking about my poor dating choices and areas of my life where I felt I had little control. Looking back now, I realize the therapist probably suspected more than he ever expressed. He was waiting for me to be ready to talk.
But still I said nothing.
My free visits with the psychologist got me through the months until graduation, and then I was free from that environment. I never had to see that teacher again. I was off to the Art Institute of Atlanta, far away from my small Midwestern town, to prepare for a career on the business side of
the music industry.
You can’t just walk away.
Just because I did not reveal what happened during high school did not mean the experience had no effect on me. It was years before I told anyone the whole sordid truth and faced the huge impact it had. The depression that began during those years has been a specter for all of my adult life.
On the outside, things looked good. My dad wanted me to take his financial investment in my education seriously, so he said, “No bad grades and no partying, or the money stops.” I didn’t intend to give him a reason to cut me off. I now enjoyed school. I was free from my tormentor. I could be anybody I wanted to be. People who struggle with depression and don’t take prescribed medications tend to medicate themselves with something else, and that’s what I did. I plunged into a whole new social life where no one had even heard of my school or the predator who gave me an ulcer. I amassed a new cadre of friends and relished the freedom of living in an apartment by myself. I even dated a young man who presumed we would marry someday—although I knew I would never marry him. Social activities stimulated me and became the core around which my life revolved. I looked forward—never back. I was grown up now, I thought. The past was behind me. I was never going to live in my hometown again, so I had no reason to dwell on the things that happened there. After graduation from the exhaustive one-year program and an internship with the retail division of Zondervan, a publisher with a music arm, I was ready to take on the world.
In those days, a career in the music business meant New York, Los Angeles, or Nashville. My parents objected to Los Angeles, and I had no desire to move to New York. That left Nashville. So off I went with a classmate. We planned to share expenses. Neither of us had a job, nor any
prospects, but the hope of youth springs eternal. However, my friend soon found that Nashville was not the place for her and resumed her vocation of ministry and education. So I was on my own.
And I still carried my secret.
In Nashville, at the ripe old age of twenty, I found a niche on Music Row, a historic area that is home to hundreds of enterprises involved in country, gospel, and Christian music. Record labels, publishing houses, recording studios, video production companies—they’re all there. I found a job singing demos for a studio in a music publishing company, but ultimately I wanted to work for a Christian company.
I kept inquiring at Benson Records, a major Christian music publishing company that belonged to Zondervan at the time. I grew up in a family business, and I knew the easiest department to get into was sales, where the turnover is always high. So I just kept asking. Eventually I got a job.
The woman who hired me said it was not because I had any experience that impressed her. Rather, my tenacity captured her attention. So I jumped into
the sales department ready to give it everything I had. Six weeks later, a job in the copyright administration department opened, and she recommended me for that promotion since I’d had some experience on Music Row with similar tasks.
My stubbornness paid off, and I had what I wanted. I was independent. I was out of the Midwest countryside. I was on my way to a career on the business side of the music industry. I worked for a Christian company.
I stayed in Nashville long enough to know I didn’t want to work for someone else the rest of my life. The family dairy business that was the backdrop of my childhood had imprinted me with a different mind-set. I had proven I could bulldog my way into the music scene in Nashville, but for what? My parents ran their own business and employed dozens of other people. In addition to his solid business, my dad was always pursuing interests he loved. He even bought a plane. I understand my father. He is never one to shy away from a challenge or an adventure. I wanted to find that elusive intersection between work that paid the bills and being involved with activities that brought meaning to my life. When Dad invited me to return home and join the family business, I took him up on it. I could have the security of the business behind me while also exploring what kind of ministry God had planned for me.
When I chose to move back to my hometown, people thought I had lost my marbles. Didn’t I realize how hard it was to get a job at one of the country’s largest Christian music companies? If I walked away now, I might never get another chance.
My broken past was behind me. At least, I convinced myself this was true. I was twenty-four years old—a lifetime away from that high school girl with a secret—and embarking on independent music industry consulting. I worked for Cliff Richard, one of England’s most popular recording artists, from a base in the rural Midwest. I also jumped right into making cold calls to find new distribution outlets for specialty items of the family business and turned out to be pretty good at the job.
But I still had a secret.
Secrets make you lonely.
Secrets can destroy from the inside. When I kept my secret, I thought I was protecting myself, but instead I isolated myself from people who cared about me. I put up a wall to try to keep myself safe, but instead I kept out people who would have wanted to help. I regret all the years I didn’t tell my mother what happened. As a teenager, I wanted to avoid the attention that surely would come from exposing the predator—my mother would have
made sure he lost his job. He continued to prey on high school girls and eventually was found out. I just didn’t want to be the one who made that happen, and I was clueless about how deeply the events would affect me as I launched into adulthood. As hard as I tried to pretend that what happened didn’t matter after I left high school, the episodes haunted me for years.
All these years later, I still feel naked telling this story, even without including the details. But I hope we are going to travel together on the road to a transforming life in God, so you need to know that this happened to me. In the pages ahead, you’ll read about a lot of heartache. Some of it is mine, some of it reflects the lives of women I know, and some of it rises from the pages of the Bible. And yes, there are some sordid details God thinks we need to know!
Keeping a secret doesn’t make it go away.
Putting on your mask doesn’t change what’s in your heart.
As well hidden as your secret is, that’s how deeply lonely you will be. I’ve been there. I know it’s true.
So I tell you my secret and invite you into my journey with God to encourage you to step into your own journey with God. I’m not suggesting you publish your innermost wrestling in the daily newspaper or on a blog or a billboard. But I do hope you will begin to see the bountiful blessing that can come to your life if you unclench your fists and let go of whatever you have been hiding from yourself. From others. From God.
Circle of Friends is a ministry of women who both seek and offer a place to belong, a place of acceptance, a place of truth and love.
This is my story. Acceptance means you can tell yours.