Finding strength through adversity
From a young age, writing came easily to Joyanne Lawrence.
Still, it wasn't anything she considered as a career — until the day she was forced into it.
“You have to watch what you say because you just might get it,” she said. “I thought, if I didn't have the constraints of a full-time job I'd be able to write and have creative flow, but I couldn't have been more wrong.”
Two weeks later, she lost her job as an administrative assistant. Especially with three children to care for, it was a real blow.
“It was extremely stressful and challenging,” she said. “It took me a while before I was able to put my faith to the test and really start to do what I believe God had called me to do, which is to share my challenging life experiences through writing to encourage others in their walk of faith.”
She's now in the final stage of completing a book.
Ms Lawrence will also share her testimony at a women's empowerment summit on Saturday.
Dany Pen and Zina-May Parsons will also take to the podium to share their personal stories of perseverance and triumph at the event.
Ms Lawrence said: “What I'm personally going to speak about to those in attendance is the power of doing it afraid.
“Sometimes God forces you out of your comfort zone because He knows you will never leave the security of a nine to five otherwise. When He does give you that push you have to learn to place one foot in front of the other, even when you're terrified and don't know what the outcome will be.
“You have to trust that God has already gone before you and will be beside you to carry out whatever it is He has called you to do.”
After losing her job in 2010, Ms Lawrence worked several temporary jobs. Eventually, she started to feel lost in her faith and began questioning God's methods.
Five years ago she was given the opportunity to become a regular contributor to an online magazine, Everything Girls Love. The Lord also placed people in her life to make sure her family's needs were met.
“When I wasn't able to sustain myself through my writing I had to fully rely on God,” she said. “When I think back to that time I didn't know how I would get through it. There were also other major things going on in my life so I was trying to balance everything and keep a life of normalcy for my children. They were my primary focus.”
At a time when funds were running very low and her bills were piling up, her eldest son, a football player, was given a full scholarship at The Hotchkiss School, a boarding school in Connecticut.
“That's just one example of how God was opening doors for us during this time,” she said. “His favour came through my children. I was worrying about how they would cope with all that was going on, but God always made sure they were okay and advancing in school, were recognised for their hard work and that their grades stayed high.
“I was struggling and trying to protect them from it, but God had our back. My 17-year-old was just named head boy at CedarBridge Academy. I just thank God for how He watches over me and my family. It's kind of unbelievable the things that happened, but He never left or abandoned us.”
Ms Lawrence hopes the women who attend the summit next week will understand how their struggles and tests can be used by God to inspire others.
“Other people may witness what you're going through, but how you handle your struggles can provide hope and healing to them,” she said. My message to people is they just need to have faith that however bad things get, with God's help they will always get through.”
• Rising From Out of The Ashes, Black Book Promotions's third annual Women's Empowerment Summit, takes place Saturday at Spanish Point Boat Club from 10am until 4pm. Tickets, $60, include lunch and can be reserved on 707-8077