“Revive. Rejuvinate. Restore.” These three words jump out from the online heading of WooHoo Ministries homepage. Woohoo! We hear The Good News so often that many times we forget how full of joy that message is and how it has set us free. Woohoo! For this post we welcome Tawn Battiste from Woohoo Ministries. Tawn is from Peach Bottom, PA and has recently retired from being a classroom teacher for 33 years. She is married, has four full-grown children (plus a few furry ones), and according to her website is the most enthusiastic follower of Jesus you will ever meet.

Tawn Battiste of WooHoo Ministries
Tawn Battiste of WooHoo Ministries

Tawn has also been a long time speaker for Sister’s in Christ (a local and free women’s ministry event) which is where I first encountered her as a guest speaker. Tawn has a way of drawing in her audience and creating an environment so that each individual present feels as if she is speaking only to them. Her gift of sharing and speaking from a place of peace and joy helps her to be a magnet for women all over whether she is leading them at a retreat, sharing at an event, or simply conversing over tea in her sun room. Her creativity and teaching practice coupled with the radiance of joy allows us to see the Lord through her.

Many readers to this blog have come from some hard backgrounds where trauma was prevalent and the post-trauma symptoms continue to be reinforced. Others have come from places of bad choices and repercussions of such. And still more readers are weary from the daily grind of life which is rewarding yet no less difficult. No matter what the background story is for you, dear reader, I know you will be blessed in hearing a little bit from Tawn.  She “gets it” and has overcome in Christ. Furthermore, she has a desire to teach us about strongholds in our lives and how we can bring those to the Cross of Jesus and leave them behind.

In a few weeks Wesley Church (Quarryville, PA) will be hosting a free event that will be led by Tawn and WooHoo Ministries. The conference is titled: “What Shackles Are You Wearing and Why? Let’s Get Rid of Them!!!” This will most certainly cause us each to self-examine areas in our own lives that we are not aligned with right believing as well as encourage us to continue on our journey towards freedom. Freedom really is free: Woohoo!

Let’s jump right in and talk to Tawn:

Crutchprints – Your WooHoo Ministries home page states that you specifically want to address the joy available through the Lord. For so many that is a foreign concept. What does joy look like to you?

Tawn – Many people would define joy as a feeling of exuberance, or feeling upbeat and in a good mood all the time. This is simply not possible! Maybe it’s someone who is naturally optimistic and goes through each day as a Pollyanna of sorts? No! Each of these scenarios involves feelings, and feelings are dependent on circumstances, people and situations. They are temporary at best. Joy, instead, is dependent on God. It is knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God is in control of every part of our lives, and He is for us. It is walking confidently in that knowledge, knowing that everything, EVERYTHING, is going to be all right and praising Him in and through every situation.

Crutchprints – From what I gather WooHoo Ministries is designed to encourage others on their journey through life issues. Part of that journey can be strongholds. What is a stronghold and how is that different from an everyday struggle/issue?

Tawn – I believe a stronghold is an area in our life where sin captivates and controls us. It is where our carnal nature is allowed to flourish. Everyday struggles are the beginning of strongholds. We make a decision of our will which then can emotionally attach us, further binding us to the sin we initially chose. What begins as a small foothold of sin may be confessed, but then we continue to embrace it. We begin to feel comfortable in it and eventually rationalize and defend it. We can then justify it and we become blind to it; thus it grows from a struggle to a stronghold.

Crutchprints – Can you give us an example of how God took a stronghold in your life and gave you freedom and joy?

Tawn – Sexual sin was very pervasive in my life at a young age. What started as an innocent reading of a book truly began a trail of movement from reading romance novels to soft porn in the written word. (Much of what is written in this area for women is deeply descriptive and allows for visual imagery in one’s mind) As I began to read God’s word, I was deeply convicted, but it was years of pervasive imagery and thought life, so it took years to undo this stronghold.

Crutchprints – I understand you are a birdwatcher. What appeals to you about this hobby and does it connect with you on a spiritual level? How so?

Tawn – My bird watching is part of my spiritual journey, to be sure. First of all, I am able to enjoy the splendor and creativity of the Creator. I sit in awe of the work of His hands as I study and appreciate each type of feathered friend who joins me. Secondly, it allows me ‘still’ time, extended periods of time when I can not only speak to God but wait and listen as He responds. Too often, I think we expect to hear God above the din of everyday life rather than quieting our treadmills of existence and turning towards his ever ready and waiting wisdom.

Crutchprints – Your life verse is Psalm 37:4 (Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart). Many women/men have been faithful to the Lord for years and not yet experienced the manifestation of their desires met. What do you say to them?

Tawn – Taking delight in the Lord, for me, means that my heart finds peace and fulfillment in Him. When I ‘delight’ in the things of the Lord, my desires will align with His will for my life. It has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with Him. Afterall, we are here not for our fulfillment but to glorify Him. We are not born to be happy, but to be holy. As we grow and mature in our faith, and as we imitate God (Ephesians 5:1), our focus is no longer on ourselves.

Too often, I believe people consider this a wish list promise of sorts, and they feel defeated when they don’t gain wealth, status, a job, a mate, or material items they desire. Delighting in the Lord, in and of itself, is a true treasure. This world can never satisfy our deepest longings, but if we choose to delight in God’s way, He will always provide above and beyond our expectations.

Crutchprints – For people in the midst of their journey now, how can they receive joy on the inside even when their outside circumstances don’t reflect it? What are some steps to receiving and choosing this joy?

Tawn – There is much to steal joy from our everyday lives; discouragement, guilt, shame, anxiety, sadness, unforgiveness and fear just to name a few. The largest robber of our joy, in my opinion, is busyness, but that’s another entire tome of its own. How then can we live?

The acronym J.O.Y. (Jesus, Other, Yourself) can help us learn how to choose joy. First, we live and focus on Jesus: we follow His example, and we lay aside our own plans for His. How do we follow His example? We need to KNOW Him. Personally, deep down and for real.

How can we get to know Him? Most importantly, we get to know Him through reading and studying His word. We pray and discern His voice amidst the throng of our culture. And we learn to quiet our lives so we are able to hear Him. This is not to say there is a checklist to complete. It is more about allowing Him to take lead in all areas of your life, from awakening until sleep. Picture a wheel, if you may, and each spoke is an area of your life (kids, marriage, worship, errands, work, etc.) Jesus is the center of the wheel and without Him, the wheel is useless.

Secondly, we think of O.-Others. Walk in love for others. Do and say what is best for others. This is where our walk must match our talk. Putting others’ needs above our own is essential. As we do this, our ‘fruit’ grows and matures! Woohoo! (1 John 3:16-18)

Finally, we think of the Y. YOU. What are we to do? We disciple, serve, and have fellowship. We worship and give thanks. We adopt an attitude of gratitude. We work out our salvation with endurance and strength. We let lose our hurts, habits and hang-ups and lessen the enemy’s grip on us. And we always conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

NONE of this can be done of our own will. We must accept Him as Savior so that the Holy Spirit lives within us and grants us power.

Crutchprints – I understand you will be hosting an event on November 14, 2015 called “What Shackles Are You Wearing and Why? Let’s Get Rid of Them!!!”, (See end of article for details). What can an attendee expect from being present at this event?

Tawn – We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) We have all done things we shouldn’t have done, said things we shouldn’t have said, wronged people and never made it right, and seem to easily see others’ sins while being blinded to our own. We have insecurities, fears, doubts and anxiety. All of these can be shackles we wear which hold us back from what God has planned for our lives.

An attendee at this retreat can expect to hear sound teaching, but they’ll also have to look introspectively at their own lives and discern some shackles. They will have opportunities to share as well. (IF they so desire). We will affirm promises of God, chew on scripture highlighting strength and courage, discuss ‘casting’, relish the fact that we are justified, sanctified, and can be trained in the mind of freedom. And hope! “Our hope is found in nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness”! Woohoo!

(I’m not giving more….gonna have to come and find out! J)

Crutchprints – Aside from this event and being a longtime speaker for Sister in Christ events you also lead women’s retreats on a regular basis. Tell me about your experience at these events?

Tawn – My retreats began as an inkling in my mind decades ago when a friend initially encouraged me to facilitate one for her home church. At that time, I conceptualized Woohoo Ministries and even joked about naming it such because I was constantly excited and yelling ‘woohoo’ at the retreat.

Fast forward ten years and a retirement from teaching, and God spurred me towards making the dream reality. (with MUCH help from friends who believed in me— often times more than I believed in myself)

I enjoy leading retreats because I feel I was born to teach; and what better topic than Jesus?? I get so excited!! Sharing experiences and struggles with women allows for openness and honesty. I feel women’s greatest needs at this time are being true to who they are in Christ, sharing doubts and troubles, and being transparent with one another. This enables us to pray for one another, encourage one another and meet each other on the rough roads we all travel.

I am often reminded of the responsibility of being a teacher and all it entails. For this reason, I have a team of prayer warriors who lift the ministry and lay a foundation for my engagements. The women attending are prayed for, my words are prayed for and my message is prayed for. I can do nothing without Him.

Crutchprints – While being a very public leader and woman in our community I have also heard you speak about another “behind the scenes” ministry you provide. Can you tell us a little about what you do?

Tawn – Since my retirement in 2014, I had little time to think of what I should do because God provided purposes for me almost daily. I began by helping at a flower farm that has a stand at Central Market in Lancaster. I was given ‘leftover’ flowers or bouquets and began delivering them to patrons at local restaurants. It’s quite fulfilling to hand a flower to someone and simply state “God loves you. Have a great day!” I delivered to Turkey Hills, banks, retirement communities, and local stores. It brought much smiles and some tears.

Secondly, because of the burden I always felt as a working mother with four kids and having to have dinner on the table, I began to deliver meals or desserts to different families. I began with families I know, but then I asked for names on Facebook and received names/addresses so I could deliver as a surprise. What fun! I also gave to mechanics, postal workers, checkout ladies at the supermarket, and anyone to whom God directed me.

I believe everyone can do a random act of daily kindness. It may be an anonymous note on a desk, a coupon for a pizza, a surprise piece of candy with a smiley face, a note of encouragement, a smile, a hug, letting someone out in traffic, holding a door open for a stranger, or buying coffee for the person in front of you! The list is endless. Truly, if you ask God for idea, He will give them! And certainly, if children see their parents doing this and become part of it, they will come up with their own ideas. Woohoo!! Lead by example!

Crutchprints – As a woman leading a ministry, events, and retreats can you help us understand the need for balancing those things with your marriage and family? Does your role in the community raise a standard of expectation from those closest to you?

Tawn – I am the first to admit that I could not be doing as much as I am if I had young children. I am in a season of life that gives me much flexibility in my scheduling. I even have neighbors who will feed the dogs if the need arises!

Before I began my ministry, my husband gave me the green light. I would not have done it without his blessing. He is a great encouragement and prays for me when possible before each retreat or engagement.

My role has raised a standard of expectation from my family and close friends, but I believe this is a good thing. I desire to walk as Christ, so accountability is a good thing! In fact, the more the better for me. I need those who will come by my side and give hard truths when needed. Iron sharpens iron, and I desire to be sharpened.

Humility is easiest with the realization that Christ is in charge. He is in control of every engagement I receive, every word I speak, and every new relationship I make. I truly could not do this on my own. (if you knew all my insecurities, you would understand). As He continues to peel away the layers of them, I am amazed beyond measure at His faithfulness, His grace, and His unconditional love. Woohoo!!

*If you are interested in hearing more about Tawn and her ministry please visit her website by clicking here.

**If you are interested in attending the free event for women at Wesley Church (1104 Kirkwood Pike, Quarryville, PA) on Saturday, November 14, 2015 (8am -4pm) please see the below information and contact Jodi Conklin (717-475-0403) for your free reservation.

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