Jesus Calling Podcast

Facing Fear & Following Your Heart: Joni Harms & Jennifer Allwood

Joni Harms: Christianity was always a huge part of our life, and I think it is such a helpful tool. To go into a business like music, I think if you’re not based with strong roots and faith, it’s a much harder business to be in.

So I think with all the different things that you’re faced with out there in this world today, having faith and being able to stay grounded and just talk to the Lord every day about the different things that you have to deal with is so important. That’s been a huge part of keeping me away from the negative side of things as much as possible, you know? 


Facing Fear & Following Your Heart: Joni Harms & Jennifer Allwood – Episode #270

Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. Being raised in a faith-steeped environment can provide rich soil in which we can plant ourselves, allowing us to grow tall and firm and confident in the good news of the gospel. But remaining steadfast in faith comes with a heaven-sent assignment: to share it with others. That doesn’t mean, however, that we should push ourselves to the brink of burnout—it’s a careful balance of stewarding our mission well and caring for our loved ones, and ourselves. Our guests this week, rodeo queen and music artist Joni Harms and entrepreneur coach Jennifer Allwood share how their roots of faith have given them the ability to face their fears and follow their hearts. 

First up, Joni Harms shares about her experiences growing up on an Oregon ranch that was homesteaded by her great-great-grandfather, and how that rich family legacy—including a deep love of music—formed her into the woman and performer she’d one day become. Joni reflects on her career as a musician and a rodeo queen, including a scary period of her life when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and how she turned to Jesus Calling to find the strength to get through it. 

Joni: Hello, everybody. My name is Joni Harms, and I come from a little town in Oregon called Canby, where my great-great-grandfather homesteaded in 1872. We have had a ranch there all this time. 

It was quite an adventure that my great-great-grandfather took off on from Germany, came over on a boat just after the Oregon Trail began, and he found this little spot of heaven out there in Oregon and claimed 150 acres. We still have the signed deed from Chester A. Arthur, who was president during that period, and saying that that was his property. 

I live out there with my husband and my two kids, and it’s a wonderful place to call home when I’m on the road as much as I am. I go back there, and I can really feel the roots walking around on that soil. I feel I am really home. 

We’ve raised just about everything at one time or the other through the years. And right now it’s a cattle ranch that my son Luke is taking over for us. We raise a cow/calf operation with hay and wheat that we raise there. It’s just a wonderful spot to be that inspires a lot of the songs that I write. 


The Roots of Faith and Music

My brother Buck is ten years older than I am, and my sister Chris is eleven years older. And so when I came along, they were at a stage in their life where they were able to spend more time with me because things had slowed down a little more. 

My whole family was very musical from the get-go. My brother plays just about anything he can pick up, just like my dad, on any instrument. My sister and my mom were good on the piano, and we all sang. So it was just kind of something I was expected to do when I came along to join in. I learned harmony at a young age and performed at my first rodeo, the Molalla Buckaroo in Molalla, Oregon, at age five. I sang for a big group of cowboys who were lodging at my aunt’s house, and she had a big, several-story house. A lot of the cowboys stayed there because there weren’t a lot of hotels or motels. She’d make all this food, and everybody would come to gather around. So then she said, “Joni, you need to sing for the cowboys.” And so I, of course, didn’t have really much of a nervous bone in my body. I loved to sing from day one and sang “Cowboy Sweetheart” and “Ragtime Cowboy Joe” and all those kind of things. And, oh, they loved it. And so I was bitten by the entertainment bug right then and there and have pretty much pursued it ever since.

I remember as a little girl, about the same time I was at the Molalla Buckaroo performing for those cowboys at five years old, we went to the rodeos. I remember watching the rodeo queen make her run at the very beginning of the rodeo, flying around the arena at top speed on a beautiful horse, waving at the audience. And I always thought, Oh, my goodness, what I want to do when I get a little bigger is play country music and be a rodeo queen. And by golly, I was lucky enough to make both of those dreams come true. 

As a young girl, it was just very seldom that we would miss church. If we did, it was because Dad had too much hay to cut, and there was rain on its way and we had to do something on the farm that related to that. But even then, we would still have devotions, which is one of the reasons I love the Jesus Calling book so much. Because sometimes we didn’t have a lot of time to dedicate to the Lord each day, but we would always pray. We would always have some sort of little devotions. And then, as I said, those Sundays, we’d do a lot of singing and harmony and really, really enjoy it. Just had the most wonderful feeling, you know, when we could sing gospel songs together as a family. And other people, if we had folks over who maybe didn’t sing or play, they still seemed to love to listen and enjoy the music.

“We could sing gospel songs together as a family. And other people, if we had folks over who maybe didn’t sing or play, they still seemed to love to listen and enjoy the music.” – Joni Harms, on faith during her childhood

When I first started writing songs around ten or eleven years old, they were mostly about my horse or my dog. And I remember I wrote one for my mom on Mother’s Day and things like that. But having the opportunity in the late 80s, to be signed by Mr. Jimmy Bowen to Capitol—actually was Universal MCA at the time—and then being introduced to a lot of the Nashville songwriters . . . I had never co-written before that happened. And so I learned about song structure. I learned that the song should not be much more than three minutes long. I learned that the hook and the chorus are something you want to be able to grab your listeners’ attention with right off the bat. 

And so taking that and then putting the ideas that I had from my years growing up on the farm and all the different traveling with rodeo, and just my faith as well, putting all that together was really, really, really wonderful for me to be able to do that. I started getting to know that what I was saying through my music wasn’t just a message that made me happy to sing about. It was really reaching and touching other people. And I thought, What a rewarding feeling this is.

“What I was saying through my music wasn’t just a message that made me happy to sing about. It was really reaching and touching other people. And I thought, What a rewarding feeling this is.” – Joni Harms


Staying Grounded with God

Christianity was always a huge part of our life, and I think it is such a helpful tool. To go into a business like music, I think if you’re not based with strong roots and faith, it’s a much harder business to be in.

So I think with all the different things that you’re faced with out there in this world today, having faith and being able to stay grounded and just talk to the Lord every day about the different things that you have to deal with is so important. That’s been a huge part of keeping me away from the negative side of things as much as possible, you know?

“With all the different things that you’re faced with out there in this world today, especially having faith and being able to stay grounded and just talk to the Lord every day about the different things that you have to deal with is so important.” – Joni Harms

I am not a huge reader. I am such a busy person, always thinking I have a million things to do. And on a ranch, there are always a million things to do. You have lots of animals to take care of. You’ve got kids to take care of. I pretty much take care of my business, a lot of it myself, booking the shows that I do. So there’s always lots of things to do. That’s one of the things I love about Jesus Calling is because it doesn’t take that long to have a few moments with Jesus every morning when I’m having my cup of coffee.

When I went in to have my mammogram four years ago, I took a copy of Jesus Calling with me. I don’t know why, it really must have been the Lord’s speaking to me then, too. And I went in and I had the test and the photo, you know, the mammogram done. And they said, “Well, just go in this little booth.” 

And I went in and sat in there for a few minutes and then she came back and she said, “I’m sorry, I can’t let you go yet. We need to do another little test here. Come back in, we need a couple more pictures first,” and I just got this just awful feeling in my gut. 

I went in there and we did the other pictures and I fought back the tears because I just had this feeling and I was praying, praying, praying. But then I went back to that little cubicle again and sat in there for over a half an hour. And thank goodness I had the Jesus Calling book with me. And I read that and prayed and read that and prayed the whole time I was waiting. 

Then I had to go in and have the biopsy, which is not a pleasant experience by any means. And it really helped to have that with me because, I mean, I could pray, but I also, you know, it just seemed like I was reading the right passages and the right messages that were helping me through this horrific experience that I was going through. 

I’ve had the opportunity to go speak to some other cancer patients, breast cancer patients, and I even went in and went to the chemo lab treatment area right about the time I was doing the article for Women‘s World Magazine on that. And I went in and just sang for them and talked to them about, you know, “You can get through this, I did.” And one of the songs I sang was “That’s Faith.” And there were lots of tears. Lots of people afterward asking, “Tell me more. How did you get through it?” 

And I said, “Just really trusting in the Lord to take care of you.”


A Calling to Share Good News

I feel like God has called me to be more of a person who gets out there and helps take some of that pressure off of some of these other people just by being calm, wearing a smile, maybe having a special song to share with them that might take a little of the load off and make them realize things are not so bad. Every day is a gift that we’re given. It’s how we use it and what we do with it that is the most important. Going through my breast cancer experience, I always felt that brought that idea to my attention even more. We have a gift and we can be or do anything we want.

“I feel like God has called me to be more of a person who gets out there and helps take some of that pressure off of some of these other people just by being calm, wearing a smile, maybe having a special song to share with them that might take a little of the load off and make them realize things are not so bad.” – Joni Harms

Here’s a passage from Jesus Calling on March 15th that I absolutely love. It goes:

LISTEN TO THE LOVE SONG that I am continually singing to you. I take great delight in you. I rejoice over you with singing. The voices of the world are a cacophony of chaos, pulling you this way and that. Don’t listen to those voices; challenge them with My Word. Learn to take minibreaks from the world, finding a place to be still in My Presence and listen to My voice. There is immense hidden treasure to be found through listening to Me. Though I pour out blessings upon you always, some of My richest blessings have to be actively sought. I love to reveal Myself to you, and your seeking heart opens you up to receive more of My disclosure. Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

I just love this passage because it is so much like my life. I hope I have a long time to spend to continue to share God’s Word and my music and watch Olivia and Luke continue with their careers. 

But, you know, my best advice to anybody out there in this world is maybe going ahead and pick up a copy of Jesus Calling. And even if you don’t have much time, like I don’t in a day, take five minutes, maybe when you’re having a cup of coffee or just as this passage said, go find a little quiet space just for a few minutes and be quiet. And even if you don’t read Jesus Calling, maybe have a word with Him. It’s amazing what that can do for you and the rest of your day.  

Narrator: To learn more about Joni Harms, please visit https://www.joniharms.com/, and be sure to check out her songs on your favorite music streaming platform

Stay tuned to Jennifer Allwood’s story after a brief message.


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Narrator: Our next guest is entrepreneur, coach, speaker, and author Jennifer Allwood, a mom of four who launched a painting company called The Magic Brush in 2000 before transferring into an online business that featured tutorials, giving her more time for her family and her home decor blog. Now, Jennifer teaches women how to build an online presence and is passionate about building businesses that honor faith and family while combating the burnout that sometimes comes from trying to do it all, which she shares in her book Fear Is Not The Boss of You

Jennifer Allwood: Something that I have struggled with all my life is what a lot of people call a “vain imagination.” So, if there’s a phone call in the middle of the night, my brain is automatically going to, Who passed away? If you’re getting ready to go on vacation it’s, Do we have our life insurance policies all put into place? 

I can remember a time several years ago when the three biological kiddos were small, I was cranky, quite frankly, just not feeling like I was in a good place. I remember for so long I knew that I was supposed to stay home and raise the kids, but I felt conflicted because I really loved my business. And when I was doing the business, I wanted to be home with the kids. And when I was home with the kids, I wanted to be doing the business and just feeling like I was having to really kind of put the brakes on a business that had the potential to explode. 

Even though I knew I was doing what God asked me to do, it didn’t necessarily mean that I liked it or that it was very comfortable. And so I felt like I was not probably in a very good place mentally. I think God did give us a fear of things, like staring into the face of a lion, fear of getting too close to the edge of a cliff. But a lot of the women that I deal with, especially in coaching, they’re afraid of things like sending a hard email, making a hard phone call, applying for a job that they wish that they could do, moving across the country when they don’t really have a job already lined up. And if the worst thing that I’m imagining was to happen, would I still be okay? What would I still have left? And so if I kind of go through those exercises, it really, really helps me to determine if what I’m actually most fearful about is actually valid or if it’s me just making it worse than what it actually really is.

“Even though I knew I was doing what God asked me to do, it didn’t necessarily mean that I liked it or that it was very comfortable….if the worst thing that I’m imagining was to happen, would I still be okay? What would I still have left? And so if I kind of go through those exercises, it really, really helps me to determine if what I’m actually most fearful about is actually valid or if it’s me just making it worse than what it actually really is.” – Jennifer Allwood


Jesus Calling
Makes an Impact

Narrator: As we wrap our time with Jennifer, she shares the story of how she first became familiar with Jesus Calling and the impact that it’s had on her faith life. 

Jennifer: It looked small enough for me to consume daily. And when you have a lot of small children, you know, that’s kind of key. I remember just picking it up simply because one of my clients had it. And I love having it on my end table where I have my quiet time with my husband every morning. It’s something I read on a regular basis. 

I actually found it on June 7th, and I think we can interchange the word like worry for fear in here because this is what it says. It says: 

My children tend to accept worry as an inescapable fact of life. However, worry is a form of unbelief; it is anathema to Me. Who is in charge of your life? If it is you, then you have good reason to worry. But since I am in charge, worry is both unnecessary and counterproductive. When you start to feel anxious about something, relinquish the situation to Me. Back off a bit, redirecting your focus to Me. I will either take care of the problem Myself or show you how to handle it.

I have that page earmarked, and I love it.

Fear Is Not the Boss of You

So in terms of my book, Fear Is Not the Boss of You, I wrote that for any woman who is scared, overwhelmed, or just who feels completely stuck. I know that I’ve been all three at different times and all three at the same time. And there are different seasons, I think, for different things. But my hope is that a woman will read this and she’ll feel like she has options and that she’ll feel like she doesn’t have to stay stuck. She doesn’t have to stay overwhelmed. She doesn’t have to stay doing something for fear of doing something else. And so my hope is that she would pick it up and it would give her permission to really fight for her life, sometimes even like literally fight for her life. And so my hope is that it would just be a blessing to any woman who picks it up and turn them towards Jesus.

Narrator: To learn more about Jennifer and her work, please visit https://jenniferallwood.com/. And be sure to check out her book, Fear Is Not The Boss Of You, wherever books are sold. 

If you’d like to hear more stories about facing fear and following your heart, check out our interview with Mica Paris


Narrator: Next time on the Jesus Calling Podcast, we hear from author Anne Lamott, who shares how positivity and faith can carry you through the hardest parts of life. 

Anne Lamott: I remember making that leap of faith, of thinking, If I don’t decide for God, I’m so doomed anyway, the world is harsh and ugly and isolating and shaming and competitive

And I did it. I didn’t know what that meant, I didn’t have a clue what it meant. But I made the leap of faith and I thought, Well, I’ll figure it out as we go. And that’s what I did. That was the day my healing began. 

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