Ginny Owens is a Dove Award singer/songwriter whose latest record, “Love Be the Loudest,” chronicles her battle with her own doubts and fears, and how she learned to let God’s voice be the loudest in her life. Shauna Shanks is a wife, mother and the author of “A Fierce Love: One Woman’s Courageous Journey to Save Her Marriage.” Shauna’s world was rocked by her husband’s infidelity and subsequent request for a divorce. Shauna shares how God showed her how to live through the words of I Corinthians.
Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. Today, we visit with singer/songwriter Ginny Owens, a two-time Dove Award winning artist who has sold over a million records over the course of her career. Ginny candidly shares about how being blind since the age of three has affected her, but admits that her biggest challenge is doing battle with her own insecurities and being distracted from what’s important by doubts and fear. Ginny’s desire, through her music, is to remind herself and her listeners to allow God’s perfect voice of love and truth to drown out all other voices—moving us to action.
Ginny Owens & Shauna Shanks: Let Love Be the Loudest – Jesus Calling Podcast Episode 55
Ginny Owens: My name is Ginny Owens and I’ve been making music for like 15 or so years now; actually maybe a little longer, maybe 17 years almost?
I grew up in Jackson, Mississippi and my parents divorced when I was pretty young, I lived with my mom and my brother growing up. I lost my eyesight at the age of three, due to a degenerative eye condition from my dad’s side of the family. That was not a huge surprise to my parents, and so they were prepared. They made sure that I got to do all the things the neighbor kids did. I rode bikes, and climbed trees, and roller skated, and did all the things that probably scared our neighbors half to death. I really didn’t know that I was different until I went to school and to church, which is where I realized that the problem wasn’t necessarily that I was blind, but it was that I didn’t belong. We all long to be accepted.
Finding my place in a world that said you don’t fit here, I think became a pretty tremendous focus of my life.
What I find over and over is the only way to truly counteract and obliterate those voices of doubt and insecurity, and those voices that might even speak things that the world would say is true; I mean the world would say, you are blind therefore you are weak–you are weaker than the rest of us. I think the only way to counteract those voices, is to know really well and to hear and receive what God’s voice says about us.
God said in His Word, so many truths about us. He has plans to prosper us and to give us a future and hope. He loves us unconditionally, and His grace, His mercy, are new every morning.
Being Held To A Higher Standard
As I went on in life, my mom especially, would figure out things that maybe I wouldn’t know, and she would teach me those things. For instance, I remember when I decided that I wanted to wear makeup, and I think I was maybe 10 or 11 when she finally said I could wear makeup. I remember as I started to learn how to put on makeup, it was super stressful and I thought “I’m never going to get this right.” I immediately wanted to give up and she said, “you will put on makeup and you will like it.” Well not exactly, but she just said. “You know if you don’t learn how to do this now, people are going to think; oh poor girl she just can’t do it. You have to remember people are going to hold you to a higher standard because they’re going to expect you not to be able to do things. So, even if you’re just tired and you don’t want to put on makeup, you still should because it’s important that people know that you can.”
She was the same with ironing clothes. My brother and I both learned to iron when we were 10 I think, or 11, It was the same thing. If your clothes aren’t pressed, people are going to think it’s because you can’t. So I do think there were those kind of things that my mom made me aware of that as a blind person I might never have known. But other than that, I think my parents were just awesome about saying, “go; be a normal kid.”
Facing the Music
I always loved music, but I was super shy and I was always nervous when it was my chance to perform on stage. So, I was in choir and band, and I’d always have a solo, and always my voice would shake, and I would just think, “I’m never doing this again.” I swore that I would NEVER major in music. Also, there was just this stereotype that blind people do music because that’s what they can do. I really didn’t like that either. So I planned to be a journalist, or you know work in youth ministry, or work in counseling; be a counselor. And of course I got to college and I immediately became a music major because God has a sense of humor and I just couldn’t stay away.
I still would play music that I had written for different events. But I thought, practically everyone here in Nashville (I went to Belmont University) wants to be a musician, so I should just plan something else.
I thought I was going to be a high school music teacher, but ended up probably being one of the only people in Nashville that was praying for that job, and ended up getting signed as a songwriter, and getting signed to a record deal instead. I’m so glad that God had that in mind, because it’s been so much fun to get to travel around, and meet people, and write songs about their life, and about my life, and what God is teaching me.
I was on a label with the artists that I did most of my touring with in my first few years of being on the road. That was just so special because I loved all their music. So we would all sit around and sing on each other’s songs, and it was just a blast. It really couldn’t have been any more fun. So yeah, I think I was the luckiest girl with that scenario; it was me, and Nathan and Christy Nockels, and Chris Rice. Then Sean Groves came along, and Cindy Morgan was around; she was writing for the label at the time. So yeah, just thoughtful songwriters, folks who loved music, and they were just really really special. So special.
It was a lot of work.
You know people can tell you, “Man, every artist doesn’t have it this good, and every artist isn’t this busy when they first start.” But all you know, is all of a sudden, you’re never home. You’re not connecting with your friends at all. There’s no community. So I think in retrospect I wish that I had been a little bit more prepared for that, and wish I had known the importance of really holding on to the things that were most valuable at home, and making sure to make time for those.
Focusing On Joy And Peace In Tough Times
My mom had been diagnosed with cancer, with advanced stage breast and lymph node cancer, and so I moved home to take care of her. The day that I moved home, I remember my grandfather passed away. He’d been really sick, and it just felt like a really overwhelming season, and she was overwhelmed. I, as her daughter, was kind of overwhelmed. I don’t know, should I be spiritually encouraging her here, or should I just be walking with her through this? What we do with what the doctors say? All of it seemed very overwhelming. That’s the only word that comes to mind.
She did chemo, and radiation, and surgery, and she actually is cancer free now, which is amazing. I know that is not always the story. I remember, just for a while, after going through that eight or nine-month process, just this pervasive anxiety and just loneliness and, “God, where are you? I don’t hear you. I don’t understand.”
I remember discovering this verse that Paul wrote to the Philippians from prison, which is super interesting to me because all of Philippians is focused very much about joy, and finding peace, and being gentle, and he’s in prison. I just think I would not write that from prison. But he says, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. It goes on to say the verse we all know; “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” I realized Paul knew something I did not know.
He had such a large view of Christ. Christ wasn’t there to just fulfill his desires or to give him rest. Christ was his all, and he knew that Jesus was always holding him and that He would be until eternity. He knew that he had hope forever, and he also knew that Christ had been through far darker than most dark circumstances that could ever occur.
Jesus Calling: Bringing The Truth Of Jesus To Life
What I want is Jesus to bring me comfort, or to bring me peace. I want to be with Jesus today, so that He will bring me peace here. I can ask him for these things and think about just following Him so that I serve Him and so that I do what He has designed for me. It’s about looking to Him, and that my fulfillment comes not in Him fulfilling my desires, but in me living close to Him.
As you read Jesus Calling, it’s a call to go and just discover more about Him. Where did He say these things, or how has He spoken these truths for 2000 years? I love the way that she brings Jesus’ truth to life.
I think this is in September; it says, “find fulfillment through living close to Me. Yielding to My purpose so that I may lead you along paths that feel alien to you. Trust that I know what I’m doing. If you follow Me wholeheartedly, you will discover facets of yourself that were previously hidden.”
What does it look like for God’s voice of love and truth to be dominant in our lives, and how does that change our lives?
I love how she pulls out simple truths; simple yet profound truths that Jesus says to us, which are there in His Word. She has found a way to make them even more accessible.
What I have missed for so much of my adult life, is that the only way to really believe those truths, is to live, and then sit, and to memorize them, and to just keep coming back and praying through them. To ask God to speak them even louder to us, and to show us even more the weight and the depth of what those truths are; and that He believes in what He says about us.
Love Be The Loudest: Crying Out To God
Narrator: Ginny’s latest album, “Love Be the Loudest,” is an album about love’s incredible power to conquer the darkness and to bring about hope and change. Portions of proceeds from Ginny’s record go to organizations that help people including: Compassion International, The Next Door and Hope House. Ginny describes how she hopes listeners will find encouragement to seek God’s voice above all others through her songs.
Ginny: Part of my motivation on the new record, was really wanting to write some music with some of the fun sounds and rhythms that I was hearing, but to labor the lyrics and make them say something hopeful, and positive, and hopefully deep.
“The Loudest Voice” which is essentially the title track is a song about. About just crying out to God for his voice.
I have really been wrestling with how to share about, and how to even understand for myself what it looks like for those of us who are believers, to let God’s voice of love and truth really impact… Not only our hearts, and not only coming into time with Him every day, but also just how it impacts our lives. How do we go, and be, and do, as He has called us to? You know, with love at our core; pouring out of love not pouring out of, “OK, if I’m a good Christian, this is what I should do.” But pouring out of the love that He has poured into us. First, we have to receive that love, and we can’t receive that love unless we go back to him every day and find that love, and rediscover it, and discover new parts of it. So the whole record’s really about that. What does it look like for God’s voice of love and truth to be dominant in our lives, and how does that change our lives?
Narrator: For more information on Ginny’s new record and where she will be in concert, please visit GinnyOwens.com. We’ll be right back with the second half of our show, and our interview with writer Shauna Shanks, after this brief message from Audible.
As a special offering to you, the listeners of The Jesus Calling podcast, Audible is offering a free audiobook download with a free 30-day trial to give you the opportunity to check out their service.
Find your favorite Sarah Young titles, including Jesus Calling and Jesus Always in an audiobook version and get it for free by trying audible.com. Check out a small sample of the Jesus Calling audiobook, featured at the end of this podcast. To download an entire free audiobook today, go to audibletrial.com/JesusCalling. Again, that’s audibletrial.com/JesusCalling for your full, free audiobook. Now, on to the second half of our show.
Shauna Shanks Lets Love Lead
Narrator: Shauna Shanks is a wife, mother, and the author of “A Fierce Love: One Woman’s Courageous Journey to Save Her Marriage.”. Shauna and her husband, Micah, who is a police officer, have been married for more than a decade. Shauna’s world was rocked when her husband announced that he no longer loved her and wanted a divorce. Shauna talks about how she faced the shock and rejection of her husband’s actions and how she endeavored to live by the words of 1 Corinthians 13 as she determined to restore her marriage.
Shauna Shanks: I’m Shauna Shanks, I have been married to my husband Micah for 14 years this November and we have three boys. We have a five-year old, a 7-year old and a 12-year old.
I grew up here in Ohio and my mom was a Children’s Pastor for 12 years at the church that we go to now. I’m a church girl. I wanted to be a missionary when I was a kid. We were the kind of family that if the doors were open, we were there. We were there Sunday mornings, and evenings, and Wednesdays. Back in the day, they had they scheduled revivals and you would go to these you camp meeting things. You would go to services a lot; we went to Bible camp.
I knew Micah, I guess, when we were in preschool classes at the church that we were going to at that time. I guess we were in preschool classes together, which I didn’t know that for years later. So I had known him and his family growing up. I actually went to school with his sister. I knew his mother, because she ended up going to the church that we attend now off and on. So I just knew, because she would pop in, and she would pop out, and she really struggled with drug addiction, which is not uncommon, unfortunately, in Southern Ohio where I live.
So by the time I graduated high school, all I wanted to do was just learn more about Jesus. I went to college, actually, I went to Bible college in Dallas, at Christ for the Nations and I married my husband and we moved to California. He was actually a youth pastor at the time in Redwood Valley California, and we moved back here when we started having kids, and we have been here ever since.
I decided to marry Micah because he was just so driven and didn’t struggle with that kind of thing at all. In fact, people make comments even now like, “I can’t believe how far Micah has come with what he had; with where he came from.” A lot of people, when they grow up that way, they kind of fall apart and they’re not equipped to deal with things. He actually went to Bible college too. He’s always had a steady job. When we got married, we started having kids; he’s always been a good provider. There was just nothing; no red flags like, “oh I shouldn’t get into this family, because there’s drug addiction in the history.”
When Your World Falls Apart
When we started having marital problems, I did think, I guess maybe at first, I gave him more grace because I thought, “well, he doesn’t know any better.” He didn’t have a healthy upbringing. That was evident, a lot actually. You would think that some people would be equipped; more equipped to handle pressure and things like that. I felt like he just wasn’t equipped sometimes. Of course, I always just blamed his childhood. We probably all do that, to an extent. When I mess up, I’m like, “wow, I never was taught that as a child, or that’s her fault,” or whatever. I think it was just normal stuff.
I was blindsided when he asked me for a divorce. People have asked me, actually someone just asked me this morning, like, “you didn’t know? Come on, you didn’t know? You had no clue?” No, I had no clue. A couple of years before this all happened, like we were in it, in a stride.
I honestly thought I had never been happier in my marriage. So to realize then, when he didn’t just ask me for a divorce, he said “Shauna, I didn’t think this would be a surprise to you. I have not been happy for a long time. I’m not attracted to you. I haven’t been attracted to you for a long time.” I mean he literally thought it was going to be mutual, and he was shocked when I started crying and I told him that’s not what I wanted.
Life Goes On: Learning Not To Worry to “Hope And Endure”
It had been probably 10 years since I’d started having kids, and we had settled into this kind of routine. We struggled. We struggled with finances, you know, all the typical stuff that people struggle with over time. We have three kids, we’re busy. It’s like, you’re business partners, and because you’re taking kids here, you’re not sleeping very well, and all that, I just was in the mom zone, thinking that this is typical, and it’s a season.
I had no idea how unhappy he was. At first, I was so heartbroken, but immediately I was also thinking about bills, and thinking about the kids, and where are they going to go to school, and are we going to sell the house, and what am I going to do with this big, stupid house? I don’t want to live in it without him.
I remember my youngest was two at the time, and he was on a bottom bunk and he was crying in the middle of the night. I got up to go sleep with him and I would lay with him until he was comforted. I was in his bottom bunk when I just kind of snapped myself out of bed and like thinking, “you have to get up in a couple of hours and take care of these kids. Life goes on and you can’t just worry about everything.”
So I pleaded with the Lord; I said, “God, you are going to have to help me here. Please, just give me one thing that I can focus on, instead of focusing on the house, and the cars, and the schools, and all of that. Please, just give me one thing. He gave me two. He said, “hope and endure.” I was so relieved to hear Him say that that, I didn’t even realize the miracle that God had spoken and I had heard Him. Immediately, when I heard those words, it was such a comfort to me. It was like getting a massage or something; all of those things kind of drained away and I’m like, “OK, I don’t have to worry about all that stuff. He told me hope and endure.” So that was my new task.
Immediately after that, I thought of 1 Corinthians 13, because both of those words are in those verses. Love is patient, love is kind, it doesn’t envy. Then, towards the end, it says “always hopes, always protects, it always endures.” I started studying that also and that kind of was my lifeline.
I Corinthians 13: The Love Filter
Two weeks later after he asked me for the divorce, he admitted that he was having an affair. I felt like I couldn’t sign divorce papers right away because that would be like giving up. I just felt in my spirit that was wrong. When he told me that he was having an affair, I went back to 1 Corinthians 13. The Scriptures didn’t change, my circumstances changed, but these Scriptures didn’t. I didn’t feel any prompting from the Lord to do otherwise. Honestly, it became like I was in this little bubble—shielded—I should have been a mess. I should not have been able to pull myself together. You do all the tasks and just be calm; I was calm, so I felt like as long as God is keeping me calm, I just took it as the Lord. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, this is not me. As long as He doesn’t leave me, and as long as He empowers me to do this, it ended up being what I call “a love filter” because I would filter my reactions and my thoughts towards Micah with those words.
If what I wanted to say wasn’t patient, and kind, and long suffering, and not keeping a record of wrong–all of those things– not jealous, and not rude; if what I wanted to say or do didn’t fit that criteria, it didn’t make it through the filter and so I couldn’t do it. As you can imagine, there was a lot of quiet in the house because sometimes you know, as you tell your kids, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.
You do all the tasks and just be calm; I was calm, so I felt like as long as God is keeping me calm, I just took it as the Lord. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, this is not me.
I just was quiet a lot and just writing things down, which I think is where the book was born. It was therapeutic for me, but it was also for my husband. He was shielded from all of that stuff that he would have gotten had I not been in that bubble. I don’t know that our marriage would be restored now had I gone to him with all of that stuff, because he wasn’t in a position or in a place to accept it at the time.
I was just thankful that God gave me something to do; I was trying to do it. Looking back, I see that often times we want to be disciplined when we want to be disciplined. Consistency is so key. I came to look at verse I Corinthians 13, and the Word of God is not just suggestions to make my life better, but these were commandments. He was commanding me to live my life not just like I Corinthians 13, and these aren’t just mere suggestions. I felt like in that season, I’m going to get in or out; either I’m going to do this God thing, or I’m not. If I’m going to do it, I’m going to take it literal. I asked Him for His help, it’s silly to not let Him do what He says in that situation.
Letting God Soften Your Heart
So my husband; I feel like I have to go back and kind of explain where he was at that time. Like I said, I didn’t know that he was that miserable. He was kind of in this rebellious state with the Lord where, “my life’s been hard. My whole life has been hard, and I gave it to you anyways. I went to Bible college, I served you, I do everything right. I provide for my family and I’m just miserable. You told me that I would have a good life and You didn’t hold up your end. I’m not fulfilled,” kind of a thing. And he just kind of rebelliously and figuratively shook his finger at the Lord and was like, “I’m going to go do this.”
He said he was so miserable at the time that he was willing to lose it all. He didn’t care about losing our marriage, he just assumed people get divorced all the time, and share the kids, stuff like that. It’s so common, it’s not like it’s the end of the world. He was just justifying it all that way. So he’s already had this conversation with God like, “I’m cool with whatever backlash happens because I’m mad at You.”
Are You Prepared To Lose Everything?
I still remember shutting the computer and saying, “OK God, then You better teach me, because I don’t know what I’m doing.” I felt like if I told my family and all of my circle, they may not join me in the “little God bubble.” And even if he ever did want to reconcile, which he didn’t seem like he wanted to, but if he ever did, I thought that would be so much harder for him to come back with everyone knowing and judging him. I Corinthians 13:13 says love always protects. I felt like telling everyone that he was having an affair would not protect him, so I didn’t because that was on the list. So here he is again, back to that moment where he’s telling God, “I’m prepared to lose everything,” and like nothing happened. The moment that he was waiting for; the great buildup, and he was waiting for his phone to start blowing up, and people to come over, and moving trucks and all that. None of that happened; there was like no fanfare at all. Then what slowly started trickling in, was just the grace of God.
I ended up telling people, that God prompted me to tell, on his side, so his sister (not one that he grew up with but a half sibling sister) I shared with her and they shared with his Aunt Jane. So from his family, godly women who I knew wouldn’t just be on my side, because they loved Micah, and they wanted what’s best for him, and the Lord allowed me to share it with them.
Not only was God softening my heart for Micah, but these family members started showing up and doing things for us and just showing him grace. It was like the grace of God in such a tangible way for him. I think that he was shocked by me. But more than that, he was just shocked in that he knows this was God’s response to him. I just can’t even imagine. I’ve gone through it and I still can’t fathom the grace of God in that way and how much He loves us.
How To Handle Rejection With God’s Help
I knew again, like each day He sustained me and empowered me. So even if my marriage didn’t work, at the end I knew that he wasn’t going to just let me crumble in defeat and be defeated. I was being changed in that season. When I learned how much God loved me, it really kind of stopped mattering how much my husband loved me or not. I didn’t feel needy, like I thought that I would have, because God is near to the broken hearted. He says that in Scripture, but it’s so true. He is present; His Holy Spirit is there as a fixer—He fixes everything. That’s kind of how I dealt with the rejection, because I was feeling rejection from my husband. But overall, I wasn’t rejected, I wasn’t defeated. I wasn’t lacking, because I received all of that from God.
My friend Kim; she was studying Jesus Calling. I didn’t really know about Jesus Calling. She would send me Jesus Calling excerpts right in the middle of a moment where I needed it so bad. There were times where it was literally; like my phone would beep, and I would pick it up and it may as well have been Jesus Christ standing in my living room like “here, take this take this,” and it came. It’s so silly, because you’re just reading it on an iPhone, that doesn’t seem sanctified and holy, but I would read that, and it was like I am in the audience of the Lord right now and this is a sacred place. When you’re going through something like that, and you get encouragement at a time like this, you don’t really forget it. As someone who is seeking the Lord out of desperation, and then He shows up; that’s just life changing.
God had to do changes in Micah, which is why I think God wanted me to just be quiet. It was kind of like, “I’m trying to work here. Could you just go over there and shush?” So I couldn’t really do anything other than just watch, and wait, and pray, and do my job, which was what I felt like I needed to do to be obedient to the Lord. It was evident that God was working in him; working in his heart. People would just walk up to him and be like, “Can I lay hands on you and pray for you?” Just stuff that had never happened before. It was just, honestly, like these little moments.
When you’re going through something like that, and you get encouragement at a time like this, you don’t really forget it.
I started journaling right in the middle; like almost from the beginning. He told me this in the middle of October, and by the end of November, I had scribbled a bunch of journals. I continued doing that until the end of April. By the end of April, our marriage was restored. It’s not perfect, even today. But by then, I felt healed. I didn’t feel like it was this long process.
It was such a journey of my faith growing; it wasn’t one big miracle, but my faith grew with each little thing, and I rejoiced in each little thing. I looked forward to every day and was literally like, “OK God, what are you going to do today? You’re not going to leave me, what are you going to do?” It was like this exciting adventure that I was on.
Narrator: To find out more about Shauna’s book, A Fierce Love, Visit ShaunaShanks.com.
Narrator: Next time on the Jesus Calling podcast, we visit with actor and author, GregAlan Williams, who starred in the Pure Flix motion picture “All Saints,” based on the true story of salesman turned pastor Michael Spurlock and we also talk with Mark Batterson, New York Times best-selling author of “Play The Man, Becoming the Man God Created You To Be.” Here’s an excerpt of our interview with GregAlan:
GregAlan Williams: You know, we know that God is wise, and infinite, and all knowing; and if that’s the case, then he knows that I’m a knucklehead. He knew I was a knucklehead kid. If I can get out of my own way, you see because that’s what blocks me from God. It’s me, it’s my fear, it’s my ego. That’s what blocks me, so if I can get out of my own way, then maybe, then maybe I can have my ears, and my eyes open long enough to hear what He’s saying to me; to receive the gifts that He has for me, and the understanding, and the peace, and the joy that He has for me. I’ve experienced that.
Our featured passage for today comes from the September 16th entry of the Jesus Calling audiobook.
I designed you to live in union with Me. This union does not negate who you are; it actually makes you more fully yourself. When you try to live independently of Me, you experience emptiness and dissatisfaction. You may gain the whole world and yet lose everything that really counts.
Find fulfillment through living close to Me, yielding to Me purposes for you. Through I may lead you along paths that feel alien to you, trust that I know what I am doing. If you follow Me wholeheartedly, you will discover facets of yourself that were previously hidden. I know you intimately–far better than you know yourself. In union with Me, you are complete. In closeness to Me, you are transformed more and more into the one I designed you to be.
Hear more great stories about the impact Jesus Calling is having all over the world. Be sure to subscribe to the Jesus Calling Podcast on iTunes. We value your reviews and comments so we can reach even more people with the message of Jesus Calling. And if you have your own story to share, we’d love to hear from you. Visit JesusCalling.com to share your story today.