This is Not the Life I Planned For You


“When one individual woman is awakened it is awesome, but when she gathers with a collective of women who are awake and rising up together, it is magnificent, miraculous and awe-inspiring.”

By Helen Burns | Twitter: @helenburns

“Helen, this is not the life I planned for you … this is not it.”

This was the God whisper that woke me up out of a devastating slumber.

For several years I had been sleepwalking through life. I was alive, but I wasn’t really living. I felt anesthetized and numb from the hurts and disappointments that life hit me with. I didn’t want to feel or dream anymore, so I simply shut down and went to sleep emotionally and spiritually. It was a demoralizing time in my young life.

To the outside world everything looked picture perfect. John had just graduated from Dental School and was putting the finishing touches on his new dental offices, we had built a dream home on acreage in a picturesque part of town, we had two young daughters and I was largely pregnant with our third. I wore a mask of a happy wife and mother, but I was living a lie.

Everything that mattered most to me felt broken, shattered and irreparable. I felt like a complete failure as a wife and mother and felt like I had totally let God down too.

I remember the night so vividly when I heard God calling me to wake up. I had just tucked Angela and Danica into bed. They were so innocent, so tiny and helpless. I was feeling overwhelming regret and shame for the place I found myself in. How could I bring another child into the chaos of my life? How did I get here? How could I ever hope to get out?

Into the darkness of my night I heard an alarm sound and it sounded like a whisper. I heard God’s voice speak so clearly to my heart. His voice beckoned me to wake up, arise and get up and move forward into the plans He had for my life. In that holy moment I allowed myself to feel God’s love. It felt tangible to me and God’s presence was permeating every pore of my being. I felt compelled to respond to God’s invitation.

“Arise [from the depression and prostration in which circumstances have kept you—rise to a new life]! Shine (be radiant with the glory of the Lord), for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you!” – Isaiah 60:1 Amp

I woke up extra early this morning because I wanted to share this message with you. Though by nature I am a morning person, waking up at the right time today has required an alarm clock, splashing cold water on my face and I am now drinking a coffee that contains four shots of espresso! So, right now I am very awake!

To be awake and alert is an intentional choice. There is a vast difference between being awakened or roused to consciousness and being up and about and getting on with life. Too often we keep hitting the snooze button on the life God has called us to live–too often we sit down and eventually fall asleep because we have been slammed with blows of discouragement, defeat or disappointment.

Sometimes it just seems too hard to keep getting up, time and time again.

It is so easy to become so engrossed in our everyday lives that we become oblivious to the big picture and soon we are distracted into a slumber of inactivity and idleness. In this state we become desensitized to a world that is in desperate need of us–our heart, our voice, our hands, our feet, our cry, our song, our prayer.

This scripture has been pulsating in my heart and mind often recently:

“But make sure that you don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can’t afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!” –Romans 13:11-14, The Message

In my spirit, I keep hearing the words of the Chinese proverb that Idelette McVicker introduced to me: “When sleeping women wake, mountains move.”

I have become so profoundly aware of what women who are awake, are capable of doing. When one individual woman is awakened it is awesome, but when she gathers with a collective of women who are awake and rising up together, it is magnificent, miraculous and awe-inspiring.

I know now that when I chose to wake up, my awakening was connected to so many other lives. There were multitudes on the other side of my decision to get up.

As I read Ephesians 5:14-17, I visualize Paul shouting at us as he implores us, PLEASE, PLEASE PEOPLE – C’MON WAKE UP!!!  Here are his words and I write them in bold because I think every word demands it:

“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine (make day dawn) upon you and give you light. Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people), making the very most of do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is. (Amplified Bible)

I am praying that you hear God’s voice today … that you feel nudged, prodded and provoked to awaken to this moment in history. No more hitting the snooze button on life. These are the days we have dreamed of–the possibilities are endless and the time is now.

 Let’s Awaken to Life and Live:

  • Purposefully … awakened to who you are and what you have been placed on this earth to do. It will require immense amounts of determination, resolution, resolve, tenacity and persistence.
  • Worthily … awakened to your true value. Not based on a worldly schematic of misplaced values, but on the value that the truest lover of all deemed you worthy of His very life.
  • Accurately … awakened to God’s call, walking with precision, completely in sync with God’s perfect timing for our lives. Our senses heightened in every level of our being
My dear SheLoves friends:
  • Do you remember the time when you were still asleep to God’s love and purpose for you?
  • How did you wake up?
  • Any other thoughts or comments?


About Helen:

Helen Burns and her husband, John, speak around the world on the topic of relationships. They host the popular TV show “Relate with John and Helen.”

Idelette McVicker
I like soggy cereal and I would like to go to every spot on the map of the earth to meet our world’s women. I dream of a world where no women or girls are for sale. I dream of a world where women and men are partners in doing the work that brings down a new Heaven on earth. My word last year was “roar” and I learned it’s not about my voice rising as much as it is about our collective voices rising in unison to bring down walls of injustice. This year, my own word is “soar.” I have three children and this place–right here, called–is my fourth baby. I am African, although my skin colour doesn’t tell you that story. I am also a little bit Chinese, because my heart lives there amongst the tall skyscrapers of Taipei and the mountains of Chiufen. Give me sweet chai and I think I’m in heaven. I live in Vancouver, Canada and I pledged my heart to Scott 11 years ago. I believe in kindness and calling out the song in each other’s hearts. I also believe that Love covers–my gaps, my mistakes and the distances between us. I blog at and tweet @idelette.
Idelette McVicker

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Idelette McVicker


  1. crystal ferrara says:

    I can say I haven’t felt exactly asleep but struggling to live out that sense of purpose, facing adversity trying to do so, and was definitely in need of the encouragement your post provided. Too often I get stuck in “the grind” of life and long for something deeper, something more. Feeling that call to go away with Him and reconnect, realizing that I think I need all these other things to feel better but really just need to hear something special from Him. Make sense?

  2. I was looking for a definition of a word on google and I am certain God brought me to this for a reason. I needed this. Thank you.

    • We’re so thankful you stopped by here … And what a beautiful post for you to pause on. May it sink into your heart and may you know you are LOVED by a God who *sees* you.

  3. Thank you. the Holy Spirit used you to confirm what i need to wake up from and what i need to embrace in my life.thank you and may God bless you.

  4. fiona lynne says:

    Amen and amen. It’s fear that keeps me reaching for the snooze button, but my heart wants this, to be awake and shining…

  5. Helen, I have allowed the heaviness of my situation weigh me down and the enormity of the task hold me back. Thank you for reminding me that I have a choice to sleep through it or embrace this beautiful life with open arms and a heart of anticipation.
    Thank you is not enough…

  6. Tears as I read this. Wow! I’m sitting in my van eating pizza that I shouldn’t be eating as a gluten-free girl, feeling overwhelmed, wearing my all-too-familiar “I’m such a failure” cloak. But I read your words…they penetrate my soul and I’m encouraged. Thank you Helen! (btw…while I read this, the song “courageous” by casting crowns is blaring on my car stereo. Appropriate 🙂

  7. Danielle Hardy says:

    This was beautiful. Thank you for always being an amazing example of God’s amazing power in marriage, family and life. #shehero

  8. I’m crying, Helen. THANK YOU. This is the cry of my heart, too.

  9. This is an incredibly powerful post, Helen. Thank YOU.

  10. Aleisha Utterback says:

    I am dumbfounded. I needed this so profoundly, at this precise moment. God spoke through you this morning. Thank you.


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