Issue IV Fearless: The Art of Living in Freedom

Page 1

F R EK E D athlyn







GRAPHIC DESIGNER Stephen Green Chestnut Hill Graphics DEVOTIONAL C O N T E N T C R E ATO R Kayla Williams MARKETING S T R AT E G I S T Marshall Hamilton COVER STORY Kathlyn Celeste COVER PHOTOGRAPHY Briana Ariel & Sydney Thom Briana Ariel Photography Shoot Location: Boston, MA

Created in prayer

Margo Gabriel

Sydney thom

www . margoscreativelife . com

IG: @sydtastic1


IG: @carrrolllinaa

Marshall Hamilton

IG: @mhamilton5

Briana Ariel

IG: @ Briana___ariel

When you pick up an issue of FREED Magazine or scroll through our Online Journal, we want you to feel as if you’re sitting down with a close friend. We hope the authenticity of our stories stirs your heart. Our desire is that our vulnerability allows you to be open with those whom you trust to expose what is broken, seek healing, and have the courage to one day tell your story. Our scars are reminders of the battles we faced and our stories testify to the healing that comes in surrendering to Christ. -T h e F R E E D T E A M


IG: @chstnthll

Kayla Williams

IG: @_kaykayymichelle

Artist: Lina Redford || IG: @ linaredford




o be completely transparent, FREED Magazine is a huge fearless win for me. When God gave me the vision for FREED Magazine it did not come when my life was completely put together. Not even close! God gave me the vision in the midst of pure chaos. I had just left an abusive marriage, had a newborn who relied solely on me, a demanding full time job, ran my photography business and to top off my plate of responsibilities I was so ashamed of my failed marriage that I was in a self-imposed isolation. I had a million and one reasons to be fearful, but I had one huge reason to be fearless, Jesus! During the midst of that unexpected chaotic season of my life, Jesus gave me peace. That peace ushered me through that entire season and through Him I was FREED even while in the storm. If I could experience freedom in that storm, I knew others could have freedom in their storms as well. Some days I am ferociously fearless and other days I wake up with butterflies in my stomach and a golf size lump in my throat. However, I try not to dwell in that space for long, instead I focus on conquering the one daunting task at hand in that moment. Being fearless is when you push forward even while the “feeling� of fear is still present. Our brave contributors share testimonies that will encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and be fearless!

There is freedom on the other side of fear!

-Briana Ariel | IG: @Briana___Ariel

K a t h l y n Celeste

COV ER S T ORY // S a v a n n a h S t u r g e o n



fearless: \

// E r i ck a T a y l o r

81 10 // K i m b e r l y

G l a d d e n -E v e r s l e y FREED MAGAZINE 6


//A m a n d a W a l k e r


living life in freedom


// J o e l S a n t a n a

/ / Charlyn Nater

All contributors confirmed that the content submitted and published in FREED Magazine is owned by each contributor respectively.



/ Ä R T/






F OUR MISSION E m p o w erin g p eo p l e

t h rou g h

a u t h en t i c i t y t o l i v e a l i f e in t h e


t h e y h av e b een g i f t ed t h rou g h

C h ris t .


J esus

Ericka Taylor IG: @ErickaWarnita_ T wi t t e r : @ E r i c k a W a r n i t a

I am TDCJ 12102014 www . h e r n a t u r e . c o m

Inspired and told based on my true story of imprisonment.


t is now December 31, 2017 and it is 11:27 pm. I don’t think you can even begin to understand the difficulty I am facing at this very moment. Or maybe you do and maybe I am just like many of us feeling like I am alone in this. Really, I don’t think I even understand it myself. But you see, I have stared at blank screens and glass windows waiting on my lifeline and it felt like I was ticking through the timeline to my demise. I was sitting there in my house bringing in the New Year by myself. Alone, untouched, unbothered ready to pop like the fireworks that lit the sky that night. Yeah, that was me. Alone, untouched, and unbothered nearly numb. I figured maybe I would just spend some time reading my Bible for that night because I mean God is supposed to be the only friend I need anyways, right? However, the thoughts that stretch from the occipital lobe to the frontal lobe of my brain is currently yearning for something more I can’t quite put my finger on. So, my focus began to float its way into the atmosphere as the puddles of tears flowed from my eyes. Tears that are not even enough to bring the sticky tacked thoughts around the walls of my cranium together. Instead, they were stuck like the gum you discovered at the bottom of your 8th grade school desk. FREED MAGAZINE 10


I listened as fireworks popped and my vision blurred leaving me in an empty room as thoughts crowded my mind. Man, I chuckle at the thought now. The thought of how my own cries for help that rang into the middle of the night was caused by a man, woman or child within my world. Oh no, it was not them that caused my sentence. It was the woman in the mirror that was facing me who was truly the accused person. The woman that waited in front of blank screens and behind glass windows. It was me that was on the other end of the receiver speaking broken “I love you’s” as I sobbed uncontrollably. It was me. I was the woman who desired so much more without knowing what it was. I could see the blurred image with my own eyes, but the reach was just too far for both my eyes and hands to reach as taunting voices of inmates screamed across the cellblock. I was the reason I was in prison. I was the reason. I am Ms. TDCJ 12102014. Time flies by and I’ve moved to the year 2019. I have vacationed to the year 2017 many days throughout the week. Something like my guilty pleasure, if you would like to call it that. Let’s just say vacationing in old history is not as refreshing as a guilty pleasure may entice one’s mind. Why, why, why. I begin to reason with myself trying to grasp an understanding of that time so much so that the questions I asked myself grew into statements. What was your motive when you allowed someone else’s blood become your own and be on your hands. How could you steal someone’s most valuable treasures found within the safety of their own home? You were never wanted, didn’t you know that. My mind circled with these questionable statements as I sat behind bars losing my mental sanity. They locked me up in an insane asylum as I murmured the words that filled my mind continually. It was the restless nights that finally brought me to a point from insanity to sanity. A small voice within myself that began to scream louder than any word I could murmur or any tear I could cry. It was the muted words that bloomed inside of my being that seeped through every crack that opened to the outside world. That was that moment. It was in that moment and in that day that I heard a voice that could not be seen with the naked eye nor felt by the hands of someone who professed their love towards me. It was a voice that was so flavorful and sweet like that sweet onions that brings a twinkle to your eye as you cut it. It was the voice. FREED MAGAZINE 11

A victim of my lingering silence but never defined by its fate because my Father saw me. There I was lying in many beds of the oppressed and those unworthy when that voice said I was more than any thought that I could have ever imprisoned myself with. As you may be able to see now, that I was not imprisoned with criminal charges from the justice system but from the questionable system I called my mind. I didn’t deserve to be loved the way God loved me because I did my dirt in this world. Like I said I have been a thief stealing hearts of those near to me like the love of my life and my family because of the mental abuse I have experienced. I placed my own selfish ways in front of my morals by killing someone that could have changed my life for the better forever. I was facing a sentence that should have rotted my very existence but because of that voice, it saved me. He saved me from myself. The system played me for about 2 years but my official release date was August 28, 2019. I am Ms. TDCJ 12102014. A number that will stick with me for a lifetime and not in the way you may be thinking. It was on December 10, 2014 where I was sitting in my room crying out to God to save me from myself and be the best friend that I never had. From that day forward he has been nothing but that. I have been true to my imperfect nature. However, his unfailing grace and mercy grants newness with every morning. How I thank my Father for freeing me for a lifetime. No prison bars can hold you back when you have a Father in Jesus Christ. I want to encourage anyone who is reading this article that your sins are forgiven if you believe in him. Please trust in him. Don’t fall into the mistake I did in getting so stuck in thought trying to reason past actions or current failures that you lose sight of who God is. He is one that calls you free and free indeed. If you have fallen away from our Father today, please read 2 Corinthians 5:11-21. It blesses my soul every time I fall because it states he who has “no sin became sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” That is the good news! Jesus came so that we might have a new, restored life in him. God loves you more than you know. Take it from the woman who lived a life of many regrets hurting many people around me because of the hurt that I felt inside. God’s love outweighed even my pain and hurt. I am lover of Christ, an artist, model, blogger, female empowerment advocate, youth teacher, legal assistant. More importantly, I am TDCJ 12102014. I am The Daughter of Christ Jesus 12-10-2014. FREED MAGAZINE 12


Artist: Ariadna Sala Soler || IG: @ E EtDaMlAkGsA Z. IaN Er i1a h t t p s : / / c o l oFuR r

DIAMOND grant IG: @adiamondadozen www . d i a m o n d l e p r e . c o m

Finding Purpose in the Pain J

anuary 2, 2013- Jakob Alexander Grant was born. A child who was not planned. A child who was not prepared for. A child that Satan fought to keep off this earth and out of our family. A child that literally saved my life. The life I lived leading up to my son’s arrival was anything but easy. I was the daughter of parents that had divorced by the time I was three years old. I had a very strained relationship with my father. Because of that relationship I developed a pattern of thinking that told me I was not good enough, and I lived my life trying to prove that I was worthy —worthy of love, worthy of time, and worthy of success. But ultimately no matter how hard I worked to try to prove that to others, deep down I didn’t believe it for myself. Despite being raised in a Spirit filled church from the time I was two years old, I headed off to Howard University at the age of 18 with deep emotional wounds that had never healed. College social life proved to be the perfect place to numb the emotional wounds I carried onto campus. I drank heavily and consistently. I smoked weed daily. I partied and clubbed and went to kickbacks more regularly than I attended class. And no one thought twice because we were all young and having fun. It was simply the thing to do. The fact that I was able to function quite well despite all that behavior further masked my internal demise. FREED MAGAZINE 14


Yet that wasn’t when I hit rock bottom. I found myself in an offcampus relationship that became very abusive very fast. Those feelings of worthlessness had attracted a person that reinforced that idea with every word he spoke and every hand he laid on me. The relationship only lasted 5 months and by the grace of God I managed to safely leave that situation. However, the damage was done and simply added to a growing list of unaddressed pain. Bound by emotional wounds, shame, embarrassment and grief I continued to spiral. Outwardly I appeared to be doing fine. I was working, in school, spending time with friends, but inside I was suffering. Depression and anxiety plagued me heavily and suicidal thoughts took a stronghold over my mind. When I wasn’t numbing the pain by overworking myself or drinking, I was contemplating my existence on this earth and what I perceived as the need to not be here anymore. And then I found myself dealing with the aftermath of being sexually assaulted by someone I knew casually. Someone who was a friend of some of my closest friends at the time. Someone who I had blindly trusted in a moment where I was not able to reasonably consent to anything. But then came Jakob Alexander Grant. A child that was nearly aborted. A child that was nearly given up for adoption. Not because he wasn’t wanted or loved, but because there were lingering doubts about the ability to provide and offer him the absolute best physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Amid those doubts God made me a promise—My son would never need or want for anything (physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually). Thus, began my journey of parenthood and trusting God completely.

"I understand that the pain, while not authored by God, can now be used for his glory and for others’ freedom." FREED MAGAZINE 15

Finding Purpose in the Pain continued


et that wasn’t when I hit rock bottom. I found myself in an off-campus relationship that became very abusive very fast. Those feelings of worthlessness had attracted a person that reinforced that idea with every word he spoke and every hand he laid on me. The relationship only lasted 5 months and by the grace of God I managed to safely leave that situation. However, the damage was done and simply added to a growing list of unaddressed pain. Bound by emotional wounds, shame, embarrassment and grief I continued to spiral. Outwardly I appeared to be doing fine. I was working, in school, spending time with friends, but inside I was suffering. Depression and anxiety plagued me heavily and suicidal thoughts took a stronghold over my mind. When I wasn’t numbing the pain by overworking myself or drinking, I was contemplating my existence on this earth and what I perceived as the need to not be here anymore. And then I found myself dealing with the aftermath of being sexually assaulted by someone I knew casually. Someone who was a friend of some of my closest friends at the time. Someone who I had blindly trusted in a moment where I was not able to reasonably consent to anything. But then came Jakob Alexander Grant. A child that was nearly aborted. A child that was nearly given up for adoption. Not because he wasn’t wanted or loved, but because there were lingering doubts about the ability to provide and offer him the absolute best physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Amid those doubts God made me a promise—My son would never need or want for anything (physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually). Thus, began my journey of parenthood and FREED MAGAZINE 16


So if the



sets you


you are Ru U lL yY tT r FREE.

J o h n 8 : 36 ( N L T )



WELL CLOTH'D I G : @ we l l c l o t h d i n c

www . we l l c l o t h d . c o m



W hat


W ell C loth ’ d ?

C o mm u n i t y F e a t u r e

Well Cloth'd is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to take the mystery out of donating by partnering with the gatekeepers of in-need populations and generous individuals to ensure that recipients receive the highest quality personalized donations possible. We work to support and empower and families as they strive to better themselves and improve their lives.



H ow


W ell C loth ’ d

begin ?

Founded by three lifelong friends, Leetah McGee and sisters Jenne and Marien Richardson, who have long had a passion for community service, fashion and wellness. In the fall of 2016 we began brainstorming ways to marry these interest and build a community while doing so and Well Cloth'd was born.

W hat

are the difficulties of


W ell C loth ’ d ?

One of the most pressing difficulties we experience is a lack of dedicated space. We currently accept donations at BKLYN Commons Flatbush, a co-working and event venue in Brooklyn that has been incredibly generous to us by letting us utilize their event space for our annual event and also allow us to store a fair amount of items on an ongoing basis. The issue is because of the amazing people who support us, we very quickly outgrow our storage bin when we're accepting donations which then makes it difficult to sort, store and redistribute the items.

W hat

has been the greatest

challenge you ' ve faced so far ?

I don't think we truly understood that we were starting a business when we decided to pursue this. We knew we wanted to have a nonprofit but we did not realize how much like a traditional business a nonprofit is and that realization has continuously thrown us curve balls and demanded that we quickly adapt. FREED MAGAZINE 21

H ow have you seen W ell C loth ’ d impact the worl d , what do you want the worl d to know ?

C o mm u n i t y F e a t u r e

According to an article published by in June of 2016, “Americans throw away 13 million tons of textiles,” i.e. clothing every year. I'd imagine that that figure has only grown in the last few years. We did not start this organization with the intention of creating a sustainable practice but because we re-purpose donations that would most likely otherwise end up in landfills, we redirect nearly 1200 pound of clothing each year. We really started this business because we wanted to put some dignity into receiving donated clothing. Often donations are dropped off to shelters in literal trash bags and we don't want anyone to think they are trash or only worthy of low quality clothing.

W e really started this business because we wanted to put some dignity into receiving donated clothing .

H ow

has the team been able to keep their fire

for the

L ord

blazing , even in tumultuous times ?

Once a year we host a "Baggin Brunch" which is a collaborative giving event where we invite our stakeholders and our inneed population to "shop" our free pop-up shop and take all that they need. This event brings people from all walks of life together in fellowship and every time we look out over the audience it reminds us that God is real; that we're meant to be here to build each other and we have more in common than we do differences. FREED MAGAZINE 22



you had a room full

of listening ears , what nugget of practical wisdom woul d you not be

A small act of kindness goes a long away - you never know how far your influence will reach so make sure it's positive.

F inally , what does being FREED mean to you as a team ? For us, being FREED means that we did what the Lord has put on our hearts to do. It means that we're showing up and answering the call to serve. We may not always get it right but we definitely try.


Charlyn Nater I G : @ i a m c h a r ly n nat e r www . c h a r l y n n a t e r . c o m

Freed from Control

The day was April 21, 2012 the time was 4:45pm and I was seconds away from walking down the aisle getting ready to marry my best friend of 7 years! It was actually also our anniversary so we celebrated our wedding day and 7 years of being together all in one night. Best day of my life! Then reality happened! The champagne glasses stopped clicking, the smell of fresh roses no longer filled the room and those dreams of wearing a beautiful white dress became memories disdained by the newfound reality that marriage is HARD WORK! You truly learn so much about yourself when you are forced to look at who you truly are through the lens of someone who wakes up with you and meets you once again in the evening to do it all over again. The most bittersweet feeling. When it’s good it’s great but when its bad oh its sometimes life changing bad.

If I can zoom into the one area that I’ve grown in the most through these 14 years of commitment to my husband I would have to say is dying to my need for control! See because in control there is no freedom. You somehow believe that you are well organized and making everything work in your favor when in reality you are forcing something to happen. And when you force things the outcome is never good. For me it was the need to change my husband. His aggressive nature, his need to go out and socialize so often. His desire to go against what I told him to do just to prove to himself that he was actually the one in control. Needless to say it was an uphill battle for a very long time. Our deep desire towards one another is what kept the flame burning but to be honest the fire was seldom lit not because the love wasn’t there but because my need to control overpowered my desire to enjoy.



See because in control there is no freedom. You somehow believe that you are well organized and making everything work in your favor when in reality you are forcing something to happen. And when you force things the outcome is never good.


ll of this came to a halt on June 3, 2019 when my husband called me at 430am on his way home from work (he is a detective) that he had just been in a car accident and could not feel his foot. EVERYTHING changed at that very moment but nothing changed at the same time because it wasn’t until I began walking in this new realization that I could begin to comprehend how much control I didn’t have! I remember driving frantically to the hospital with a fear gripping my throat sucking all the oxygen out of my lungs. It was as if I was moving in slow motion. My husband had broken his foot in several parts and shattered his heel. He went in to have a 6-hour surgery to reconstruct his foot. From the look of his totaled car he shouldn’t have been alive to share his story but gracefully GOD saw otherwise! Minutes turned to hours, hours turned to days and days to months. 6 surgeries later, an infection and a new appreciation for life I somehow released this idea of control. I had to pray like I never did in my life. I had to recite scriptures and speak life over my husband when the enemy was trying to suffocate him into death. I grew so much in that time. I had absolutely no control yet it was the most free I had ever felt. I became fearless. Not fearless to my husband decisions but free of the idea that I could change things that were inevitable. Free to love God wholeheartedly and trust when he told me to be courageous and strong and not to be afraid or discouraged for he was with me wherever I went (Joshua 1:9) and that’s when I learned how closely related fear was attached to control. In order to truly live in the freedom of Christ you must let go of fear and in turn the need for control will diminish because you are TRUSTING God to order our steps. Needless to say, my husband and I are closer than ever and God has never lived so deeply in us as he does now. That flame that I spoke of earlier is now continuously burning because the Almighty Father supplies the fire.

I had absolutely no control yet it was the most free I had ever felt. I became fearless. FREED MAGAZINE 25

Photographer // Laura Stanley




I l l u s t r a t o r : E v e l y s e S w a ge r t y | | I G : E v e l y s e . R o s a . a r t www . 7 m o o n f l o we r s . e t s y . c o m FREED MAGAZINE 28


Natalie Brenner I G : @ n a t a l ie . k r i s t ee n F B : @ n a t a l ie k r i s t ee n w r i t e s

Give Yourself Permission to Grieve T W I T T E R : @ n a t a l ie k b r e n n e r www . n a t a l ie k r i s t ee n . c o m

“I mean, you should be happy: God probably took your baby because it was unhealthy. You can always try again,” her well-intended words drilled into me, puncturing the gaping wound of my heart. Her eyes were kind, deep blue’s swirling with waves of crystal, piercing my soul with ill-placed kindness. Really, it confused me. How could someone be so kind and gentle and yet so hurtful and invalidating during my personal tragedy?

As I waded through the grief of miscarriage, and all the tiny losses piling into heaps of sadness, a reality continued to surface: I didn’t have permission to grieve. To feel sad. To be disappointed. To be angry. I was being rushed to the acceptance part of grieving, told to skip the other necessary and non-linear experiences. “At least you know you can get pregnant.” “God needed another angel.” “It wasn’t meant to be.” “God says to rejoice in trials.” “At least you weren’t that far along.” FREED MAGAZINE 29

G ive Y ourself P ermission


G rieve


The statements stacked themselves into my soul, weighing me down and shouting the lie that my sadness wasn’t worth giving space to; the baby that died in my body wasn’t worth being sad over. It didn’t matter that we had been trying to conceive for over two years; it didn’t matter that fertility treatments failed us; it didn’t matter how far along I was or how deeply we prayed for my womb to open: all that seemed to matter was that I paste a gin on my face and exclaim how good our God was and let everyone know that I can smile through the storm. I laid face down, crying into the carpet fibers, craving to be heard by Him. I had walked through shaky waters before, deserts and dry valleys, but this felt the driest. Bound by the fear of what other Christians were saying about my sadness, believing I had little faith for feeling the depths of tragedy, I had no energy to do anything but sob. Lies rushed forth through my head: You are weak You are pitiful You of little faith You are sensitive You shouldn’t care Suddenly in my mind was the brown, bloody body of Jesus, strung up on the cross by nails, beaten and bruised and bloodstained. The next moment He is standing in front of me — a heap of sorrow — and He is in His majestic, risen body. His perfect, glorious, miraculous body, raised from the dead after the darkest night and deepest tragedy. My head is bowed, hands cupped, and I see His hands grab ahold of mine. I lift my head and I see there on His perfect body marks of tragedy. He bore scars from His suffering, not pretending or wishing the dark brokenness away, but bearing them for all to see.



He is not ashamed of the sorrow or suffering. It is in these moments I know to my core that Jesus invites us to grieve, to feel sad, to experience the overwhelming current of experiences that come with brokenness. It is in these moments I find freedom, the kind of freedom that saves.

"H e

is not

ashamed of the sorrow or suffering . "

I begin reading scriptures with a new light, a lamp illuminating new truths I had somehow missed: Jesus wept. The first verse everyone memorizes but seemingly one of the main verses Christians tend to ignore. Jesus wept when His friend died, even though He knew he would rise. Jesus knew the outcome was victory, and yet He wept.

As I began grabbing ahold of my pain and creating space for my very real sorrow, I discovered oceans of grace. It was like, as I became more raw and more honest, Jesus became more real and more human, but also more God. His grace began pouring into all the cracks and fissures of myself, and I walked in His freedom. God never planned brokenness; it is never His intention for death. The more I got to know Him, the more I realized His heart breaks over any broken thing right along with mine. There is a fullness found in allowing ourselves to grieve, and also giving ourselves the space to be angry, disappointed, and sad. I have uncovered that as I open myself up to deep sorrow, I am also opening myself up to deep wells of joy. It’s in our deepest places of pain where the richest reservoirs of love reside. Jesus not only gives us permission to experience the fullness of life, He came to give it to us. Let His example of weeping grief and profound joy set you free. FREED MAGAZINE 31


IG : @ h e n g e l h s h o n e y

Hengelh's Honey n u rt u r e h e a lt h y ,

is using honey to

selfless communities.





Artist: Ariadna Sala Soler || IG: @ FREED MAGAZINE 34


Joel Santana IG: @Themaddhattr T W I TT E R : @ T h e m a d d h a t t r www . t h e a r t o f s a n t a n a . c o m




As a full-time artist over the last few years a chunk of my income was made by attending Comic Con shows where I would setup a booth to sell my artwork. My highest selling pieces were tatted pinups of pop culture cartoon characters. They sold very well and got me a lot of exposure. Eventually I was published on,, Huffington Post and a few tattoo magazines. My online following grew substantially as well as my Comic Con fan base and sales. I believe people resonated with my pinup series because while the characters were portrayed in a mature and edgy style, the illustrations still echoed their individual story lines and gave the characters a more confident aesthetic. I was finding a lot of success and growth in my career as an illustrator but there was growth happening in other areas of my life. My spiritual life and walk with God was maturing at a speed I was not anticipating. FREED MAGAZINE 35

IG: @ Themaddhattr

"M y idea of a dream and success paled in comparison to the much larger plan G od had for me ." FREED MAGAZINE 36


It’s important for me to add that at this point in my life I was about 2 years into giving my life to Christ. I was also 2 years into reconciling with my wife after a long separation and things were going well. Sort of. I lost my job and in the midst of losing my job I found that the Lord was shaking things up inside of me. I felt him asking me to confess things to my wife that I never shared before in regards to infidelity and just really wanting to clean out some baggage I’ve been carrying around. I remember asking him “what does all this have to do with me finding a job? Shouldn’t finding a job be my focus right now?” Not only that but I was also feeling called by him to reinvent myself as an artist. You see, for a while I had been singing the same song “I’m burnt out on drawing these pinups I want to do something else! Something to reestablish my work.” I prayed and I thought that cleaning out all my pinups and a bunch of other pieces was a great idea but I thought it would be something I should do after my next comic con show which was just weeks away. This wasn’t any old comic con. This was San Diego Comic Con, which is the largest with over 135,000 attendees this year, and also the one I’ve been trying to get into for several years. I remember asking “God you couldn’t possibly be asking me to trash my top selling pieces right before the biggest show ever?” Well that’s exactly what he was asking me to do and so I put my trust in him and cleaned house. Now you might be wondering if San Diego Comic Con was miraculously a wildly successful show but the answer to that question is no. In fact it was my worst show ever from a sales perspective. Regardless to the turn out of the show I was grateful and praised him because I understood that obedience without expectation equals genuine love. Although God didn’t bless me with comic con record sales I’m excited to share that soon after revamping my portfolio he blessed me incredibly. Opening doors to freelance for a gaming studio, teaching with an international online art education company, gaining my first children’s book illustration client, and finally got signed with an Illustration Agent. I couldn’t believe the amazing things that were happening all at once. Today I’m excited to see where my career is headed and looking forward to what’s next. Also my marriage feels twice as strong as it ever has because of my wife and I continuing to align each other and our marriage with God. It’s wild because I realize today that God had to do some cleaning in my life before he could allow me to move to the next level. I also realized that the pinups I was holding on to and thought were my ticket to success turned out to be the one thing that was holding me back from God’s promise. My idea of a dream and success paled in comparison to the much larger plan God had for me. We all have our imperfections and I know God still has so much work to do in me but I trust in him and invite him into every area of my life.



W W W. F R E E D M AG A Z I N E .C O M

Photographer // Maycon Marmo Rio De Janeiro FREED MAGAZINE 40


Sydney Williamson IG: www . f a c eb o o k . c o m /


My Journey From Fear to Full As a young child, I was full of fear. Whether it be something deep like having a fear of robbers breaking in or, something not as deep like, bouncy castles. I remember giving my life to Christ over and over again because I was afraid that God didn’t hear me before. As I got older my fears matured along with me. Fear of not fitting in took their place. And because of that, I didn’t feel free to be who God created me to be. It caused me to get angry at God for creating me. So, I isolated myself from Him. That was the most unhappy I’ve ever been.


As I began to read, God began to speak to me. The bible turned from a book into revelation of who He is. And I was amazed. My heart and fire for God returned. And it turns out, I was the only one reading through with her.

God wants us to be free in who He created us to be. He looks at you with more love than you can ever imagine. 2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” We have the spirit of the Lord inside of us. So what does that mean? We are free. Don’t The funny thing is the way that God let the ways of this world conform you into brought me back. I was at a summer camp believing anything otherwise. with my church and the woman who was speaking passed around a clipboard to sign And where am I now? God has taken me up to read through the book of John with from a shy, insecure girl to an outspoken her emailing back and forth what God was woman who God has called into missions saying through it. Everyone did it so, little work fully aware of her identity in Christ me being filled with fear of standing out, and learning more every day. I hope you’re signed up too. encouraged by seeing a snippet of what God has done in my life. FREED MAGAZINE 41

Photographer // Pedro Sandrini




i s t h at b e a u t i f u l

moment when you are a vulnerable and real,



you can feel

a n d l o v e d e e p ly , w i t h n o one to stop you."

-Ellie Fernandez



P h oto gr a p he r // B r i a na A r ie l | IG: @ br ia na ___ a riel FREED MAGAZINE 44



Kathlyn Celeste Y o u t u b e : k at h ly n c e l e s t e IG : @ k a t h l y n c e l e s t e


The Art of Living in Freedom


ear has crippled me most of my adult life. It has stolen joyful moments, hindered my growth, infected my faith, and paralyzed my dreams. Living in freedom of fear is a constant, everyday fight for me. It’s a battle that solely rests in my mind. But as I’ve grown in my relationship with Jesus, I’ve learned that the only way to overcome fear is to stop running from it and to stand toe-to-toe with it on the battlefield. Looking back at every form of fear I’ve overcome, it’s almost as if the veil has been removed and it has been made clear what fear always was— a lie and a thief. FREED MAGAZINE 45


rue freedom of fear comes from knowing, loving and living with Jesus. That moment for me began one day, mid-September of 2012. This would be the day that my life would transform forever. I was a few weeks pregnant, curled up, sleeping in my old twin-sized Ikea bed in my mother’s house. I set my alarm for 6:00 AM the night before, hoping to wake up before everyone else so that I could call a taxi and be dropped off at the abortion clinic down the street. This was the fourth appointment I had made. For weeks, I wrestled with the thought of bringing a baby into the world and having nothing to offer him or her. Sean (my now husband) and I had only been together for 2 years. We struggled, living paycheck to paycheck, in a tiny 10x10 apartment, living off tater-tots and eggs, and barely getting by. This was not the plan. We had always dreamed about having a family, as many relationships would casually do. I truly had my picture-perfect idea of what my life would be like; we’d be 28 years old, thriving in our careers, having travelled the world together and having our forever home where our kids would make all their memories in. It would be a place where even our grandkids would grow up in. That’s what I wanted. That’s the life I wanted to bring a child into and this was far from it.




COVER STORY My heart was so torn between wanting a family and believing that I had nothing to offer to one. Day after day, deceiving lies continued to fill my mind. When I initially told my mom, she quickly responded with a, “WHAT—”. Expecting her to be upset, I immediately interrupted her and said, “I know! I’m going to get an abortion!” From that moment, she did everything in her power to convince me otherwise. She asked a ton of questions, which I completely avoided. I didn’t even allow myself a second to think about the severity of the decision I was so adamant about making; because in my heart, I knew if I allowed myself to picture an actual life forming inside of me, I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to consider getting an abortion. I should also probably mention that my body did not respond well to pregnancy, at all. Allow me to paint this picture for you. Each and every day, I was constantly in excruciating pain. I had migraines that were triggered by light and noise, nausea was followed by constant vomiting and I experienced mucus build-up. I mean, it was so bad that I lost 20 pounds within the first month. Most days my mom had to physically carry me into the bathtub to bathe me; A twenty-one year old pregnant woman. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that in an instant, this became my life. I was doing just fine; partying, celebrating and living my everyday life. And now I couldn’t do anything for myself. I was limited to staring at the same four walls of my old bedroom. I allowed my feelings, the pain, and the shift in my life to take over my mind to the point where I couldn’t even think of anything positive that could come from this. I just knew that in that moment I no longer had any control over my body and an abortion seemed like the only thing that could “fix” it. (Shaking my head as I write this…) As the weeks went on, I had conversations with Sean and my parents as they tried to help me see the good of our situation, look past the sickness and really address the important decision at hand. At this point, I had already made a few appointments at the abortion clinic but my mother firmly refused to take me. Sean was torn as he was in a place where he wanted me to be healthy, happy, and back to normal. He wanted a family but also felt that we weren’t ready to sustain one. And yet he never encouraged me to actually commit to the decision of getting an abortion. My dad had opened up to me about his personal story and shared that his biological father wanted my grandmother to abort him. That truth opened a little door in my heart and allowed me to really start looking at this baby as a life. If my grandmother had made the decision to get an abortion, I wouldn’t be here. If I make this decision, what impact am I really making on the generations to come? Again, these were all the questions and thoughts I was aware of but did everything in my power to avoid. I just wanted to make the decision before there was even a heartbeat. I tried to convince myself that as long as it was before there was a heartbeat, it would be “okay.” (I know, still shaking my head...) FREED MAGAZINE 48


As my mom and I were sitting in the car after one of my doctor appointments, I knew she was gathering the courage to ask me something. She softly said, “What if I just adopt the baby and we can say it’s mine? No one has to know you’re pregnant and I’ll just raise it myself...” I sat there in silence and for a split second; I tried to envision what this life would be like. I’d get to go back to my “normal” life of partying, working and attending college classes—all while playing big sister with my own biological child. What? No way. She then mentioned the idea of adoption. I thought about this possibility a little bit longer. I could push through this horrible pregnancy, make it to my due date, deliver and pass the baby over to a stranger, and then...go on with my life? To be honest, when I thought about the better quality of life the baby could have, there was a small part of me that really considered this option. But something just didn’t sit right with me. As time went on, I continued getting sicker. My hormones were out of control and I really just wanted to be free from all of the pain and confusion. In all of my selfishness, I just wanted my old life back. I decided to make a final appointment and stick to it, not relying on a ride from anyone who could convince me otherwise. The morning of the appointment, I opened my eyes and attempted to sit up. But, for some reason my body didn’t move. It was as if I were completely paralyzed. I could see everything going on around me but I could not move to save my life. It felt as though I had an out of body experience and I instantly thought I was dead. I began crying and from the outside looking in, I could see tears falling down my face and onto my pillow. My eyes were closed and my body was still. Yet, I could see my mom walk into the bedroom and wake up my sister in the twin bed next to me as I watched them get ready for work. I tried so hard to scream to try and get their attention, but all they could see were my eyes closed, seeming to be sound asleep. At this point, I was screaming on the inside. They left for work and shortly thereafter; I was able to shake myself out of it (I now know that I was experiencing sleep paralysis). When I checked the time I realized that I had just missed my appointment. I was shaking, touching and pinching my body- grateful to be alive, but so unbelievably confused. I sat in silence for a while, trying to navigate through my thoughts. I threw my legs over the left side of the bed, took a deep breath, cried out and yelled at the top of my lungs, “GOD, Please help me!” I had no idea what was happening or what to do, but with tears streaming down my face, I continued,

“If this is you stopping me, please just help me. I can’t do this. I have nothing to give a child. I have nothing!”

And in that moment, I heard so clearly,

“All they need is your love.” FREED MAGAZINE 49




He t u rned ev er y fear into du st.

In an instant, the darkness fled. I felt a weight lifted off of my body like never before. Every single deceiving lie in my mind disappeared. The God that I grew up knowing about, the God that I never thought could love me through all of my sins and flaws, the faithful, loving, full of grace God, met me right there in my mother’s house as I sat in my twin size bed. He turned every fear into dust. It was a sweet and gentle reminder that “perfect love drives out fear” [1 John 4:18]. That morning I made two of the greatest decisions of my life. I chose Jesus and I chose life. I chose life for my baby boy, Kayson Armani. God, it still hurts the depths of my soul to think that I could have considered anything else. The pain of that possibility and to look at what life could have been is something He’s still healing me from. But oh, His grace! He used the darkest moment of my life to bring me right into His wide-open arms.





here are no words to describe how miraculous life has been ever since that day. In the past 7 years, God has done more than I could have ever asked, hoped or prayed for. In 2016, we welcomed another prince into our home, Avery Alexander. As we navigated through parenthood, we found a local church, New Life South Coast, to learn and grow in our walks with The Lord and God continued to completely renew and transform our lives. Our true walk began after we were baptized. In 2017, after 4 years of being engaged, we met God at the altar and united as one. And in 2019, He has blessed us with our first home. If you ask me, this is way better than anything my twenty-one year old self could have ever dreamed of. In these years, He’s delivered us from generational curses, financial bondage, crippling strongholds, lust, temptation, bitterness and un-forgiveness. He’s completely transformed our finances from a place of relying on government assistance to using our gifts and talents to build a successful business that glorifies Him. It has just been miracle after miracle and blessing after blessing. But of course, in the midst of the miracles there are always trials. None of us are exempt from trials, are we? Throughout the past 7 years there’s one thing that has remained a constant battle; fear. But it’s no longer the fear of not being able to give my child the life he deserves. God already diminished that fear and gave me His truth. But entering into this new territory of motherhood created so many new fears that I’ve had to learn to overcome. Raising God’s children is no small task, my friend. In a journey that I should have been enjoying day-by-day, I found myself overwhelmed by the fear of the world hurting them. Because the reality is, one of the main priorities of parenting is to keep these kids alive, safe and healthy (emotionally, mentally and physically) for the rest of your life. Is that a bit dramatic? Yes. But it’s the raw truth. And I’d say it’s nearly impossible without Jesus.


For years to come, anytime we would leave the house, whether it would be to go to a restaurant, catch a movie, or run errands, I realized that I was never present in that moment. Instead I’d be searching for every emergency exit and analyzing every person in the area. I had to have a plan A, B and C for a way out of the building just in case there was any danger. If someone even stood up during a movie to use the restroom, fear would almost instantly take over my mind and steal what should have been a beautiful family memory of spending time together. When I was pregnant with Avery, my pregnancy was just as bad as my first, leaving me bed-ridden and severely-ill for 7 months. As I entered into the third trimester, I was crippled by the fear that I wouldn’t survive my labor and delivery. So instead of spending those last two months of my pregnancy enjoying every moment and making memories with Kayson, as it would be our last few months together as a family of three, I sat alone miserably writing a goodbye letter to my two-year old son because I thought he would be too young to ever remember how much I loved him. Even in the hospital, 10 minutes before I began pushing, I was finishing up my goodbye letter with tears falling down my cheek onto the sheet, smudging the ink. The enemy strategically used fear to steal that precious moment from me and I’ll never get it back. Might I add that Avery’s birth was nothing like Kayson’s. I was given the epidural three times only to be told that it wasn’t working and I would have to push him out without any medication. I was in excruciating pain and totally not mentally prepared for it. As I felt every part of my baby forced out of my body, I associated the pain with the death I believed was coming. I looked around the room and as I was roaring in pain, I tried to take in what I thought would be my final moments. My mom was on my left holding my face, reassuring me, screaming “You can do this Kathy! Keep pushing!” Sean was on my right holding my knees up, smiling and saying, “You’re doing so good babe! He’s almost here! I see his head!” It seemed like there were 15 nurses and assistants in the room all surrounding me and all I could think of was that my two baby boys would never remember their mommy. My body was in so much shock from the pain of labor that my legs were shaking uncontrollably. When the doctor placed Avery on my chest, Sean caressed my face and with tears in his eyes, said, “Look at him babe. He’s so beautiful!” Without even taking a look, I replied, “Am I bleeding? Sean, am I bleeding? Am I okay?!” Instead of rejoicing in my first embrace with my newborn son and looking into his eyes, I once again allowed fear to steal that moment from me.





About three months later, as I was breastfeeding Avery in the middle of the night, I sat at the edge of my bed. We locked eyes and I rocked him back and forth as I sang my special song to him. In that moment, I just heard this sweet, soft whisper say, “You didn’t think you’d be here.” I instantly lost my breath and burst into tears. As he was still latched to my breast, I laid back into the bed, held him closer and cried out to God. I could barely get the words out but I just kept crying out, “Thank you, GOD! Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!” God reminded me that this seemingly mundane moment was one I didn’t think I’d get to experience with my son. In an instant, He silenced that fear with His perfect love. You see, fear is inevitable. I’m not sure if it’s possible to grow in our faith if we don’t come face-to-face with fear. The problem for many of us is that we allow ourselves to become captive to fear instead of taking it captive and making it obedient to Christ [2 Corinthians 10:5]. We look at our fears from a position of defeat, when we should be approaching them from a position of victory. We, as believers, know that whenever we are overcome with fear, we are to remind ourselves of His faithfulness in our own lives as well as what He’s done in scripture and in the lives of others. We rest in His presence, meditate on scripture and remind ourselves that He’s faithful and He’s not done with us yet!



T hank you , GOD! O h , you , thank you !” G od

thank you , thank reminded me that

this seemingly mundane moment was one didn ’ t think son .

I’ d


get to experience with my

I n an instant , H e silenced that fear with H is perfect love . Y ou see , fear is inevitable . I’ m not sure if it ’ s possible to grow in our faith if we don ’ t come face to - face with fear .


I’ve learned that whatever I focus on, I become. If I focus my mind on pizza and ice cream, I will surely find myself enjoying pizza and ice cream...within the hour. If I focus my mind on negative and fearful thoughts, I will become negative and fearful. When I focus on the lies and strongholds the enemy tries to build in my mind, those lies become my truth. But when I focus on God’s word - God’s truth - that truth sets me free and the power of His word tears every stronghold down. So let me ask you a question - one that my pastor, Marco DeBarros, asked us not too long ago: When fear comes, do you believe fear or do you believe God? He went on to remind us of a simple, yet profound truth; “Everything that God calls you to do requires faith. And everything that requires faith will come with fear. But you do not stop when you encounter that fear. You move past it!” So, sometimes fear is the indication that we’re right where we need to be. The enemy uses fear as a roadblock on our journey to being and doing all God has called us to. It’s just a roadblock, sis. So put on your full armor of God, speak those scriptures over yourself and remind the devil and his fears what they are; a lie and a thief.



Photographer // Asha Bailey | IG: @ashabaileyphotography | www . a s h a b a i l e y . c o m FREED MAGAZINE 59



P hoto g ra p her : B ria na A rie l || @ br i a na ___ a r i el




I l l u s t r a t o r : E v e l y s e S w a ge r t y | | I G : E v e l y s e . R o s a . a r t www . 7 m o o n f l o we r s . e t s y . c o m FREED MAGAZINE 63

Alyestal Hamilton Thomas I G : @ a ly e s ta l www . a l y e s t a l . c o m

What a Beautiful Name It Is Perspective truly is a wild thing. From the distance of time, we can look back and be overwhelmed at what the Lord has done. In challenging times, doubt or fear can keep you stuck, but it is the hand and grace of God that truly brings you through. With praise on my tongue, I stood in a church pew with my parents and sister ringing in 2017. I was engaged to be married less than 60 days from that point, but nothing could have prepared me for the whirlwind of change in front of me. In a span of eight weeks, I experienced more life than I had in my 28 years. Having lived in the same home for close to 20 years, I moved to a new city with my new husband. A week to the day after being married, my little brother announced that he and his partner would be expecting— this was the first baby in our family in 12 years.



More than that, they were unknowingly pregnant and his partner was five months along. Two weeks later, I did not know I was spending my last evening with my grandmother and less than two weeks after, she passed. If that was not enough, on our two month wedding anniversary I took a pregnancy test that turned positive before I could wash my hands. These events rocked me to my core. I was rocked. My very world continued to change and looked different at every turn. I couldn’t keep up. To add pressure to all the changes, I had lost my job. My faith was severely tested during this season of my life. The intensity was too great. I looked for God and sought His face, but seriously contemplated the worth of my endeavors. My circumstances weren’t changing, my heart was broken through loss, and the pressure was high with a baby on the way. I lost myself. So often in our faith we are quick to call God by His plethora of names— Jehovah-jireh, Jehovah-rophe, Jehovah-Adonai. But do we truly know, through wisdom and application, what those names mean? Truth is, many of us don’t. No doubt, we understand in our minds and hearts that God can be our provider, our healer, and our savior. But do we understand these truths in our actions, our decisions, and in how we live our lives? I believe challenges come our way at times because God wants us to know personally and apply fully who He is— not just who He can be. He wants you to live in the vast space and freedom of knowing you can depend on Him. But do your decisions and actions reflect that? Prior to this season of lack, I didn’t know God as my provider. After being told my unborn child may have Down Syndrome and was born without it, I didn’t understand God as my healer. Until I saw the ways God can truly use all things for my




sAVANNAH Sturgeon IG: @

s a v a n n a h s t u r ge o

T W I TT E R : @ s a v a n n a h s t u r ge o www . t h ej u i c ee d i t . c o m

The Chase for the Dream Job


e live in a culture of perpetual chasing. Chasing the girl, chasing the guy, chasing the dream or chasing your toddler who’s gotten ahold of your lipstick in the shade “Fire Engine Red” yet again. But the area I see us chasing after the most is our jobs, our careers. And this chase often leaves us trapped in a cycle of dissatisfaction instead of free to enjoy each season as it comes. The job I constantly chase is to be a preacher. I got a taste of preaching while I was in college and have been chasing the preacher job ever since. In college I worked several jobs to save money to get to Fuller after graduation. I worked for Metallica where I put together media content, researched their online presence and at one point picked up a birthday cake for their manager in 96-degree weather. And sweating in the back of a New York City cab with a buttercream cake on my lap I said to myself “God, why do you have me here when I should be preaching?” And even once I made it to Fuller, I still had to work many odd jobs to pay rent. Not many churches were looking to hire a preacher who was still trying to figure out the difference between Hallelujah and Alleluia. Apparently there is a difference, but I must have missed that lecture. FREED MAGAZINE 67

The Chase for the Dream Job Continued

So I worked for a non-profit where I logged data and reached out to donors, I sent emails, took phone calls, sat through presentations and learned that the best time to go to the vending machine was on Wednesdays because that’s when Phillip came to restock it. And the whole time I was working for this non-profit I thought “God, why do you have me here when I should be preaching?” And then I worked as a nanny for a very sweet family. I changed diapers, played peek-boo and walked with a stroller to Starbucks where I would try to write papers while the baby napped to the sound of coffee shop jazz. You know the playlist. And as I leaned back in a rocking chair exhausted from writing finals papers or from trying to get this baby to sleep, I cried out to God “God, why do you have me here when I should be preaching?” And then, yes, more jobs, I got a job at a fantastic skincare company. I worked as a sales associate in West Hollywood. The gals were, and still are to this day, some of the best coworkers I have ever had. I cleaned counters, replaced lipsticks and helped people find the right skincare regimen. And as I was applying brow gel to a woman while her child applied mascara to my shoe, I said to myself “God, why do you have me here when I should be preaching?” And recently I got a job at my local church. I work with the adult ministries team where I organize events, speak to our small group leaders, assistantships with premarital classes and mentoring ministries. No, it is not preaching, but as I fold tablecloths and train our small groups I don’t find myself asking “God, why do you have me here when I should be preaching?” Instead I find myself asking “God, what are you teaching me in this job to prepare me for preaching?”



Because as I look back on all my previous jobs, I realize each has taught me a very important skill I will need if I want to be a preacher. We live in a digital world where the majority of people are found online, so learning how to develop an online presence is crucial if I want to reach people beyond my immediate vicinity. Connecting with donors and taking long, sometimes inconvenient phone calls or meetings are part of the job when you are shepherding a group of people. I have learned to slow down and listen carefully to people lest I miss something important that needs pastoral care. While I won’t be playing peek-boo or booping anyone's noses, being a nanny taught be to have a childlike wonder above all else. No matter how much I learn at Fuller, my faith will never be more valid than someone else’s. I learned that as a preacher I must first bask in the wonder of God and rest in God’s love like a child rests on their mother chest. Working in skincare taught me how diverse God’s kingdom really is. I touched the faces of so many people from so many walks of life. I applied foundation to the cheeks of mothers, sisters, grandmothers and daughters of all ages, sizes and colors. I worked with a woman who lost her eyebrows during chemo and I was able to help her find a product that gave her eyebrows and confidence. I helped a young girl find a skincare routine to treat her severe skin damage before she went back to school. I was placed in the middle of the Kingdom of God, witnessing so many stories, and I didn’t even know it. And now, in my current job, I don’t feel trapped or held back by God. I feel free, knowing he is teaching me something deeply valuable in my current role. I am more aware than ever that God wastes nothing and is always teaching us something we will need for the season to come. Now, God has called me to preach, so I do preach. I preach at events whenever I can. And we should never be complacent or so comfortable where we are that we stop chasing the goal. There is nothing wrong with setting a goal and going for it. Go for the promotion! Go for the job you’ve always wanted! But as you chase the dream job, know that God has something worth gleaning from in your current position. There is fruit where you are. Bask in the freedom that God has given you to grow and mature in every season. NO SEASON IS WASTED. NO SEASON IS WORTHLESS. We become free to chase our dream jobs when we become teachable in our current jobs. You are free. Free to discover the tools in this season that you will need in the next. Go get em! FREED MAGAZINE 69

P h o t o g r a p h e r // C h r i s t y G o n z a l e z | @ C h r i s t y g c r e a t i v e | M odel //C arla P arra || IG: @ carlaparraxo

www . c h r i s t y g c r e a t i v e . c o m



Destiny thomas I G : @ _ h e r be a u t y s p e a k s T W I TT E R : @ h e r be a u t y s p e a k s

Fearless & freed

www . h e r be a u t y s p e a k s . c o m

Share a time when you had to face fear? How did you overcome that obstacle? Growing up, I never truly knew the value, beauty, strength, and power that was within me. For many years, I felt different and ashamed of being who I was made to be. I always felt as though I had to be someone I wasn't to be liked, loved, and accepted. Everything from the way I spoke, to the way I dressed, to the people I was around was a reflection of who I thought I was but ultimately wasn't. It took me years to finally recognize that I was beautiful in more than a physical way. I remember the first time I was able to fully embrace and accept who I was while seeing the reflection of myself through the mirror. It was literally the essence and ambiance of freedom and true power. A moment that I truly will never forget. Honestly, God is the reason why I overcame so many obstacles and adversities in life. By caring so much that He sent His Son, Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. We all were created in His image and in that moment, is when I found my purpose, worth, and strength. I'm not meant to be like everyone else and that's more than okay. I am made to be who God created me to be—a powerful, unique, strong, fearless, beautiful, exquisite, woman of God and that is where true beauty lies. FREED MAGAZINE 72


What are you FREED from? I am freed from depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, confusion of identity, rejection, feeling unworthy of receiving love, being afraid of walking in my true purpose. What does being FREED mean to you? Being freed is more than an exclamation; it's a way of life. It's a form of liberation, understanding, and acceptance to recognize that I'm not perfect but I am worthy of love, forgiveness, trust, joy, peace, and life. What has God done in your life? He's saved me. He's taken me into the palm of His hands and has made me stronger physically, mentally, emotionally, and beyond, wiser. I am eternally grateful for His never-ending love, kindness, comfort, and guidance. Without Him, I literally wouldn't be here – He knew of me while in my mother's womb, so it's only right that I let Him lead the way and have His way in my life. What are you doing now with your FREEDOM? As of now, I am living everyday life as a living testimony, as a positive light out of darkness by letting who God has made me to be shine regardless of the opinions, or feelings of others. I am inspiring women, men, young girls, boys to live their life without fear, and embrace their journey of self-love no matter what occurs. I want anyone who comes into connection with my story, art, brands, etc. to know that it's more than possible to overcome life's adversities and be the beautiful, purposeful, strong, intelligent, person that you are. Even through all of adversity, God still loves you its okay to be kind to yourself. What advice would you give to someone who was struggling with fear? I'd say that in order to feel and know of true liberation and freedom you must cast all of your cares unto the Lord. It won't be easy but it will totally be worth it. You must have faith and believe even when it seems otherwise. Always keep people with a genuine heart and love of God around you, let God work in your life, and live by example despite what others may feel, say, or think. Live a life that warms the heart of Jesus. Even if you don't know what that truly means ask and you shall receive. Start where you are today and make the best of each day! FREED MAGAZINE 73

ig: @pen_prose FREED MAGAZINE 74


Caitlin Winters I G : @ p r ay e r s ov e r t h e k i t c h e n s i n k www . p r a y e r s o v e r t h e k i t c h e n s i n k . c o m


God Has a Plan for Me

ave you ever gone searching for something only to find that it was with you the whole time. If you’re like me you may be thinking, keys? Wallet? The sunglasses I frantically looked for just to find them on my head? It’s how I spent my youngest years looking for love when it had never left at all. When misguided wanderings led to a baby, promises were made. We would grow up, build a home that wouldn’t be broken and beat the statistics we hadn’t escaped ourselves. But soon that wave of hope crashed on the craggy shores of life leaving my heart’s empty shell in its wake.

I had waded through years of abuse, cheating and lies, clinging to the love I felt I needed so much. How would I make it as a single, teenage mother, weighed down by the chains of my own rebellion? I had lost the way to solid ground. How could I give my daughter the safe shore she so deserved? We held on to each other as best as we could in those choppy years. I worked, went to school and tried to be the best mother I could. While I was busy keeping us afloat, God was turning the tides. FREED MAGAZINE 75

God Has a Plan for Me Continued

Many months later I was dating the man that would one day be my husband. We were spending time together and falling for each other a little more each day. He was genuine, respectful, thoughtful and understanding. His acceptance of my daughter was immediate. His integration into our routine was seamless. He felt like a life-saver and looked like a dreamboat! I began to see the face of the love I longed for come into focus before my eyes. I should have been ecstatic--which I was most of the time, but doubts and old wounds had me blinking back daydreams. How could I be sure it was him? I had tread toxic waters already, a baby in one arm, my own strength hardly able to keep our heads above the water. I had no interest in casting nets just to come up empty. I couldn’t bear the thought of swimming toward hope to find myself washed up again. Yet, I couldn’t ignore the swell in my soul when he said my name any more than I was able to forget the way his smile gently pulled me in. At this point in my life I had just come back to the Lord. He faithfully waited for me to turn to him and exercised patience with my developing belief. He had begun the long journey of rebuilding my faith and reclaiming my future. He was inviting me, like Peter, to take his hand and follow him to uncharted waters. I made the decision to step out of my boat, but the storm that continued to rage in my soul made me feel like I was drowning. “He’ll be no different,” my broken heart thundered. “It won’t work out,” my hopelessness hissed. “You can’t be happy,” my depression scoffed. “You’re not good enough,” my self-doubt exclaimed. “You don’t deserve another chance,” the enemy snapped. The waves slammed, the sting of the sea spray on my skin, “Lord, save me!” my heart cried out. If I could have seen things from God’s angle. If I could have somehow known what lay beyond the horizon, I would have jumped right in. Jesus reached into the murky waters of my doubt to pull me close and hasn’t let go since. I took the plunge to trust in God not for a new man, but for a new life. I realized that no matter what my relationship status, the love I sought was found in Jesus. The true face of love belonged to him and nothing would take me from his hand. God, in his kindness, filled my empty heart past full. He united us in marriage, gave my daughter two little siblings and created from our broken pieces, a calm and sunny shore to call our home. My girl is able to enjoy a happy home life and a beautiful relationship being raised by her step-father. It has been such a joy to take part in and witness the love we’re all blessed to share. “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” FREED MAGAZINE 76


"God, in his kindness, filled my empty heart past full." I’m thankful that my fear did not rob me of my destiny. The lies at the time felt so true but, God knew best. He knew I needed my daughter to soften my heart, to show me a fraction of the love he feels for me and to call me back home through her big blue eyes. All of my struggles are a part of my story. They have refined my faith and made me stronger. I am a survivor and my life is a testimony and my family is an example of the boundless grace and restorative power of the Lord. It's unfathomable that he feels that I am worth the sacrifice of his son Jesus. He loves me so much that he would send him to die for me and for you so that we can join him for eternity in Heaven. Despite my tumultuous start in life, God dispelled the lie that it was too late for me. I was given a second chance to be a faithful wife, a doting mother and a role model for my daughter. He was strong when I was weak. He carried me to a place where I dared to take back my familial aspirations and learn more about him to inspire others. What our beautiful, blended mess lacks in perfection we make up for in happiness. I wasn't too damaged to love or in too deep for God to pull me through and neither are you. As for my daughter, she is doing great! I know can't give her everything that she truly deserves but I can point her to the One who can. FREED MAGAZINE 77

Photographer: Shams Saif || Delhi, India



K eni W alker IG: @k.nichele

White fashion top Thrifted skirt Gold loafers Maplewood, MO



you inspire others? By allowing God to use me. His spirit flows through me daily and I’ve been molded (and continue to) into this amazing woman of God that others enjoy and appreciate. I am my confident and loving self that pours all of God’s love into His people. H&M sweater Thrifted white skirt Rouge tan (nude) wrap heels Richmond Heights, MO FREED MAGAZINE 79

M odel // J annette B utcher IG: @ J annette B utcher P hotographer // K immie H arper IG: @K immie _H arper



Kimberly GladdenEversley IG: @Serenityinspires www . s e r e n i t y i n s p i r e s . c o m

Fearless Pursuit of Self Discovery

“To be a champ you have to believe in yourself when no one else will.” —Sugar Ray Robinson

We live in a world that reminds us of who we aren’t and what we cannot accomplish more than who we are and all the possibilities that comes with it. We are reminded of our flaws, struggles and odds weighing like weights on our shoulders crushing down against us more than our skills and accomplishments. Most of us are operating within a self-defeated mentality while fighting daily to believe that there is a way to success. Why? Simply because society feeds our fears and self-doubt more than courage and self-belief. Growing up in poverty-stricken Bushwick in Brooklyn, New York is where my selfdefeating journey began. I’ve always been a big dreamer, I would imagine having a family in a beautiful suburban community while working my dream job as either a talk show host or radio personality. I had dreams of becoming the next Oprah! My desires were on major steroids and would endlessly reach another level as my confidence skyrocketed, believing I was only one step away. Unfortunately my desires quickly diminished by words from opinions and statistics from gathered data in my community. I can still remember eating the words “you can’t do that,” “you aren’t capable,” “girl that’s a pipe dream” or the most passive level of insults “good luck” followed by a smirk or immediate chuckle. If you are fed self-defeating words for breakfast, lunch and dinner, eventually you will adopt a self-defeating attitude. FREED MAGAZINE 81

F earless P ursuit



S elf D iscovery C ontinued

he world we live in thrives on judgment and hate. We frown upon success as though it threatens our own ability to win. We allow jealousy and resentment to overtake our true nature to love. To make matters worse, we allow the criticism from our peers deter us from pursuing our dreams. Our selfworth becomes tied to opinions instead of God. If criticism were connected to my bank account I would be a millionaire! Once I reached college I worked hard searching for hope anywhere I could find it. In people, places, books, music, movies and eventually psychics! Talk about major desperation to quench my thirst for more. I would spend my hard-earned minimum wage pennies on someone to tell me my future was brighter than the clouded version I was beginning to see. I went from psychic to psychic (save your money) and pastor to pastor hoping to hear that everything would be ok, hoping to hear I am going to reach my goals and hoping to refill my hope tank once again to still believe. This is the moment I began to realize my desires weren’t an external issue but an internal issue. I was seeking help, faith and hope from outside influences than from the God who created me. If I rely on everything and everyone else it will never be enough and will inevitably be the reason for my demise. Like Martin Luther King, I had a dream. I dreamt of the day we would love one another unconditionally without finding fault but instead true acceptance. I dreamt of the day we would champion one another into success by encouraging our dreams while frightening fear away. The day when my winning moment no longer threatens the ego but instead motivates and drives dreams to become a reality. A perfect world may not exist but my heart craves authentic genuine love and support that Jesus effortlessly demonstrated. I’ve come to the realization that every human being on this planet craves the same. Our desires are in continuous alignment yet our hope for humanity has become as lost as my broken GPS. As a Google research addict, I searched for ways I could become immune to selfsabotaging thoughts and criticism. I stumbled upon vision boards and the power of goal setting along with refocusing on the “bigger picture”. A vision board is your God given step by step blueprint setting the stage for what’s to come. I excitedly began making a list of everything I wanted to accomplish in my life, which reminded me of my wish list in my amazon cart. I searched for photos matching my vision, created a beautiful collage to represent my future to confidently serve as a constant reminder of who I was created to be and where I am going. Little by little I noticed I sought after approval and validating hope filled words from others less. With God we are already validated! Like Alicia Keys, this girl was on fire! My life began to shift and suddenly my vision was becoming a reality. Glory to God!



Aside from creating my vision board, I’ve adopted 5 life-changing habits that changed my life forever. 1. Turn your critics into your employees. If you are an entrepreneur, keep that job offer in your back pocket. I am not telling you to hire someone to criticize you but simply turn their lemons into lemonade. Every time you hear discouraging words such as, “you can’t,” “that’s not good enough,” “you shouldn’t do it.” I challenge you to translate those words into, “Yes, I can!” “I am more than enough!” and, “This is what I was created to do!” Allow criticism to work for you instead of against you. Make criticism the logs that fuel your fire! 2. Be your own cheerleader! If you are waiting for everyone to support your vision, then get ready to wait forever. The vision you have for your life was given to you by God, not anyone else. We cannot expect everyone to see the bigger picture if it were not given to them. You have to believe in it for yourself ! Remind yourself that you are worthy of living the life of your wildest dreams, remind yourself that you are more than capable and you will win! Challenge your inner critic, I dare you! 3. Use affirmations by proclaiming your desires as though they are already yours. This is faith activated with a hint of steroids. This will cause a major shift in your mindset and catapult you into the next level of your goals. Instead of exercising to strengthen your body, you are exercising your mind. Here are my personal daily affirmations and my version of a shot of espresso in the morning “I am fearless, I am limitless, there is nothing I cannot accomplish with God within me, my talents will elevate me, I will live a purposeful life in Jesus name.” Determine your affirmations by what is necessary to motivate you. 4. Think of three people you admire and why you admire them. Maybe you believe they are courageous, wise beyond their years, successful, strong and accomplished. Write down all the characteristics you are most attracted to and use them to describe yourself. Remember, we attract who we are, and the people we admire are a reflection of ourselves. What you recognize as an asset is something you carry within. This is one of my favorite exercises designed to change how you see yourself ! 5. Procrastination is a bigger enemy than your critics. It is a dream killer, which is why our graveyards are worth billions of dollars. Don’t let your dream die, work towards it. It is your duty and right to live an intentional life with purpose. Remember, God made you with purpose, on purpose. Set goals that absolutely scare you and challenge your growth. Create small action steps, set deadlines and find an accountability partner. When giving up begins to become an option always remember your why! Why did you start in the first place? Who needs you? The answer is me and millions of others just like me. Your gifts and skills were meant to be shared with the world for the purpose of rebuilding the kingdom of God. FREED MAGAZINE 83

Photographer: Katharina Medcher F R E E D M A G|| A Z I NIG: E 8 4@ inagram__


Artist: Ariadna Sala Soler || IG: @ FREED MAGAZINE 85

Amanda Walker I G : @ a m a n d a . m a r ie . w a l k e r a m a r iew a l k e . wi x s i t e . c o m / amandawalker

Finding My Voice for Justice It’s hard to sit down and write your own testimony. As a young woman growing up in church, I always hoped I would never get asked to share my story. Why? Because deep down, I truly believed my story was not worth telling. I believed my testimony was not worth sharing. I believed my voice was not worth hearing. Entering freshman year of college, I told myself so many lies. I was afraid to ask questions or share my thoughts because — in my mind — there was always someone else in the room with something better to say. I was afraid to form my own unique views of the world, faith, and politics because I was afraid I would not be able to stand up for my own beliefs when someone pushed against them. I was afraid of leadership and influence and truly believed that I was not capable of either. At the end of freshman year, someone told me something that has stuck with me ever since. I was told I was capable of making a difference and if I got behind a cause, people would listen. Those words failed to sink in at the time, but they resounded in the back of my mind as I made decisions sophomore and junior year that pushed me into leadership positions and showed me that I was capable of positive influence. FREED MAGAZINE 86



ow, at the age of 21, I am finding my voice. I am learning to trust myself, to speak my mind, to form opinions and advocate not only for myself but for others as well. The past two years I have been learning and I have been challenged. Throughout the past year, I have experienced life’s greatest joys and deepest sorrows. In addition to college and the challenges of life, I was navigating an interracial relationship headed towards marriage. This led me into a season of learning. A season of realizing my deeply rooted ignorance and privilege. A season of discovering how many racial nuances my fiancé had to think about on a daily basis that never crossed my mind. Growing up, I lived comfortably in a context where people looked like me and thought like me. I never had to face the realities of racism and injustice. It was only when I found myself in this relationship that I began to realize how ignorant I truly was to the ways racism permeates our culture. So, I began pressing into the ignorance in my own heart. I began acknowledging the ways I failed and the things I didn’t understand. Even as I write this, I want to emphasize my inability to explain the overwhelming topic of racism, as a white person. Despite my efforts to learn, it is merely a glimpse into a reality that I have not lived and can never truly understand. My heart is to share what I have been learning and shed a light on the topic of social justice that is significantly intertwined with our faith.

What is privilege? Privilege means many things. In this context, privilege is the ability to easily navigate a racially charged culture without having to think about race. Privilege is the ability to not have to worry about the racism, threats, and micro-aggressions that people of color experience on a daily basis. Privilege is the ability to enter into conversations about race and racism at our own convenience and retreat when things become too uncomfortable. As white Americans, racism is not a word we like to hear. Why? Racism reminds us of a history we have tried to erase. It reminds us of the privilege we are inherently born into because of the color of our skin. We expect racism to rear its ugly head in history books or the news, but we don’t acknowledge that racism is embedded in our society and in our hearts. We don’t acknowledge the hurt that our indifference and ignorance causes our brothers and sisters of color. At its core, racism tugs at something deep within us — the reality that we have a greater responsibility. A responsibility to acknowledge our privilege and ignorance and a responsibility to reject the power that has been disproportionately given to us for the empowerment of those who have been marginalized and oppressed.


Finding My Voice for Justice Continued

Moreover, we have a greater responsibility to address this topic because of our faith. If we believe in the life and work of Jesus, if we look at the values our Savior manifested during his ministry, we realize that this responsibility to pursue justice comes from our God himself.

Jesus gave up his power and privilege to enter into the hurting places of humanity. Throughout his ministry, Jesus rebuked the self-righteous Pharisees in power and associated himself with those on the outskirts of society. He advocated for those who were oppressed, broken, marginalized, and rejected. Justice is not political — it is the embodiment of the teachings and life of our Savior. Riddled throughout Scripture is evidence that justice is close to the heart of God. God’s justice does not hide behind privilege or power. God’s justice does not dismiss and degrade someone’s pain. God’s justice does not run when the conversation becomes uncomfortable. We often feel entitled to discuss racism within the limits of our own comfortably. When hearing our own history, we are quick to become defensive and altogether dismiss the reality of white supremacy and racism. We do not want to be reminded that we wear the skin of the oppressors. We do not want to be reminded of our responsibility to deconstruct the racism, which has infected our society throughout history. The reality is: we want palatable justice. We want justice that makes us feel good about ourselves. We want justice that doesn’t inconvenience us. We want justice that isn’t messy. But friends, we cannot simultaneously advocate for justice and feel comfortable. If we are not actively disrupting this culture of racism, if we are not setting aside our privilege, if we are simply complacent to the reality of racism in our society, then we are allowing it to grow and persist. Where do we go from here? Do we have hope? Friends, let me remind you of the title of this issue: Fearless: The Art of Living in Freedom.



Amidst so much racial brokenness, amidst ignorance and prejudice, amidst hate and oppression… We have freedom. Freedom from being “stuck in our ways.” Freedom from the ignorance that clouds our compassion. Freedom to open our eyes to those around us with the same heart for justice that is seen in the life of Jesus. We have freedom to resist oppressive and corrupt systems around us that do not reflect the love of our Savior. We are free to fight for human dignity and the royal priesthood that belongs to everyone created in the image of God. Although there is hope and freedom in this conversation, we cannot remain comfortable. Let this hope motivate us all to fight for justice, to fight for freedom for all of God’s people. Friends, I hope that you will join me as I find my voice for justice. I pray that together, we can set aside our privilege and step into the uncomfortable areas of ignorance in our own hearts. I pray that we learn to embrace the justice and sacrifice that our Savior modeled throughout his ministry and desires for His world.




Check out our bookstore to read previous issues W W W. F R E E D M A G A Z I N E . C O M FREED MAGAZINE 91

wonder & paper

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Kayla Williams IG: @_kaykayymichelle FREED MAGAZINE 93


FIGHTING THROUGH FAITH “F or though we walk in the flesh , we are not waging war according to the flesh . F or the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds .”

(2 C orinthians 10:3, 4)


e are called as workers together with God, who live in the flesh, but operate in the Spirit. The trials and tests we face as professors of Christ will shape shift, var ying in weight, but the Source of our strength is what sustains us. The lives we live are to be examples of liberty through the Spirit as the standard of Christ permeates our hearts and minds. We are more than physical beings afflicted by financial, mental, or emotional stress. We are conduits of Christ designed to reflect the standard of his Kingdom. Our daily proclamation should be, “I can of mine own self do nothing.” (John 5:30) Like Christ, all that we do in this life should be to accomplish the will of God. An existence wholly delivered to God means the weapons with which we fight are not fleshly, because the fight is not human to human. There is a spiritual connotation to ever y physical thing, so we must be careful to examine the atmospheric pressure of the spirit realm. The One who orders your footsteps have carefully crafted the character you possess to equip you.


As humans committed to the purpose of God, we become active participants in the spiritual war around us. What we see in the natural is a product of the weight in the spiritual realm. Events occurring in our lives, big and small, good or bad, are results of the pressure felt from the war being waged in the spirit. The difference between old man and new creature is the carnal mind could not understand spiritual things. In times past, you were limited by sight, but faith has removed the veil causing you to see beyond the superficial. As one who depends on the Divine Power to fight your battles, you become a moving target the enemy seeks to destroy. Therefore, you must stay alert to the dangers and difficulties that will come to test your faith. From Daniel and David to Paul and Peter, the tests of old is the genuineness of our faith. Can you see beyond the ferocious beasts of the den? Do you trust the uncircumcised Philistine will be cast down? Will the venomous snakebite or waves of the sea stifle your faith? Throughout life, you will encounter direct attacks in the physical that can provoke fear or anxiety, or evoke feelings of unbelief in God’s existence. It is in these hours of sorrow and despair we are to run toward our Savior, lest we push him away. In his presence, we find a peace that passes all understanding, restoration for our soul, and the confidence to walk in the valley of the shadow of death fearing no evil. Do not be fooled into questioning the faithfulness of God, because ever y obstacle he allows in your life is a testament to the unseen dangers from which He protects you. The moments you spend as a student of Christ levels you up in the Spirit as your will aligns with heavens will. Our time in his presence makes us familiar with his hand, his ways, and his thoughts toward us. Consequently, in times of calamity, we fight ever y thought meant to diminish God’s presence in our lives by faith in his proved faithfulness. The devil is a snake, the great deceiver, per verting, and manipulating the truth. When your eye is singular to Christ, you are not idle in the spirit. A sole-focus on Christ is the knowing He is with you, carr ying you, leading you, and keeping you through it all. There is not a moment you are alone when life is devoted to the doing of God’s will. The enemy has to tr y pulling you out the depths of freedom you experience internally to bring you to his level. However, when you are trained to be wise concerning good, you readily determine the nature or condition of all things. With discipline and discernment, one becomes a spirit analyst who can identify the perpetrator working through human individuals. FREED MAGAZINE 95

F ighting T hrough F aith DEVOTIONAL C ontinued

Hence, as long as the wolf can remain undetected, he will pose as a sheep. So, we are to be mindful of what our behaviors approve to avoid being hoodwinked by the enemy. He deploys subtle tactics to distract and attack the true Christian to accomplish his agenda. “And no mar vel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness...” (2 Corinthians 11:13, 14) The master of deceit and father of lies will employ ever y device to chip away your faith and shrink the Light shining through you. “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” (Ephesians 6:9, 10) The beautiful reality about this war is that we are acting vessels, and God only requires that we be steadfast in our faith, trusting him to maintain control of our lives. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12) Though we are human, the war is spiritual. Because the war is spiritual, our weapons must be of the Spirit and not ourselves. The armor provided to us is of God and rests in Christ; the One who overcame sin in the flesh. Remember, you are called to stand for Christ, through the faith you possess in his power. Let Christ, the Truth, the Word of God, live through you freely. Let your heart and mind rest in the freedom of being made right with God through the life of Christ. His life ransomed you and became your salvation and righteousness. The weapons of your warfare are rooted in the gospel of peace. The faith in God, who sent his only begotten Son that you may have everlasting life, is your shield when surrounded by your enemy. Rejoice in the Lord always, believing God hears your prayers in the midnight hour. Bask in the joy of faith, because there is new mercy each day and no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.



P R AY E R Father God, you are omnipotent and Almighty. Your love for me was displayed years ago when you sent your Son to save me. The strength you show and love you give overwhelms my heart. Though my righteousness is as filthy as rags, You count me worthy. Oh, what an amazing Father and excellent ruler you are. I understand the weapons of my warfare do not come from my strength. I realize that even my best cannot keep me from dangers seen, and I need you to rescue me. Teach me to seek your face no matter the season, no matter the test or trial. Fashion me in the likeness of Christ that I may grow closer to you. Let my heart align with yours by removing any stony places. Father, reveal to me where the god of this world has blinded me. Quiet the noise of my thoughts and help me to hear your instructions. Make me a beacon of Light in this dark world and grow me like a tree planted by rivers of flowing water. Lord, my hope is in your might, because on my own I will fail. I need you as Champion and King to keep me in times of storm. Let me learn of you how to be longsuffering, kind, meek, humble, gentle, faithful, joyfilled, tempered, and above all, loving. To those who have caused me heartache and pain, I forgive. Forgive me for leaning to my own understanding, and help me to draw near unto you. Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. In you, I can see clearly. Thank you for your saving grace. In Jesus’ name, amen. FREED MAGAZINE 97

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