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Winter 2016 | Gateway Women’s Magazine









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19 SHE IN THE MAKING in every issue by Amy Stockstill

2 3 8 16 32 34

12 14 15 18

To My Dearest Black Stretchy Pants by Marian Briscoe

Brave by Destiny Vandeput

Poem by Chelsie Birks

The Desires of Your Heart by Jessica Estrada


Chalk Painting by Christy Linder


Poppyseed Cake by Deanie Willis and Katie Willis


by Elisabeth Dunn

24 26 27 28

Spark of Passion by Kelsey Lemons

Purposeful Passion by Sharee Rigsby

Leaning On the Rock by Elyse McNabb

Becoming Beautiful by Mary Elizabeth Miller


Photo Gallery


5 6 10

Breaking Silence by Cari Trotter

It’s My Calling by Kendra Hunt

Depending On God by Lindsay Huckins

29 30

No Reserve. No Retreat. No Regrets. by Kristie McCrary

Dig a Little Deeper by Jan Greenwood


from the editor Why Studio G? The title, Studio G, was inspired by Psalm 144:12, which is a prayer asking God “that our daughters may be as pillars, sculptured in palace style.” The name reminds us that we, as Christian women, are in God’s studio as unfinished works of art. Studio G is committed to reminding us of the ways of the Master Sculptor as He continues to fashion us into “women of palace style.” In His studio, we discover who we are created to be, and we come to realize our true worth.

Hello Beautiful! As a young girl, I dreamed of being an Olympian, and watching the Olympic games this past summer stirred up my long lost dream. One day during this time, I was walking outside and thought to myself, I am going to run to a certain point and take the gold in my own private Olympics. My sport is the “spwaddle.” I’ll waddle like a duck while imagining I’m sprinting like a deer. (Yes, I realize this is a bit of an oxymoron—an Olympic game for one person—but just go with me on this.) I could hear the cheers of my fellow Americans as I closed in on the finish line. No one was close to me. I had it for sure. The gold would be mine! My heart was beating fast. My lungs craved more air. Every muscle was tense with exertion. And then the stuff nightmares are made of happened. About halfway to my gold medal finish, I quit. And just like that, my Olympian dreams were dashed. In truth, I was never passionate enough about working that hard for Olympic hardware or its fame. When we think of passion, we often think of the grand pinnacle— winning a gold medal, becoming a bestselling author, or recording a number one hit. Sadly, the pursuit of passion often has the temptation of fame attached to it. Somehow we think if we’re really passionate about something, we’ll be so good at it that fame will follow. Yet, passion is not synonymous with fame. Passion means to have an intense desire for something. So the reason we should pursue our passions isn’t in hopes it will make us famous, it’s because God’s given us such an intense desire to do something we have no other choice but to do it.

This issue of Studio G is a great launching pad to remembering your forgotten childhood dreams and reigniting the passions God has put in you. It’s filled with articles from women who have stepped out of their comfort zones and wholeheartedly pursued their passions. I know you’ll love reading about Kelsey Lemons, one our Gateway girls, who now resides in New York City and is living out her dreams by working in a career that fulfills her God-given passions every day. Destiny Vandeput’s transparent and vulnerable account of taking her next step is sure to inspire you to keep pursuing your own passion. And Jessica Estrada reminds us we that while we might have passions for many different things, it’s important to keep our passion for God fresh. So sit back and allow the Lord to begin stirring your heart. Who knows, maybe you’ll even break the record time for reading the whole issue of Studio G in one sitting! I pray that whatever you’re passionate about, God will bring that to the surface as you trust Him and allow Him to lead you into your purpose. Love,

STUDIO contributors 1

















1. CHELSIE BIRKS is a believer in

5. JAN GREENWOOD is Gateway Women’s

the impossible, dream chaser, and freedom pursuer. She finds joy in true emotion, and it empowers her to inspire the world with her own beautifully messy story of self-acceptance. Encouraging words, coffee, fresh flowers, and grace are her necessities.

Multicampus Pastor. She is passionate about empowering and celebrating women in all walks of life. She loves pasta, Hershey’s chocolate, and Coke Zero. Jan and her husband, Mark, have four children and two dogs.

9. KRISTIE MCCRARY serves nonprofit organizations as a consultant, volunteers as a life coach and ministry leader at the Genesis Center for Women, and is the luncheon cochair on the board of Council for Life. She attends Gateway’s Dallas Campus.

6. LINDSAY HUCKINS is passionate

10. ELYSE MCNABB is all about put-

about living out her love for Jesus. Through her blog,, she shares her journey with others, hoping what she’s learning can encourage women to embrace whatever life brings.

ting boots on the ground and showing love in action. Blessed to be a wife, mother, inventor, and small business owner, she serves the church by leading small groups with candor and warmth.

7. KENDRA HUNT is the author of


Encouragement Between Loads of Laundry. She enjoys working part-time in accounting, serving as the treasurer for the Parent Teacher Association, and working at The Epicenter for the Arts. She and her husband, Kam, have two sons.

is the pastor over Platform Worship at Gateway. She and her husband, Thomas, have served in ministry for more than 20 years. When not serving at church or painting a dreamy watercolor, Mary Beth homeschools her son, Harrison.

8. CHRISTY LINDER works with Gateway Women’s Groups at the Southlake Campus. She is passionate about encouraging women to live a God-inspired life and shares her artsy and DIY chalk paint projects on her blog,

12. SHAREE RIGSBY is a wife and

2. MARIAN BRISCOE is a designer, accountant, and mom of two daughters. She can frequently be found alongside her husband, Josh, at the Grand Prairie Campus, where they have served for the last 20 years. Her passion is to help people discover their God-given dreams and talents and to bring creativity and balance to life.

3. ELISABETH DUNN loves to read and travel—especially if she can do both at once! She tries to learn something new every day, particularly if it’s an odd random fact. Elisabeth currently serves as a coordinator on the Gateway Women Multicampus Team.

4. JESSICA ESTRADA loves Jesus and is obsessed with traveling, sports, and all things Disney. She works as a social media coordinator at a community college, volunteers for Gateway Kids at the Southlake Campus, and is a lifestyle photographer.

stay-at-home mom. She strives to raise her daughters to know who they are in Christ and to walk in strength and courage. She has a passion for writing on her blog,, where she encourages wives and mothers with young children.



13. AMIE STOCKSTILL is one semester away from holding a master’s degree in practical theology from The King’s University. She is passionate about teaching others how to communicate the Word of God with confidence. Amie and her husband, Joel, serve at Gateway’s Dallas Campus.

14. CARI TROTTER is a writer, speaker, and teacher and has a tremendous passion to see women grow in their love of God’s Word. She adores her role as a football coach’s wife and being momma to three kids.

15. DESTINY VANDEPUT works in digital marketing by day and writes young adult novels by night. She and her family currently reside in Dallas, Texas, and attend Gateway’s Grand Prairie Campus. 16. DEANIE WILLIS is a mom who loves

17. KATIE WILLIS co-owns The Poppyseed Cake Baking Co. with her mother. Her life goal is to find a way to combine her two passions, food and missions, into one! She also serves as the assistant to the pastor of Gateway Young Adults.

to bake and cook—especially with her daughter! There is nothing sweeter than sitting down at a big table with family or friends to share a meal. When not in the kitchen, she enjoys gardening, musicals, and great restaurants.

Ask the Staff

Gateway Women’s Magazine

What are your favorite holiday foods?



Homemade cinnamon rolls and homemade Italian sausage

General Editor

LYNDA GROVE Managing Editor

Senior Creative Director

Print Coordinator




Senior Editor

Art Directors/Designers





Editor My mom’s chocolate pie and green bean casserole


Production Designer


CORY HALE Make-Up Artists



Copy Coordinator


Project Manager Pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and turkey and dressing with giblet gravy

Cranberry fluff, French toast strata, and Grandma Sadie’s grape salad

Contributing Photographer


My mother-in-law’s sweet potatoes


Silence Cari Trotter

In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years (Luke 1:5–7).

teaching hundreds about the promises of God, yet you have such a deep personal prayer need it nearly hurts to breathe. You could feel so discouraged from praying “one more time” again and again that all you want to do is repress it and remove it. But, Zechariah entered the temple just one more time. He obeyed one more time. He prayed one more time. And that “one more time” made all the difference, because this time God not only started speaking directly to his individual prayers, but He broke the silence of the world’s prayer for rescue.

Over 400 years of spiritual silence had crept by without a single ounce of prophetic inspiration or voice since the days of Malachi. Zechariah, while serving as a YOU COULD BE A priest before God, stepped into his duty to interMINISTER TEACHING cede yet again for the children of Israel. Nothing HUNDREDS ABOUT THE seemed to be changing. Nothing seemed to be PROMISES OF GOD, YET reaching heaven.

God intended to answer Zechariah and Elizabeth’s intimate prayer and weave them into the kingdom’s purpose of rescue. The curtain was about to pull back to reveal the first Christmas. YOU HAVE SUCH A DEEP Zechariah and Elizabeth would be the parents And then, all at once, everything changed. God PERSONAL PRAYER NEED of John the Baptist, the cousin of and forerunstarted speaking: “But the angel said to him, IT NEARLY HURTS ner for Christ. Mary, Elizabeth’s cousin, and ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has TO BREATHE. Joseph would be the earthly parents of Jesus— been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you the one who would grow in wisdom and stature a son, and you shall call his name John’” (Luke 1:13). with both God and man, die a sinner’s death, be buried in a tomb, be raised to life on the third day, and Can you possibly imagine the shock Zechariah felt as expose the friendship of the Holy Spirit—and never again he heard the voice of the Lord after routinely obeying for genwould heaven be silent. erations with no answer, no inspiration, and no breath of God? Not only had he not seen answers on behalf of the multitudes, he had a personal ache that had not been answered as well. He and Elizabeth had no children. But in that moment, God changed everything.

The first Christmas broke heaven’s silence forever, and it all started with a couple who chose to pray, believe, and obey one more time. Christmas is not confined to a single calendar page. It comes alive every day we allow the voice of the Holy Spirit to speak through our prayers, our obedience, and our lives.

You may be attending church regularly. You may be on every church leadership committee known to man. You could be a minister




Kendra Hunt natural talents, but this was not mine. I struggled with guilt about my lack of desire to be home. I felt a little less part of the feminine world as it seems there are some things the world considers true of all women: 1) We love salad. 2) We want to hold every baby. 3) We want to be home. What kind of girl was I? 1) I don’t like salad. 2) I don’t ask to hold random babies. 3) I not only dislike being home, I’m not good at it.

id you know that no two women are the same? No really. It isn’t just a cliché or nice platitude. All women are different. They have different talents, different interests, different families, different responsibilities, different appearances, different weaknesses, different life experiences. Need I go on? As a young girl, in my teens and early twenties, I found joy in my many different roles as an employee for several different companies. I loved to work. I had crazy jobs that ranged from working at a plasma center to administration in the ER and even dressing as the Easter bunny at the mall. (Yes, I know, Easter is not about a bunny, but they paid me well to sweat it up while I held crying children who were traumatized forever by my “five-foot-ten-inch bunny-self.”) Like I said, I always enjoyed working. It’s just the way God wired me. It was an area of my life I was passionate about pursuing. After I had my boys, my husband, Kam, and I realized that working regular hours was no longer going to be an option for me. Kam had a packed schedule, and while I loved working, I valued the chance to take our boys to school and pick them up. So I did the hard thing. I quit a perfectly good job.

While I limped along as a stay-at-home mom, time went by, and my youngest son started kindergarten. Shortly after, I was offered a part-time job. It was as though the heavens had opened up and angels were singing. This was my chance to work again. I was gaining some adult freedom. It would be two days a week with people I love. Done deal! I had this nagging fear that my brain had lost all ability to do grown-up work, but I love a challenge so I pushed ahead with my new part-time job. Then last fall, I found myself with yet another job offer. I could feel in my heart I wanted to say yes, but I really wanted to pray about it first. My heart is to be where God wants me, whether that’s at home or in an office (yes, please!). As I took time to answer the offer, I talked with my friends and family about it. While some could hear the excitement in my voice, others seemed overwhelmed at the

While I wouldn’t change that very difficult decision, I quickly found the stay-at-home mom role was not my favorite. Every woman has




thought of me taking on a second job. Did I mention that part? I would have two part-time jobs. I was disappointed to hear a pause in their voices and questions about how it would all work.

how that would even be possible. I can imagine it would have more questions than answers. He showed me that I was uniquely called to be a mom with two part-time jobs, but that’s not for everyone! As women, while we have some fun similarities, we are still different. God is asking you to live in the greatness He has called you to. Sometimes, looking at other women and their callings causes us to feel overwhelmed, but their callings are not ours to live out.

I continued to pray, because I felt strongly about giving a responsible answer. It does an employer no good for me to say yes, only to realize it’s too much. As I prayed, I told God my frustration about my friends’ reactions. And then we had this conversation that was so clear. God asked me if I had ever been given news from a friend that excited them and ignited a passion in their heart, only for me to react with caution and a sense of being overwhelmed by their news.

This reminds me of a story in the Bible. Let’s take a look at Ruth. Instead of returning home after losing her husband, she chose to go with her mother-in-law, Naomi, to Bethlehem and use her Godgiven strength of loyalty to do something hard. She left everything comfortable around her to follow a bitter old woman who’d lost her husband and two sons. It was not the common-sense thing to do. She probably had a friend or two who didn’t jump for joy at her news about going with Naomi to a foreign land. I wonder how Ruth’s conversations with Orpah (Naomi’s other daughter-inlaw) sounded. Unlike Ruth, Orpah did not rush to follow Naomi. But Ruth knew she was suppposed to go with Naomi, who openly admitted her bitterness, to a land that wasn’t her own. And God blessed her faithfulness to go where He had called her.

I immediately thought back to a time when a friend at church came to tell me she was pregnant with her third child. Not only was she pregnant with her third child, but her second was only a couple of months old. I distinctly remember just staring at her. At one point in our conversation she said, “If there isn’t a congratulations in the near future, I am going to find someone else to tell.” She was joking, but I wasn’t giving her much to work with.


I was guilty of the very thing I was complaining about to God. Then I remembered another friend telling me she and her family, which included four kids and a husband, were moving to Russia to be missionaries. Again, I do not recall giving a celebratory scream at that point in the conversation. I truly do love to encourage, but my honest thoughts tend to outweigh my game face.

Be encouraged that God has called you to do things and go places where He hasn’t called others. It’s exciting! And scary! And we sometimes want to compare it with what others are doing. After God called Ruth to go with Naomi, she didn’t ask Orpah if it was a good idea. While I am sure they talked about their plans, Ruth did not waver from God’s call on her life. As women, we need each other to be cheerleaders who don’t stop cheering when we don’t understand the playbook! Our ability to cheer for our friends should not depend on whether or not their choices and calling would work for us. We should be friends who remember that a girl and her God can do anything!

Don’t you love it when God teaches you a lesson while you are diligently giving Him your prayer requests about lessons you feel others should be learning? This was officially about me. God so sweetly moved me to 1 Corinthians 12 where the Bible talks about the different parts of the body. Each part of the body is different. Each part looks and functions differently. I can only imagine if an ear was asked to see or to smell, it would be a bit overwhelmed. The ear would wonder





Painting Chalk

Before Af ter


Christy Linder

Who doesn’t love instant gratification? That’s my favorite thing about using chalk paint—taking something worn, tired, or old and putting new life into it—and in record time! Before the days of this wondrous paint, refinishing a piece of furniture involved stripping, sanding, and prepping before you could even think about picking up a paintbrush. Now all it takes is a quick wipe down of your piece and you can immediately start painting, finishing a project in a fraction of the time.

because it seals the paint and protects it. I took my wax brush and moved it over the painted surface in several directions, working the wax into every inch of the paint, then I took a clean, lint-free rag and buffed it. The overall shine will depend on how much you buff. More buffing will give you more shine—and a good workout! The last step is optional: dark wax. I knew I wanted to use it on my chairs because I like the subtle patina it creates on the paint. It’s a richer look, and I’ve since found out it hides dirt really, really well. Bonus! I worked the dark wax into the crevices of the chairs and wiped the high points, leaving some wax build up in the recessed areas. This makes the carved details really stand out.

I first bought chalk paint a few years ago after hearing the buzz about how great it was. The idea of painting finished wood without sanding or prep work seemed like a dream, and I had a kitchen table with six chairs that had survived nearly a decade of everyday use and was in need of a fresh look. I went and bought a can of Duck Egg Blue chalk paint, clear and dark waxes, and some brushes and went home to get started painting my six chairs. (This paint doesn’t have an odor, so I painted inside using a drop cloth.) After doing a couple of coats of paint, I lightly sanded and distressed the chairs, removing paint from the high points.

After finishing the chairs, I was hooked! Since then I’ve tackled dozens of other chalk paint projects and encourage you to give it a try for yourself. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different techniques and brands of paint, keeping in mind that learning the process can be as rewarding as the end product. Be patient with yourself, practice, and have fun!

After cleaning up the dust, I started waxing. Waxing is without a doubt the most laborious step in the process, but it’s also a must




STUDIO diy Supplies 1 Small Piece of Furniture Cleaner or Degreaser Chalk Paint Paintbrush Drop Cloth


Clear Wax


Dark Wax (Optional)

6 8

Wax Brushes


Lint-Free Rags or T-shirt Rags

9 • Start with something small, preferably something that you don’t love, so you have the freedom to experiment without the fear of ruining something special. • Chalk paint isn’t meant to look perfect, so get in touch with your creative side and embrace those brush strokes!

Tips & Tricks


• Search Pinterest for inspiration and YouTube for how-to videos, or take a class locally to try out products and learn new techniques. • There are many good brands of chalk paint (and recipes) out there. Don’t be afraid to experiment with them and see which one you like the best.

• Invest in a good wax brush or two—one for clear wax and one for dark wax, if using both. • Always, always, always apply clear wax and buff before applying dark wax. This gives you a workable surface that you can “erase” the dark wax from by applying more clear wax. Dark wax applied on its own will stain your paint! • While working, take a step back every few minutes to get a sense of the overall effect. • Enjoy transforming garage-sale finds and well-loved furniture!

• After painting a piece, try distressing it with sandpaper to remove paint from its high points.








Lindsay Huckins




During high school, my best friend and I did everything together. We spent so much time together it seemed as though she practically lived with my family. We played basketball every year in high school, so it came as quite a shock to her when I quit playing my senior year. I really felt the Lord released me from playing that year. Nevertheless, she felt very betrayed that I quit and was disappointed we wouldn’t be playing together. She stopped talking to me, and after a week of silence, we made plans to get together and try to mend the situation. She came over to my house, and we worked things out between us. But what happened next changed our lives forever.

God room to become greater. Even in our day-to-day lives, we are on a constant journey toward righteousness. When our faith is shaken, it’s a reminder to us that we are completely dependent on Jesus.


As she was leaving, we hugged, and suddenly I felt her go limp in my arms. Truthfully, I thought she was joking until I felt her begin to shake. I immediately laid her on the ground and realized she was having a seizure. Urgently, I ran to dial 911. We were home alone at the time, so after my 911 call, I immediately called my dad to come home, who arrived at the same time as the paramedics. When the paramedics walked into my house, they immediately went to work. They were unable to find her heartbeat or pulse, but they continued working for a few more minutes and then loaded her into the ambulance. Still unable to find a pulse and maintain a constant heartbeat, the situation was very grim. Her unresponsiveness urged my dad to prepare me for the worst. When we arrived at the hospital, she was in a coma and being kept alive by a machine. The doctor told us if she did wake up, she probably wouldn’t have any brain function because she’d been without oxygen for so long. We prayed for her all night. Up to that point in my life, I’m not sure I had ever prayed so desperately for anything. By morning I was anxious to hear from her mom. The phone call couldn’t have come soon enough. Her mom began telling me she miraculously came out of the coma, was off the ventilator, and (other than some short-term memory glitches) had full brain function! She was diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome, which is a rare heart disease, but she was going to live! PRAISE GOD!

Jesus said, “The Son can do nothing by himself; he can only do what he sees his father doing” (John 5:19). Look at Jesus: if He can do nothing by Himself, then who are we to try to do anything in life by ourselves? On the other hand, how amazing were the things Jesus did? He healed a child, even though he was in another city, just by saying to his father, “Go … your son will live” (John 4:50). Jesus healed a man who had an infirmity for 38 years just by saying, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk” (John 5:8). At just 12 years old, Jesus realized He was to be about His Father’s business (Luke 2:49) and had teachers and scholars in awe of His wisdom. Jesus performed so many amazing miracles and yet He did nothing unless the Father told Him to do it. Jesus needed God in order to perform miracles.

I had never experienced something so tragic firsthand. Even though my friend ended up being okay, it caused me to really think about God and my perception of Him. Experiencing tragedy causes us to see where our faith is and how dependent on God we truly are. Until that point, I didn’t really have a need for God. Aside from the occasional panicky prayer right before a test, I didn’t have a desperate situation that made God a necessity in my life. The moment my friend collapsed I realized there was nothing I could do to save her. Waiting for the paramedics to show up felt like an eternity. I spoke in tongues and paced around my living room, but I felt completely helpless. I knew if God didn’t come through and heal her that would be the last conversation I would ever have with my best friend.

This is good news for us! The same God who was with Jesus is the same God who is with us. If we realize our complete dependence on Him, He is able to do great things in us. I will never forget the day I almost lost my best friend. Now, almost 15 years later, she is healthy and we’re still best friends. I’m so grateful for our friendship. I’m even more thankful that out of a tragic situation I learned I need God every day—in the small things and the big.

John says it best when He speaks of Jesus in John 3:30: “He must become greater; I must become less.” When we become less, we give




To My Dearest Black Stretchy Pants, Can you believe we’ve been together almost 17 years now? I remember the day we met. It was my first month away at college, and I was having a rough day. Making new friends and juggling all my classes was really getting me down, so I decided on a little retail therapy at the only mall for miles around—definitely not Northpark—where you surprised me with your fashion-forward, yet classic design. I almost didn’t get you because you were full price, but I took a chance on you, and boy, were you worth it! You have been with me through every milestone of my life. When I felt lonely, I would put you on and go for a jog around campus. You kept me warm on those cold, brisk nights. When I would dream about my future, you would keep me going. As we conquered hills in the natural, I would conquer battles in my mind and spirit. We moved mountains on those trails. When I was preparing for my design show during my senior year, you would stay up ‘til the wee hours of the morning with me in the computer lab. I spilled many cups of hot chocolate on you. (Thanks for never letting anyone know about those stains! You’re so good at keeping secrets.) You were even there when the artwork came off the walls and into portfolios, and we celebrated together when I received the email telling me I got my first real job.




You were there when I became deathly ill before my wedding, and you comforted me as I lay in bed, swallowing daggers, fighting off fevers, and picking out china patterns. You were there on my actual wedding day too. I wore you to get my hair done, and you looked so stylish with my up-do! I love you, pants, but you could never compare to that dress on that day. I’ve taken you on all my mission trips and vacations. How many long flights have you endured? You’ve been to Finland, Denmark, Germany, and Cyprus, all across America, and too many more places to mention. I wonder how many miles are under your belt? We’ve climbed walls, floated on boats, walked across suspension bridges, and been to the top of the tallest buildings. You’ve even fallen into the ocean waves with me. What memories! Remember both times I ran to my closet and threw you on amid contractions to get to the hospital for the birth of both my little girls? Those were some sleepless nights, but we made it through. Twice. The best part about you is, whether I was a size 2 or a size 12, you’ve been with me through all the ups and downs of life. And now that I think about it, you were a picture of what true friendship should be like. Meeting someone by chance on a bad day and investing in that relationship—isn’t that how so many true connections begin? Then that person shows up when you need comfort or a shoulder to cry on. When you get the call letting you know your dreams are coming true or you have wedding bells in your future, that friend is there to celebrate milestones, big or small. And, oh, the adventures you can embark on with a true friend. But in all of it, the common thread is faithfulness. Pants, you stayed faithful to me through the years, even when I decided I liked skinny jeans better than you. You knew I would always come back to you when I realized those skinny jeans would not make it through 30 pounds of pregnancy weight or a nice Italian meal. As I look at you today, I notice your elastic is all but gone and you lack the style you had in the ‘90s. But how could I forget all we’ve gone through? I would frame you and hang you on my wall before you ever ended up in the trash. That’s because I treasure you, like I would a best friend. Thank you, my dearest black stretchy pants, for reminding me what it means to be faithful. XOXO,




Destiny Vandeput As I sat staring at my computer in a crowded coffee shop, no one giving me a cursory glance could have possibly known I was drowning. But I like to think if they could have seen the suffocating waves of doubt and fear pummeling my mind, I would have gotten a few hugs or at least a quietly murmured “Bless her heart.”

“For I know the plans I have for you,”

But instead, I sat there alone, trying to keep my head above the waters of the storm raging inside me as I stared at a cover letter I’d been crafting for weeks—a cover letter announcing a novel I’d finished, which I was sending out to literary agents in hopes of finding one to represent my work to publishers. You see, I’d spent the last 15 years saying my dream was to be a published writer, but I never could find the courage to actually go after that dream until one day when I decided it was better to try than to live with “what if” looming over me. So I did it. I researched and wrote a story and revised it until I was blue in the face. And now—in my particular publishing journey—it was time to send it out to literary agents. So why was I scared? I did the hard part and wrote a book. Why could I not bring myself to hit the send button? I didn’t need a therapist to tell me it was because, “This is it.” I could no longer say, one day, because that one day was now. And what if I failed and fell flat on my face? What if they all said I was a terrible writer? What if I never heard a “yes” in a sea of “you’re not good enoughs”?


declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 The thing I chose to believe that morning, staring my fear in the face, is my identity is not wrapped up in someone’s “yes.” Who I am is not defined by validation or affirmation. My identity is in my Savior who crafted my passions and wove them into the fabric of who I am and how He is going to use me to make His name great. So I did it. I hit send. I got a lot of nos … but I also got a yes! If you’re burdened with a dream or burning with a passion today, it’s time to do something about it. Every great success comes right after an even greater risk. Put yourself out there—even if the chance of rejection is greater than the chance of victory. God wants to move through you, but you have to be brave enough to take the risk.






Poppyseed Cake Deanie Willis and Katie Willis

Deanie’s Thoughts It wasn’t until my sweet hairdresser told me one day I should be selling my cookies that I realized the gifts and talents God has blessed me with. From cookies, I went on to bake cakes, pies, wedding cakes, and so much more. That’s how The Poppyseed Cake Baking Co. was born! It’s a pure delight to bake and make people happy. The best part of all is working alongside my precious daughter, Katie. We have a great desire to use food as our ministry—to share our faith, enjoy the food, and love the fellowship.

Katie’s Thoughts There are few things I enjoy more than baking, but I always joke that Mom never gave me a choice! One thing I do know—no other 16-year-old was asking for and getting pots and pans for Christmas like I was back in high school. As I’ve gotten older, baking has proven to be not only my favorite pastime (and side business) but also a way to deeply love and nourish those around me. To grab a cup of coffee, cut a slice of this delightful poppyseed cake, and gather around the table with ones you love is truly one of God’s greatest gifts to us!



This cake has become not only one of our favorites but the namesake for our business, and we hope you love it as much as we do! It’s simple to make, can be eaten any time of day, and works just lovely as a Christmas gift. We’re giving you a couple of variations, but don’t be afraid to try your own. Happy eating, from the Willis girls to you!



STUDIO spice Poppyseed Ingredients

Glaze Ingredients

2 ¼ cups sugar

¾ cup powdered sugar

1 ½ cups milk

¼ cup orange juice


cups canola oil

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

3 eggs

½ teaspoon almond extract

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

½ teaspoon butter extract

1 ½ teaspoons butter extract 1 ½ teaspoons almond extract 3 cups flour 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder 1 ½ teaspoons salt 1 ½ tablespoons poppy seeds

Directions Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare bundt pan with Baker’s Joy. In a large bowl, combine sugar, milk, oil, eggs, and extracts; beat until blended well. Add flour, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds. Beat for 2 minutes. Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake about 1 hour and 5 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched lightly. While the cake is baking, prepare the glaze; whisk powdered sugar, orange juice, and extracts together until mixed well.


When the cake is done, cool 5 minutes and pour glaze over the cake while it is still in the pan. Cool about 30 minutes and remove cake from the pan. Enjoy! Variations • This recipe also makes great Poppyseed Bread loaves and mini muffins. • For Lemon Poppyseed Cake, substitute lemon extract for almond extract in both the cake and the glaze.




Jessica Estrada

I’ve always had an interest in photography. As a child, I played with my family’s point-and-shoot camera. As a teenager, I took a class in high school where I learned how to develop prints in a darkroom from photographic film. As a college student, I enrolled in a photography class that taught me the various principles and techniques of using a DSLR camera. Each one of those moments was exciting and interesting to me.

Sometimes we neglect our passion or focus on what someone else is passionate about instead of looking to God or within ourselves to find our passion. When God gives us a passion, He wants us to pursue it so we can fulfill His purpose for our lives. You do what you want out of passion. You do it from the heart. What is it that makes you say, “I want to,” instead of “I have to”? That is your passion!

Nobody had to force me to play with a camera or pay attention in a photography class. It wasn’t something I had to learn. The desire flowed out of my heart as a child and still does today as a young


adult. Why? Because I have a passion for it. Do you remember Psalm 37:4? “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” What is the desire within you that constantly tugs at the strings of your heart? What brings you genuine joy and happiness? What is the one thing you would choose to do nonstop? Got it? Dwell on the desire for a moment. Remember that God doesn’t just give you a passion or dream to tease you. There is

But what if you can’t put your finger on the very thing you’re passionate about? That’s okay! God has designed His children as passionate human beings. He has already placed a passion inside of you waiting to spring forth, or He might be waiting on the perfect timing to plant the seed from which the passion will stem from.

purpose in your passion. Proverbs 20:5 tells us, “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.” We must look within ourselves to bring out the passion. As a child of God, we are automatically designed to be passionate. God has already placed passion within us. It is up to us to act on it instead of withholding it from others to see. The best part: since passion flows from the heart, we don’t need to search for it.


Whether you are living out your passion or waiting for God to reveal it to you, continue to ignite a burning passion for Jesus. When you have a genuine passion for God, He will align it with your desire and give it purpose.



STUDIO spotlight

Amie Stockstill




met Kelsey like most good friends meet in the 21st Century— through Instagram. She was the first blogger I started following in 2014 and the same week, I ran into her at a WILD (Women in Leadership Development) retreat! Since then, we’ve met every Thursday night for a leadership Bible study where I’ve had the opportunity to get to know her personally.

Kelsey is a creative and business-savvy freelance artist who specializes in photography, hand and brush lettering, and micro-blogging. She loves collaborating with brands, artists, and people with a vision that makes their hearts beat faster. She also has an impressive sensitivity to the voice of God, and what I love most about her is the courage she has to follow God despite natural fear of the unknown. Recently I caught up with Kelsey for this interview while she was interning at Wondersauce—a creative agency in New York! We laughed at what an adventure life is when you’re following God.

HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN CREATIVE AND ARTSY? Yeah, I would say so. When I was younger, I loved drawing and wanted to be a fashion designer. I would draw outfits or sketch pictures of my teddy bears or celebrities. I remember my favorite drawing was one I did of my Care Bear. It was so accurate!

DO YOU STILL HAVE IT? I’m sure it’s still at my house. I wouldn’t throw it away!

WHAT DID YOU DO FOR FUN AS A KID? I sketched all the time, but I also had a lot of other hobbies. I played a ton of different sports, even though I wasn’t good. I danced and was a cheerleader, but I always loved to sketch and draw. It was my favorite pastime. In fact, I would lie to people so I could keep drawing. I didn’t want to go outside to play, so when kids would come to the door I would have my mom say I was grounded!

HOW DID YOU DISCOVER YOUR PASSION FOR HAND LETTERING? In junior high and high school, I always doodled and had friends who did photography. I thought photography and art were really cool, but I never identified them as skills I had. I would try them a little bit, but I never thought of myself as an expert in those realms. I just really enjoyed them. I enjoyed the art of writing and always wrote in cursive, so when calligraphy became big again, I dabbled in it. But I realized I felt constricted, so I started trying to play with paintbrushes and found out about different writing tools through friends and online sources.




STUDIO spotlight I got into photography when I was graduating from high school. Inspired by my photographer friends, I really wanted to take nicer photos. I saved my graduation money and bought a camera and lens I could afford. I would call my friends and ask them if I could take their pictures. Two weeks after I got my camera, I applied at a photography studio in the mall. I made this dinky, little portfolio on laminated paper with a little clear, blue binder. I thought I did really well, but I didn’t get the job. It ended up being a blessing, because people kept asking me to take their photos and insisting they pay me for them. It was awesome! I teamed up with one of my friends who does makeup, and we created a business shooting senior photos.

TELL US ABOUT SHE, IN THE MAKING. I started my blog, She, In The Making, in 2010. I honestly just started it for myself. I blogged on different platforms—usually about super melodramatic things 13-year-olds talk about. I loved the art of expressing myself and the idea I could write something and someone across the world could read it and feel connected to it. I was amazed at the possibility of a 14-year-old girl in China coming across my blog and feeling the same exact thing. One day, my Tumblr got hacked, and I had to delete it. I decided to start a new blog and post things that inspired me, including outfits. I was never consistent with my blog until my junior year of college in 2013 when I started blogging as an outlet. It was a place to write down the things I encountered throughout the week. My weeks were super stressful, but on weekends I felt so much joy and peace and was in a community where I felt at home. I really sensed God’s presence and was happy. Those times were so great, and I wanted to document them. I took pictures and posted about all the good things that happened in my week. My friends loved what I posted and hearing about my week. This was pre-Snapchat, so it’s become something really different now. It’s constantly evolving.

HOW DO YOU CHOOSE WHAT IDEAS AND PROJECTS TO PURSUE? Honestly, in the past, I would have had an idea and tried to force it, and then it wouldn’t turn out how I wanted. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve decided I’m not forcing anything. If I don’t want to write, I’m not going to write. If I don’t want to create something, I’m not going to create it. I got tired of letting my creative pursuits seem like a hassle when they were something I really enjoyed and gave me peace, comfort, and joy. I hate feeling like I have to do something uninspired. Now when it comes to life, I don’t force it. For example, I wanted to move to California, but now I’m in New York. I wasn’t going to force it. I’m not going to go where God’s not leading me or where there isn’t a path already provided for me.

WHAT IS THE GOAL OF SHE, IN THE MAKING? When I created it, I wanted to have a place where people from anywhere could connect. That’s still the goal. I want to be able to connect with people and inspire them. I also want it to be a place where people can come and be refreshed, learn about something new, dabble in something they hadn’t initially thought about, and be inspired to go after what they want or where they feel God is calling them.






WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PROJECTS? My favorite projects are usually ones where I collaborate with others. I worked with Thrive Magazine, and they gave me a general direction, but I did all the creative photography for it. I got to play out my thought process and make it become a reality. And my images were these beautiful stories about faith and redemption—that was really cool! One of my other favorite projects was working with my friends who are makeup artists. It’s a collaborative process, and I’m usually working with a lot of believers. We usually start on one topic and end up on the topics of creativity and faith. The photo shoot becomes so much more than what it was in the beginning.

HOW ARE YOU INSPIRING AND ENCOURAGING OTHERS ON SOCIAL MEDIA? Creating for yourself is something you do because you love it and you are learning and growing. That’s so true in my life and what I do. When my posts come from my life and my experiences, people relate so much more because they find themselves in those stories. They think to themselves, I’ve been through something similar. I’m learning something just like that. God has me in a season so similar to that. I think just by being honest with where I am and what I’ve learned is the biggest driving point because people can connect, relate, and be encouraged.

WHO INSPIRES YOU? That’s hard! I’m inspired by everyone. That’s not even a joke. Obviously, I have awesome mentors, like you [Amie], who inspire me, and there are people in our Bible study group who are awesome. Honestly, I have an entire list of interesting people in my phone who I’ve encountered on the subway. Then I have a different list of people who wore an outfit I want to recreate. On my interesting people list, I document little, blissful interactions between people that are cute and heartwarming. I document some crazy people I see on the subway too! Honestly, if I could stare at someone long enough, I’d be able to find something about them that makes me say, “Wow, what an interesting trait!” I imagine really cool photo shoots based off the traits I find in people. I love to accentuate the differences in people while still finding the beauty in it. Everyone constantly inspires me.

HOW DID YOU COME TO GATEWAY? I had a mentor in college who helped me lead a Bible study for sororities on campus. She kept telling us about Young Adults at Gateway, but our study met in Arlington on Tuesdays until 7:00 pm, so I was never able to go. Once I graduated, I started going with my friend, and we thought it was the coolest thing ever! I became a member of Gateway a few months later.

HOW ARE YOU INVOLVED AT GATEWAY? I used to lead a Gateway Group, and now I am attending one. I attend both the Grand Prairie and Southlake Campuses depending on the day of the week.




STUDIO spotlight KELSEY’S FAVES HANGOUT SPOT Our Bible study group.

COFFEE: Gateway has a vanilla bean frap, and I get a shot of espresso in it. It’s so much better than Starbucks! In New York though, a lavender latte is my very favorite thing. Gateway should add that to their menu.

ARTIST: As far as photography goes, I love Ben Sasso.

MUSIC: One Republic or Justin Timberlake.

SNACK: Kettle corn, grapes, and blueberries.


SONG TO JAM TO IN THE CAR: “Secrets” by One Republic. I’m walking down the aisle to that song!

MAKEUP PRODUCT: Liquid eyeliner.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO IN YOUR FREE TIME? I like to read interesting blog posts and articles, watch YouTube, and listen to different types of music and podcasts. I like to take photos and do the things I do for money but without the expectation of getting paid.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO GIRLS WHO WANT THE COURAGE TO STEP OUT BEYOND THEIR FEAR TO EXPERIENCE “GOD OPPORTUNITIES”? I still face fear, but I go back through my prayer journals and see how God has led me even in my fear. At the end of the day, I follow the leading of God. Take the risk, leap in faith. We get scared of the unknown and the future, but God only has good plans for us. So wherever He is leading you, it’s because He has something amazing in store for you. You can be afraid all you want, but know that if He is calling you to it, then He will make a way for you. He will prepare you for it. He will provide for you while you’re there. That’s exactly what has happened to me time and time again.

To keep up with Kelsey, you can follow her @sheinthemaking or check out her website




Passion SPARK OF

Kelsey Lemons

The idea of passion is something I’ve always grappled with. It’s so vast, insurmountable, and often hard to fully grasp. I’ve noticed that passion at surface level is often thought to be connected with what you do regularly—whether that be your occupation, your workout regime, or the tasty treats that come out of your oven and grace the table every week. Passion has a funny way of looking extrinsic, but I believe it has much more to do with a position of the heart. In the past decade, my passions have changed so much. At different points, I might have said volunteering or photography or hand lettering. And though I’ve loved all of those things, none of them ever felt like the right words to utter when someone would ask that fateful question: What is your passion? I’ve always had something I was pouring myself into, whether it was the arts or community activities. But I never felt true peace in saying any of those things were my passion. Did I enjoy doing them? Sure! But could they take up that space in my heart for what truly ignited a fire in me? All I know is I wasn’t willing to give up that sacred space to any one area so quickly. I’ve always been a very passionate person, diving without hesitation into any new area that interested me. But as I’ve grown, the one thing that consistently ignites something within me is seeing a fiery passion in others. Then it occurred to me: aside from all the things I love to pour myself into, could it be that I’m most passionate about passionate people? It suddenly became clear that nothing truly brings me joy like meeting passionate people—hearing about their dreams, their projects, their goals, and their creations—and seeing them bring those dreams to life by living them out.

I feel like a big part of this has to do with what I believe God wants for us. God is so passionate about us, and He’s placed bits of that insurmountable fire within each of us. He doesn’t see us by what we have or haven’t accomplished but by the beautiful creations we are in Him. He’s created us to be passionate individuals—to be the go-getters, the time-takers, and the people who invest themselves big time into the things He’s called us to. He doesn’t look at us and intend for us to live half-hearted lives, simply to a portion of our potential. Instead, He’s created us to be people whose hearts are set on fire, burning to bring more love and joy into this world in whatever ways we know how.

GOD IS SO PASSIONATE ABOUT US, AND HE’S PLACED BITS OF THAT INSURMOUNTABLE FIRE WITHIN EACH OF US. So today I ask you, what’s that thing for you? What is it that moves you unlike anything else? Have you found it yet? And what are you doing today with this thing? How are you operating out of the passion within you to bring glory to our Father, the ultimate passion giver, and to add that extra spark in the world that just might help ignite a fire within the hearts of those you encounter?

The WILD (Women In Leadership Development) program has given me the opportunity to learn more about who God is, recognize how to hear His voice, and grow in who He created me to be.

During our first class, we were assigned a project to pray and ask God what He wanted us to speak about for our final presentation. At first, the vagueness was daunting, but God took me on a journey, bigger than I could have ever imagined. During a Night of Worship at the Dallas Campus, I had a vision of Pastor Tom Lane on the platform speaking, reading from his Bible, and praying. In that moment, I heard a soft voice say to me, “You can do that.” I left



that night wondering if I really heard God, and then I remembered Pastor Robert taught us how to call for confirmation from the Lord. So I asked for confirmation, and God used people and past experiences to confirm this word in my life. He continued confirming everything He said, and now I know I’m called to speak. I don’t know any of the details—the platform, message, timing, etc. All I know is that in Christ, I can do all things, so I’m leaning on Him and His perfect timing to guide me in my next steps.

I’m so thankful for Gateway Church, WILD, and the Gateway Women leaders and pastors who led my class. This experience has been more than I could have ever anticipated, and I’m so excited for what’s next! Chelsea McGough Dallas Campus Member


Purposeful Passion Sharee Rigsby

Have you ever looked at your life and realized God had blessed you with every childhood promise you had dreamed of, and while you were happy and thankful, you couldn’t quite shake the feeling of discontentment from your heart? During the last two years, I’ve found myself in that very place—restless and struggling with discontentment. It’s not a comfortable place to be, but if I know one thing, it’s that God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. When I went to God and asked Him why I couldn’t shake my discontent, He responded with one word: passion. I was lacking His purposeful passion in my life. As women, it’s easy to look to the roles we play in life to fulfill our passions. We fill our schedules and devote our lives around our roles as wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, co-workers, leaders, and volunteers—striving for recognition and fulfillment. But the roles we are called to don’t always fulfill our God-given passion. If you had asked me six months ago what my passion was, I couldn’t have told you. I would have said I was passionate about the Lord and my husband and children. The

truth is, being passionate and intentionally pursuing passion are very different. As I began seeking God about what purposeful passion looks like and how to walk in it, He revealed four key concepts to me.

have kept hidden because we don’t want our weakness on display. It isn’t always easy. However, when we are pursuing and operating with passion, it brings fulfillment, joy, and freedom to our souls.

Passion is birthed when what you love intersects with your calling.

Passion requires obedience and must be cultivated.

That thing you love. That hobby or skill that captivates you and brings you joy. Find it and guard it close to your heart, because often the thing you love so much will be the channel through which God exercises His calling in your life. He has a way of tying together joy and purpose in extraordinary ways.

Just do it! Be bold. Be obedient. Trust in the Lord; He is always faithful. When He reveals what your passion is, when He tells you to step out in faith, do it. Grow and develop your passion. Let God stretch you past those comfortable places that enable you to stay hidden.

Passion doesn’t always look the way you think it will.

Passion takes courage.

Purposeful passion doesn’t necessarily mean it is something you want to do. Vulnerability is usually necessary for the Holy Spirit to have an open door to operate. Sometimes God calls us to use areas of our lives that have been a struggle or a place we




God will not force you to walk in your passion. You have to listen for His voice, obey, and follow through with His plan. Don’t let fear hold you back. Rise up, take courage, and do it (Ezra 10:4)!

Elyse McNabb

How do you show love in the face of hate? How do you comfort the brokenhearted? How do you demonstrate Jesus to those around you? How do you show compassion and grace for the 5,000th time to the tiny, adorable, screaming human that you created and are responsible for? How do you bite your tongue and smile through a tough situation or while someone filled with hurt spews asinine words? What if you decided to choose to love and put Jesus’ words into action? What if you clung to the promise that God does not give as the world gives? What if you accepted His peace that surpasses all understanding and walked through life knowing your foundation is the solid rock of God, and you have all the love and joy and peace in the universe to share with a very hurt, broken world? What if you could make a change that causes a ripple effect?

WHEN YOU KNOW, BELIEVE, AND ACT WITH THE KNOWLEDGE THAT GOD IS YOUR FOUNDATION, YOU SUDDENLY HAVE A LOT LESS TO WORRY ABOUT. Is love at your core? Is that what shapes your view of the world and the people you encounter? What if you picked one completely undeserving person every day and showed them love and grace? The bad driver, the lady with 25 items in the 10 items or less line, the mom with the crying throng of children, the overworked neighbor, the unruly child, the rude co-worker, the cranky husband. What if you dug deep and made an active effort to change their day, brighten their life, and give the unexpected? What if you did it twice a day? When you know, believe, and act with the knowledge that God is your foundation, you suddenly have a lot less to worry about. Others’ opinions and actions aren’t yours to fix; they are simply people to love and to show God’s love. Their mistakes and choices aren’t a reflection of you; they are simply a choice they have made, and you can show them God’s love through it. Your job is to point people to God and love them along the way. Your job is to stand by Jesus’ side, listen to His voice, act on what you hear, and know to your core nothing can separate you from the love of God.







. E V R E S E R NO TREAT. E R NO GRETS. E R NO Kristie McCrary

he Borden family is mostly remembered for their dairy enterprise and the iconic logo, Elsie the Cow. But one member of the family is remembered for something entirely different. Although William Borden was born into tremendous wealth, he became known in the early 1900s for a different cause. Under the influence of evangelist D. L. Moody, young William came to know Christ, and upon graduating from high school, his parents gave him a trip around the world during which he realized the call of God on his life. Although his family and friends disagreed with his decision, William began to passionately pursue a career as a missionary to the Muslim community in the Far East.


It was difficult for his peers to believe a person of his background and stature could be so wasteful to spend his valuable life in a distant land doing missionary work—anyone can do that, they often remarked. Still, William was resolute and would not be deterred from his stirring passion to be a missionary. During this difficult time, he wrote two words in the back of his Bible: No reserve. Soon after that entry, William wrote in his journal, Say no to self and yes to Jesus every time. Although he was young and didn’t have any encouragement to continue his journey, he stayed focused on the calling he knew he was born to accomplish. He had the money to live a comfortable life without a worry in the world, but climbing the social ladder simply did not appeal to William. He eventually graduated from Yale and declined a number of favorable job offers so he could


attend Princeton Seminary. During his time at Princeton, he made the decision to give his entire inheritance to various missions’ organizations. After graduation, he enthusiastically hopped on a boat heading to China in preparation for the next phase of his missionary career. On his way, he made a strategic stop in Cairo, Egypt, so he could study Arabic and learn to communicate with the Muslims once he arrived at his destination. During his time in Cairo, he was stricken with spinal meningitis, and within one short month, he died at the young age of 25. William’s Bible was taken back and presented to his parents. As they were looking through it, they found the words “No reserve.” written in the back and dated a short time after he had given his entire fortune to missions work. He later wrote “No retreat.” right after he received the news he had contracted terminal spinal meningitis. Perhaps the most significant words written in his Bible were “No regrets.” William wrote these last words very close to the time of his death.

William Borden did not enjoy a long life span, yet he lived it to the fullest, abundantly aware of God’s call on his life. His life and influence could be summed up in three incredible phrases: No reserve. No retreat. No regrets. What an incredible legacy! In such a short time, he lived out God’s calling on his life. We should all be so determined to say “yes” to Jesus and follow His calling. Are you ready?



Jan Greenwood




Passion is an incredible motivator. It drives you to do things you

So I ask myself, why do I want to write? I could say things like: I enjoy

never thought possible. It sustains you when you’ve yet to reach

sharing my thoughts, it’s an interesting way to express myself, or

your goals. It gives you power to produce results. Yet, identifying

this is a great way to talk to myself (because sometimes no one else

that passion can be difficult.

is reading)—but I need to dig a little deeper.

When I ask people what they’re passionate about, I usually get one

I believe writing is simply a way for me to act upon the deeper desire

of three responses.

of my heart—to communicate truth with authenticity, vulnerability, and power. There it is: a passion. This passion is so deeply rooted


that it motivates me. It drives me to do things I never thought possible. It sustains me when I have yet to reach my goals. It gives me

Many people have never stopped to ask themselves what

power to produce.

they’re passionate about.

So I keep writing … and talking and studying and praying and thinking


about truth. And as I keep going, everything changes.



We are often indiscriminate in our passions, saying we love chocolate with the same measure of enthusiasm as when we describe our new favorite Netflix series or sometimes even our spouses.

“I’M PASSIONATE ABOUT WHAT I DO.” We tend to focus on what we do more than why we like to do it. If you give me a list of things you like, then I will want to know why you like those things. If you tell me you are passionate about kids or dogs or Jesus, then I will want to know why those things produce such enthusiasm in you. When you connect your activities and experiences with what you get really excited about, you begin to discover things about yourself you never knew. Bravely digging around in the deeply rooted places of your heart will launch you on a journey of self-discovery that can change everything. Finding the cravings of your heart and being able

Are you lacking the motivation you need to accomplish something you’re passionate about? I am challenging you to dig a little deeper.

to state them with confidence will propel you into places of power

I dare you to explore the hidden regions of your heart. Go ahead

and impact you’ve barely even begun to embrace.

and honor how God has crafted you. Embrace your gifts, strengths,

I’ve recently connected with a whole new community of enthusiastic writers who are stirring up my love for writing. I’ve played around with writing long enough to know it requires extraordinary motivation to persevere. I find writing deeply satisfying and, at times, deeply

interests, and experiences. Dig down deep and discover an underlying passion. Then write it down so you can remind yourself. Use it to say “yes” to some things and “no” to others. Allow it to take deep root and manifest in every area of your life.

painful. I long to do it effectively, but I’m cautious about the cost. I

Then buckle up for the journey. Everything can change when you

often wonder if I am passionate enough about it to pay the price.

dig a little deeper.






Fall Reading Favorites Elisabeth Dunn My occupation of choice would be professional reader, but since this isn’t a profession in high demand, I settle for recommending books to fellow readers. I enjoy discussing everything from To Kill a Mockingbird to The Hunger Games with my amazing book club.

“Is the next book going to be as good as this one?” “I have to wait how long for book two?” Well today is your lucky day while I hope to help you on your literary quest! Here are some of my favorite reads of the year, along with some all-time favorites.

If you’re an avid reader like me, you know the feeling of panic when you reach the final chapter of your current read. You probably ask yourself the same questions I do: “What am I going to read next?”

P.S. Need a little bit more help with your reading list? This reader recommends getting the Goodreads App and listening to the What Should I Read Next? podcast.




For the Love

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

All the Light We Cannot See

by Jen Hatmaker I love this book because it is laugh-out-loud funny! With great life applications and rich Christlike teachings, it’s sure to be enjoyed by anyone who reads it.

by Ransom Riggs The real world meets wild imagination in this creative and brilliant story about some unlikely heroes. This is one of my book club’s favorite reads.




by Anthony Doerr Set in Germany and France during World War II, this Pulitzer Prize–winning book is unique and filled with interesting characters. You’re sure to enjoy the way the author takes the characters different personalities and weaves them together. His writing is truly beautiful.

STUDIO pulse




P.S. I Love You


by Cecelia Ahern

by R. J. Palacio

Need a good laugh? P.S. I Love You (or really any book by author Cecelia Ahern) will do the trick. I have been a huge fan of this Irishborn author for years. She has an amazing way of perfectly blending the heartfelt and the hilarious in her stories.

This is a great one to read together with your kids. Wonder tells the story of August Pullman, a young boy not quite like all the other kids his age. As you follow August through his first year of public school, you will find his story both heartbreaking and triumphant. It is a valuable reminder that what we carry in our hearts is so much more important than our appearance.

Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book




by Johanna Basford Sometimes you just need to have a book read to you. So for those of you who prefer to listen to audiobooks, but need a little something to keep the rest of your brain occupied, I would recommend getting a coloring book. In my personal opinion, coloring and reading are two of the best ways to relax, so why not try and do both at once?



Pink Impact 2016

Pink Impact 2016

Pink Impact 2016

Pink Impact 2016

Pink Impact 2016

Pink Impact 2016

STUDIO recap

Fight Strong. Love Outrageous.

Encounter God Night of Worship & Prophetic

Fight Strong. Love Outrageous.

Encounter God Night of Worship & Prophetic

Fight Strong. Love Outrageous.

Fight Strong. Love Outrageous.

May 12–13, 2017

Fort Worth Convention Center



Host, Executive Pastor of Gateway Women

Award-Winning Worship Leader

CHRISTINE CAINE Founder of The A21 Campaign, Author

Gateway Church



New York Times Bestselling

Author, Speaker, and

Author, Speaker

Recording Artist

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