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Jesus Always: Botanical Edition

Jesus Always devotional with a beautiful cloth floral cover

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Photo credit: Jeremy Cowart

HAPPY NEW YEAR! New beginnings bring to mind a sense of renewal Jesus Calling for Kids: Girls Edition

A sweet and sparkly girls design with same devotions as Jesus Calling for Kids

and hope for what is to come. For many, this is a time of making New Year’s resolutions. I haven’t done that for years, but I do find it helpful to jot down a few items in my “Thanks Book” every day. This practice helps me look for and find little treasures that brighten my day—beautiful birdsongs, a cardinal in flight, a “coincidence” that highlights God’s involvement in the details of my life. Sometimes I write down more momentous blessings—answered prayers and eternal gifts such as salvation by grace through faith. Taking time to express gratitude to God helps me trust that His plans for me are good—giving me hope about the future. I want to share an excerpt from Jesus Always; it’s written as if Jesus is speaking to you: As you begin a fresh year, rejoice that I am continually working newness into your life. Search for signs of my loving Presence as you journey along the path of Life. Look for the little pleasures I have strewn alongside your pathway—sometimes in surprising places—and thank me for each one. Your thankfulness will keep you close to Me and help you find Joy in Your journey.

Jesus Calling Family Devotional

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I pray that you will approach each new day as a precious gift from God— remembering that Jesus is with you always and He loves you immeasurably more than you can imagine!

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Bountiful blessings!

Sarah Young and her husband, Steve, celebrate over 30 million lives touched and books sold with the HarperCollins Christian Publishing executive team


THE

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MAGA ZINE

W I N T E R

2 0 2 0

Laura Minchew SVP & Publisher

COVER STORY | 10 James Brown shares his journey to the sports desk and the turning point in his faith.

Michael Aulisio VP, Marketing Editor in Chief, The Jesus Calling Magazine Linda Tozer Marketing Director Mandy Wilson Marketing Director Jesus Calling Social Media

CONTENTS 3

Laughing Through the Ugly Cry with Dawn Barton

6

Finding Restoration Behind The Next Door

16

Lisa Bevere on Embracing Strong

19

Craig Groeschel: The Power of the Prayer "Send Me, Use Me"

20

The Transformation of The Million Dollar Man, Ted DiBiase

22

Truly Living in the New Year with Sadie Robertson

24

Leanne & Steve Ford Are Works In Progress

27

Cyntoia Brown-Long Trusts the God of Second Chances

31

John Eldredge: Walking Toward a Year of Restoration

32

Dr. Henry Cloud on Boundaries for the New Year

35

Music Spotlight — Raleigh Keegan

36

Alli Worthington: Living Happy, No Matter What the Year Brings

38

The Cimorelli Sisters and the Power of Family — RootedFamily.com

39

Laura Neutzling Managing Editor The Jesus Calling Magazine Amy Kerr Copy Editor The Jesus Calling Magazine

ChurchSource Team Beth Murphy Senior Marketing Director Barbara Moser Senior Graphic Designer Candace Waggoner Senior Operations Manager Designer Michelle Lenger

Published quarterly by Thomas Nelson, Inc., P.O. Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214

Family Games & Puzzles

Printed in the U.S.A. © 2004 Sarah Young All rights reserved; no materials may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of the publisher. The Jesus Calling Magazine is not responsible for problems with vendors or their products or services. Lisa Bevere | 16

Sadie Robertson | 22

Cyntonia Brown-Long | 27

Cover Photo by Robert Caplin

Images by Ashley Victoria Photography

Laughing Through the Ugly Cry DAWN BARTON ON HER UNSTOPPABLE JOY

“ Joy is unstoppable—and it’s a choice.

Adapted for print from Dawn’s upcoming interview on the Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith Podcast I’ve had so much happen that gives me every excuse in the world to not be joyful. I am someone who has lost a sweet, precious daughter. I have been raped—the assailant was caught, and we went through a full jury trial. I have had Stage 3 breast cancer and survived, but then I lost my sister to cancer. My mother had a brain aneurysm. My husband battled with alcoholism.

But after all of this, I want to scream from the mountaintops that joy is unstoppable—and that it’s a choice. In the devastating moments in our lives when we don’t want to get out of bed, we are allowed to have sadness and hurt and pain. I fully believe we have to go through that season. But then there comes a choice of when you say, “I have to get up today.” 3


THE

®

MAGA ZINE

W I N T E R

2 0 2 0

Laura Minchew SVP & Publisher

COVER STORY | 10 James Brown shares his journey to the sports desk and the turning point in his faith.

Michael Aulisio VP, Marketing Editor in Chief, The Jesus Calling Magazine Linda Tozer Marketing Director Mandy Wilson Marketing Director Jesus Calling Social Media

CONTENTS 3

Laughing Through the Ugly Cry with Dawn Barton

6

Finding Restoration Behind The Next Door

16

Lisa Bevere on Embracing Strong

19

Craig Groeschel: The Power of the Prayer "Send Me, Use Me"

20

The Transformation of The Million Dollar Man, Ted DiBiase

22

Truly Living in the New Year with Sadie Robertson

24

Leanne & Steve Ford Are Works In Progress

27

Cyntoia Brown-Long Trusts the God of Second Chances

31

John Eldredge: Walking Toward a Year of Restoration

32

Dr. Henry Cloud on Boundaries for the New Year

35

Music Spotlight — Raleigh Keegan

36

Alli Worthington: Living Happy, No Matter What the Year Brings

38

The Cimorelli Sisters and the Power of Family — RootedFamily.com

39

Laura Neutzling Managing Editor The Jesus Calling Magazine Amy Kerr Copy Editor The Jesus Calling Magazine

ChurchSource Team Beth Murphy Senior Marketing Director Barbara Moser Senior Graphic Designer Candace Waggoner Senior Operations Manager Designer Michelle Lenger

Published quarterly by Thomas Nelson, Inc., P.O. Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214

Family Games & Puzzles

Printed in the U.S.A. © 2004 Sarah Young All rights reserved; no materials may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of the publisher. The Jesus Calling Magazine is not responsible for problems with vendors or their products or services. Lisa Bevere | 16

Sadie Robertson | 22

Cyntonia Brown-Long | 27

Cover Photo by Robert Caplin

Images by Ashley Victoria Photography

Laughing Through the Ugly Cry DAWN BARTON ON HER UNSTOPPABLE JOY

“ Joy is unstoppable—and it’s a choice.

Adapted for print from Dawn’s upcoming interview on the Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith Podcast I’ve had so much happen that gives me every excuse in the world to not be joyful. I am someone who has lost a sweet, precious daughter. I have been raped—the assailant was caught, and we went through a full jury trial. I have had Stage 3 breast cancer and survived, but then I lost my sister to cancer. My mother had a brain aneurysm. My husband battled with alcoholism.

But after all of this, I want to scream from the mountaintops that joy is unstoppable—and that it’s a choice. In the devastating moments in our lives when we don’t want to get out of bed, we are allowed to have sadness and hurt and pain. I fully believe we have to go through that season. But then there comes a choice of when you say, “I have to get up today.” 3


If you’re having a pity party—which I love to throw, but I rarely get much of an attendance when I do—you have to set time limits. I will give myself an hour to be kind of miserable and feel sorry for myself. Then I say, “In one hour, I have to do this, and this, and this. But when we’re in a more of a deep sadness, I don’t think we can necessarily put a time limit on that. But there does come a point when you have to start doing proactive things like turning on happy music, going outside and feeling the sun on your face, being around people that make you happy, even when you don’t want to be around people—and even taking a shower. That sounds so silly, but sometimes bathing is the most difficult thing. Sometimes you can only wrap your head around that, and that’s okay. Sometimes it’s putting on makeup. Sometimes it’s just being around the one person who won’t say much, but they’ll just be with you and they’ll deliver ice cream at the same time. Those are good people. Stay with those people.

or a, “Hey, I gained another 20 pounds . . .” surprise, you’ve got to be able to laugh at some of this stuff. The most unexpected part of the journey was learning cancer isn’t immune to a good comedic takedown. I won’t dilute this by saying something trite like, “Laughter is the best medicine,” but I learned to laugh at myself, even when circumstances were dire. When I lost my hair to chemo, a friend came over to help me shave it off. First, she shaved the back and carved my initials into my buzzed hair. We took pictures and laughed. Next, she shaped my hair into a spiked mohawk and took more photos of her shaving artistry. We were laughing, we were crying—tears of joy mixed with tears of fear, anger, and sadness. If you can’t figure out a way to laugh at things, then what has life become?

d o and to G

You Are Special to Me …

T

his beloved classic

from author Max Lucado

assures children that as they grow and change, they are safe, celebrated, and loved . . .

I don’t think we’ll ever understand why people are taken who are so precious and so good, and people who are bad stay. But I also don’t understand why you can’t capture a sunrise or sunset on film. You just are supposed to look at it, and take it all in, and not hold up a camera to try and get it. When I was having the hardest time in the throes of cancer, I would get in the bathtub, cry and just say, “God, you have to take this. I cannot do this anymore. Today I can’t carry it, but maybe tomorrow.” And I would feel Him grab my hand, like with a little kid, when you grab their arm and pull them out. I felt like He would do that with me. And when I came out, I was the happy kid again. When I finally learned to surrender and hand over that control, I felt that much more joy in knowing He’s kind of got me in all situations.

“ job It’s no one’s to make you feel better but yours. And I think it’s important to have a friend who will say, “This is enough. It’s time for you to get up.” I remember one time, I was having a bit of a pity party. It was during the struggles of leaving a career I was really good at and stepping into something I didn’t know and wasn’t good at. On a phone call, my friend just said, “You are a strong and powerful woman. Stop it.” And that’s all I needed to hear. It’s no one’s job to make you feel better but yours. And whether it’s breaking up with an ex-boyfriend,

just in case they ever wonder.

AVAILABLE WHEREVER BOOKS ARE SOLD

Learn more about Dawn’s incredible journey in her new book, Laughing Through the Ugly Cry, in stores April 2020 and available for pre-order today. karen james photography

4

Be sure to check out Max’s Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith

interview at JesusCalling.com/media/video 5


If you’re having a pity party—which I love to throw, but I rarely get much of an attendance when I do—you have to set time limits. I will give myself an hour to be kind of miserable and feel sorry for myself. Then I say, “In one hour, I have to do this, and this, and this. But when we’re in a more of a deep sadness, I don’t think we can necessarily put a time limit on that. But there does come a point when you have to start doing proactive things like turning on happy music, going outside and feeling the sun on your face, being around people that make you happy, even when you don’t want to be around people—and even taking a shower. That sounds so silly, but sometimes bathing is the most difficult thing. Sometimes you can only wrap your head around that, and that’s okay. Sometimes it’s putting on makeup. Sometimes it’s just being around the one person who won’t say much, but they’ll just be with you and they’ll deliver ice cream at the same time. Those are good people. Stay with those people.

or a, “Hey, I gained another 20 pounds . . .” surprise, you’ve got to be able to laugh at some of this stuff. The most unexpected part of the journey was learning cancer isn’t immune to a good comedic takedown. I won’t dilute this by saying something trite like, “Laughter is the best medicine,” but I learned to laugh at myself, even when circumstances were dire. When I lost my hair to chemo, a friend came over to help me shave it off. First, she shaved the back and carved my initials into my buzzed hair. We took pictures and laughed. Next, she shaped my hair into a spiked mohawk and took more photos of her shaving artistry. We were laughing, we were crying—tears of joy mixed with tears of fear, anger, and sadness. If you can’t figure out a way to laugh at things, then what has life become?

d o and to G

You Are Special to Me …

T

his beloved classic

from author Max Lucado

assures children that as they grow and change, they are safe, celebrated, and loved . . .

I don’t think we’ll ever understand why people are taken who are so precious and so good, and people who are bad stay. But I also don’t understand why you can’t capture a sunrise or sunset on film. You just are supposed to look at it, and take it all in, and not hold up a camera to try and get it. When I was having the hardest time in the throes of cancer, I would get in the bathtub, cry and just say, “God, you have to take this. I cannot do this anymore. Today I can’t carry it, but maybe tomorrow.” And I would feel Him grab my hand, like with a little kid, when you grab their arm and pull them out. I felt like He would do that with me. And when I came out, I was the happy kid again. When I finally learned to surrender and hand over that control, I felt that much more joy in knowing He’s kind of got me in all situations.

“ job It’s no one’s to make you feel better but yours. And I think it’s important to have a friend who will say, “This is enough. It’s time for you to get up.” I remember one time, I was having a bit of a pity party. It was during the struggles of leaving a career I was really good at and stepping into something I didn’t know and wasn’t good at. On a phone call, my friend just said, “You are a strong and powerful woman. Stop it.” And that’s all I needed to hear. It’s no one’s job to make you feel better but yours. And whether it’s breaking up with an ex-boyfriend,

just in case they ever wonder.

AVAILABLE WHEREVER BOOKS ARE SOLD

Learn more about Dawn’s incredible journey in her new book, Laughing Through the Ugly Cry, in stores April 2020 and available for pre-order today. karen james photography

4

Be sure to check out Max’s Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith

interview at JesusCalling.com/media/video 5


T U R N I N G

T O W A R D

L I G H T

TURNING FROM DARKNESS TOWARD LIGHT Women Find Restoration at The Next Door Adapted for print from interviews on the Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith Podcast You walk closer, and a woman approaches the door with a smile. She opens the door, welcomes you in, and hugs you. “You’re here now,” she says. “You’re safe. You matter.” Some version of this story plays out almost every day at The Next Door, a non-profit organization in Nashville, Tennessee, dedicated to serving women in crisis and equipping them for lives of wholeness and hope. Over the last 15 years, more than 8,400 women have walked through their doors. They come from backgrounds of abuse, addiction, and incarceration— many of them for years on end. Yet each one of them is embraced, forgiven, and guided to a path of wholeness and healing. Three women who have experienced the help and hope of The Next Door share their stories.

IMAGINE YOU’VE FOUND YOURSELF IN A PLACE OF UTTER DESPAIR, WITH NOWHERE TO TURN FOR HELP. You’ve exhausted your last resources. You’re fighting an addiction problem you picked up on the streets when you fled the abuse in your home. You’ve lost everything and anyone that’s meant something to you. You feel like giving up. As you pace the dark streets, you see a light from a window in a nearby building.

Lauren’s Story I’M LAUREN NORRIS. I was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We moved to Nashville when I was four. After the birth of my sister, things were always rocky and uncomfortable between my mom’s husband and me. He basically gave my mom an ultimatum. My 6

7


T U R N I N G

T O W A R D

L I G H T

TURNING FROM DARKNESS TOWARD LIGHT Women Find Restoration at The Next Door Adapted for print from interviews on the Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith Podcast You walk closer, and a woman approaches the door with a smile. She opens the door, welcomes you in, and hugs you. “You’re here now,” she says. “You’re safe. You matter.” Some version of this story plays out almost every day at The Next Door, a non-profit organization in Nashville, Tennessee, dedicated to serving women in crisis and equipping them for lives of wholeness and hope. Over the last 15 years, more than 8,400 women have walked through their doors. They come from backgrounds of abuse, addiction, and incarceration— many of them for years on end. Yet each one of them is embraced, forgiven, and guided to a path of wholeness and healing. Three women who have experienced the help and hope of The Next Door share their stories.

IMAGINE YOU’VE FOUND YOURSELF IN A PLACE OF UTTER DESPAIR, WITH NOWHERE TO TURN FOR HELP. You’ve exhausted your last resources. You’re fighting an addiction problem you picked up on the streets when you fled the abuse in your home. You’ve lost everything and anyone that’s meant something to you. You feel like giving up. As you pace the dark streets, you see a light from a window in a nearby building.

Lauren’s Story I’M LAUREN NORRIS. I was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We moved to Nashville when I was four. After the birth of my sister, things were always rocky and uncomfortable between my mom’s husband and me. He basically gave my mom an ultimatum. My 6

7


mom made a phone call to me at 7:30 in the morning and said, “You need to be here at 3:00 p.m. to pick up your things.”

when I was driving down the highway, and I ran off the side of a cliff. When I crashed the car, I ended up finding out I was pregnant with my first child. That child was an absolute angel to me. She saved my life.

“ so I ran. I was in shock,

That’s how I coped in life— running. I was helpless and broken.

I lost thirteen people in 2017 alone to drug overdoses. I was very angry with God. I just wanted to give up. After losing all those people, I began to shut down.

I am the Living“One who sees you and longs to participate in your life. I am training you ...

When I couldn’t stop the pain, all I knew was to drink and drug.

So I read Jesus Calling, and it started to get a little easier to understand some things in my life. And then on March 31, 2018, I read the Jesus Calling passage for the day: I am the Living One who sees you and longs to participate in your life. I am training you . . . This is when I started to realize there was a bigger purpose for me, not only to help others, but to share my story. Then it says: Sometimes My blessings come to you in mysterious ways: through pain and trouble. And then this is what got me. It says: Understanding will fail you, but trust will keep you close to Me. God was willing to meet me where I was and give me the peace that I so needed. That day is when I decided to turn my life around. I now know that not only did He not give up on me, but He has a purpose for me. Jesus was calling me to be something so much greater in this life. And I found that not only does He know broken people, but He loves broken people who can help broken people.

I had suffered some loss. I lost my brother, who was a big part of my life. Once I lost my brother, I turned back to drugs. When I couldn’t stop the pain, all I knew was to drink and drug. When I came to The Next Door, I found a greater relationship with God. If I could give someone just a little hope, I would let them know that they are not alone in this situation. There is a God, and He is real. AlI you have to do is hold onto His hand, and He will do the rest.

That was the end of life as I knew it. I turned 18 on January 8th. This happened on Good Friday, the Friday before Easter. I was pretty much ostracized. I was so embarrassed and in shock, so I ran. That’s how I coped in life—running. I was helpless and broken. My now-ex-boyfriend was being put in jail for kidnapping and domestic battery against me. My little sister died of an overdose. Then I found out I was pregnant five weeks later. It was just bam, bam, bam. The baby was born early, but was perfectly fine—a very healthy, beautiful little boy. When he was one year old, he had a febrile seizure, which is something that runs in our family. A situation unfolded at the hospital. I was basically told to either let him leave with my mom—and our relationship was very strained—or I may never see him again. So I let him go home with my mom. It ended up being the straw that broke the camel’s back. I started using. I got to the point where I was having suicidal thoughts like, I don’t need to be here. The drugs were my solution. They were my escape, and how I coped. I wasn’t even able to live life, but I could keep existing. The Next Door took me in. And I’ll never forget walking in the building and taking the biggest deep breath, because it was like coming home again. My life is so covered in grace. I tell people this all the time: if you want to see what God can do and the redemption He provides, just meet my daughter. It’s amazing to walk back through the door with the baby and say, “We’re still here. I still have her, we’re still doing this thing.” I can come here anytime when I just need to talk or I need a hug. I really do have a family again.

Lauren and her daughter at The Next Door

Aja’s Story I GREW UP IN NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE. I was born and raised here. I allowed older people to influence my decisions. I began to live the life of a drug addict and an alcoholic, which led me to be homeless, and I strayed away from my family. The first time I realized that I had a problem was

Natalie’s Story I CAME TO THE NEXT DOOR TWICE. The

first time I was doing well, but then I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I went through the whole process: chemo, a mastectomy. I was on medication and then relapsed, so I found myself back here for a second time. If it weren’t for The Next Door introducing Jesus Calling, I wouldn’t know what this was all about. 8

Natalie (R) is now a peer recovery specialist at The Next Door You can find more stories from women whose lives have been changed by The Next Door on the Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith Podcast at jesuscalling.com/podcast, or watch them on video at jesuscalling.com/media/video. 9


mom made a phone call to me at 7:30 in the morning and said, “You need to be here at 3:00 p.m. to pick up your things.”

when I was driving down the highway, and I ran off the side of a cliff. When I crashed the car, I ended up finding out I was pregnant with my first child. That child was an absolute angel to me. She saved my life.

“ so I ran. I was in shock,

That’s how I coped in life— running. I was helpless and broken.

I lost thirteen people in 2017 alone to drug overdoses. I was very angry with God. I just wanted to give up. After losing all those people, I began to shut down.

I am the Living“One who sees you and longs to participate in your life. I am training you ...

When I couldn’t stop the pain, all I knew was to drink and drug.

So I read Jesus Calling, and it started to get a little easier to understand some things in my life. And then on March 31, 2018, I read the Jesus Calling passage for the day: I am the Living One who sees you and longs to participate in your life. I am training you . . . This is when I started to realize there was a bigger purpose for me, not only to help others, but to share my story. Then it says: Sometimes My blessings come to you in mysterious ways: through pain and trouble. And then this is what got me. It says: Understanding will fail you, but trust will keep you close to Me. God was willing to meet me where I was and give me the peace that I so needed. That day is when I decided to turn my life around. I now know that not only did He not give up on me, but He has a purpose for me. Jesus was calling me to be something so much greater in this life. And I found that not only does He know broken people, but He loves broken people who can help broken people.

I had suffered some loss. I lost my brother, who was a big part of my life. Once I lost my brother, I turned back to drugs. When I couldn’t stop the pain, all I knew was to drink and drug. When I came to The Next Door, I found a greater relationship with God. If I could give someone just a little hope, I would let them know that they are not alone in this situation. There is a God, and He is real. AlI you have to do is hold onto His hand, and He will do the rest.

That was the end of life as I knew it. I turned 18 on January 8th. This happened on Good Friday, the Friday before Easter. I was pretty much ostracized. I was so embarrassed and in shock, so I ran. That’s how I coped in life—running. I was helpless and broken. My now-ex-boyfriend was being put in jail for kidnapping and domestic battery against me. My little sister died of an overdose. Then I found out I was pregnant five weeks later. It was just bam, bam, bam. The baby was born early, but was perfectly fine—a very healthy, beautiful little boy. When he was one year old, he had a febrile seizure, which is something that runs in our family. A situation unfolded at the hospital. I was basically told to either let him leave with my mom—and our relationship was very strained—or I may never see him again. So I let him go home with my mom. It ended up being the straw that broke the camel’s back. I started using. I got to the point where I was having suicidal thoughts like, I don’t need to be here. The drugs were my solution. They were my escape, and how I coped. I wasn’t even able to live life, but I could keep existing. The Next Door took me in. And I’ll never forget walking in the building and taking the biggest deep breath, because it was like coming home again. My life is so covered in grace. I tell people this all the time: if you want to see what God can do and the redemption He provides, just meet my daughter. It’s amazing to walk back through the door with the baby and say, “We’re still here. I still have her, we’re still doing this thing.” I can come here anytime when I just need to talk or I need a hug. I really do have a family again.

Lauren and her daughter at The Next Door

Aja’s Story I GREW UP IN NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE. I was born and raised here. I allowed older people to influence my decisions. I began to live the life of a drug addict and an alcoholic, which led me to be homeless, and I strayed away from my family. The first time I realized that I had a problem was

Natalie’s Story I CAME TO THE NEXT DOOR TWICE. The

first time I was doing well, but then I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I went through the whole process: chemo, a mastectomy. I was on medication and then relapsed, so I found myself back here for a second time. If it weren’t for The Next Door introducing Jesus Calling, I wouldn’t know what this was all about. 8

Natalie (R) is now a peer recovery specialist at The Next Door You can find more stories from women whose lives have been changed by The Next Door on the Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith Podcast at jesuscalling.com/podcast, or watch them on video at jesuscalling.com/media/video. 9


C O V E R

Adapted for print from James’ interview on the Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith Podcast

he’s been a trusted voice for sports commentary on CBS Sports for over a decade. You can see this is a job that takes preparation and discipline—qualities instilled in him at an early age by his mother, whom he and his siblings affectionately called “The Sergeant.” “Mom was only about five-feet-five-inches tall, but boy, she carried a big stick. And when she spoke, she meant what she said, she said what she meant,” says James. “She had a spirit of excellence in everything that she did.” James was the oldest of five—four brothers and a sister—with parents John and Maryann Brown at the helm.

Some moments feel like you’re playing in the big game.

I

LIVING BY GOD’S PLAYBOOK

t’s the 4th quarter, your team is down by 6, and you’re the quarterback—the outcome rests on your shoulders. You’ve spent hours watching your opponent on film, and you’ve played against them for nearly 60 minutes. You’ve been watching their patterns and strategies, and you’ve come up with a play you’re certain will outsmart them and lead you to victory—but your Coach doesn’t agree. He gives you another play to run, one you don’t quite understand. So you’re faced with a dilemma: should you run your own play, the one you understand? Or do you trust your Coach’s wisdom and run with His strategy, leaving the game in His hands? Sports broadcaster James Brown has faced moments like this—before he knew God, before he knew which “plays” God was directing in his own life that led to becoming a beloved sports commentator and host seen by tens of millions of people each week.

PhDs in Drive and Determination “My parents were both high school graduates,” James describes, “but I love to say they had PhDs in drive, determination, and the objective of seeing us live a better life—a more fulfilling life than they did.” James’ parents encouraged that drive in life, in school, and in sports. He played baseball with a Catholic youth organization and showed early promise. A well-known coach in the area, Morgan Wooten, with a very successful high school basketball team, attended one of James’ baseball games. After seeing James smack in a few home runs, Wooten asked him to join his team at DeMatha Catholic High School. That summer, even though James was recruited for his baseball talents, he attended Wooten’s basketball camp and excelled there as well. His four years at DeMatha included the honor of winning two national championships as part of the basketball team and getting the attention of some key colleges.

“ first. Family God had to be second, then school, then your sport.

James Brown’s Journey Through Sports and Spirituality

What James remembers more than the sports accomplishments, however, was Coach Wooten’s stance on what mattered most. “He stressed that those of us playing for him had to have four priorities in place. God had to be first. Family second, then school, then your sport.”

by Laura Neutzling Photography by Robert Caplin As he sits down to begin a long day at the studio, The NFL Today host occupies the familiar desk where 10

S T O R Y

11


C O V E R

Adapted for print from James’ interview on the Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith Podcast

he’s been a trusted voice for sports commentary on CBS Sports for over a decade. You can see this is a job that takes preparation and discipline—qualities instilled in him at an early age by his mother, whom he and his siblings affectionately called “The Sergeant.” “Mom was only about five-feet-five-inches tall, but boy, she carried a big stick. And when she spoke, she meant what she said, she said what she meant,” says James. “She had a spirit of excellence in everything that she did.” James was the oldest of five—four brothers and a sister—with parents John and Maryann Brown at the helm.

Some moments feel like you’re playing in the big game.

I

LIVING BY GOD’S PLAYBOOK

t’s the 4th quarter, your team is down by 6, and you’re the quarterback—the outcome rests on your shoulders. You’ve spent hours watching your opponent on film, and you’ve played against them for nearly 60 minutes. You’ve been watching their patterns and strategies, and you’ve come up with a play you’re certain will outsmart them and lead you to victory—but your Coach doesn’t agree. He gives you another play to run, one you don’t quite understand. So you’re faced with a dilemma: should you run your own play, the one you understand? Or do you trust your Coach’s wisdom and run with His strategy, leaving the game in His hands? Sports broadcaster James Brown has faced moments like this—before he knew God, before he knew which “plays” God was directing in his own life that led to becoming a beloved sports commentator and host seen by tens of millions of people each week.

PhDs in Drive and Determination “My parents were both high school graduates,” James describes, “but I love to say they had PhDs in drive, determination, and the objective of seeing us live a better life—a more fulfilling life than they did.” James’ parents encouraged that drive in life, in school, and in sports. He played baseball with a Catholic youth organization and showed early promise. A well-known coach in the area, Morgan Wooten, with a very successful high school basketball team, attended one of James’ baseball games. After seeing James smack in a few home runs, Wooten asked him to join his team at DeMatha Catholic High School. That summer, even though James was recruited for his baseball talents, he attended Wooten’s basketball camp and excelled there as well. His four years at DeMatha included the honor of winning two national championships as part of the basketball team and getting the attention of some key colleges.

“ first. Family God had to be second, then school, then your sport.

James Brown’s Journey Through Sports and Spirituality

What James remembers more than the sports accomplishments, however, was Coach Wooten’s stance on what mattered most. “He stressed that those of us playing for him had to have four priorities in place. God had to be first. Family second, then school, then your sport.”

by Laura Neutzling Photography by Robert Caplin As he sits down to begin a long day at the studio, The NFL Today host occupies the familiar desk where 10

S T O R Y

11


C O V E R

“I remember, not too many years ago, I went to interview Coach Wooten for a 60 Minutes sports piece, and I thought to ask him, ’Coach, why were those priorities so important?’ And he said, ’If I had young men who had those four priorities, I knew I had winners in the game of life, and that would translate very well to the sport of basketball.’ And that made an indelible impression on me, so I’ve tried to pass that same lesson on to youngsters.” James tried to honor those priorities over the next few years as he attended Harvard University, becoming the captain of the basketball team; playing pro basketball briefly after college; and when he moved into the corporate world, working for companies like Kodak and Xerox. “I didn’t think that I would be a leader,” James says, ”because one of the painful lessons I learned in corporate America was when I was giving a

presentation before my colleagues at Xerox, and I wasn’t prepared. I was standing up in front of my colleagues, who were very sharp salespeople, and it was abundantly clear that I was shallow in my presentation, because I had not done the homework. And I vowed to never allow that to happen again.”

God, I know“who You are, but I don’t really know about You. A Spiritual Crossroads As James successfully sharpened his speaking and presentation skills and moved up the corporate ladder, his personal life took a blow. After a bout with stomach cancer, James’ father would pass away at 46

years old, leaving James, at age 24, to examine the next steps in his life without the steady hand of his father. “Around the time that my father went home to be with the Lord, I was coming home from some executive training with the Xerox Corporation,” James remembers. “I remember coming up a lonely road, and I was thinking, Yeah, you are a successful salesperson. You drive around in a nice little sports car, got your own apartment, nice clothes—which is what the world says is supposed to be success. And there was an emptiness. I prayed, ’God, I know who You are, but I don’t really know about You. But I do know if You would reveal Yourself to me, I’ll serve You.’” That prayer began a new journey for James, who spent twelve years searching for a church where he would be able to get solid teachings from Scripture. When he started attending the Rainbow Christian Center Church in Washington D.C., pastored by Bishop Clarence Givens, James felt a whole new world open up for him. As he began to grow spiritually, James found himself being moved toward a new career path that was a beautiful blend of his love and knowledge of sports, and the skills he had developed as a leader and speaker in the corporate world. “I have been blessed to be a professional broadcaster since about 1982,” James recounts, “and at the network level since about 1986. I’ve been blessed to host a number of Super Bowls and major sports, including the Winter Olympics, NBA championships, and NCAA championships.”

“ with all I’m excited the ministry work I’m doing. A Career in Sports & A Calling to Ministry James is grateful for the winding road he took toward broadcasting and recognizes it’s a road only God could have mapped out. He seeks to honor God’s faithfulness in his work as a host and correspondent—and, more recently, as an ordained minister. “I am thrilled to be an ordained minister with my church. And I’m even more excited with all of the ministry work that I’m doing, whether it’s speaking and conducting a men’s seminar at the Billy Graham 12

13

S T O R Y


C O V E R

“I remember, not too many years ago, I went to interview Coach Wooten for a 60 Minutes sports piece, and I thought to ask him, ’Coach, why were those priorities so important?’ And he said, ’If I had young men who had those four priorities, I knew I had winners in the game of life, and that would translate very well to the sport of basketball.’ And that made an indelible impression on me, so I’ve tried to pass that same lesson on to youngsters.” James tried to honor those priorities over the next few years as he attended Harvard University, becoming the captain of the basketball team; playing pro basketball briefly after college; and when he moved into the corporate world, working for companies like Kodak and Xerox. “I didn’t think that I would be a leader,” James says, ”because one of the painful lessons I learned in corporate America was when I was giving a

presentation before my colleagues at Xerox, and I wasn’t prepared. I was standing up in front of my colleagues, who were very sharp salespeople, and it was abundantly clear that I was shallow in my presentation, because I had not done the homework. And I vowed to never allow that to happen again.”

God, I know“who You are, but I don’t really know about You. A Spiritual Crossroads As James successfully sharpened his speaking and presentation skills and moved up the corporate ladder, his personal life took a blow. After a bout with stomach cancer, James’ father would pass away at 46

years old, leaving James, at age 24, to examine the next steps in his life without the steady hand of his father. “Around the time that my father went home to be with the Lord, I was coming home from some executive training with the Xerox Corporation,” James remembers. “I remember coming up a lonely road, and I was thinking, Yeah, you are a successful salesperson. You drive around in a nice little sports car, got your own apartment, nice clothes—which is what the world says is supposed to be success. And there was an emptiness. I prayed, ’God, I know who You are, but I don’t really know about You. But I do know if You would reveal Yourself to me, I’ll serve You.’” That prayer began a new journey for James, who spent twelve years searching for a church where he would be able to get solid teachings from Scripture. When he started attending the Rainbow Christian Center Church in Washington D.C., pastored by Bishop Clarence Givens, James felt a whole new world open up for him. As he began to grow spiritually, James found himself being moved toward a new career path that was a beautiful blend of his love and knowledge of sports, and the skills he had developed as a leader and speaker in the corporate world. “I have been blessed to be a professional broadcaster since about 1982,” James recounts, “and at the network level since about 1986. I’ve been blessed to host a number of Super Bowls and major sports, including the Winter Olympics, NBA championships, and NCAA championships.”

“ with all I’m excited the ministry work I’m doing. A Career in Sports & A Calling to Ministry James is grateful for the winding road he took toward broadcasting and recognizes it’s a road only God could have mapped out. He seeks to honor God’s faithfulness in his work as a host and correspondent—and, more recently, as an ordained minister. “I am thrilled to be an ordained minister with my church. And I’m even more excited with all of the ministry work that I’m doing, whether it’s speaking and conducting a men’s seminar at the Billy Graham 12

13

S T O R Y


Scripture, which says to, ’Seek Me early,’ seek God early before the day starts.” As a matter of fact, one of those daily readings said to “Seek Me early, before the doorbell starts ringing, before the phone starts ringing with business calls, before difficulties or challenges that the day will present. If you start off with Me, internalize My Word, embrace it, I will see you through.” I looked at my tendency to map out the day from A to Z, trying to anticipate every conceivable challenge that might come. Jesus was basically saying, “Hey, wait a minute. Where am I in this process?” I think it’s Proverbs 16:9 that says, ’Many are the plans and devices of men, but the purpose of the Lord is that which will be fulfilled.’ So this has really helped me. It’s been a little different not relying on myself to map things out, but boy, has it worked out a whole lot better.”

I’m excited“when I look back over how the Lord has blessed me to be doing what I’m doing. Training Center in Asheville, North Carolina, or speaking at the men’s conference at Charis Bible College, as part of the Andrew Womack ministries, or at a number of churches around the country.”

GOD DOESN’T PULL BACK FROM YOUR SHARP EDGES.

He pus you close. The best kind of embrace is when someone who deeply loves us flings their arms wide open and pulls us close. Our hearts were made for this kind of love and security, but many of us know more about the pain of heartbreak and fear. In Embraced, Lysa TerKeurst, the New York Times bestselling author of It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way, shares her own struggles and doubts while pointing to the Ultimate Embrace: Jesus.

James is thankful for his journey and how, when he started following “God’s playbook,” things came together in his life. “I’m excited when I look back over how the Lord has blessed me to be doing what I’m doing. I think there are some great sports to cover, and great people doing good things in sports. I’m really excited about doing what I do in my professional life. I consider it my avocation. My vocation is about the business of God.”

I am so very“thankful for invaluable tools and aids like Jesus Calling.

“And I’m so excited about learning and spending time in His Word daily. I am so very thankful for invaluable tools and aids like Jesus Calling. Athletes, even the elite-level athletes, still practice every day, internalizing, sharpening, and crafting their tools by practicing the same fundamentals. To me, it’s the same principle with preparing by studying the Word of God on a daily basis to understand those key scriptures that will arm us and equip us for the day ahead.” “Certainly the Jesus Calling devotional has been instrumental in that. It fulfills that which is in

AVAILABLE EVERYWHERE BOOKS ARE SOLD

You can see James Brown on The NFL Today on CBS, in addition to his roles as a reporter and host for other programs. To hear more of Brown’s story, listen to his interview on the Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith Podcast at jesuscalling.com/podcast.

14

Be sure to check out Lysa’s Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith interview at JesusCalling.com/media/video

15


Scripture, which says to, ’Seek Me early,’ seek God early before the day starts.” As a matter of fact, one of those daily readings said to “Seek Me early, before the doorbell starts ringing, before the phone starts ringing with business calls, before difficulties or challenges that the day will present. If you start off with Me, internalize My Word, embrace it, I will see you through.” I looked at my tendency to map out the day from A to Z, trying to anticipate every conceivable challenge that might come. Jesus was basically saying, “Hey, wait a minute. Where am I in this process?” I think it’s Proverbs 16:9 that says, ’Many are the plans and devices of men, but the purpose of the Lord is that which will be fulfilled.’ So this has really helped me. It’s been a little different not relying on myself to map things out, but boy, has it worked out a whole lot better.”

I’m excited“when I look back over how the Lord has blessed me to be doing what I’m doing. Training Center in Asheville, North Carolina, or speaking at the men’s conference at Charis Bible College, as part of the Andrew Womack ministries, or at a number of churches around the country.”

GOD DOESN’T PULL BACK FROM YOUR SHARP EDGES.

He pus you close. The best kind of embrace is when someone who deeply loves us flings their arms wide open and pulls us close. Our hearts were made for this kind of love and security, but many of us know more about the pain of heartbreak and fear. In Embraced, Lysa TerKeurst, the New York Times bestselling author of It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way, shares her own struggles and doubts while pointing to the Ultimate Embrace: Jesus.

James is thankful for his journey and how, when he started following “God’s playbook,” things came together in his life. “I’m excited when I look back over how the Lord has blessed me to be doing what I’m doing. I think there are some great sports to cover, and great people doing good things in sports. I’m really excited about doing what I do in my professional life. I consider it my avocation. My vocation is about the business of God.”

I am so very“thankful for invaluable tools and aids like Jesus Calling.

“And I’m so excited about learning and spending time in His Word daily. I am so very thankful for invaluable tools and aids like Jesus Calling. Athletes, even the elite-level athletes, still practice every day, internalizing, sharpening, and crafting their tools by practicing the same fundamentals. To me, it’s the same principle with preparing by studying the Word of God on a daily basis to understand those key scriptures that will arm us and equip us for the day ahead.” “Certainly the Jesus Calling devotional has been instrumental in that. It fulfills that which is in

AVAILABLE EVERYWHERE BOOKS ARE SOLD

You can see James Brown on The NFL Today on CBS, in addition to his roles as a reporter and host for other programs. To hear more of Brown’s story, listen to his interview on the Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith Podcast at jesuscalling.com/podcast.

14

Be sure to check out Lysa’s Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith interview at JesusCalling.com/media/video

15


E M B R A C I N G

As a woman, what does it look like to be strong?

problem, when we actually think, I could be more powerful if I were a man, then we’re buying in to the enemy’s lie, and we’re devaluing who God created us to be. A lot of times, women do not understand that strong is not wrong for them. I want to give you permission to be strong, but I want to tell you where your strength comes from: we are daughters of the most high God, He is the one who makes us strong.

How do you learn to draw boundaries? In comparison culture, how do you begin to nurture confidence? The Jesus Calling team sat down with of our favorite mentors, New York Times bestselling author Lisa Bevere, who outlines answers to these questions and more in her new

How does having strong boundaries affect our confidence?

book, Strong.

Boundaries are actually okay. If somebody is coming into your home with a knife and a gun, you’re not going go, "Hey, come on in!"

What does it mean for a woman to be strong?

Embracing STRONG Lisa Bevere Shares Why Women Need to Draw Boundaries, Find Mentors, and Cultivate Confidence 16

S T R O N G

“Strong” is actually leaning into a deep work of God in your life, and then letting that deep purpose gain expression. You are strong in relationship with God, strong in relationship with your family and your friends, strong in purpose. Years ago, I wrote a book called Lioness Arising, and I found in a lioness this expression of who women are. They are at once fierce and nurturing. God actually compares Himself to a female lion and a mother bear, which I just think is amazing. So we can be strong, but we are not strong just to fight. We are strong to fight for. We have this incredible capacity of protection. We say, “Hey, this is not right.” When you become a mother, I don’t know what happens. But all of a sudden, there’s a protectiveness in your life that’s never been there before. And that’s the beauty of women: to be fierce and nurturing. And both of those extremes are God breathed.

You not only “ have the right, you have permission from God to be strong. Why is it okay for a woman to be strong? You not only have the right, you have permission

from God to be strong. When we, in the back of our mind, think being a woman is a weakness, that being a woman is a 17


E M B R A C I N G

As a woman, what does it look like to be strong?

problem, when we actually think, I could be more powerful if I were a man, then we’re buying in to the enemy’s lie, and we’re devaluing who God created us to be. A lot of times, women do not understand that strong is not wrong for them. I want to give you permission to be strong, but I want to tell you where your strength comes from: we are daughters of the most high God, He is the one who makes us strong.

How do you learn to draw boundaries? In comparison culture, how do you begin to nurture confidence? The Jesus Calling team sat down with of our favorite mentors, New York Times bestselling author Lisa Bevere, who outlines answers to these questions and more in her new

How does having strong boundaries affect our confidence?

book, Strong.

Boundaries are actually okay. If somebody is coming into your home with a knife and a gun, you’re not going go, "Hey, come on in!"

What does it mean for a woman to be strong?

Embracing STRONG Lisa Bevere Shares Why Women Need to Draw Boundaries, Find Mentors, and Cultivate Confidence 16

S T R O N G

“Strong” is actually leaning into a deep work of God in your life, and then letting that deep purpose gain expression. You are strong in relationship with God, strong in relationship with your family and your friends, strong in purpose. Years ago, I wrote a book called Lioness Arising, and I found in a lioness this expression of who women are. They are at once fierce and nurturing. God actually compares Himself to a female lion and a mother bear, which I just think is amazing. So we can be strong, but we are not strong just to fight. We are strong to fight for. We have this incredible capacity of protection. We say, “Hey, this is not right.” When you become a mother, I don’t know what happens. But all of a sudden, there’s a protectiveness in your life that’s never been there before. And that’s the beauty of women: to be fierce and nurturing. And both of those extremes are God breathed.

You not only “ have the right, you have permission from God to be strong. Why is it okay for a woman to be strong? You not only have the right, you have permission

from God to be strong. When we, in the back of our mind, think being a woman is a weakness, that being a woman is a 17


P A S T O R ’ S

welcome. I wouldn’t see criticism from her. I would see somebody who would say, ’I’m here to come alongside you.’ She would speak from her experience. She wouldn’t make her life look perfect. she would open it up, and then she would show me the things that were hard for her, but she would also give me a pathway out. She would be vulnerable and strong.”

“ discover …you don’t who you are in the presence of people— you discover who you are in the presence of God. One of the things I think is really important is you have to find out who you are. With social media, we’ve allowed way too many people not only into our homes, but into our hearts. And we have a whole generation trying to discover who they are in the presence of people. But you don’t discover who you are in the presence of people—you discover who you are in the presence of God.

Why is mentorship—having a mentor, being a mentor—important for a woman’s strength?

I became a Christian at 21 years of age, and then got married. I thought, I need help. I don’t know how to be a mother. I don’t know how to be a wife. I haven’t had any of this modeled well for me. For eight years, I looked for that woman. I looked for that woman who would pour into me, who would be my mentor. And so I got on my knees and said, “God, you know I’ve asked for you to send me a woman who would love me and pour into me, and you haven’t done it. So actually, I am not going to be able to minister to women. I don’t even like them.” There was a reason why I didn’t like women. It wasn’t that I hated being a woman. It was that I felt both wounded and vulnerable as a woman. My mother had not gotten what she needed from her mother. And because she had not gotten what she needed from her mother, I didn’t get what I needed from my mother. And I heard the Spirit of God say, “I love women. I created women as the answer to the very first problem. Lisa, I know you wish a woman would have been that answer to you, but that’s not going to happen. I’m going to ask you to be that woman for other women.” So I sat down with pen and paper, and I said, “This is what my mentor would look like when she saw me. I wouldn’t see disapproval from her. I would see

After raising four sons, Lisa’s mentorship now extends to her daughters-in-law

It’s still shocking to me that my number-one demographic is young women who are 24 to 35. They are the same age as my children. They are saying, “Do you see us? Can you help us? Can you walk alongside of us?” And so I love that I’m having this chance again to revisit it in my season as a grandmother, to actually say to these moms, “I’m watching for you, and I want you to be strong.”

You can hear more about Lisa’s story in her first interview on the Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith Podcast.

Lisa’s new book, Strong, is now available for pre-order and will be in stores March 31.

18

C O R N E R

What if instead of asking God to just do something for us, we prayed a dangerous, self-denying prayer of availability to our heavenly Father?

The Power of the Prayer “Send Me, Use Me” by Craig Groeschel In January 1961, President John F. Kennedy delivered a famous challenge to future generations that still echoes today: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” There is something so moving to me about his invitation to be part of something bigger than myself, a plea to do more than to consume, but to contribute. Those few words inspire me to serve my country, but they mean even more to me as I consider my prayer life before God. Rather than asking God to serve us, what if we told God we are available to serve Him? As a pastor for several decades, I’ve seen the most intimate prayer requests of thousands of people.

I consider it a joyful responsibility to pause and lift up a need before the throne of God, asking Him to have mercy, to move, to guide, to provide, to act, to do a miracle for people I know and love. Even though the requests vary, people are asking God to do something for them or someone they love. God, help me. God, help someone I love. Lord, I need. Father, would you please? God, do something for me. Please hear me, we should definitely pray this way. We should always invite God’s presence, God’s power, God’s peace to intervene in our lives. We should ask God to do miracles on our behalf. We should seek the Lord for all of our needs. But we shouldn’t stop there. In the spirit of JFK’s inaugural address, what if we refused to just pray for ourselves? Forgive my paraphrase, but what if we prayed, “Ask not what God can do for you, but ask God what you can do for Him?”

19

What if instead of always asking God to do something on our behalf, we dared to ask God to use us on His behalf? What if we had the courageous faith to surrender our whole future— beginning right now—to God? Telling God we are all His. Available. On call. On standby to bless someone, serve someone. What if we prayed perhaps the most dangerous prayer of all? Send me, Lord. Use me.

CRAIG GROESCHEL is the founding and senior pastor of Life.Church, an

innovative multi-site church based in Edmond, Oklahoma, and a New York

Times bestselling author of books such as Dangerous Prayers and Hope in the Dark.

Hear more of Craig’s story on the Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith Podcast at jesuscalling.com/podcast.


P A S T O R ’ S

welcome. I wouldn’t see criticism from her. I would see somebody who would say, ’I’m here to come alongside you.’ She would speak from her experience. She wouldn’t make her life look perfect. she would open it up, and then she would show me the things that were hard for her, but she would also give me a pathway out. She would be vulnerable and strong.”

“ discover …you don’t who you are in the presence of people— you discover who you are in the presence of God. One of the things I think is really important is you have to find out who you are. With social media, we’ve allowed way too many people not only into our homes, but into our hearts. And we have a whole generation trying to discover who they are in the presence of people. But you don’t discover who you are in the presence of people—you discover who you are in the presence of God.

Why is mentorship—having a mentor, being a mentor—important for a woman’s strength?

I became a Christian at 21 years of age, and then got married. I thought, I need help. I don’t know how to be a mother. I don’t know how to be a wife. I haven’t had any of this modeled well for me. For eight years, I looked for that woman. I looked for that woman who would pour into me, who would be my mentor. And so I got on my knees and said, “God, you know I’ve asked for you to send me a woman who would love me and pour into me, and you haven’t done it. So actually, I am not going to be able to minister to women. I don’t even like them.” There was a reason why I didn’t like women. It wasn’t that I hated being a woman. It was that I felt both wounded and vulnerable as a woman. My mother had not gotten what she needed from her mother. And because she had not gotten what she needed from her mother, I didn’t get what I needed from my mother. And I heard the Spirit of God say, “I love women. I created women as the answer to the very first problem. Lisa, I know you wish a woman would have been that answer to you, but that’s not going to happen. I’m going to ask you to be that woman for other women.” So I sat down with pen and paper, and I said, “This is what my mentor would look like when she saw me. I wouldn’t see disapproval from her. I would see

After raising four sons, Lisa’s mentorship now extends to her daughters-in-law

It’s still shocking to me that my number-one demographic is young women who are 24 to 35. They are the same age as my children. They are saying, “Do you see us? Can you help us? Can you walk alongside of us?” And so I love that I’m having this chance again to revisit it in my season as a grandmother, to actually say to these moms, “I’m watching for you, and I want you to be strong.”

You can hear more about Lisa’s story in her first interview on the Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith Podcast.

Lisa’s new book, Strong, is now available for pre-order and will be in stores March 31.

18

C O R N E R

What if instead of asking God to just do something for us, we prayed a dangerous, self-denying prayer of availability to our heavenly Father?

The Power of the Prayer “Send Me, Use Me” by Craig Groeschel In January 1961, President John F. Kennedy delivered a famous challenge to future generations that still echoes today: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” There is something so moving to me about his invitation to be part of something bigger than myself, a plea to do more than to consume, but to contribute. Those few words inspire me to serve my country, but they mean even more to me as I consider my prayer life before God. Rather than asking God to serve us, what if we told God we are available to serve Him? As a pastor for several decades, I’ve seen the most intimate prayer requests of thousands of people.

I consider it a joyful responsibility to pause and lift up a need before the throne of God, asking Him to have mercy, to move, to guide, to provide, to act, to do a miracle for people I know and love. Even though the requests vary, people are asking God to do something for them or someone they love. God, help me. God, help someone I love. Lord, I need. Father, would you please? God, do something for me. Please hear me, we should definitely pray this way. We should always invite God’s presence, God’s power, God’s peace to intervene in our lives. We should ask God to do miracles on our behalf. We should seek the Lord for all of our needs. But we shouldn’t stop there. In the spirit of JFK’s inaugural address, what if we refused to just pray for ourselves? Forgive my paraphrase, but what if we prayed, “Ask not what God can do for you, but ask God what you can do for Him?”

19

What if instead of always asking God to do something on our behalf, we dared to ask God to use us on His behalf? What if we had the courageous faith to surrender our whole future— beginning right now—to God? Telling God we are all His. Available. On call. On standby to bless someone, serve someone. What if we prayed perhaps the most dangerous prayer of all? Send me, Lord. Use me.

CRAIG GROESCHEL is the founding and senior pastor of Life.Church, an

innovative multi-site church based in Edmond, Oklahoma, and a New York

Times bestselling author of books such as Dangerous Prayers and Hope in the Dark.

Hear more of Craig’s story on the Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith Podcast at jesuscalling.com/podcast.


T H E T R A N S F O R M AT I O N O F

THE MILLION DOLLAR MAN Pro Wrestling’s Ted DiBiase fan art from Ted DiBiase's personal archives

Adapted for print from Ted’s Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith interview

Man,” a bully everyone hates because of his wealth and snobbery. It was a character that had never been done before, and intuitively Ted knew it would be big. The men signed the papers, and Vince began to build the character. Ted was flown everywhere first class. He stayed in the finest hotels. He was given a wad of “flash cash” that he could use to walk into a restaurant, lay down dozens of $100 bills, and pick up tabs for the entire place. Ted’s life changed dramatically. “I went from driving my own car to riding around limousines and Lear jets, and rising to a level of fame that nobody foresaw.” One morning in 1992, after a typical all-night party following a wrestling match, Ted called his wife, letting her know he was on a plane home. Melanie’s response was cold. She had found out about Ted’s many exploits on tour, and she informed him that he no longer had a home to come back to.

TED DIBIASE’S CHILDHOOD DREAM to be a wrestler was encouraged by his father—also a professional wrestler—who told him: “If you’re willing to pay the price, you can be anything you want to be.” Ted would come to find the price was too high to indulge in the lifestyle his famous wrestling persona required—a price that would cause him to lose his identity, and to nearly lose his family. At 26 years old, Ted’s star rose quickly through the ranks of the wrestling world. In 1981, during a championship wrestling match in Atlanta, he met the woman who would become his wife. “Last thing I was looking for was a wife or to fall in love, because I had been through a marriage that should have never happened, really,” Ted recalls. “But Melanie was a Christian girl. We just hit it off.” He and Melanie married, then became pregnant early in their marriage. Ted was committed to his new wife and family, but the lure of greater fame in wrestling kept calling his name. “WrestleMania III had just taken place, and they had set an indoor world attendance record: 93,000 people. I remember looking at the front page and thinking, If I’m going to be relevant in wrestling, that’s where I need to be.” As Ted’s reputation grew, he heard from wrestling mogul Vince McMahon, who presented him with the idea for a new character called “The Million Dollar

“ I have no character. I have no integrity. I don’t have the stuff that counts. That was a wakeup call.

Ted’s world came crumbling down. He knew he had been going down the wrong road with his life, and he consulted a good friend and told him what happened. “My friend told me, ’Ted, Jesus said the truth will set you free. If you’ll trust Him today, He’ll hear you. 20

He’ll forgive you.’” “I’m at the height of my career,” Ted recalls. “I’ve got everything I ever dreamed. Plus, I’ve got this unbelievable wife and three beautiful children, but I have no character. I have no integrity. I don’t have the stuff that counts. That was a wakeup call.” The wrestler moved forward with the hardest thing he’d ever done—facing his wife with the truth. Through pain and tears, Ted was fearful he’d lose

her, but her next words surprised him. “I serve a God of restoration,” said Melanie. “I serve a God who says, ’Forgive as you’ve been forgiven.’ Because I want to be obedient to this still, small voice in my heart, I’m going to give you another chance.” Ted gratefully accepted that second chance, and after 37 years, they are still together, living in a marriage restored by a God who forgives. Today, Ted speaks at churches, youth groups, men’s meetings, and public schools, telling his story of restoration. Find out where Ted is speaking near you at heartofdavidministry.com. Watch Ted’s interview on Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith by visiting JesusCalling.com/media/video!

21


T H E T R A N S F O R M AT I O N O F

THE MILLION DOLLAR MAN Pro Wrestling’s Ted DiBiase fan art from Ted DiBiase's personal archives

Adapted for print from Ted’s Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith interview

Man,” a bully everyone hates because of his wealth and snobbery. It was a character that had never been done before, and intuitively Ted knew it would be big. The men signed the papers, and Vince began to build the character. Ted was flown everywhere first class. He stayed in the finest hotels. He was given a wad of “flash cash” that he could use to walk into a restaurant, lay down dozens of $100 bills, and pick up tabs for the entire place. Ted’s life changed dramatically. “I went from driving my own car to riding around limousines and Lear jets, and rising to a level of fame that nobody foresaw.” One morning in 1992, after a typical all-night party following a wrestling match, Ted called his wife, letting her know he was on a plane home. Melanie’s response was cold. She had found out about Ted’s many exploits on tour, and she informed him that he no longer had a home to come back to.

TED DIBIASE’S CHILDHOOD DREAM to be a wrestler was encouraged by his father—also a professional wrestler—who told him: “If you’re willing to pay the price, you can be anything you want to be.” Ted would come to find the price was too high to indulge in the lifestyle his famous wrestling persona required—a price that would cause him to lose his identity, and to nearly lose his family. At 26 years old, Ted’s star rose quickly through the ranks of the wrestling world. In 1981, during a championship wrestling match in Atlanta, he met the woman who would become his wife. “Last thing I was looking for was a wife or to fall in love, because I had been through a marriage that should have never happened, really,” Ted recalls. “But Melanie was a Christian girl. We just hit it off.” He and Melanie married, then became pregnant early in their marriage. Ted was committed to his new wife and family, but the lure of greater fame in wrestling kept calling his name. “WrestleMania III had just taken place, and they had set an indoor world attendance record: 93,000 people. I remember looking at the front page and thinking, If I’m going to be relevant in wrestling, that’s where I need to be.” As Ted’s reputation grew, he heard from wrestling mogul Vince McMahon, who presented him with the idea for a new character called “The Million Dollar

“ I have no character. I have no integrity. I don’t have the stuff that counts. That was a wakeup call.

Ted’s world came crumbling down. He knew he had been going down the wrong road with his life, and he consulted a good friend and told him what happened. “My friend told me, ’Ted, Jesus said the truth will set you free. If you’ll trust Him today, He’ll hear you. 20

He’ll forgive you.’” “I’m at the height of my career,” Ted recalls. “I’ve got everything I ever dreamed. Plus, I’ve got this unbelievable wife and three beautiful children, but I have no character. I have no integrity. I don’t have the stuff that counts. That was a wakeup call.” The wrestler moved forward with the hardest thing he’d ever done—facing his wife with the truth. Through pain and tears, Ted was fearful he’d lose

her, but her next words surprised him. “I serve a God of restoration,” said Melanie. “I serve a God who says, ’Forgive as you’ve been forgiven.’ Because I want to be obedient to this still, small voice in my heart, I’m going to give you another chance.” Ted gratefully accepted that second chance, and after 37 years, they are still together, living in a marriage restored by a God who forgives. Today, Ted speaks at churches, youth groups, men’s meetings, and public schools, telling his story of restoration. Find out where Ted is speaking near you at heartofdavidministry.com. Watch Ted’s interview on Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith by visiting JesusCalling.com/media/video!

21


T I P S

&

T R E N D S

10 WAYS TO TRULY LIVE IN THE NEW YEAR

rate b e l e c rst to fi ring a e p h t m o Be rate. top c b S e . l s e c other can u o y at so th

Use your words for good. Your words carry the power of life and death.

Love people.

ission

lf perm e s r u o ! Give y e party c n a d ea to hav

Keep d reamin g the dreams that fee l unans Perseve wered! re this year.

Be honest wit h yourself and others.

f

oursel y o t d Be kin ers. and oth

Forgive yourself and others.

There’s a big difference between being alive and knowing how to live. As author and speaker Sadie Robertson says, “When you truly learn to live the life God offers, your whole existence

the year. Look back and

becomes a verb.”

see the ways the Lord has

Here are Sadie’s top ten tips for thriving in the new year.

Learn more about Sadie! Watch her episode of Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith at jesuscalling.com/media/video.

22

Keep a journal throughout

answered prayers over the year. Pre-order Sadie’s new book, LIVE, from your favorite book retailer or pick it up in stores on February 25.

Keep Je sus at th e center of all. 23


T I P S

&

T R E N D S

10 WAYS TO TRULY LIVE IN THE NEW YEAR

rate b e l e c rst to fi ring a e p h t m o Be rate. top c b S e . l s e c other can u o y at so th

Use your words for good. Your words carry the power of life and death.

Love people.

ission

lf perm e s r u o ! Give y e party c n a d ea to hav

Keep d reamin g the dreams that fee l unans Perseve wered! re this year.

Be honest wit h yourself and others.

f

oursel y o t d Be kin ers. and oth

Forgive yourself and others.

There’s a big difference between being alive and knowing how to live. As author and speaker Sadie Robertson says, “When you truly learn to live the life God offers, your whole existence

the year. Look back and

becomes a verb.”

see the ways the Lord has

Here are Sadie’s top ten tips for thriving in the new year.

Learn more about Sadie! Watch her episode of Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith at jesuscalling.com/media/video.

22

Keep a journal throughout

answered prayers over the year. Pre-order Sadie’s new book, LIVE, from your favorite book retailer or pick it up in stores on February 25.

Keep Je sus at th e center of all. 23


A WORK IN PROGRESS

“ mom that we I convinced my needed to paint the avocado refrigerator white… Young Leanne explored her pull toward design by rearranging her bedroom each day and ripping up the carpet in her childhood home—and still, her parents encouraged her craft. “I convinced my mom that we needed to paint the avocado refrigerator white, and we did it. I look back, and I was always doing something around our childhood home.” While Leanne went to school for fashion, an industry where she worked for 15 years, Steve got into construction during high school, piecing together a living with seasonal gigs. Although his passions for skiing, snowboarding, and rafting differed from Leanne’s interests, he and his sister ended up landing in complementary fields. Leanne continued to feed her penchant for design by fixing up her dorm rooms, apartments, and friends’ homes on the side. So it wasn’t much of a surprise when Steve and Leanne’s worlds came together when Leanne set her sights on a renovation project: a tiny one-room schoolhouse she found on Craigslist. “I had all these out-of-the-box ideas,” Leanne recalls. “And all these contractors were saying, ’No, you can’t do that.’ So I called up my big brother and I said, ’Can you help me figure this out?’”

Leanne & Steve Ford’s Inspiration by Design by Laura Neutzling Photography courtesy of the Ford family archives GROWING UP IN THE SUBURBS OF PITTSBURGH, siblings Leanne and Steve Ford never dreamed they’d have a nationallyknown restoration business, now famous thanks to their HGTV series Restored by the Fords. Leanne and Steve’s parents encouraged their children to chase their interests, and the family’s supportive environment paved the way for Leanne and Steve to blaze a trail with their unique brand of home design. “Our parents really wanted us to succeed,” says Leanne. “They let us kind of try everything and then supported us however they could.”

“ anything You can make happen. Steve, already familiar with his sister’s love of big dreams and schemes, brought his construction experience and pragmatic perspective to the project. Steve’s approach to any project is, You can always find a way to get things done—even if others say you can’t. “My role is more of a contractor than a designer,” says Steve. “You can make anything happen. And if it doesn’t work, worst case, you move on.”

24

25


A WORK IN PROGRESS

“ mom that we I convinced my needed to paint the avocado refrigerator white… Young Leanne explored her pull toward design by rearranging her bedroom each day and ripping up the carpet in her childhood home—and still, her parents encouraged her craft. “I convinced my mom that we needed to paint the avocado refrigerator white, and we did it. I look back, and I was always doing something around our childhood home.” While Leanne went to school for fashion, an industry where she worked for 15 years, Steve got into construction during high school, piecing together a living with seasonal gigs. Although his passions for skiing, snowboarding, and rafting differed from Leanne’s interests, he and his sister ended up landing in complementary fields. Leanne continued to feed her penchant for design by fixing up her dorm rooms, apartments, and friends’ homes on the side. So it wasn’t much of a surprise when Steve and Leanne’s worlds came together when Leanne set her sights on a renovation project: a tiny one-room schoolhouse she found on Craigslist. “I had all these out-of-the-box ideas,” Leanne recalls. “And all these contractors were saying, ’No, you can’t do that.’ So I called up my big brother and I said, ’Can you help me figure this out?’”

Leanne & Steve Ford’s Inspiration by Design by Laura Neutzling Photography courtesy of the Ford family archives GROWING UP IN THE SUBURBS OF PITTSBURGH, siblings Leanne and Steve Ford never dreamed they’d have a nationallyknown restoration business, now famous thanks to their HGTV series Restored by the Fords. Leanne and Steve’s parents encouraged their children to chase their interests, and the family’s supportive environment paved the way for Leanne and Steve to blaze a trail with their unique brand of home design. “Our parents really wanted us to succeed,” says Leanne. “They let us kind of try everything and then supported us however they could.”

“ anything You can make happen. Steve, already familiar with his sister’s love of big dreams and schemes, brought his construction experience and pragmatic perspective to the project. Steve’s approach to any project is, You can always find a way to get things done—even if others say you can’t. “My role is more of a contractor than a designer,” says Steve. “You can make anything happen. And if it doesn’t work, worst case, you move on.”

24

25


“To this day, he still figures it out,” Leanne marvels. “And I told him, ’Your biggest mistake was figuring it out,’ because now I just keep giving him these new challenges.” An interior design magazine heard buzz around someone renovating a 1907 schoolhouse into a home. And when the project was complete, they featured the Fords’ work on their cover. Before long, people were calling and asking the Fords to design their homes. Though they didn’t have an official business or even an office, Leanne and Steve started accepting the requests. As the business started to flourish, HGTV came knocking on Steve and Leanne’s door, but the first time they met with the network, there wasn’t a connection. It would be five years before the network returned to offer the Fords their own TV show. “Looking back, I’m thankful that I wasn’t stressed or felt like, This has to happen,” Leanne admits. “I had five more years to hone my craft. It turned into a really important blessing to have that time.” Two seasons later, the Fords are still going strong with their HGTV show Restored By The Fords. They’ve even written a book about their experience called Work in Progress, which they hope will encourage anyone to keep building on their dreams. “It’s really a lot bigger than just design now. The opportunity is there to inspire people to think differently and to not be afraid to be different than their neighbors,” Leanne says. “Do what you love in your home. I really believe that when you love your home, it translates into the rest of your life. Any joy and happiness that comes into your life is healing. It’s really that simple.”

Through Despair, Cyntoia Brown-Long Found Freedom and Purpose

Leanne’s Top 3 Tips for Lighting Your Home 1. Go BIG with your lighting. Try oversized lighting—don’t be afraid to play with proportions! 2. Dimmers, dimmers, dimmers! It’s all about a dimmer. In daytime, it’s bright, and in the evening it’s moody and cozy. Put a dimmer on everything. 3. Light up your rental. Do not be afraid to change the lighting. Have a local electrician come over, save those bad fixtures your landlord put in, and put them back when you leave. Lighting alone will make you feel like this is your house.

T rusting the God of SECOND CHANCES by Amy Kerr

Photo credit: Redbud Photography

Walking into a church hallway with Cyntoia

When I came“back to God and I just let Him take over— that’s when I was free.

Brown-Long is something of a miracle. A few months ago, it would’ve been impossible.

Leanne and Steve’s memoir, Work in Progress, is available from your favorite book retailer today.

Excerpted from an upcoming interview on the Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith Podcast and adapted for print.

26

A few years ago, it would’ve been unthinkable.

But according to Cyntoia, she was free long before the cuffs were pulled from her wrists for the last time. “When I came back to God and I just let Him take over—that’s when I was free.”

FIFTEEN YEARS AFTER she was convicted of first-degree murder, fifteen years after she was a teen abused and trafficked by a man she considered her boyfriend, 31-year-old Cyntoia was released from prison in August 2019. She was granted clemency by then-Tennessee governor Bill Haslam after a grassroots campaign for Cyntoia’s release was fueled by celebrities like Rihanna and Kim Kardashian West with the hashtag #FreeCyntoia.

Growing up in Clarksville, Tennessee, Cyntoia had a loving environment at home. Her mother Ellenette, a

27


“To this day, he still figures it out,” Leanne marvels. “And I told him, ’Your biggest mistake was figuring it out,’ because now I just keep giving him these new challenges.” An interior design magazine heard buzz around someone renovating a 1907 schoolhouse into a home. And when the project was complete, they featured the Fords’ work on their cover. Before long, people were calling and asking the Fords to design their homes. Though they didn’t have an official business or even an office, Leanne and Steve started accepting the requests. As the business started to flourish, HGTV came knocking on Steve and Leanne’s door, but the first time they met with the network, there wasn’t a connection. It would be five years before the network returned to offer the Fords their own TV show. “Looking back, I’m thankful that I wasn’t stressed or felt like, This has to happen,” Leanne admits. “I had five more years to hone my craft. It turned into a really important blessing to have that time.” Two seasons later, the Fords are still going strong with their HGTV show Restored By The Fords. They’ve even written a book about their experience called Work in Progress, which they hope will encourage anyone to keep building on their dreams. “It’s really a lot bigger than just design now. The opportunity is there to inspire people to think differently and to not be afraid to be different than their neighbors,” Leanne says. “Do what you love in your home. I really believe that when you love your home, it translates into the rest of your life. Any joy and happiness that comes into your life is healing. It’s really that simple.”

Through Despair, Cyntoia Brown-Long Found Freedom and Purpose

Leanne’s Top 3 Tips for Lighting Your Home 1. Go BIG with your lighting. Try oversized lighting—don’t be afraid to play with proportions! 2. Dimmers, dimmers, dimmers! It’s all about a dimmer. In daytime, it’s bright, and in the evening it’s moody and cozy. Put a dimmer on everything. 3. Light up your rental. Do not be afraid to change the lighting. Have a local electrician come over, save those bad fixtures your landlord put in, and put them back when you leave. Lighting alone will make you feel like this is your house.

T rusting the God of SECOND CHANCES by Amy Kerr

Photo credit: Redbud Photography

Walking into a church hallway with Cyntoia

When I came“back to God and I just let Him take over— that’s when I was free.

Brown-Long is something of a miracle. A few months ago, it would’ve been impossible.

Leanne and Steve’s memoir, Work in Progress, is available from your favorite book retailer today.

Excerpted from an upcoming interview on the Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith Podcast and adapted for print.

26

A few years ago, it would’ve been unthinkable.

But according to Cyntoia, she was free long before the cuffs were pulled from her wrists for the last time. “When I came back to God and I just let Him take over—that’s when I was free.”

FIFTEEN YEARS AFTER she was convicted of first-degree murder, fifteen years after she was a teen abused and trafficked by a man she considered her boyfriend, 31-year-old Cyntoia was released from prison in August 2019. She was granted clemency by then-Tennessee governor Bill Haslam after a grassroots campaign for Cyntoia’s release was fueled by celebrities like Rihanna and Kim Kardashian West with the hashtag #FreeCyntoia.

Growing up in Clarksville, Tennessee, Cyntoia had a loving environment at home. Her mother Ellenette, a

27


T H E

Cyntoia was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. As she went about her days in the Tennessee Prison for Women, teenage Cyntoia saw women around her give up hope—a fate she didn’t want for herself. “I knew there was some way that I could live some type of meaningful life,” she says. With the help of Connie Seabrooks, an educator in the Tennessee prison system, Cyntoia enrolled in Lipscomb University, a local college that taught classes behind bars. Cyntoia poured herself into her schoolwork, and she felt her world begin to expand. She earned an associate’s degree, and in May 2019, a bachelor’s degree. She even taped a documentary about her story that aired on PBS, drawing millions to her story. But it wasn’t until she met a man named Jamie Long that her life began to change. A passionate man of faith and a talented musician, one day in 2017, Jamie was cutting an album and decided to take a break when he saw a video about an incarcerated young woman pop up on his YouTube recommendations list. An hour later, he felt God convict him to write a letter, scrawl the hashtag “#FreeCyntoia”—and then burn the edges of the paper. Confused, Jamie decided to follow the call and slipped the letter in the mail. A couple weeks later, he got a response. “That was the only reason I wrote,” Cyntoia remembers, “because it stuck out so much.” The two wrote more letters back and forth. Jamie shared his faith with Cyntoia, telling her over and over that God was going to get her through it all. Cyntoia felt angry at a God she thought abandoned her, but Jamie never gave up. And over time, Cyntoia’s anger began to soften.

special needs teacher, took her to church every Sunday and Wednesday, gave her structure to her world and discipline when she needed it. But Cyntoia started hanging out with the wrong crowd at school, and after stints in alternative school and the juvenile delinquent system, she ended up on the streets of Nashville, where she started using drugs and met Cut Throat, the 24-year-old man who became her trafficker. “That’s kind of how it happens. When you’re young, you’re on the run, you don’t really understand everything that you’re putting yourself into. You put yourself in a lot of adult situations. “On the night that led to my incarceration, I was actually staying in a hotel room with Cut Throat— he was the man who, at the time, I thought was my boyfriend. It was time for me to go back out and bring money back for us. And “bring money back” included a solicitation from a forty-three-year-old man. “I just felt really fearful, really uncomfortable. And again, I was in a situation that a sixteen-year-old girl should not have been in with a forty-three-year-old man. I ended up shooting him, because I was fearful of what was going to happen. I went back to the hotel. And within 24 hours, I was caught by the police, and I was arrested for murder.

“ some way I knew there was that I could live some type of meaningful life.

“ We started reading Jesus Calling every day together, and we would talk about, ‘Okay, what did you take from that?’ “Once that happened, I started to listen, and I was just soaking up everything. I wanted Jamie to

Photo credit: Daniel H. Birman

28

G O D

O F

S E C O N D

C H A N C E S

Photo credit: Redbud Photography

the Justice, Freedom, and Mercy Foundation, to share stories of people who have been lost in the gears of the justice system.

constantly minister to me. I wanted to read the Bible with him constantly. We started reading Jesus Calling every day together, and we would talk about, ’Okay, what did you take from that?’ I just started getting hungry for it. “That’s pretty much when things started to change in my situation.” Only a few months later, the hashtag #FreeCyntoia began to go viral around the world and rallied millions of supporters around Cyntoia, begging for her release. After she received clemency in early 2019 and was released over the summer, today Cyntoia’s enjoying life married to Jamie and has released a book about her experience called Free Cyntoia. She and her new husband plan to launch an organization called

“ I was in a Even though physical prison, I was in prison within prison. As she reflects on her story, Cyntoia offers hope to others who find themselves imprisoned behind bars physical or mental. “Even though I was in a physical prison, I was in prison within prison. I was in a prison of anger. 29


T H E

Cyntoia was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. As she went about her days in the Tennessee Prison for Women, teenage Cyntoia saw women around her give up hope—a fate she didn’t want for herself. “I knew there was some way that I could live some type of meaningful life,” she says. With the help of Connie Seabrooks, an educator in the Tennessee prison system, Cyntoia enrolled in Lipscomb University, a local college that taught classes behind bars. Cyntoia poured herself into her schoolwork, and she felt her world begin to expand. She earned an associate’s degree, and in May 2019, a bachelor’s degree. She even taped a documentary about her story that aired on PBS, drawing millions to her story. But it wasn’t until she met a man named Jamie Long that her life began to change. A passionate man of faith and a talented musician, one day in 2017, Jamie was cutting an album and decided to take a break when he saw a video about an incarcerated young woman pop up on his YouTube recommendations list. An hour later, he felt God convict him to write a letter, scrawl the hashtag “#FreeCyntoia”—and then burn the edges of the paper. Confused, Jamie decided to follow the call and slipped the letter in the mail. A couple weeks later, he got a response. “That was the only reason I wrote,” Cyntoia remembers, “because it stuck out so much.” The two wrote more letters back and forth. Jamie shared his faith with Cyntoia, telling her over and over that God was going to get her through it all. Cyntoia felt angry at a God she thought abandoned her, but Jamie never gave up. And over time, Cyntoia’s anger began to soften.

special needs teacher, took her to church every Sunday and Wednesday, gave her structure to her world and discipline when she needed it. But Cyntoia started hanging out with the wrong crowd at school, and after stints in alternative school and the juvenile delinquent system, she ended up on the streets of Nashville, where she started using drugs and met Cut Throat, the 24-year-old man who became her trafficker. “That’s kind of how it happens. When you’re young, you’re on the run, you don’t really understand everything that you’re putting yourself into. You put yourself in a lot of adult situations. “On the night that led to my incarceration, I was actually staying in a hotel room with Cut Throat— he was the man who, at the time, I thought was my boyfriend. It was time for me to go back out and bring money back for us. And “bring money back” included a solicitation from a forty-three-year-old man. “I just felt really fearful, really uncomfortable. And again, I was in a situation that a sixteen-year-old girl should not have been in with a forty-three-year-old man. I ended up shooting him, because I was fearful of what was going to happen. I went back to the hotel. And within 24 hours, I was caught by the police, and I was arrested for murder.

“ some way I knew there was that I could live some type of meaningful life.

“ We started reading Jesus Calling every day together, and we would talk about, ‘Okay, what did you take from that?’ “Once that happened, I started to listen, and I was just soaking up everything. I wanted Jamie to

Photo credit: Daniel H. Birman

28

G O D

O F

S E C O N D

C H A N C E S

Photo credit: Redbud Photography

the Justice, Freedom, and Mercy Foundation, to share stories of people who have been lost in the gears of the justice system.

constantly minister to me. I wanted to read the Bible with him constantly. We started reading Jesus Calling every day together, and we would talk about, ’Okay, what did you take from that?’ I just started getting hungry for it. “That’s pretty much when things started to change in my situation.” Only a few months later, the hashtag #FreeCyntoia began to go viral around the world and rallied millions of supporters around Cyntoia, begging for her release. After she received clemency in early 2019 and was released over the summer, today Cyntoia’s enjoying life married to Jamie and has released a book about her experience called Free Cyntoia. She and her new husband plan to launch an organization called

“ I was in a Even though physical prison, I was in prison within prison. As she reflects on her story, Cyntoia offers hope to others who find themselves imprisoned behind bars physical or mental. “Even though I was in a physical prison, I was in prison within prison. I was in a prison of anger. 29


I was in a prison of my past, constantly letting that anxiety hold me captive. To experience true freedom— whether in prison or out of prison—it comes through Him. No matter what your prison is, you have to cast all your cares on Him, and let Him do what He does.” “God is no respecter of persons. What He did for me, He can do for you. He is in the prison-freeing business. He is a God of second chances.” Adapted for print from Cyntoia’s interview on Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith video series. Hear the rest of Cyntoia and Jamie’s incredible story! Watch them on Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith at jesuscalling.com/media/video.

Cyntoia and Jamie meet with Sarah Young, along with their friends Wes Yoder (L) and Scott Sauls (R)

The Sparkle of Jesus Calling Jesus Calling is now available in a new sweet and sparkly design for girls. With the identical text as the original  Jesus Calling 365 Devotions for Kids, each devotion is adapted from the adult version for children 8–12.

AVA I L A B L E W H E R E V E R BOOKS ARE SOLD 30

Your Story Matters to God

choices your family judged you for and no one else understood—you will be vindicated by God.

“ hope are People who have able to share hope with the world. People who are filled with hope, love better. People who are filled with hope, dream—because they’re not so fearful and clutching at their life. They’re able to take risks. People who have hope are able to share hope with the world. I’ve been reading some research on hope lately and it’s absolutely incredible. The data shows that cancer patients who are filled with hope actually have higher rates of recovery and lower rates of recurrence. Hope literally affects the human body. And hope is actually something that God breathes into you. In Romans 15, Paul says, “I pray that the God of all hope would fill your hearts to overflowing with hope by the power of His spirit in you.” I’m telling you, crack that door to Jesus, and say, “I would love some hope.” He would love to restore your hope.

by John Eldredge Adapted from John’s interview on the Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith Podcast WE’RE IN A CRISIS OF HOPE RIGHT NOW. The World Health Organization reports that depression is the third leading cause of disability worldwide. Suicides are up, addictions are up, and anxiety medication is going through the roof. People just don’t know where to put their hopes. Last year we had a lot of loss in our family. We had suicide in our extended family, and I got the phone call. Then we lost our first grandson to miscarriage. Then I lost my dear friend of 40 years to cancer.

Hope is a powerful thing.

I really began digging into the scriptures to say, “Jesus, what is it we’re supposed to be hoping for?“ In Matthew 19, Peter asked Jesus the exact same question. Jesus says, “I tell you the truth. At the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his throne, all of you who have lost loved ones, dear places to you, it will all be given back to you.” C.S. Lewis said you can only hope for what you desire. And in this scripture, Jesus is trying very hard to make it tangible because you can’t hope for the vague. Jesus says what is coming is a day of enormous and total restoration—restoration of our own lives. God is actually going to restore you, your life, your body, your soul, your personality, your spirit. Then we get to do exactly what we were created to do. Your story matters to God. All that misunderstanding that you’ve lived with, those

John Eldredge is the author of Restoration Year. Listen to his interview on the Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith Podcast at jesuscalling.com/podcast.

31


I was in a prison of my past, constantly letting that anxiety hold me captive. To experience true freedom— whether in prison or out of prison—it comes through Him. No matter what your prison is, you have to cast all your cares on Him, and let Him do what He does.” “God is no respecter of persons. What He did for me, He can do for you. He is in the prison-freeing business. He is a God of second chances.” Adapted for print from Cyntoia’s interview on Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith video series. Hear the rest of Cyntoia and Jamie’s incredible story! Watch them on Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith at jesuscalling.com/media/video.

Cyntoia and Jamie meet with Sarah Young, along with their friends Wes Yoder (L) and Scott Sauls (R)

The Sparkle of Jesus Calling Jesus Calling is now available in a new sweet and sparkly design for girls. With the identical text as the original  Jesus Calling 365 Devotions for Kids, each devotion is adapted from the adult version for children 8–12.

AVA I L A B L E W H E R E V E R BOOKS ARE SOLD 30

Your Story Matters to God

choices your family judged you for and no one else understood—you will be vindicated by God.

“ hope are People who have able to share hope with the world. People who are filled with hope, love better. People who are filled with hope, dream—because they’re not so fearful and clutching at their life. They’re able to take risks. People who have hope are able to share hope with the world. I’ve been reading some research on hope lately and it’s absolutely incredible. The data shows that cancer patients who are filled with hope actually have higher rates of recovery and lower rates of recurrence. Hope literally affects the human body. And hope is actually something that God breathes into you. In Romans 15, Paul says, “I pray that the God of all hope would fill your hearts to overflowing with hope by the power of His spirit in you.” I’m telling you, crack that door to Jesus, and say, “I would love some hope.” He would love to restore your hope.

by John Eldredge Adapted from John’s interview on the Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith Podcast WE’RE IN A CRISIS OF HOPE RIGHT NOW. The World Health Organization reports that depression is the third leading cause of disability worldwide. Suicides are up, addictions are up, and anxiety medication is going through the roof. People just don’t know where to put their hopes. Last year we had a lot of loss in our family. We had suicide in our extended family, and I got the phone call. Then we lost our first grandson to miscarriage. Then I lost my dear friend of 40 years to cancer.

Hope is a powerful thing.

I really began digging into the scriptures to say, “Jesus, what is it we’re supposed to be hoping for?“ In Matthew 19, Peter asked Jesus the exact same question. Jesus says, “I tell you the truth. At the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his throne, all of you who have lost loved ones, dear places to you, it will all be given back to you.” C.S. Lewis said you can only hope for what you desire. And in this scripture, Jesus is trying very hard to make it tangible because you can’t hope for the vague. Jesus says what is coming is a day of enormous and total restoration—restoration of our own lives. God is actually going to restore you, your life, your body, your soul, your personality, your spirit. Then we get to do exactly what we were created to do. Your story matters to God. All that misunderstanding that you’ve lived with, those

John Eldredge is the author of Restoration Year. Listen to his interview on the Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith Podcast at jesuscalling.com/podcast.

31


BOUNDARIES for THE NEW YEAR patterns that you would like to break, burnout, stress levels and the like. 2. Your “relational” life—i.e. the key relationships that make your life meaningful: God, marriage or dating, friendship and community, family and extended family, or even significant work relationships. 3. Your “performance” life— meaning, the degree to which you are identifying your dreams, talents, passions, and goals . . . and turning those into reality.

“ we will Without growth produce the same results that we have produced in the past.

Dr. Cloud is a renowned psychologist and co-author of the New York Times bestselling book, Boundaries. ALMOST EVERYONE gets to the end of the year and feels, Another year . . . where did it go, and what do I want for the next one?” And then we make a few resolutions to take a stab at changing the most glaring of the things we “want to be different.” And by the third week of January, those have gone by the wayside, and we are off to repeating the same old patterns. Happy New Year! So how about making this one a “real new year?” Let’s make it truly different in the areas of your life that really matter, and that we know matter to God. Let me suggest three:

So how do we do that? Well, we know the method that doesn’t work: a resolution to just be “different” in the new year. A resolution just to “stop eating or drinking,” or “start working out,” or “have a better marriage,” or “make a goal and achieve it.” Those tend to fall away pretty quickly, and the reason is simple: we are still the same person, and without growth, we will produce the same results that we have produced in the past. But I say this with all enthusiasm: it does not have to be that way! I have seen countless people make these changes, but it always happens in the same way, and that one is truly the “road less traveled.” Or as Jesus put it, “the narrow gate.” As He said, “Wide is the gate that leads to destruction and many are those

1. Your “clinical” life—meaning, how well you are. These are the issues like thriving, energy levels, depression, anxieties, fears, addictions or habit 32

These are just a few examples of the way Jesus tells us that changes are made. He tells us that when believers join together using their gifts to teach and support and help each other, we are “administering the grace of God in its various forms” to one another. (1 Peter 4: 10) And along with the grace, we are administering His truth and wisdom as well. The reason we stay stuck is that we are on a “self-help” program instead of hooking up with the grace of God that is available from people who have the gifts to help us. So reach out and find what you need from those He has gifted to help you. This year, do something different: draw a boundary to protect the time and resources you need to allocate to your own growth. If you do that, you can produce the fruits you desire in these three critical areas of life. And the prayer of John can be yours: "Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers." (3 John 1:2)

that go through it, and narrow is the gate that leads to life, and few are those that enter it.” (Matt. 7:13-14) And the “narrow gate” is not about willpower or just making a commitment to “be different” next year. That is the wide gate. The narrow one, and the one that works, is committing to something altogether different: committing to a structured path of growth that is going to produce the differences you want to make, and then joining that path and staying in the program. Here are some examples:

Clinical: If you are tired of feeling the way you feel, don’t just try to do better. Make the decision to go to a therapist, or join a group, or a recovery program, or get a trainer, or join a regular class. That is going to do more than willpower. It is going to provide you with God’s two great ingredients of growth: grace and truth. You will get the grace of support and care, along with the wisdom of someone who knows something about how to help you get there.

God Bless! —Henry

Relational: Maybe it’s time to finally go to counseling if you are in a rut. Or join a couples group. Or take a marriage class. Or get a dating coach. Or even with your extended family, get them to go to counseling with you. Make time to begin some serious study, listen to podcasts, or go to workshops on how to learn the new relationship skills you need.

Learn more about healthy boundaries on Dr. Cloud’s episode of the Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith video series! Go to jesuscalling.com/video.

You can find Dr. Cloud’s New York Times bestselling book Boundaries at your favorite book retailer today. And for more resources, check out his website at Boundaries.me.

Performance: It might be time to up your skills in your chosen area of accomplishment by taking a class, getting a coach, joining a goals accountability group, attending some seminars, reaching out and finding a mentor. It might be time to reach out to someone who has “done it” and ask them to help you learn how. 33


BOUNDARIES for THE NEW YEAR patterns that you would like to break, burnout, stress levels and the like. 2. Your “relational” life—i.e. the key relationships that make your life meaningful: God, marriage or dating, friendship and community, family and extended family, or even significant work relationships. 3. Your “performance” life— meaning, the degree to which you are identifying your dreams, talents, passions, and goals . . . and turning those into reality.

“ we will Without growth produce the same results that we have produced in the past.

Dr. Cloud is a renowned psychologist and co-author of the New York Times bestselling book, Boundaries. ALMOST EVERYONE gets to the end of the year and feels, Another year . . . where did it go, and what do I want for the next one?” And then we make a few resolutions to take a stab at changing the most glaring of the things we “want to be different.” And by the third week of January, those have gone by the wayside, and we are off to repeating the same old patterns. Happy New Year! So how about making this one a “real new year?” Let’s make it truly different in the areas of your life that really matter, and that we know matter to God. Let me suggest three:

So how do we do that? Well, we know the method that doesn’t work: a resolution to just be “different” in the new year. A resolution just to “stop eating or drinking,” or “start working out,” or “have a better marriage,” or “make a goal and achieve it.” Those tend to fall away pretty quickly, and the reason is simple: we are still the same person, and without growth, we will produce the same results that we have produced in the past. But I say this with all enthusiasm: it does not have to be that way! I have seen countless people make these changes, but it always happens in the same way, and that one is truly the “road less traveled.” Or as Jesus put it, “the narrow gate.” As He said, “Wide is the gate that leads to destruction and many are those

1. Your “clinical” life—meaning, how well you are. These are the issues like thriving, energy levels, depression, anxieties, fears, addictions or habit 32

These are just a few examples of the way Jesus tells us that changes are made. He tells us that when believers join together using their gifts to teach and support and help each other, we are “administering the grace of God in its various forms” to one another. (1 Peter 4: 10) And along with the grace, we are administering His truth and wisdom as well. The reason we stay stuck is that we are on a “self-help” program instead of hooking up with the grace of God that is available from people who have the gifts to help us. So reach out and find what you need from those He has gifted to help you. This year, do something different: draw a boundary to protect the time and resources you need to allocate to your own growth. If you do that, you can produce the fruits you desire in these three critical areas of life. And the prayer of John can be yours: "Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers." (3 John 1:2)

that go through it, and narrow is the gate that leads to life, and few are those that enter it.” (Matt. 7:13-14) And the “narrow gate” is not about willpower or just making a commitment to “be different” next year. That is the wide gate. The narrow one, and the one that works, is committing to something altogether different: committing to a structured path of growth that is going to produce the differences you want to make, and then joining that path and staying in the program. Here are some examples:

Clinical: If you are tired of feeling the way you feel, don’t just try to do better. Make the decision to go to a therapist, or join a group, or a recovery program, or get a trainer, or join a regular class. That is going to do more than willpower. It is going to provide you with God’s two great ingredients of growth: grace and truth. You will get the grace of support and care, along with the wisdom of someone who knows something about how to help you get there.

God Bless! —Henry

Relational: Maybe it’s time to finally go to counseling if you are in a rut. Or join a couples group. Or take a marriage class. Or get a dating coach. Or even with your extended family, get them to go to counseling with you. Make time to begin some serious study, listen to podcasts, or go to workshops on how to learn the new relationship skills you need.

Learn more about healthy boundaries on Dr. Cloud’s episode of the Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith video series! Go to jesuscalling.com/video.

You can find Dr. Cloud’s New York Times bestselling book Boundaries at your favorite book retailer today. And for more resources, check out his website at Boundaries.me.

Performance: It might be time to up your skills in your chosen area of accomplishment by taking a class, getting a coach, joining a goals accountability group, attending some seminars, reaching out and finding a mentor. It might be time to reach out to someone who has “done it” and ask them to help you learn how. 33


M U S I C

S P O T L I G H T

Rising Country Artist Raleigh Keegan Adoption Gave Me a Chance by Celeste Winstead COUNTRY ARTIST RALEIGH KEEGAN has learned a thing or two about finding identity—in his talents as a musician and songwriter, and recently, in his family of origin. Raleigh was born in a prison, where his biological mother was serving time on drug charges. A couple days later, he was adopted by the couple who became his parents.

Photo credit: David McClister

crying. You know, my wife hasn’t even seen me cry our entire relationship. It was just this strange feeling of, Oh, that’s my blood.

“I’ve always been so grateful to my birth mom for giving me a chance,” the Nashville-based performer says. “I viewed my adoption like, I’m just this lucky guy who has had this amazing life and amazing parents. “What’s funny is, the adoption agency messed up. It was supposed to be a closed adoption, but it was the guy’s first day, and he told my parents my birth mom’s name. So I always knew her name. One day I was sitting around with friends, and they told me I should look her up on Facebook. And three days later, she was in my life.” They made plans to meet at a local restaurant. And when mother and son laid eyes on each other for the first time in twenty-three years, their connection was instant. “I saw my mom for the first time, and she saw me—and we look just like each other. She starts crying, I start

“ meet my I wanted to birth mom to thank her. “My birth mom told me so many things about my life. If you Google my grandfather, he was in federal prison for robbing banks. I have a half-brother who is a professional poker player in Vegas. I found out all these crazy things about my family. “I wanted to meet my birth mom to thank her. I mean, she gave me a chance at life. I’ve always been so grateful to her.” A talented musician and songwriter since he was eight years old, these days Raleigh’s putting the finishing touches on his upcoming EP, Our First Goodbye. The title cut, which he wrote with Bryce Long and Kyle Jacobs, tells the story of Raleigh’s adoption and how it impacted his life. “I want to be a beacon of light to people and show that adoption is a great option. It was the biggest blessing of my life.” Look for Raleigh’s story on an upcoming episode of the Jesus Calling Podcast!

35


M U S I C

S P O T L I G H T

Rising Country Artist Raleigh Keegan Adoption Gave Me a Chance by Celeste Winstead COUNTRY ARTIST RALEIGH KEEGAN has learned a thing or two about finding identity—in his talents as a musician and songwriter, and recently, in his family of origin. Raleigh was born in a prison, where his biological mother was serving time on drug charges. A couple days later, he was adopted by the couple who became his parents.

Photo credit: David McClister

crying. You know, my wife hasn’t even seen me cry our entire relationship. It was just this strange feeling of, Oh, that’s my blood.

“I’ve always been so grateful to my birth mom for giving me a chance,” the Nashville-based performer says. “I viewed my adoption like, I’m just this lucky guy who has had this amazing life and amazing parents. “What’s funny is, the adoption agency messed up. It was supposed to be a closed adoption, but it was the guy’s first day, and he told my parents my birth mom’s name. So I always knew her name. One day I was sitting around with friends, and they told me I should look her up on Facebook. And three days later, she was in my life.” They made plans to meet at a local restaurant. And when mother and son laid eyes on each other for the first time in twenty-three years, their connection was instant. “I saw my mom for the first time, and she saw me—and we look just like each other. She starts crying, I start

“ meet my I wanted to birth mom to thank her. “My birth mom told me so many things about my life. If you Google my grandfather, he was in federal prison for robbing banks. I have a half-brother who is a professional poker player in Vegas. I found out all these crazy things about my family. “I wanted to meet my birth mom to thank her. I mean, she gave me a chance at life. I’ve always been so grateful to her.” A talented musician and songwriter since he was eight years old, these days Raleigh’s putting the finishing touches on his upcoming EP, Our First Goodbye. The title cut, which he wrote with Bryce Long and Kyle Jacobs, tells the story of Raleigh’s adoption and how it impacted his life. “I want to be a beacon of light to people and show that adoption is a great option. It was the biggest blessing of my life.” Look for Raleigh’s story on an upcoming episode of the Jesus Calling Podcast!

35


Alli Worthington: Living Happy, No Matter What the Year Brings “We live in this special time in history where we can learn anything we want to learn,” Alli says. “We can do anything we want to do, and it is absolutely magic. There are no gatekeepers. You don’t have to get permission from anyone to succeed.” As her husband hunted for a job, Alli searched online for ways to build a business and fell in love with online entrepreneurship. The harder she worked, the more her business succeeded—but every day, the fear that everything could fall apart again tugged the edges of her attention. To keep the fear at bay, she kept herself busy—in fact, a little too busy to enjoy the little things God had for her.

by Abigail Nibblett & Amy Kerr

Try Your Hand at Journaling! 1. What are your goals for this year?

2. What are three things you’re good at? How can you use those talents to help others?

Busyness is“our biggest struggle in this generation.

The beginning of the year is a season for self-reflection and goal setting. What do we want to accomplish? What changes are we going to make? How can we improve? Each day, we have the opportunity to live “happy,” but that doesn’t happen automatically; we have to train ourselves to default to joy, even when things aren’t going our way. Take it from Alli Worthington. Alli wears quite a few hats. She’s a mother of five, a business coach, an author. But a decade ago, her year was plagued by an onslaught of obstacles, one right after another. Because when it rains, it always seems to pour. “When I was pregnant with my fifth child, my husband lost his job. At that same time, the market began to crash. We lost our house. We didn’t have any money in the bank. “I secretly felt guilty and selfish at my own level of frustration, and fear, and sadness. But when we are aware of our fear, it allows us to be self-compassionate instead of self-critical. I believe that’s the way God wants us to treat ourselves: to be self-compassionate instead of beating ourselves up.” As Alli loosened her grip on fear, she decided to work with her situation instead of against it. And as a lover of the internet, her new motto became “With God and Google, we can take over the world.”

“We’re all busy, but there’s a big difference between living a full, healthy, productive life and busyness that comes down to burnout. We don’t have to fear the future, because He’s already there.” None of our lives are guaranteed. But these days, Alli doesn’t struggle with that nagging fear like she once did. “I think the key in life is to keep learning, to stay humble, and just don’t give up,” she says. “You can do this. You are stronger than you know.”

3. Name one small change you could make to help you live “happy” today.

Hear more of Alli’s story! Listen to her episode of the Jesus Calling Podcast at jesuscalling.com/podcast.

36

You can find Alli’s book, The Year of Living Happy, at your favorite book retailer today.

37


Alli Worthington: Living Happy, No Matter What the Year Brings “We live in this special time in history where we can learn anything we want to learn,” Alli says. “We can do anything we want to do, and it is absolutely magic. There are no gatekeepers. You don’t have to get permission from anyone to succeed.” As her husband hunted for a job, Alli searched online for ways to build a business and fell in love with online entrepreneurship. The harder she worked, the more her business succeeded—but every day, the fear that everything could fall apart again tugged the edges of her attention. To keep the fear at bay, she kept herself busy—in fact, a little too busy to enjoy the little things God had for her.

by Abigail Nibblett & Amy Kerr

Try Your Hand at Journaling! 1. What are your goals for this year?

2. What are three things you’re good at? How can you use those talents to help others?

Busyness is“our biggest struggle in this generation.

The beginning of the year is a season for self-reflection and goal setting. What do we want to accomplish? What changes are we going to make? How can we improve? Each day, we have the opportunity to live “happy,” but that doesn’t happen automatically; we have to train ourselves to default to joy, even when things aren’t going our way. Take it from Alli Worthington. Alli wears quite a few hats. She’s a mother of five, a business coach, an author. But a decade ago, her year was plagued by an onslaught of obstacles, one right after another. Because when it rains, it always seems to pour. “When I was pregnant with my fifth child, my husband lost his job. At that same time, the market began to crash. We lost our house. We didn’t have any money in the bank. “I secretly felt guilty and selfish at my own level of frustration, and fear, and sadness. But when we are aware of our fear, it allows us to be self-compassionate instead of self-critical. I believe that’s the way God wants us to treat ourselves: to be self-compassionate instead of beating ourselves up.” As Alli loosened her grip on fear, she decided to work with her situation instead of against it. And as a lover of the internet, her new motto became “With God and Google, we can take over the world.”

“We’re all busy, but there’s a big difference between living a full, healthy, productive life and busyness that comes down to burnout. We don’t have to fear the future, because He’s already there.” None of our lives are guaranteed. But these days, Alli doesn’t struggle with that nagging fear like she once did. “I think the key in life is to keep learning, to stay humble, and just don’t give up,” she says. “You can do this. You are stronger than you know.”

3. Name one small change you could make to help you live “happy” today.

Hear more of Alli’s story! Listen to her episode of the Jesus Calling Podcast at jesuscalling.com/podcast.

36

You can find Alli’s book, The Year of Living Happy, at your favorite book retailer today.

37


Hexagonal sigma maze with 12 cells side Start here!

the Cimorelli Sisters Growing up can be tough (!), and sometimes you just need your family to help you through it. The six Cimorelli sisters share a few fast facts about loving, getting along with and appreciating the power of family. MAKE TIME FOR FAMILY, EVEN WHEN YOU’RE BUSY

Lauren: Put in effort to make time for each other, like planning family dinners on Sunday nights and going on outings as a family. Making it a priority to check in with each other, and see how everyone’s doing—that’s also important. Everyone has a busy life, and you can fit into it what you make a priority. DON’T BEAR YOUR STRUGGLES ALONE—SOMETIMES FAMILY CAN HELP

Lisa: Our parents raised us with strong Christian values and a solid work ethic. Whenever we went through hard times, we knew not to give up without a fight. We’ve always been there for each other

if one of us is struggling. We have the ultimate support system in our family. STAY FRIENDS WITH YOUR SIBLINGS, EVEN WHEN YOU FIGHT

Christina: The hard part is that it takes two. You can’t control the other person’s behaviors, so you have to focus on your own. I like to gather my thoughts. Then, I ask the person to meet with me, and I will bring up my points in a calm manner. It’s important to try your best to see the situation from their side. We need to be having more open-minded conversations and trying to understand why we think the way we do.

Family Games & Puzzles

of the person on their birthday. It’s loud and fun and very heartwarming! Once we drove all the way from Sacramento, California to Houston, Texas in our van. It took three days and it was crazy! We didn’t take a lot of vacations because of how big our family is, but all the ones we went on were always memorable.

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24 (KJV)

FAMILY GIVES US ROOTS WITH GOD AS OUR FATHER

Amy: I stay rooted by keeping my roots in my faith. Praying and diving into my relationship with God keeps me on track and rooted in love and the security of His mercy and grace.

Katherine: Something I’ve learned over the years is that it’s important to be honest and tell people how you’re feeling, even though that can be awkward and uncomfortable. If something is bothering me, the more I keep it inside, the further we start drifting apart, and that’s just not worth it for me.

Find your way through the

honeycomb maze!

Puzzle 1 (Easy, difficulty rating 0.44)

1 4

8 6

1

3

3

4 2

8

5

1

4

6

9

Copyright © 2019 JGB Service, http://www.mazegenerator.net/

APPRECIATING FAMILY TIME AND TRADITIONS WILL MAKE GREAT MEMORIES

Dani: We have a family tradition where we go around the table and say a favorite memory or quality

Get more advice, and even some sister stories, from the Cimorellis! You can find their brand-new book, Believe in You, in stores today.

7

9

6

2

8

9

8 6

5 BROUGHT TO YOU BY ROOTEDFAMILY.COM, THE ONLINE HUB FOR ALL THINGS PARENTING.

Get instant access to the members-only RootedFamily.com community so that you can ask questions, get support, and feel inspired by people who are on the same parenting journey as you are. See more from Rooted Family by subscribing to their YouTube Page!

Facebook Group: @RootedFamily

9 8

3

8 5

Generated by http://www.opensky.ca/sudoku on Wed Oct 9 22:19:03 2019 GMT. Enjoy!

Try your hand at the

numbers puzzle!

Instagram: @RootedFamily

38

1

generated at opensky.ca

FAST FACTS for a LOVING FAMILY with

Finish drawing

the other half of the bee! Find the answers at RootedFamily.com/freebies

39


Hexagonal sigma maze with 12 cells side Start here!

the Cimorelli Sisters Growing up can be tough (!), and sometimes you just need your family to help you through it. The six Cimorelli sisters share a few fast facts about loving, getting along with and appreciating the power of family. MAKE TIME FOR FAMILY, EVEN WHEN YOU’RE BUSY

Lauren: Put in effort to make time for each other, like planning family dinners on Sunday nights and going on outings as a family. Making it a priority to check in with each other, and see how everyone’s doing—that’s also important. Everyone has a busy life, and you can fit into it what you make a priority. DON’T BEAR YOUR STRUGGLES ALONE—SOMETIMES FAMILY CAN HELP

Lisa: Our parents raised us with strong Christian values and a solid work ethic. Whenever we went through hard times, we knew not to give up without a fight. We’ve always been there for each other

if one of us is struggling. We have the ultimate support system in our family. STAY FRIENDS WITH YOUR SIBLINGS, EVEN WHEN YOU FIGHT

Christina: The hard part is that it takes two. You can’t control the other person’s behaviors, so you have to focus on your own. I like to gather my thoughts. Then, I ask the person to meet with me, and I will bring up my points in a calm manner. It’s important to try your best to see the situation from their side. We need to be having more open-minded conversations and trying to understand why we think the way we do.

Family Games & Puzzles

of the person on their birthday. It’s loud and fun and very heartwarming! Once we drove all the way from Sacramento, California to Houston, Texas in our van. It took three days and it was crazy! We didn’t take a lot of vacations because of how big our family is, but all the ones we went on were always memorable.

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24 (KJV)

FAMILY GIVES US ROOTS WITH GOD AS OUR FATHER

Amy: I stay rooted by keeping my roots in my faith. Praying and diving into my relationship with God keeps me on track and rooted in love and the security of His mercy and grace.

Katherine: Something I’ve learned over the years is that it’s important to be honest and tell people how you’re feeling, even though that can be awkward and uncomfortable. If something is bothering me, the more I keep it inside, the further we start drifting apart, and that’s just not worth it for me.

Find your way through the

honeycomb maze!

Puzzle 1 (Easy, difficulty rating 0.44)

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Copyright © 2019 JGB Service, http://www.mazegenerator.net/

APPRECIATING FAMILY TIME AND TRADITIONS WILL MAKE GREAT MEMORIES

Dani: We have a family tradition where we go around the table and say a favorite memory or quality

Get more advice, and even some sister stories, from the Cimorellis! You can find their brand-new book, Believe in You, in stores today.

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Generated by http://www.opensky.ca/sudoku on Wed Oct 9 22:19:03 2019 GMT. Enjoy!

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Begin your year with this passage from Jesus Calling

January 1 COME TO ME with a teachable spirit, eager to be changed. A close walk with Me is a life of continual newness. Do not cling to old ways as you step into a new year. Instead, seek My Face with an open mind, knowing that your journey with Me involves being transformed by the renewing of your mind. As you focus your thoughts on Me, be aware that I am fully attentive to you. I see you with a steady eye, because My attention span is infinite. I know and understand you completely; My thoughts embrace you in everlasting Love. I also know the plans I have for you: plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Give yourself fully to this adventure of increasing attentiveness to My Presence.

PSALM 27:8 • ROMANS 12:2 • JEREMIAH 29:11

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Jesus Calling Magazine Winter 2020  

The Jesus Calling Magazine, a quarterly publication committed to sharing stories of faith.

Jesus Calling Magazine Winter 2020  

The Jesus Calling Magazine, a quarterly publication committed to sharing stories of faith.

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