MÃla Volume TWO | Issue 005
our vision: To encourage women to speak
themselves and others in the spirit despite what society tells them.
Mila (Digital) ISSN 2574-4992
Editor-in-Chief: Krista Dunbar
Layout Designer: Krista Dunbar
Lettering: Lindsee Walker
Photographer: Lauren Krauter, Krauter Photography
MĂla Made Woman Sarah Clark Candice Richey
Writers: Rachel Van Hook Paulette Stamper Autumn Rae Jennifer Edewaard Joni Scott Dija Henry
Model: Sarah Clark
LOCATION: Acorn Farm Camp
THE TRIBE 3
Who Is Míla? A Míla-Made woman is a woman who desires to wake up each morning pursuing the Lord, however imperfect that journey may be. She desires to live a life saturated in Christ’s grace, knowing that she can’t earn her freedom. She lives a brave story seeking to open her hands and heart to what the Lord has for her, choosing to praise Him in the good and the hard. And she desires to leave her mark on the world, with her own unique legacy. We’ve decided to ask YOU (the everyday woman in our community)! And this is what you’ve said: “God has given each of us a measure of talent. In those talents, He has instilled in us hopes and dreams that He wants us to pursue and follow. When we do, He receives the glory when we are Kingdomminded. He wants us to be world changers in and through our gifts! Sometimes it’s difficult to juggle it all, but I remind myself daily that I am an OVERCOMER and that I can do all things through Christ.” – Sarah “A Míla-Made woman is someone who works hard, going beyond the call-of-duty, to fulfill her purpose and greatest potential [in the Kingdom, for the Father].” – Michaela “I love to work and be successful however, I also want to speak up about how being a woman is such an amazing experience because we are able to give life and nurture and we are such a huge voice even in the silence!” – Candice “Míla-Made means staying true to your beliefs, even when you sometimes find yourself standing alone. I live a brave story by keeping God In First Place. In doing so, everything else falls into place at the right time. I encourage others to live a brave story by sharing that each day, before you start your day, to first give Thanks to God for another day. Make and keep your appointment with God first.” – Teri “A Míla-Made woman is a woman who speaks and acts on whatever causes a revolution in her heart.” – Bailey “Being a Míla-Made woman, to me, means fearlessly and tirelessly pursuing your God-given dreams, even if it’s terrifying!” – Janelle “When I think back over just the past 20 years of my life, I review many days of darkness, stress, sadness, and messiness…but also beauty, fun, laughter, strength beyond my comprehension, blessing, and grace. You see, my life hasn’t always gone as I planned, but that’s just it–I, and you, are not in control of the “way things go”. I learned early in my 30’s that the best way to do life daily was by letting go and letting God lead the way, even in the times I just didn’t understand! I have learned so many lessons along the way and have had to cling willfully to scripture verses to get me through a day, a week, or a season. At times, when “the world” would have said “you are owed”, Who is Míla to you? Submit your responses here: or “take revenge” or “it’s not fair”, I have chosen to believe and trust only in my God and His promises.” – Debbie https://goo.gl/forms/V8I0Aw48RqPydcNr2
In this magazine, you will find four distinct sections: •Míla-Made (highlighting a Míla-Made woman) •Spiritual (to encourage our souls) •Society (on saturating our culture with Christ) •Speak Up (on advocating, fighting for justice, and speaking Truth over ourselves and others) We can’t wait for you to pore over these pages…
Dear Reader, I just want to tell you how much I appreciate you. If you’re reading this, that means you have chosen to step into a piece of my story, allowing me and the amazing writers who have contributed to this magazine the opportunity to encourage you, speak into your struggles, your day-to-day, or your dreams with words that are the equivalent of the simpler, “me too.” It was in the fall of 2013 that I visited the amazing organization, Mission of Hope International, in the Bondeni slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Our group had traveled with a pastor from Zambia who came to learn from the missionaries we were with as well as the organization itself. On the last night of his stay, we circled up for some of the most Spirit-filled prayers I’ve ever experienced. Following the prayer, the pastor came over to me and told me with intentionality that I would “speak for those who cannot speak for themselves”. In those days of singleness, wrestling with the idea of taking a job without purpose, and wondering when I would be able to pursue my dream of starting a magazine, these words were seared onto my heart. A few years later, I was looking through Proverbs and found those exact words. My insides jumped up and down as it clicked…the Lord spoke His truth over my heart through Proverbs 31:8. Proverbs 31:8 became the heartbeat for this magazine: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” The purpose of this magazine is to equip and encourage you and all women…to speak up for yourself and others in the Spirit despite what society says. I’ve needed something like this in my own life as I’ve matured through my 20’s…growing into my own personality through the obstacles of life in our current culture, and learning to use my own voice. I pray that the words of this magazine encourage you to do all of those things and more; finding your hope and trust in God, who made you exactly who you are... Knowing you are secure in the freedom and abundance of life that only Christ can give. I am so excited to share this fourth issue with you. I hope you’ll continue to join me on this journey. YOU…are a Míla-Made woman. Love,
in this issue...
If you’ve been following along with us for awhile, you’ve probably noticed that we aren’t the norm when it comes to how magazines work in our society.
“THE BEST WAY TO DO LIFE DAILY WAS BY LETTING GO AND LETTING GOD LEAD THE WAY, EVEN IN THE TIMES I JUST DIDN’T UNDERSTAND!”
You won’t find just one theme as a banner over each individual issue. You won’t find the hot topics or politically correct issues that plague our culture because more often than not...their effect polarizes people and makes headlines for the sake of brokenness. And that’s not what we are about. What you will find are women who have decided to follow Christ, waking up each day bravely putting one foot in front of the other...ready to take on the day and invite God to lead them through whatever comes their way. So...in each issue, there are three major sections: Society, Spirit/Spiritual, and Speak Up. Our society section is all about our actual lives and how Jesus shines Himself into every corner of them. Spirit/Spiritual section is just as it sounds... think of it as full-on encouragement to seek after Him. And Speak Up is a mix of highlighting organizations or women who seek to use their voice to speak up for the powerless, lowly, humble, and needy. And isn’t that just what we are? This issue features the topic of adoption, embracing our imperfect purpose, repentance, self worth, and one woman’s passion for filmmaking to speak up for others.
-DEBBIE DUNBARYou’ll also find some fun extras: -How to make your home cozy after the holidays (decor tips from our friend Hannah!) -Quiz: What kind of minimalist are you (by our minimalism expert, Anna Scott). Be sure to follow along with us on Instagram and Facebook for updates, encouragement, and our weekly feature of a Míla-Made woman! *If you would like to be featured, fill out a quick survey, upload your favorite picture, and we’ll be sure to put you in the queue! 7
A Letter from the Editor 6
The Bigger The Yes, The Bigger The Bless By Rachel Van Hook
In This Issue
Laying Down The To-Do List By Paulette Stamper
Finding My Unique Voice Through Storytelling By Dija Henry
Abundance In The Imperfect Purpose
Jesusâ€“With Skin On By Joni Scott
Knowing Your Worth By Autumn Rae
How To Make Your Home Cozy For Winter by Hannah Hastings & What Kind of Minimalist are you? by Anna Scott 35
Photo Credit: Krauter Photography
Sarah Clark is a fun-loving, passionate people-person. Your heart will light upon meeting her and her love for Jesus is contagious! Sarah and her husband Kitt, have been married for six years...they were high school sweethearts (precious). Kitt and Sarah have a wonderful Great Dane named Paisley. Sarah recently started her own interior decorating business called Copper & Blush. As for her day job? She works with young adults with special needs, preparing them for life after high school. What does being a Míla-Made woman mean to you? “It’s essential to have a voice in today’s busy world. Speaking up means not being ashamed of my core beliefs. Sharing your beliefs doesn’t have to be scary. It’s important to be true to who you are.” How do you live a brave story? “I have struggled with depression and anxiety since middle school. For me personally, being brave means accepting that as part of who I am and not allowing it to define me. I think some days I am braver than others, but that’s okay. So many people also struggle with mental health. It’s so important for me to let others know they are not alone. There is hope in each new day. How do you encourage others to do the same? “Positivity breeds positivity. It’s crucial to see the good in the world. The world can be such an ugly place, but it doesn’t have to be. Find the good in each day. God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” What kind of legacy do you want to leave? “My father passed away almost six years ago. He was the best example of Christ’s love, in my opinion. At his celebration of life, there were thousands and thousands of people. Each person shared a different story of how my father had left a positive impact on their lives. Some even shared how he was like a father figure to them. I don’t wish for thousands and thousands of people, I just wish to leave an impact on this life just like my father. 11
Míla-Made Candace is a wife, mother, worship leader, radio show personality, and personal trainer. She has a lot of irons in the fire, but that’s what makes her who she is. She is FULL of life and wants to live life to the fullest. “I want to serve God with my whole heart and give God the glory for allowing me to have so many opportunities to show RADICAL LOVE to others.” What does being a Míla-Made woman mean to you? “I love to work and be successful however, I also want to speak up about how being a woman is such an amazing experience because we are able to give life and nurture and we are such a huge voice even in the silence!” How do you live a brave story? “I feel as though my story is brave because it’s one of forgiveness! I have forgiven and therefore I’m free!” How do you encourage others to do the same? “I encourage woman to build each other up because a lot of our stories are similar and it takes us unifying together to teach each other to forgive and to heal!” What kind of legacy do you want to leave? “That I was a worshipper!”
Photo Credit: Alexis Worner
Candice Richey 12
I would have much rather dealt with the hard to help save them from the harder. But then I started to notice some of the ways the Lord had been working even when my tears were making my vision too blurry to see.
The bigger the yes, the bigger the bless By Rachel Van Hook I lost track of the amount of times I pulled this document up and watched the cursor blink at me. A slow blink that seemed to say, “You have nothing to say.” The clicking of the keys would begin slow and steady and then, one solid backspace until the words were gone and the striking white returned. When I excitedly agreed to write about our family’s adoption story, it was supposed to be a “Happily Ever After” type of article. The court date had been set. A photographer was ready to meet us at the courthouse to capture every precious moment of our big day. The package had arrived containing two youth-sized jerseys with our last name and 2017 on the back to represent the name change and the year it happened. We had even pulled the very last chain from our “Countdown To Court” paper chain. There was a substitute ready to cover for my class while I spent the day playing hookey and celebrating the adoption of the boys. Instead, here I sit, tears rolling, as I type out our unfinished story. Allow me to rewind to the beginning. It was March 5, 2016 and I was backing out of the thrift store parking lot with my three sweet girls. Kennedy is our oldest, followed by 7-year-old JulieAnne, and then there’s Amelia, the fierce 5-year-old. This particular day, we were on a serious mission for some classroom supplies as I prepped to begin my first year of teaching in the fall. My phone rang and as I looked down, I noticed the name of a church friend I hadn’t talked to or heard from in about three years.
Astonished, I answered. This friend was looking for information about someone Facebook told her I was friends with. A process more commonly referred to as “Facebook stalking.” Although I was Facebook friends with the person she was asking me about, we weren’t real-life friends, so I had nothing to offer. I told her I was sorry and prepared to end the conversation when my phone friend decided to tell me why she was Facebook stalking. As the conversation continued, my chest began to tighten and tears began sneaking slowly down my cheeks. This Nana had two three-year-old twin grandbabies in the foster care system in Arizona that she was desperately trying to get back to Tennessee to be adopted before they disappeared into the system forever. As Nana shared a few of the details of the boys’ story, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. On New Year’s Eve a few months prior, I had called my best friend and lawyer to tell her we were ready to begin the adoption process when we returned from our end-ofFebruary Disney cruise. So there I sat, not even a week after our cruise, on the most life-changing phone call of my life. My prayer journal entries date back to October 28, 2014 and include prayers such as, “May we seek your will and guidance 110% as we make moves toward adopting. I pray complete blessings on our adoption and ask that you would bless us with the most precious baby boy in the world.” December 22, 2014 I wrote, 15
“As we begin praying for our son, I ask that you would open every door so wide as we begin to walk through. Prepare Chuck and I for the journey. Grant us wisdom, patience and the financial means to say YES to this calling. Lord help us to seek you every step of the way. That baby boy will be yours. He will do HUGE things for you and your kingdom.” This date’s prayer ends with words I may or may not regret right about now.
journey had been a quick and easy process, how would God have the opportunity to show up and show out? After all, I had asked him to do big and mighty things. People, when God does big and mighty things, it hurts. Were you aware? Have you been there? Have you ever given a resounding “YES!” that lead you right into the pits of depression, anxiety, heartache, worry, restlessness, and exhaustion?
“I ask that you would do big and mighty things in our adoption and that it would be the loudest testimony of how incredible you are and how you provide in the most beautiful ways.”
Back to real time. I’ve learned just a few things over the past two years. I would love to share them with you and I pray you are challenged.
Why do we do that to ourselves? What in the world was I thinking to pray such bold prayers. Didn’t I stop to consider that asking God to show out in my life might be the most dangerous prayer I could ever pray? Looking back on those bold prayers, I question my impulsivity because over the last couple of years, showing out is exactly what God has done.
First, God is looking for willing servants. Willing to do what you may ask? I honestly don’t think He cares! I think He just wants us to say “yes” when he calls. One of my favorite things to say is, “The bigger the yes, the bigger the bless.” I promise it’s true.
So back to March 5th. Nana finished up the story of her twin grandsons and I could hardly choke out the words, “You’re not going to believe this, but we have been praying to adopt and asked that God would send us a baby down the river that fell into our laps just like Moses.” Nana immediately begin crying as well and we sat on the phone in silence for what seemed like eons.
Second, God doesn’t call us to do easy things. Why would He? Our God is a big God. When asked to do mighty works, He will pull out all the stops to make sure His name is in lights. As it should be. What are you doing in your life that is hard? Have you said “yes” to God knowing it could be uncomfortable? When life is easy, we have a tendency to be independent, and when things get tough, we tend to lean in.
After we pulled ourselves together and ceased the blubber fest, we made plans to pray and meet back together in a few days at the McDonalds playplace, because that’s where most people meet up to pray about adoptions right? The following days have pages and pages of tear-stained prayer journal entries. I begged God to reveal himself to us. I sought confirmation and guidance. I had my eyes and ears open for the Lord to tell us “yes, move forward in adopting these boys!”
Lastly, we serve a God who is oh-so-jealous for us. I’m reading a book called “Bridal Intercession” by Gary Wiens and it takes a close look at an intimate relationship with Christ. My whole world has been rocked as I consider the way my Jesus longs for me. Looking back on these last two years, I see how much I have needed Jesus every hour of every day. When the tides rise and the storms rage, and I feel as if the twins will slip through my fingers at any moment, I realize that I am not alone. My Jesus wants me to want him so badly.
I was on my way to work one morning and I heard the sweet still whisper of the Spirit saying, “What if I don’t confirm it? What if I ask you to step out of the boat without a life jacket, in the dark, and you can’t see me? Will you still say yes knowing it’s my will and I have already answered your prayers? Will you follow me where there are no borders?” That was it. We had already prayed the prayers and God was showing up to see if we would hold up our end of the deal. Because let’s be honest, sometimes we pray prayers that we never intend to follow through on. How many times have I prayed prayers because it seems like the Christian thing to do? -It was a yes. I called my husband and told him it was time we said yes. Things begin spiraling. I sent an email that rushed an adoption packet and pile of paperwork to our house and we began preparing for the boys to make their way back to Tennessee at the end of March. We bought a few basic things and built bunk beds to house the blonde cuties. Before we knew it, March 30th had arrived and I was anxiously stirring mac-n-cheese and peeking out the window to meet the boys for the first time.
During the ups and downs of our adoption journey, I have needed Jesus in ways that I would never have known had I not given the yes of obedience to answer His call on our life. Here’s my challenge, to myself and to us all. Say “yes” to doing big things that give God the opportunity to show off. Tell your story. Your testimony is what the Spirit will use to change the lives of others. Trust that He will never leave you when you feel like you’re sinking. Remember we serve a God whose love language is intimacy. What does that look like for you? What opportunities are you giving Him to call you into a deeper relationship which ultimately leads to the love story of a lifetime and the transformation of lives around us? The boys have lived with us the last year and a half and we have a new court date set for February of this year. They will grow up to become mighty warriors with a faith journey that I pray brings salvation to their family line, very similar to the story of Moses and his brother Aaron who grew up to rescue an entire nation because of their faith and obedience.
I would love to say the rest is history, but here we are close to two years later and are still waiting for finalization. It seemed as if it would be a quick and easy process. But if our adoption 16
“DIDN’T I STOP TO CONSIDER THAT ASKING GOD TO SHOW OUT IN MY LIFE MIGHT BE THE MOST DANGEROUS PRAYER I COULD EVER PRAY?”
Rachel Van Hook
A Tennessee girl through and through, Rachel Van Hook has a Master’s in Education from Johnson University. She teaches at a Montessori school and is currently pursuing Montessori training. Her and her husband helped launch Journey Church in her hometown of Jackson, TN where they are raising their five kids. Rachel enjoys the spotlight and takes advantage of any opportunity to share her passions of faith and family whether it be teaching, writing, speaking or social media. Follow her on Instagram and check out her blog @racheljvanhook and racheljvanhook. com.
Laying Down The To-Do List By Paulette Stamper Let me begin with a dose of honesty. Hi, my name is Paulette, and this is not my favorite time of year. The Christmas decorations have come down, the new year has rolled in and the color grey seems to dominate everywhere I look. The weatherman gives me no hope of a break, and I’m trying not to hold him personally responsible. I’m convinced that it’s possible to literally crave sunshine. We are well into the long, cold space between Christmas and Spring that seems to drag on for eternity. (My apologies to those of you who love this time of year. I just can’t relate. I don’t know how to talk to you, but I’m sure we can still be friends.) By now, we are either high-fiving ourselves for sticking to our New Year’s Resolutions or we’ve begun telling ourselves, “Oh well, there’s always next year!” If we are being honest, most of us will admit to fitting snuggly into the latter category. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to New Year’s Resolutions. As Christians, the motives behind our resolutions are generally good. We intend to ‘kick it up a notch’ and do good to ourselves and others in the new year. We add more “todo’s” onto our existing To-Do lists, with the hope that the “do’s” will make us better people.
Now, just to be clear, I’m all about growing and improving and “doing good.” If you look for the phrase “do good” in the Bible, you will find it makes an appearance quite often! No one would argue that adding “do good” things on our To-Do lists is a bad thing. However, if check marks on our To-Do list becomes our sole goal, we are in danger of missing the most important goal of all. You may be surprised that Jesus addressed this very issue. There’s a sweet little lesson for the To-Do list makers tucked in a letter to His followers in the ancient city of Ephesus. Why not read it for yourself? It’s only seven verses long. You’ll find it in Revelation 2:1-7. “I know your deeds.” – Revelation 2:2 Jesus began the letter by telling them he was well aware of their To-Do lists. Before we talk about their deeds, let’s talk about the cool fact that Jesus told them he “knew” their deeds. When was the last time that you considered that Jesus just flat knows everything there is to know about you? And by everything, I mean everything. It reminds me of a few 20
ever be wasted. However,
“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” – Hebrews 4:13
Knowledge of the truth will never be enough.
“You perceive my thoughts from afar.” Psalm 139:2 “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind.” – Jeremiah 17:10 The Ephesian church would not have appeared dead to those outside. In fact, its own members didn’t know they had a problem, because they were so busy checking things off their To-Do lists. And their To-Do lists didn’t include things that were meaningless. They were engaged in kingdom work that mattered. They persevered even to the point of enduring hardships. They exhibited patience and willingness to suffer for their faith. This level of endurance and perseverance does not happen by accident. No one accidentally perseveres. Perseverance under opposition only occurs when a decision has been made to persevere –a decision that must be made beforehand. None of us will ever be able to withstand persecution if we wait until we are being persecuted to decide to stand firm. You and I must resolve today to be faithful in all our tomorrows. “I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.” – Revelation 2:2 The Ephesians had studied and learned the Scriptures so when they encountered false teaching from those that claimed to be apostles but weren’t, they recognized it immediately. You and I must strive to be diligent and serious students of the word of God. We mustn’t rely solely on teachers or preachers to spoon-feed us doctrine. We must be responsible students and study the Scriptures for ourselves so we will know truth and recognize false teachings when they creep up. We must also be a part of a strong community of believers who will prayerfully and faithfully confront false teachings when they arise. “You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.” – Revelation 2:3 I love that Jesus adds, “and have not grown weary.” This suggests that although the members of this congregation had endured much hardship, they were still fighting the good fight. They would continue to rally for the truth no matter what because backing down was not in their DNA. May the same be said of us. Studying and teaching the truth in Scripture is my life’s greatest passion. It never ceases to amaze me how God can still show me something new from a passage I’ve read countless times. God’s word really is alive and active. Because of the way I am wired, I relate to the members of this ancient church so well. (I bet my To-Do list looked a lot like theirs did.) I know how good it feels to study and uncover the truth, especially as the culture continues to grow increasingly dark around me. Not a moment of the time we spend increasing our knowledge of the Bible will
We might be tempted to believe that a thorough study and knowledge of God’s word is sufficient. If that were the case and if the church in Ephesus was being graded, they would have received an A+ and the letter from the Lord Jesus Christ would have merely consisted of a brief acclamation. I suspect it would have read something like this: Dear Church in Ephesus, I am super impressed with all those check marks on your To-Do list! Y’all have obviously studied and could pass a theological test with flying colors. Hooray, you! Good job, church. Way to call out those false teachers! Knowing the truth is the most important thing you could possibly do. Keep up the good work! Love, Jesus I don’t know whether Jesus would use the word “y’all,” (but come on, he probably does and you know it) but I do know for certain he would never send a letter like that. Nowhere in Scripture are we told that simply knowing the truth is the most important thing. Oh, don’t get me wrong; knowing truth is important. Incredibly important. Knowing the truth is our first defense against the enemy’s deception. Knowing the truth is the only way we will know true freedom. Does the phrase, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free” ring any bells? Of course it does (John 8:32). So YES, knowing the truth is vital. However, truth without love is merely knowledge. And based on the rest of the letter, the Ephesians needed a lot more than just knowledge of the truth, they needed to remember their love for the truth, and so do you, and so do I. Try to imagine what it would have been like on that Sunday morning when this letter was read to the Ephesian congregation. They probably had big grins on their faces while the first few lines were read. It probably felt like they were getting a high-five from Jesus! How proud they must have been. Then the other proverbial shoe dropped. “Yet I hold this against you.” – Revelation 2:4 Our theology must allow room for a Savior who not only saves, but who also holds things against his followers. Now, I realize that for some, this may seem counter to what you know or have been taught about Jesus. Maybe your image of Jesus is one of a gentle-always-smiling-always-holdinga-small-lamb-blessing-children-wearing-a-white-robe-hairblowing-in-the-breeze-kumbaya-singing-Jesus. If that’s the case, then when you read, “I hold this against you,” your fur rubbed the wrong way. Please don’t panic. Just stick with me. I believe I’ll be able to show you that Jesus isn’t being moody, mean, or hateful by holding something against them. Scripture tells a consistent love story. From the first chapter in Genesis to the last chapter in Revelation, it tells of a loving Father and his plan of redemption for his children. He 21
sent his one and only Son to pay the price for our sin that separated us from him. Beautifully interwoven throughout the story is the picture of the God who wants us to be in a relationship with him, to be fully satisfied by him and to find our ultimate purpose in him. As our Creator, he knows exactly what we need. As our loving Father, He provides exactly what we need. Our greatest need is God and he freely gives of himself to anyone who asks. The Ephesians had clearly forgotten the love they once had for the Lord Jesus Christ and for the Father and had instead replaced their love with a well-meaning, but empty, To-Do list. By pointing this out, Jesus displayed his longing for them to return.
that you have forgotten why they are on your list in the first place? Repentance allows us to make a change. Not just a change of circumstances, but also a change of mind. Jesus longed for the Ephesians to repent, to lay down their To-Do lists and fall back in love with him, and he longs for us to do the same. We too can repent, and choose to change how we have been doing things and return to our first love. In other words, we can stop following our To-Do list and follow our Savior instead.
“You have forsaken the love you had at first.” Revelation 2:4 The Ephesians remembered to stand firm in the face of opposition, combat false teaching, and work hard for the kingdom, but they had forgotten the reason why they were doing those things. It should send a shudder down our spine when we realize that it is possible to hold unswervingly to the truth of Scripture, work hard for the Lord, even endure hardships and persecutions for his name’s sake, and still forget the reason why.
Jesus tells them in verse five to “consider” or to “remember” how far they had fallen. This requires an act of the will involving the mind. Not only did they need to take an inventory of their heart, they needed to give serious thought to how they used to be. Are you and I willing to do the same? If your relationship with the Lord isn’t currently where you’d like it to be, please don’t fret. Jesus offered a solution that will get us where we want to be. “Repent and do the things you did at first.” Revelation 2:5 Jesus offered the Ephesians a sure-fire way to get back to the love relationship with him they once had. It all hinged on one word: repent. This little six letter word is powerful. Let’s make sure we grasp all we can about what it means to repent. Check out the definition: Metanoeo–from meta–denoting a change of place or condition and noeo – to exercise the mind, think, comprehend. To repent, change the mind, relent. Theologically, it means to change one’s mind or disposition toward God. More specifically, to repent is to undergo a moral reorientation of the soul in which one acknowledges the error of his ways and turns toward the divinely prescribed way of truth and righteousness. Repentance is not merely acknowledging wrongdoing. It is not merely saying, “I’m sorry.” Repentance is not feeling bad because you were caught doing wrong. Repentance is much, much more than that. Did you catch this part of the definition? “To repent is to undergo a moral reorientation of the soul.” God’s heart is always that we turn to him in repentance. Can you relate to the Ephesians? Has your To-Do list subtly replaced your love and passion for Jesus? Have you become so accustomed to checking off the good things on your list
Photo Credit: Jill Ruddle
Paulette Stamper is a speaker, writer and teacher of women’s Bible studies in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is the founder of Ignite Women (IgniteWomen.com), an online source that equips and encourages women through Bible studies and other tools. Her passion is to see women develop into passionate and articulate followers of Jesus and students of His Word. She has authored multiple Bible studies including “Sand Surfers – Encountering God and Discovering Divine Purpose in the Desert”, “Rescued – A Journey from Darkness to Light”, “MindShift”, “Simply Mark”, and “Simply Jesus”, just to name a few. She has also authored one book, “Straight-Up Crazy: A Call to Radical Faith”. Her most recent Bible study is based on Revelation 1-3, “Got Ears? Seven Letters, Seven Churches”. Her life verse is Ezra 7:10, “Ezra devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.” You can follow Paulette on Twitter at @PauletteStamper and find her Bible studies on PauletteStamper.com. Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Have you run into a crisis of identity before? These seasons can lead us down roads of all the self things: self actualization, self esteem, self focus, self elevation. Or, the perceived crisis can lead us down a holy, productive, growth movement toward our soul-knowledge and rootedness in Godâ€™s love for who we are, not just what He has called us to.
Abundance In The Imperfect Purpose by Jennifer Edewaard
An abundant life, a fullness of Christ’s joy, peace, strength–a life where our powerful God “Faithful and absolutely trustworthy is He who is calling you [to Himself for your salvation], and He will do it [He will fulfill His call by making you holy, guarding you, watching over you, and protecting you as His own]. – 1 Thessalonians 5:24 AMP. This is the life that we have graciously and miraculously been given; It is an imperfect purpose that we get to live, because He calls us to it. You desire that abundant life. You thirst for a deep relationship with the faithful Lord. You want to get away from the busy, and find His purpose in your life, in this season, with what you have. You want your imperfections to thrive in your purpose. You want to dig into His truths and live out His glory in the life He has called you to. Sometimes this means that we have to get really still and quiet and communicate so fervently with Jesus, and other times this means we are going to be running, running to Him, for Him, on mission–yet in both places, He is present in us. Our imperfections are invitations to seek the Lord’s grace and be filled with His perfection. We can embrace our brokenness.
sweet boys that I could cuddle and shower with all of God’s grace and love. I had so many dreams and names in the back of my mind. Being a mama was a purpose I believed God wanted for me. As I mentioned before, I am not the main character and because He is, His plans needed to surface so that I could, in fact, experience a love of my Father like never had before. I was diagnosed with unexplained infertility, PCOS, and Hashimoto’s. Yet, I still was confused, I had all these answers on paper but still, it was hard for me to wrap my head around. It was a long two years and it took a lot of time for me to process it all and seek Him. I spent a lot of time hiding in Him as my imperfections sometimes made me feel less than, yet He was faithful and reminded me time and time again that when I embraced the imperfections His grace was even more present. I’ve been through more than two years of unexplained infertility, (which is still ongoing). At two years we did our first round of IVF. On the first attempt, we got pregnant. I still get chills when I playback that phone call as the nurse told me I was pregnant— it was the happiest moment in my life. But life didn’t suddenly become perfect as I delivered our miracle son, Mason at 23 weeks. I was at a loss for words for a long time. We spent five months in the NICU, and we were told that our son had no chance of survival and that if he did survive, he would never live a normal life. Yet, how we define normal is actually abundance in Christ no matter the outcome. Praise the Lord because he is healthy with many hurdles overcome and still ahead of us, but a boy who knows Jesus even at a young at of three.
OUR IMPERFECT PURPOSE CALLS US TO LIVE ABUNDANTLY IN HIS GRACE, SEEK HIS TRUTH AND STAND IN HIS GLORY. We might be walking on earth but we live in His Kingdom, which means we can quiet the noise around us and turn our eyes to Jesus. He has already won the war and he has designed your life to shine light onto his glory. You were created with a purpose. Our imperfections allow for His grace to show. When we live intentionally and cultivate the imperfections of our life, when we are able to lean into them, to embrace them, we show and reflect His abundant grace.
IT WAS THROUGH THAT EXPERIENCE THAT I FOUND MYSELF AT A POINT IN MY LIFE WHERE I HAD A CHOICE TO EITHER STAY STRONG, BE POSITIVE, AND GET GRATEFUL FOR MY SON AND MY FAMILY, OR NOT.
I AM NOT THE MAIN CHARACTER OF MY LIFE, YOU ARE NOT THE MAIN CHARACTER OF YOUR LIFE. HE IS.
I knew that I needed to choose joy and live my life in God’s strength, not mine. I knew that the only way the three of us would survive this was to choose the little-by-little progress in each day, as some days were life and death within those five months and even after coming home. I can say this honestly, that no matter the circumstance, suffering, or journey, He is simply calling us closer, and will never leave us. He is using these moments of digging, pruning, and planting, in our lives to connect with us on an even deeper level as He is teaching us and revealing Himself to us.
Over the last several years, my life has been turned upside down. I was walking through life with Christ–a new state which I now called home, recently married, a fresh graduate from college, new perspectives. Yet I found myself empty at times, not seeking Him in everything when I fully knew that He was and is the only true filling of my soul. There were many times I sat and reflected on my life and digging for my meaning and vision He had for me. If you have ever felt a tug from the Holy Spirit, you will know what I mean when I say, I was being tugged–I didn’t quite have His answers and I was at a point of understanding that that was okay and that this was all part of my story He has written for me. Shortly after this time period little did I know He would begin to unravel many parts of Himself onto me, many imperfect moments, imperfections in my life that were in fact so perfect because they were rooted in who Christ is, and how He was going to use me as a tool for His Kingdom. I will be very honest here that we will not always see how Christ is going to glorify His story in us, it may never fully be understood and we need to just trust Him, easier said than done but is a piece of small progress that I work on every day in my life.
There have been many times in the last 6 years or so that I have let my imperfections define who I was, to fall into a trap of thinking that I am less than–when I decided that I no longer wanted to pursue becoming a doctor, and instead I chose real estate for a while. So much of that transition left me feeling lost and seeking His purpose in my life. As I went through infertility there where many days where I believed lies that it was my fault, that I had caused these issues with my body. Then there were, even more, times when I blamed myself for delivering my son early–all thoughts and emotions that I had to break free from because that was not God’s plan and purpose for me or for infertility and the premature birth. Honestly, friends, the struggles are still there as I break free from these imperfections defining me on a daily basis. There are moments when I am at doctors visits and therapy appointments with Mason and I will slip
The door to infertility opened not long after my husband and I were married and wanted to start a family. I had always envisioned four boys running around in the backyard, four 25
two in heaven, and I am not finished.” As much as I seek Him, God found me, He loves me unconditionally. He has found you too friend.
back into turning the imperfections to blame and down a spiral that is not at all what He wants for my life. I am here to tell you that no matter the imperfection, we can BREAK FREE because He is in our future–He is going to use all of it the way He desires, and that might not be an easy thing to swallow. It might not be what you want or what I want, but when we can surrender it all to Him and allow Him to make a beautiful thing out of it–that is when we can be free from the imperfections making us believe we can exist and be on our own.
You see the closer we are to embracing our imperfections, we are that much closer to understanding how much we need Him. We were made imperfect because He wants us to need Him, to run to Him and lay it all out–and His grace covers us. He gives that to us unconditionally. In our lives, these imperfect moments, situations, feelings, thoughts, they are part of His plan, and we have to know that we can’t fast forward through them. Many times they will last for a season, or years, and sometimes they will remain forever. Yet we get to remain in Him, and that is where we see Him unfold in our lives. Our broken world would have us think that we need to get out of the imperfections–let me emphasize getting out and breaking free are two very different things. Getting out of the imperfections is not embracing them, it is believing a lie that we don’t need Him. Breaking free from them defeating and disqualifying you is a very different idea. It is the premise that when we allow ourselves the space and time in the imperfection we are in fact intensifying the connection with Him–we begin to see God at work in our lives thru the imperfections and know that we are defined by Christ only, and the imperfections make way for us to stand in His glory.
We have to begin to trace the source of our internal thoughts and ideas that we have. If we are truly metabolizing His words to fuel our minds, then we can fully thrive in the living truth. We become grounded in Christ which is an essential part of breaking free from the imperfections defining us, and instead, we begin to thirst for more of Him. To have such a deep love for the Lord that you feel as if He is standing right there with you. I experienced this many times, particularly in the NICU, I vividly remember when I literally had to just fall to my knees and just sink to Him. God reminded me that my imperfections are not weaknesses, they are opportunities to cling to Him, seek Him, hear Him. I heard Him over the constant ringing alarms in the hospital day after day for five months, over the chest compressions on my son many times, in the hospice room, and on the walk out of hospice as Mason was moved to a room of life. I will also share that there will also be times when you can’t quite make out His voice, or see the light, or run to Him–but know that He is not disqualifying you, He wants you to grow closer, connect with Him even further. If you remember I mentioned earlier that I had this vision of always having four boys, well I want to share something very special, places where I truly heard Christ, I was able to grasp His grace in my life even after the pain and joy that I experienced with infertility and my premature son. We felt the time was right to begin to try to have another baby, Mason was at a stable place in his journey and we trusted that if it was in God’s plan it would be. Since we did IVF, and I had to have extra testing because they didn’t know why I was unable to get pregnant on my own–they knew the genders of the embryos that we transferred. We not allowed, and we did not want to choose, but if a transfer resulted in a pregnancy they could tell us after several weeks, before the typical timing. One attempt, no success, second attempt in June of 2016–pregnant with another boy. Yet a few weeks later I was being rushed into emergency surgery, in a very close call situation with my life and losing that precious boy God made. My heart and body needed to heal, but I heard His whispers the rest of that year. We tried again in July of 2017, and it was all too familiar this time. Pregnant with another baby boy, yet another very close call with my life and another precious soul that was lost way too soon. Both babies never got to be held, but I know and trust God is showing them all the love I was not able to here on earth. I will say I was devastated, it hurt for a long time, and it still does. God fills me though with His persistent faithfulness, even thru the wilderness, I get to be filled with Mason’s joy every day, and their imprint in my life is there every moment of my days. His whispers the last few years were even more clear though, these imperfections, these purpose-filled times in my life and He so clearly spoke, “There are your three boys so far, one your miracle on earth, and
Photo Credit: Bryn Lindsey Photography
Jennifer Edewaard is a daughter of the King, a grateful wife to Jonathan, and a blessed mama to her miracle son, Mason. Most days, you can find her sipping on coffee (probably a few cups throughout the day warmed up several times, of course), making beautiful messes, and running around with her little guy. She lives in the breathtaking state of Colorado and enjoys spending her time with her family exploring the outdoors, venturing into the mountains for all of its peacefulness and beauty, and curling up with her Bible, journal, a cup of coffee, a few books, writing and digging into God’s truth. Her mission is to equip you to embrace your imperfect purpose, to encourage and inspire you to live that purpose rooted in Christ, to choose an intentional life, and stop striving for perfection. Jennifer believes that we can all embrace our imperfections as they lead us to our purpose. She holds true to live abundantly in His grace, seek His truth, and stand in His glory.
“SO THAT CHRIST MAY DWELL IN YOUR HEARTS THROUGH FAITH—THAT YOU, BEING ROOTED AND GROUNDED IN LOVE, MAY HAVE STRENGTH TO COMPREHEND WITH ALL THE SAINTS WHAT IS THE BREADTH AND LENGTH AND HEIGHT AND DEPTH, AND TO KNOW THE LOVE OF CHRIST THAT SURPASSES KNOWLEDGE, THAT YOU MAY BE FILLED WITH ALL THE FULLNESS OF GOD.”
ABOUT THE ROOTED JOURNAL: This journal began at points in our lives when different circumstances and situations needed peace, comfort, joy, guidance, and love. It started out as words on a page, and quickly grew to pages and pages–a deeper relationship with Christ. He is who we run to, who we pour our thoughts on, sit in His presence, and rest in the freedom and peace He faithfully gives us. His grace fully embraced us, and as we get honest with Him, it is clear that we can see and feel that our trust needs to be rooted in Him alone. He is the only one that can truly make us feel alive no matter where we are in life or what season we are in. We need a place that we can be raw and open with him. He sees us in all places in our lives and knows our thoughts–therefore, we can quiet our minds and still our bodies as we sit in His truth. We have to fully root ourselves in what He says about us, the lives we are living, His purpose for us–trusting that He has covered us in His promises and His grace. He has created this life, the breath in our lungs, to be a reflection of Him–and He never leaves us to wander in the pastures by ourselves. He will never let these roots grow in a way that He can’t use them. The roots below create purpose for the branches and the leaves that grow, wither, and regrow. When we see our lives in this light, we can see Christ. Let this journal be a witness to the glory that God has in your life. The journal is divided into two sections: God Listens + God Promises. The God Listens sections is for time to sit in His presence. The vision for this section is to have full awareness and connection with Christ. We intentionally wanted to keep it as simple and open as possible. Just write–it is your letter, your conversation, your thoughts. As you will see, there are blank lines, and our hope is that these lines will be filled up with anything that is on your heart and mind that you want to speak to Christ about. When we can create a habit of going to Christ throughout our day or maybe just for a minute, whatever that looks like for you–know that this is not another thing to add to your plate. Instead as we create rhythms of meeting Christ wherever we need Him, that we are transformed in His grace. When we prayed about this journal for you we wanted you to draw near to His throne of grace. To have full understanding that whatever we write or speak to him that He is right there beside us. Let this be your space to break up the soil and dig deep into the roots that breathe life that is hidden beneath. This is your conversation with God, allow yourself to share all things on your heart and mind–to fill this space where God already sees you, to know Him more. Let us repeat, He already sees you–He loves you, and He pours His grace over you everyday. He desires this relationship with us and when we can fall so deeply in love with Him, we can live a life full of the freedom He graciously bestowed upon us. “If we want to be able to sense His direction, we must slow down, quiet our hearts, and listen for the way His spirit communicates”. Pricilla Shirer, Discerning the Voice of God
in thought. We find our Yes in Him. He is the reason at the tip of the roots and the ends of the branches...we see His glory in all the things, no matter the circumstance. We can pour out what we hear from Him as we walk with Him. It is important for us to walk in His grace, allowing His truths to come to the surface as we dig into the roots beneath, letting it soak in. Then we stand in His truth, embracing it with all of our being. We preach the Gospel and God’s promises to ourselves. When we can allow His word to speak to us in the moments in our days, we will know and feel His presence. Let this be your space to get still in order to hear God...we believe you will hear from Him. We do know that sometimes this is something we might struggle with, wondering if it is really God. Has this thought even come up for you? Is this Christ or are these my heart’s wants, needs, or desires? We might not hear the audible voice of God, but He quietly and gently speaks to our souls. The most important filter we can put in place when we think God is speaking to us is: “Does it line up with scripture?” We believe if it lines up with scripture, it is God speaking to your heart. We must declare His truths over our lives, over the soils that each new season brings. He is a promise maker and a promise keeper. Allow this section to be a place where you listen to Him. Let Him respond to you, sit in it, wrestle with it and write down the truths and promises that He is speaking to you. “In the regular rhythms of life, it means being willing to wait and watch, to sense where God is moving before I hurry to make a decision. It means not having all the answers I’d like to have but not becoming frazzled by that, staying quiet and patient as He gives me what I do need to know, understanding that this “empty space”- this listening posture makes me so jumpy and uncomfortable. It’s exactly the void He can fill with His divine wisdom and direction. It means being attentive to the undercurrent of His ongoing activity beneath the surface of my everyday happenings.” Pricilla Shirer, Discerning the Voice of God Over the last few years, we have needed to dig beneath the surface in our lives, and we have seen that there is life that is given to all areas, and it stems back to Christ. As we tend to the roots of our being, we are able to grow and can agree with what He has spoken over our life. When we stop ignoring the roots, we can experience how He sees us, how He speaks to us, and how He loves us. You will find that in your time here with the Lord that you can lay it all out to Him. He so dearly wants us to chase Him as He constantly chases us. He will begin to speak truth over the things on your heart, and transform your being. GET YOUR JOURNAL HERE: https://www.jenniferedewaard.com/shop-1
The God Listens section is for time to walk in His grace, stand in His truth. The vision for this next section focuses on journaling things that we hear God speaking to us. This might be when we are in the Word, or in prayer, or 28
Knowing Your Worth By Autumn Rae
Every day, day and night, the lies of “I’m not good enough” or “I’m not pretty enough” would swirl around in my head. I had seen the naked photos of the women my ex-husband was looking at on his computer, and unfortunately, I saw all the photos of the girls that he was shooting nude photos with and later, found out he was sleeping with as well. I compared myself to them in all areas: height, weight, skin, hair, my age. I was convinced that it was me that drove him to look at pornography, to start a secret photography business, or to sleep with those girls and I lived in that state of mind for far too long. My self-worth was at an all-time low. And it was then that I went running to the Bible for some sort of reassurance that I was beautiful, that it really wasn’t me that was pushing him away. It was in that season of running to the Lord that I realized that I truly am beautiful, because I was and am made in His image, not the world’s image. Today’s society is so quick to tell women to be this and that, to look like her, and wear these clothes, but deep down, I just wanted to be the best version of me. I made it a habit to read and write and memorize scripture that reminded me that I truly was worth it to the Lord. “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” – Psalm 139:13-16 “Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” – Matthew 10:31 It was a constant battle trying not to compare myself to what my ex-husband was filling his mind and heart with, but it was a battle I was going to win…at some point. I was determined to not let his sin affect the way I viewed my worth. It really wasn’t until months and months into counseling that I realized that his heart issues weren’t about me at all. It was an eye-opening moment and to this day, is still one of my favorite and most freeing moments I’ve ever experienced. It was that “aha” moment of, “I thought marriage would ‘fix’ him, and it obviously didn’t. Sex was great, married life was great, having children together was a huge blessing, but he’s still trying to fill something that I can’t!” It’s like the world stopped in that moment and the chains that wrapped themselves around my heart for years broke loose and the “happy” mask I was wearing fell off. I felt the weight of my self-worth be placed in the hands of the One who created me. I knew right then and there that I no longer had to compare myself to other women, that I could be confident in who I was. Yes, I still struggle with insecurities, but I know deep down to my core that I was intricately woven together in the image of God, that I am beautiful, and God has me here on this earth for a specific purpose – whether I’m married or divorced.
your husband is looking at, or maybe your story is like mine and your marriage came to an end because of the choices of your husband. You’re not alone, friend. You’re not the only one. I was ashamed and scared to talk to the friends in my life about what I was going through internally and how the choices of my ex damaged my self-worth. I felt very alone and that no one would understand. I’m here to tell you, I understand. I understand the pain and the wanting to change your physical appearance so that maybe, just maybe your husband would look at you in a new way. You can’t change his heart, only the Lord can…but the Lord can change the way you view yourself. Have you ever been to a jeweler? You could walk into their shop, pick out any diamond and they can tell you exactly what it is worth because of the cut, the clarity, the number of carats, etc. They don’t just say, “well of course its valuable, it’s a diamond!”, they have a clear reason why the diamond is priced the amount that it is. They didn’t just decide that diamond was priceless, they researched and studied until they knew the exact worth of that stone. Knowing your worth directly coincides with renewing your mind and transforming your heart in the Word of God. Every day you are going to be surrounded with the chance to devalue and cheapen yourself, but staying close to the Lord and basking in His love for you, you will then know you’re worth inside and out…just like the jeweler knows the worth of the diamond. Don’t let the things your husband is looking at or the choices he’s making validate your worth. Your worth is so much greater than that. You see, a Kingdom woman (you and me) knows she is valuable because she has much to contribute to the Kingdom of God. She knows her time is of the essence and her efforts to give God glory are of great value. She knows that God has chosen her as a vital part of His Kingdom to win souls, so she doesn’t let anyone or anything waste her time. She understands that her true value is not about who she is, but who her Father is. A woman of worth knows that everything that is given to her ultimately belongs to God and she is just managing it. Knowing your worth and living it out all come from developing an intimate relationship with God and being intentional about blocking out anything that negates your true worth. So, ladies, let’s block out those lies. Memorize scripture, renew your mind every day in the Word of God, ask the Lord to give you a new and refreshed vision of who you are in Him so that you can do His work. It’s not an overnight “fix”, it’s a process that takes perseverance, but if you put your mind to it and keep your eyes on the Lord, the enemy will have no place for his lies in your life anymore. You’re beautiful. You’re worth it.
Maybe you’re in that place of doubting your self-worth, comparing yourself to the women in porn and pictures that 32
“TODAY’S SOCIETY IS SO QUICK TO TELL WOMEN TO BE THIS AND THAT, TO LOOK LIKE HER, AND WEAR THESE CLOTHES, BUT DEEP DOWN, I JUST WANTED TO BE THE BEST VERSION OF ME.”
Photo Credit: Ryann Darling Ard
Autumn Rae is a recently divorced single mom of two beautiful little girls, Avonlea Darling and Journey Wonder. She’s a born and raised California girl who now resides west of the Rockies in Colorado Springs where she spends her days exercising her photography skills, writing, and wiping runny noses. Autumn has tasted and seen the faithfulness of the Lord throughout her 28 years and is hopeful for all the things the Lord has in store for her and her daughter’s futures. This publication contains The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
It was in that season of running to the Lord that I realized that I truly am beautiful, because I was and am made in His image, not the worldâ€™s image.
Finding My Unique Voice through Storytelling by Dija Henry
“Speak up for the people who have no voice, for the rights of all the down and outers. Speak out for justice! Stand up for the poor and destitute!”
writing like a mad woman for days trying to catch all the words before they fly off into the wind. (Sometimes I wonder if the prophets and scribes felt this way while writing what the Holy Spirit was speaking to them.)
- Proverbs 31:8-9 MSG Some of the best advice that I’ve received when it came to filmmaking was given at the Heartland Film Festival years ago. This advice is the key to actually getting your message into the hearts of your audience.
What comes to mind when you think about “speaking up”? Perhaps it’s going on mission trips or literally speaking at different events. Maybe it’s getting involved with church dramas or even writing books. Perhaps it’s teaching bible studies or participating in the outreach ministry at your church. As Christians, these are some of the most common ways we speak up for those who have no voice.
It happened outside of the restrooms of all places. I had just finished viewing an amazing documentary about Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy and all that these two went through during the Civil Rights Movement in America. At that time I hadn’t even made my first movie and I was wondering when God would give me an opportunity to follow my dream. After the documentary, I was lost in my post film mood. This is the specific mood that I get into after watching an inspiring film. It’s a mood where I used to get lost in deep thought and got almost melancholy over my desire to produce my own films. As I walked out of the restroom this tall older man walked out of the men’s room. He asked me if I was okay and he introduced himself as the producer of that film I had just watched. He must have recognized that look on my face because he graciously took the time to encourage me not to give up on my dreams and told me to ask myself one important question about every movie I would produce: What do I want the audience to feel when the screen goes black at the end of the film?
For me, speaking up didn’t even cross my mind until I was almost 10 years old. When I finally learned to speak up, it would look a lot different than I ever imagined. I was a very very quiet kid. I would spend most of my time daydreaming about fantastical stories hoping for some adventurous thing to happen to shake up my quiet life. I was happier in my room reading a book or playing make believe with my sister and brother than doing anything else. That was until I was 11 years old. It was then that my dad took me to see my first movie in the theaters! I saw my first movie in 1990 with my dad and my sister. It was a detective movie called Dick Tracy starring Madonna and Warren Beatty. I remember the feeling of the lights going down. It felt like I was surrounded by black velvet air! Then the curtains opened and the screen came to life! My heart skipped a beat as if I had met my true love. When I saw the New York skyline sweep across the screen I clutched the armrests of my seat in pure excitement! All I could think was “This is magical! I want to do this! I want to make movies!” I wanted to create characters and stories that people could relate with. I wanted people to look at what I would produce and not feel so alone in the world like I sometimes did. Even though I had no idea how it was going to happen I knew I found a vehicle for my voice.
The end of a movie is one of the most powerful moments to speak up. If you have done your job right you have captured the audience’s heart and created such a connection that the audience believes they are one with the hero. When the hero is called into adventure, the audience is called into adventure. When the hero loses everything, the audience loses everything. When the hero has to make a choice to either risk everything to achieve their goal or go back to their old way of life and never truly live out who they were called to be, the audience realizes they have the same choice to make in their own lives. At the end, the audience experienced the pain, triumphs, love, battles, and growth along with the hero. Your audience is now captive.
When it comes to speaking up I think it’s important to find your own special voice. Some of us are good at public speaking, some writing and others with service. But while these are amazing ways to speak up for justice, these aren’t the only ways. For me, I found that my own unique voice is best expressed through storytelling. Visual storytelling to be specific. I do believe we are all hardwired to tell stories. God spoke to us through his word in story format. Jesus taught using stories. Your family and friends tell stories all day, every day. In fact, you just read a story about my first glorious experience at the cinema. Society and culture all use Story to relay information and history. It is woven in the fabric of our DNA.
“I CAN SPEAK UP FOR THOSE WHO MAY NEVER TELL THEIR OWN STORY OR FOR THOSE WHOM IT MIGHT BE TOO DANGEROUS TO SPEAK UP. FOR THOSE WHO ARE MARGINALIZED OR THOSE WHO HAVE PASSED ON.”
When it comes to storytelling through filmmaking the first step is developing the actual idea and writing the screenplay. I find that a stories are really persistent with me. They will hunt me down relentlessly until I give them life. I will get an inspiration for a story that feels like a pressing on my heart about characters or a plot and I’ll sit with it until it bubbles over and has to find its way onto the page. I usually end up 38
Maya Angelou so eloquently said “The idea is to write it so people hear it and it slides through the brain and into the heart.” I would say I hope to tell visual stories that do just that. Because when “it” hits the heart that is when you have “spoken up” with your message. In actuality, at the end of a film when a person is sitting in their seats looking at the black screen, I cannot speak directly to them but my hope is that I can inspire a person’s inner voice to speak up. Rather than them hearing me, they will hear something more powerful–they will hear an authentic voice inspiring them to change, stay hopeful through a hard time or just desire to live a better life. In the beginning of my filmmaking process, I thought that this was just a vehicle for me to tell the stories I wanted to tell. But I’ve since learned that filmmaking is a great way to speak up for justice in the world and for those who don’t have a voice. I can speak up for those who may never tell their own story or for those whom it might be too dangerous to speak up. For those who are marginalized or those who have passed on. My latest project “Breathe” is a short film I wrote after the murder of my brother in law a year and a half ago. It was so sudden and so painful. He had just celebrated his 40th birthday when he was taken from us. I remember sitting with my husband that week and he was having a really hard time. I asked him to tell me more about his best memories with his brother (I find that is a good question when someone is grieving over a loved one). My husband told me how they used to play with their dog, Prince together and I found out that his older brother was the entire reason he was even a rapper and a musician to this day. I was moved to write an inspiring story about brotherhood and hope. I want this film to speak up for the thousands that lose their lives due to violence. I want people to see that this is more than a statistic. Each person had a life and a family and relationships with people who loved them. I want to raise the awareness of what is happening through this film.
created you to show you how you can speak up! 2. Find your authentic voice – I know this is easier said than done but it can be done. It takes time, patience, experience and practice to find your authentic voice, the real voice God gave you. Not the voice that mimics everyone else’s or is influenced by others. You have a voice as unique as your fingerprint...isn’t that amazing? Whether you love to write poetry or take pictures, take joy in the process as you discover your authentic voice. 3. Be adventurous – Maybe you are at the place where you don’t know what your vehicle of speaking up is. I certainly remember being at the place myself! At the end of the day no one could tell me what to do but myself. I had to finally trust what God had put in me all along. I was a storyteller and nothing was going to change that. Be adventurous and trust God. Ask yourself in what ways you can use your gifts and talents to speak up and go for it! If you take anything away from this I want you to honor your desire to speak up and know that desire has come from God and He will show you how you can speak up if you let Him.
When the screen goes black I want the audience to know they aren’t alone and there is hope in dark times. That the light will come back into their lives if they let it. My husband’s and my first pastor, Pastor Charles Tripp (who has now passed on to glory) used to speak about dropping lightspeed into people’s lives. Seeds of light that could get through the outer shell that many people are walking around with. He believed that art could do just that. He was a profound artist and speaker whose work touched many people around him very deeply. He used his art to speak up and he truly was an inspiration. In reality, speaking up can look many different ways and it’s up to you to discover the special way God created you to speak up. So how can you do that? 1. Don’t compare yourself to others – The bible says that we were each created with unique gifts from God so never compare yourself with someone else. Realize that they have just found their vehicle for speaking up. Know that the same opportunity awaits you! Spend time and ask the one who
Photo Credit: Krauter Photography
Dija is an actress, filmmaker and author living in the Midwest with her amazing family. In her free time, she enjoys watching super hero movies, eating sushi, hanging out with her family and spilling her guts to her journal. Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.”
What they need is Jesus with skin on.
My phone lights up: CHAPLAIN ALERT-CALL DISPATCH, and so it begins. This is my first call out as a Road Chaplain for the Boone County Sheriff Office. What does this mean? It can mean many things, but usually there has been a sudden death, most often under tragic circumstances. I call dispatch. I am to meet up with the sheriff to go on a death notification. I quickly change into my uniform, grab my badge, jump in the car, start the engine, and start praying.
Jesus–With Skin On by Joni Scott
I can look back now and see how God has used many situations in my life to equip me for this current season. However, nothing prepares you for it. Every life lost is tragic. It doesn’t get easy, and I don’t want it to because when it gets easy, that means I have stopped feeling, stopped caring. And this can happen and does happen to first responders. By the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, it won’t happen with me, not when He can help it. I stand beside Sheriff Mike Nielsen, a giant man of God in so many ways. He has been doing this for over 30 years and has never stopped caring. He breaks the tragic news to the anxious mother in front of him. Her young son, her only son, has been killed on his motorcycle when a truck turned in front of him. She breaks–as any mother would–she crumbles and falls into his arms and weeps. The sheriff lets himself feel her pain as I see tears forming in his own eyes. And I knew in that moment as I felt my own heart crack, that I would need my God, maybe more than I have ever needed Him, if I was to be of any help to anyone. In reality, none of us are immune to tragedy. Most assuredly, it will touch us in some form, whether it be a beloved family member, friend, or neighbor. Life comes in seasons. Ecclesiastes 3 tells us this: There is a time for everything: a time to be born and a time to die. Many of us don’t like to think about that. Take heart dear reader, for I have seen the beauty that Jesus gives for ashes (Isaiah 61:3). I have witnessed The Almighty God in heaven turn the sorrow of the night into the joy of the morning (Psalm 30:5). This is not a momentary thing but a process. For it is not time that heals all wounds, rather, it is the precious and intimate work of the Holy Spirit deep inside a bleeding heart through time that heals. I spend the day driving this mother and daughter (sister to the boy) to several family members’ homes as she tearfully relays devastating news to them. The mother informs 41
me that her dad has terminal cancer and this news will do him in. He adores his grandson. When we arrive, she is wearing out and so her daughter breaks the tragic news. As the shock settles in, the grandmother keeps repeating this is not real, it just cannot be true. “Fred” (grandpa) tells her to please calm down, “You know what the doctor said. You’re levels are gonna go through the roof. You have to calm down. Come on now.” They are not really listening to each other, but speaking from a place of shock and numbness. A close neighbor across the street arrives home and the three generation of women cross the street to break the news. As I sit in the chair across from Fred on his porch swing I say to him, “Fred I know you have cancer.” “Yep, just found out. I never thought I would outlive him,” he bows his head low. Then he looks up at me, “When I found out I had cancer, I had my talk with God.” At this point, I get up and kneel right in front of him. I take his hands into mine and with tears in my eyes I looked deep into his and softly speak, “Fred, do you know when you had that talk with God, He was listening. He heard you.” “He was. I know He was. I didn’t always believe in Him. Do now.” He spoke from the heart, one that was breaking before my eyes. “Oh Fred, let Jesus carry you. He’ll do that sir, He’ll carry you.” His eyes filled with tears and we connected on that spiritual plain that transcends race, creed, or culture. Being a road chaplain has changed me, but not in the ways you would think. In one sense, you could say that it has brought high definition color to my world. Life is more purposeful now. I listen more intently, I try to not be so rushed, and when I am watching the sunset, I am inclined to stay just a bit longer. Don’t misunderstand; I am still a fickle, weak, and sometimes quite unorganized woman. I still fail, lose my patience, get frustrated with congested traffic, or belligerent people just like everybody else, but something is different. Life is not a matter of success or failure, but more about relationships. One of my favorite author’s, Jen Hatmaker, wrote, “Live long enough and it becomes clear that stuff is not the stuff of life. People are.” In my chaplaincy, I have been at the bedside of many precious souls in their last moments of life, and not once has anyone ever asked to see their diplomas on the wall. No, they want those whom they love and love them right there in the room. Right beside them. Why should we wait for a deathbed experience to learn this? As I speak at this boy’s funeral, I ask the family what would he say to them if he could. I think he would say the same thing Paul said in Romans 12:9-18: Don’t just pretend that you love others: really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of the good. Love each other with brotherly affection and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically. 42
Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble, and prayerful always. When God’s children are in need, you be the one to help them out. And get into the habit of inviting guests home for dinner or, if they need lodging, for the night.
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” [Isaiah 61:1-3]
If someone mistreats you because you are a Christian, don’t curse him; pray that God will bless him. When others are happy, be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow. Work happily together. Don’t try to act big. Don’t try to get into the good graces of important people, but enjoy the company of ordinary folks. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil for evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honest clear through. Don’t quarrel with anyone. Be at peace with everyone, just as much as possible. I am a road chaplain but more than that–I am a Christian. If we call ourselves a Christian, then we have a responsibility. It is Christ that enables us to carry it out. He empowers and enables us. Jesus told us that in this life we would experience tribulation and hardships. This is a fallen world and death is a part of that. Tragedy is all around us. But in my experience, I have seen a worse tragedy than the death of a loved one. It is when something inside a man dies while he is yet living. It is grief that has taken hold of a heart, and wounded it so deeply that it retreats into a self made cocoon that hardens with time. It becomes a heart that stops feeling, stops laughing, stops beating. It becomes bitter. I have seen this enough that I have recognized a pattern. Those whose hearts are susceptible to bitterness are those who walk this life without faith. They go at it alone. The Lord Jesus Christ is as real as the breath we breathe, though we can see neither.
Our Divine Creator knew that life would be hard, so He provided a living testament that has over 5,000 promises that address every issue including tragedy that we will face here on earth. Knowing His promises to us, and sharing them with others, is one poignant way to pour the Christ in ourselves out to others. My mission now as a chaplain is not different than our mission as believers–we give hugs, we hold, we pray, and, when possible, we take a hand and lead in the darkness. Jesus lights our pathway. By His unbelievable, beautiful, and unconditional grace, He lets us lead them to a place of help. Other times they have fallen so deep into a place of despair that we haven’t the strength, capacity, or know-how to pull them out. In those times, we step into that dark place and walk beside them. And we stay there until God shows up. You see, sometimes grief is so intense there are no words. We simply become a silent friend who is willing to walk in the dark beside them. We take up our cross for them. Our well thought out words are cold consolation in those moments. What they need is Jesus with skin on. I will finish with this portion of scripture that the Holy Spirit gave me the day I was sworn in as a road chaplain and I have carried it with me ever since:
Joni Scott has been married for 36 years to her high school sweetheart. That may sound like a fairy tale but we all know the road of marriage is laden with many bumps in the way but is totally worth it when Jesus is at the wheel. She is the mother of two adult married children which means she actually has four awesome adult kids. She is a grandmother of an adorable one year old (break for praise, shouts, and glory alleluias! Joni is a Road Chaplain for the Boone County Sheriff ’s Office, a calling she and her husband believe is a very sacred one. She also enjoys motivational speaking of which she has done in the U.S. and abroad. She is an avid yogi swearing by its internal benefits for older women. Some of her favorite things: coffee with a friend or new acquaintance, gatherings on her patio or in home with family, food, and laughter, and reading/studying or listening to messages on the Word of God! She is a redeemed believer who has been changed inside out by the love of God and is all about pouring it out to others. This publication contains The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
How To Make Your Home Cozy by hannah hastings
If you’re anything like me, by the first day of November, I am just itching to get out all of my Christmas decor. I get my tree up and decorated, hang the stockings, garland and Christmas trinkets over the fireplace, mini trees are everywhere, Christmas cookie candles are burning, and, overall, home just feels a little bit cozier. But what happens after Christmas? What about those few months where winter remains and Christmas has come and gone? After everything is put away, home can sometimes feel naked, almost sterile. So, how do we make our homes cozy for the rest of winter? I have seven tips for keeping it cozy after Santa returns to the North Pole and winter is hanging around just a little too long.
1. The Cozy Textiles Embrace the winter fabrics! This is your chance to run with the buffalo check, faux fur, cable knit sweaters, and velvets! Add throw pillows to your sofa using those winter fabrics with different patterns and colors. TJ Maxx and Home Goods have the most amazing selection for pillows at the best price point. You can grab a set of two pillows for under $20! Then, don’t forget about your windows. Every window deserves a fabric. This one is huge! You don’t realize it until the curtains are up how cold the hard lines of a window can be. Adding a fabric to your windows makes it aesthetically pleasing and cozier, all at the same time. It’s also another opportunity for some pattern play or color. I have found that Hobby Lobby has the best selection of curtains for the lowest price. I recently needed eight panels for my living room and purchased them for $18 a panel!
2. Let There Be Light Lighting plays a huge role in making your space cozy. During the day open the curtains, the blinds, and let all that natural light take the stage. It’s warm, inviting and free. Free is always a win! In the evenings when the sun goes down, let the lamps be your BFF! They create beautiful ambient light that is so inviting not only to guests, but to you as well. Is there anything better than curling up on the couch at the end of the day with your cozy socks and a hot cup of tea? Add some ambient lighting to that and you may never want to leave the house again...at least until Spring! Every lamp in my house was purchased from Target. I love that Target gives you a mix-n-match option! You can create your own look for around $50 a lamp. That’s a deal in the world of lighting!
3. Take It Personal I absolutely love using pieces that mean something and making them into a piece of art. For example, my mom gave me a few of my great-grandmother’s hand-written recipes that were in her recipe book. They are old, worn, and obviously very used from stains, but it is a piece of the story! I have these treasures framed and hanging in my kitchen. I can’t help but smile every time I walk by them. They are sentimental and they were free! I already had a set of matching frames so this entire look cost me nothing! This can be done with old notes, cards, tickets, or anything that has meaning to you. You can buy frames at any craft store for about $10 or less!
4. Keep It Faux and Fresh I love having fresh flowers and greens around the house. However, unless you are fortunate enough to have a hydrangea or rose bush in your yard, it is not always realistic to continually have fresh flowers in the house. So, I like to have faux floral stems that won’t go dying on me. I change them seasonally in vases around the house. Through the winter season, I use a lot of pine, magnolia, berries, or paper white bulbs. Hobby Lobby is my favorite place to buy floral stems. For less than $5 a stem, you can really liven up your space!
5. Texture for Days Use baskets everywhere! Baskets exude texture from the weave alone. I have a throw basket, an art basket, and lots of toy baskets. If you can pull off function and aesthetics in one item, I’m sold. TJ Maxx and Home Goods have the best selection of baskets for the lowest price, as well. I’ve purchased several of them for under $10.
6. Create the Fragrance Is there anything better than the smell of onions, garlic or bacon in the frying pan? Ok, maybe the smell of hot chocolate chip cookies that have crispy edges, but are soft and gooey in the middle. Anybody else have the sudden desire to start baking? We probably aren’t cooking all day every day though, and if you are, you are my hero. For the moments when your home isn’t filled with scrumptious traces of what is happening in the kitchen, burn candles or light a fire. Joanna Gaines’ new line at Target, Hearth & Hand with Magnolia, has become my favorite line of candles. Cedar & Magnolia, Sugared Birch, or Teakwood Currant are the scents this house will be filled with this winter. You can pick up one of these candles at Target for less than $20. You have the look and feel of cozy, so lets complete it with the fragrance of cozy!
7. Gather Once you set the tone of your home, share it! We are meant to do life together and the winter months can make it easy to be reclusive. So, invite your friends over, brew a pot of coffee, bake something sweet, burn the candles, play some card games and share a meal with the people you love in the very place you love the most! The best part is spending time with a group of your favorite people is free.
It is so nice to get the house pulled back together after the Christmas season. A lot of these items you may already have in stock. You just need to take Santa, his reindeer and Frosty out of the equation. My hope is that these tips will inspire you to cozy up your interiors to get you through this winter season. Now, go light some fires!
Hannah Hastings is a Jesus follower, wife to a hot worship leader (Kyle), mama to the best boy ever (Ace), and an interior designer. Hannah and her family moved to Navarre, Florida about a year and a half ago. Their home is five minutes from the beach and they are loving their Florida lives! Hannah and Kyle purchased a fixer upper home, making her giddy to have her very own large interior design project. Since they’ve moved, Hannah has embraced e-design since it allows her to be a stay-at-home mama to her son. “It’s amazing to me that I can sit in my living room and design spaces all over the world!” Hannah shares her home journey and e-design projects on Instagram. Follow her at @hannahhhastings. interiors for completed projects, how-to’s, future projects, and client renderings! 49
By Anna Scott 50
W H A T K I N D O F M I N I M A L I S T A R E Y O U ? 51
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It's HERE! Our first issue of Volume 2 launches today and we can't wait for you to pore over the pages! We hope you leave this issue feeling...
Published on Mar 4, 2018
It's HERE! Our first issue of Volume 2 launches today and we can't wait for you to pore over the pages! We hope you leave this issue feeling...