Jen Bricker is one of the most inspirational women of our day. We got to sit down with her and talk about how God has used her life as a living testimony for his glory! Check out the interview below!
1. Hi Jen! Please tell us a little bit about yourself!
I was born without legs. I was left at the hospital and put up for adoption. I was adopted, not by the perfect family, but the perfect family for me. I grew up in the middle of Nowhere, Illinois. My parents and community treated me normally which all started with my parents. They really just let me do whatever I asked them. I would say, “I want to play softball or volleyball without a wheelchair or prosthetic.” And they would let me. There was not different treatment at school by friends, coaches, or teachers. Growing up in the middle of nowhere everyone always knew me. With sports it was what I wanted to do and I never thought I couldn’t. It was what my friends were doing so why would I do it in a wheelchair. I got a lot of press, especially when I competed in power tumbling, because doing it without legs had never been done before. I didn’t get why it was such a big a deal. As a child, I never understood why people thought I was different or even an inspiration.
2. Did you ever experience a coach or a teacher that wasn’t exactly sure how to handle your disability?
I don’t think so. I just think my community was very accepting. Sometimes, and especially with my power tumbling coach, they would say, “I have never experienced this and I don’t know what the outcome will be, but I am going to try.” It was just willingness from them and I had the determination to do the rest.
3. Where did gymnastics and tumbling lead you?
I did it for 4 years along with other sports. Power tumbling was my favorite. But then, I stopped to have a life during the teen years. After that, I graduated from high school and got an internship with Disney World, so I moved to Florida. At that point I had not played any sports for 4-5 years. I had gained some weight and was really out of shape. At Disney I started noticing all of the performers and really thought I wanted to do what they were doing.
I knew I could do it. I just needed someone to teach me. I ended up meeting a guy named Nate that ended up being my partner. He taught me how to be an aerialist and how to walk on stilts. We also practiced tumbling and jumping on trampolines. We were putting together an aerialist routine but also realized we should put together a trampoline act on 12 x 14 competitive trampoline. The routine we put together was very advanced and technical. We eventually performed that routine as a featured act on the Britney Spears tour all over the world. That was my open door to performing. Before that tour, everyone had been afraid to hire me because it had never been done. They didn’t know what people would think or how audiences would react. The tour blew the doors wide open for performing.
4. It sounds like you were in a position where life had taken a turn. You went from a life where you had determination and those around you were letting you try, to a life where you had determination but people were hesitant and not willing to walk beside you. What are some things you leaned on while you were waiting for the “big break” of the Britney Tour or even that you lean on in your hard days now?
My faith is everything. It’s my foundation, my purpose, and the bigger picture. I feel like God has given me as a vessel to reach people, so in all things that I do it’s never self-driven. It’s never all about me. If it had been all about me I would have burned out. I also did things because I loved it. It brought me joy, but more importantly it was for what it did for other people all over the world. I was doing something that had never been done and it opened doors for others.
5. What are some words of advice to girls who don’t have confidence or understand where their worth comes from?
First, they need to look at the scripture that tells them where their worth comes from. When I was dealing with body dysmorphia I was obsessed with being thin and then I got very thin. It took 3 years to come out of it and it was rough. It was a battle every time I looked in the mirror. I had to cover them up. It was a very low time. I felt fat even when I was a size 00. It didn’t matter what anyone said, I had my own demons. It took repeating scriptures every day and over riding my thoughts with them because I knew my thoughts were lies. I repeated the truths out loud all the time to remember my worth and what is real. I know my triggers now and I avoid those things. I choose to feel pretty . We have to be ok with a journey and not an overnight magic pill.
Written by: Heather
This month we were so excited to talk with Jamie Ivey. Jamie lives in Austin, TX with her husband Aaron,
a worship pastor, and her 4 children. Jamie is a speaker and writer and also the host of the podcast,
“The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey.”
1. We would love to hear a little about your testimony and how you came to know Christ.
I grew up in a Christian home. Both parents were believers and went to church every week. I grew up
knowing a lot about God and would have even said I was a Christian. When I got to high school, about
my sophomore year, I started finding other things that interested me more, like boys and alcohol. Then I got more in to the party scene when I started college. All of that time I would have said I was a
Christian. Looking back though I see there was no fruit in my life. There wasn’t a lot of conviction or
repentance. I don’t know that I actually was following Christ. At 21 I went to the Passion Conference in
Fort Worth and it was there that God really captured my heart and attention. It was from there that
God changed my life and I started following Him. A lot of outward things changed in my life but a lot of
inward things changed as well. I started to feel forgiven, a peace, and a hope in the midst of crazy
circumstances. I know Christ came in to my life at 21 because I had a lot of heart change.
2. Last month’s theme was Dear Younger Me. What would you tell your high school self?
If I could tell my high school self anything I would tell myself there is so much more to life than ninth
grade. Ninth grade is very important but decisions and friends we make can affect the rest of our life. I
think when we are younger we can only see what is right in front of us and I wish I could have known
that there is so much life ahead of you and what you do now can affect that. I would have also told
myself to really look for friendships that were encouraging and uplifting. I had some friendships in high
school that I wish I would have grabbed ahold of a little bit tighter but they weren’t flashy or the most
popular people in the school. I want to teach my kids to have a good perspective on things that they
seem to care about like clothes or a relationship but know there is so much more to life.
3. You have a daughter. What are some things you try to teach her about self-worth and identity?
We try to teach all of our kids that they are who they are for a reason. This is very important in our
family because three of our children came into our family through adoption. We want them to really
cling to the truth that God has always had a plan for their life. That sounds really awesome when you
come into a family the typical way but it adds something when they are added through adoption. We
want them to be able to stand on that truth in the good times and hard times that God has always
known them and has always had a plan for them. I just want our daughter to find her worth in God
alone and not in all the world has to offer. That is hard even at my age. I want my daughter, Story, to
know her worth comes from one place and one place alone and there is only one person that gives the worth that truly matters and that is God. Because all of the other values from the world are fleeting and the value from God never changes.
4. You and your son just got back from a trip with Compassion International to Kenya. Why is it
important to you to instill a world view in your children and how do you do this?
It is a big value with my husband and I. We want to give our children a bigger worldview than we were
given. There just wasn’t any accessibility to the outside world when we were growing up but now the
internet has changed that. We want our kids to know that the world they live in, in Austin, TX, is not the
norm. There are billions of people who live very different than us. There are hundreds of thousands of
people who do not have the access to food and water that we may have. We want our kids to know this exists and is a reality. Not in any way so they can feel better about what they have, but so that they can know that God is the same everywhere. We also want our kids to have a heart that beats for what
God’s heart beats for like injustice, the poor, orphans, and widows, and for them to know that God cares for these things. We expose our kids to this so that their heart can hopefully care for these things as well. Also, we don’t want to raise entitled children. We want our kids to understand that our house and food and having gas in our car is a huge blessing. Besides exposing our children to things in the world we also give. I just went on that trip with Compassion International because that is an organization our family has supported for over a decade. It was really special for me to show one of my kids that here’s why mom and dad give money every month and here is why it matters.
5. Could you finish with 3 fun facts about you?
1. I I could put mayonnaise on just about anything.
2. When I was in middle school I ran in the junior Olympics.
3. I do not like to go barefoot.
Natasha Bure is an inspiration for young girls everywhere. You may recognize her from her popular YouTube channel where she gives advice on beauty, fashion, and so much more or from the hit TV show The Voice. She is also the daughter of Candace Cameron Bure, who many know from the hit TV shows Full House and Fuller House. Natasha has graced the runway at New York Fashion Week, and God has given her countless platforms where she continues to shine her light for Christ. We had the opportunity to speak with Natasha about her newest adventure with her book titled "Let's Be Real," friendships, faith and her relationship with her mom.
1. What inspired you to write the book Let’s Be Real?
I was inspired to write the book after I graduated high school. Being away from the social scene of high school, you see the effects it has on people. I saw girls trying to compare themselves to others. I wanted to be open about topics that girls were going through. I wanted girls to feel like they can be open and be real.
2. What is your definition of being real?
My definition of being real is truly just doing and being who makes you happy. Being real is being the best version of you that God created!
3. What was your favorite chapter to write?
I really liked writing about the chapters on boys and beauty. I really love beauty so I was excited about giving advice that could help girls feel more beautiful!
4. In the book you talk about the importance of friends. What does it mean to be a good friend to you?
Friendship is something I have struggled with a lot with growing up. I want to encourage girls to know that If you are not finding the right kind of friends, don’t settle. You want to choose friends who will build you up and friends who you can BE REAL with. In high school, I did not feel like I had a strong group of friends. My senior year I learned to be independent and not base my identity on people. It took me knowing who I am and choosing friends who would accept me for just being Natasha.
5. Why is your faith so important to you and how would you encourage teen girls who are struggling in their walk with Christ?
My faith is the most important thing to me because it is the foundation that I base my life on. I would encourage anyone who is struggling in their walk with Christ to keep persisting. The most important thing is to except those parts you are struggling with and persist. Have the tough conversations with mentors and friends, and just know that no one’s faith is perfect.
6. You were on the voice last season and were so inspiring! What about music inspires you?
Music is my number one! Music is amazing because it makes you feel emotions and it can bring back emotions. I want to do that for other people. I want to evoke emotions for people. People and their emotions inspire me to make music! I love the fact that music is an expression of your heart.
7. Who are some of your musical inspirations?
My musical inspirations are Frank Sinatra, Amy Winehouse, and Ella Fitzgerald. The amount of emotion they provoke in their songs is what I want to do in my music!
8. What advice would you give to someone who struggles with confidence?
If your struggling with confidence, know it’s okay. Ignore those thoughts and embrace who you are.
9. You seem to have a great relationship with your mom. What keeps that relationship so strong?
I just LOVE my mom. She is my role model! She and I are extremely open with one another, so that keeps our bond strong. I also LOVE to hang out with my mom; we have similar interests, and so that keeps our relationship solid as well.
10 What is the best piece of advice your mom has ever given you?
My mom really stresses to me the importance about working hard. Both of my parents are very supportive of me, but they want me to work hard in everything I do. In our family our motto is: “we all need to work as hard as we can and give 100%!” That’s what I try and do!
11. What is a good beauty tip for summer?
My big thing for the summer is I am super into glowing skin and shimmer highlighters. Glam Glow is amazing and it’s infused with an amazing highlighter. I love it because it makes your skin glisten in the sun. I think everyone should check it out!
12. What is next for you?
I love so many different things. I am open to anything. I am currently working on a bunch of music, and I am continuing with my YouTube channel! I’m super excited to see where God will lead me in the months ahead!
Rebekah Lyons is a book-loving mother of three. She lives in Nashville, TN, but ministers to women all over through her books Freefall to Fly: A Breathtaking Journey Toward a Life of Meaning and You Are Free: Be Who You Already Are. Having struggled with panic disorder in her past, Rebekah is a voice of hope and healing to women facing challenges with mental health. We got to speak with Rebekah about her faith, writing, mental health, and her family.
How did you come to know the Lord?
I accepted Christ at age 5, and I grew up in church and Christian school. I believed the story of Jesus was true, but didn’t understand what I was being saved from. When I was alone with God in a secret place I felt free, but sometimes when I walked into environments with others I felt the pressure to perform for approval. Over time, the need for approval got louder than my intimacy and union with God.
Did you always know you wanted to become an author?
I never planned on writing books, but I did not have a TV as a child, so I read books my whole life. I learned about life through the power of story. As an adult, my mom told me I should write, and I had never heard that or imagined myself as a writer. Today I know that readers make writers. When I began my adult life, from moving to NYC, raising a special needs child, and living with panic disorder, I realized I had a story.
What caused you to want to write a book about anxiety?
I actually didn’t have anxiety, but I developed panic disorder in NYC. It got so bad I was debilitated and wouldn’t get on a subway, elevator, train, or walk in a crowd. I lived in NYC, so these things were impossible to avoid. I lived a crippled life for a year, and cried out to God a lot in that season. I felt lost, and wasn’t sure it would end. It was a new normal for me. I’ve always been a high capacity person, tackling obstacles head on. During this time I lost my perseverance and tenacity. A year in, in September, friends came around and prayed over me. I woke up in the middle of night with a panic attack, and cried to God to rescue me. In that moment something shifted; my body broke on the bed and all was calm. Things changes from that day forward, and I entered a new season of healing. I noticed others around me struggling with the same thing, and noticed that they were sick inside, so I began to tell my story.
What advice would you give young women struggling with anxiety?
What I’ve learned about it since is that it’s our younger selves relapsing into places of fear from childhood, where we didn’t feel safe. Our younger self, who didn’t heal, resurfaces and tells us that we’re afraid. Healing is to recover young wounds, confess them. We must ask God to show us where we didn’t feel safe, so that we can heal from the inside out. I went to counseling, and recommend that. I also know that God doesn’t give us spirit of fear. Anxiety isn’t a diagnosis you struggle with forever. You have to work through painful hidden things. You can walk through it. Now this doesn’t mean you won’t be tempted to be afraid, but anxiety or panic disorder doesn’t have to control your life. More women struggle with anxiety than ever before, because of social media, and the consequential disconnect from true community. We become fractured selves. We must recover spiritual disciplines, put our phones down, put social media down, be still, and practice vulnerability in relationships. All together we must put our fractured selves back together.
How can girls who do not struggle with anxiety reach out to and best love their friends who do struggle with anxiety?
Being present when they’re afraid, and make them feel safe. Give them permission to share what they’re feeling, and remind them they’re not alone.
What advice would you give to yourself in your teen years?
You don’t have to work so hard trying to prove yourself. Who you already are is pretty great. Work on loving yourself, and other people will love you too because they recognize self-confidence when they see it. Show your flaws because that makes you who you are, and helps you connect with people. We all have struggles, so there’s no need to pretend we don’t. Be honest with your struggles, and desire to get better from community. Genuine friendships are some of best resources for mental health.
What have you learned from being a mother to a child with special needs?
I’ve learned that we all have special needs, and some are more visible on the outside, while some are hidden inside. Everyone has a unique story. What I’ve learned is that Cade might seem like he has needs on the outside, but inside he is one of the most joyful and peaceful people I know. Cade brings a lot of gifts to our family that we need. I also find that I feel the most peace with him, because I know I can come as I am. He puts no expectations on me. He loves freely, and I get the sense that he loves as Christ does. Cade always responds to kindness and always offers it. He never intentionally picks a fight or initiates conflict. Cade leads with love in our home.
Jordan Lee Dooley is the founder of Soulscripts Ministries, a thriving sisterhood community of young women. Jordan provides amazing resources for young women showing woman how to study the Bible effectively and speaks at the nations top universities. She is known for her dynamic passion and love for God, as well as encouraging girls everywhere to build community in the body of Christ. God is truly using her to reach thousands of women online and around the world. . She currently resides in Arizona with her husband Matt. We got the opportunity to interview Jordan on SoulScripts and her passion for Jesus, check it out!
1. What would you tell your high school self?
Relax and be positive. I put so much pressure on myself when I was in high school (grades, looks, etc.) that I had a hard time really being who God made me to be and developing genuine friendships. My obsession with my image and reputation carried into college and that chain of performance and perfectionism planted a little bit of a bitter and uptight spirit in me, which I believe may be why I struggled with girl friendships.
2. What advice would you give to a girl who is struggling with her identity in a society that compels people to place it in all of the wrong things?
We tend to look for life in the wrong places. We look for life in the things that promise us life (aka, security, joy, popularity, purpose, etc.) but the problem with that is that it leaves us pursuing more and more of the world that can never deliver on its promises. Placing your identity in God does not mean you have to become uptight, religious, or figured out. It means that you understand that life is found in Jesus and all things outside of Him are dead...they may promise a lot but they won't deliver. Consider if what you're placing so much of your hope in -- that boy, those parties, the next trendy outfit -- is really life-giving. Does it leave you feeling worse, exhausted, or like you constantly have to keep up? Then it's dead, it's essentially meaningless on an eternal scale. Don't waste too much energy on it.
3. How did you come to surrender your life to Jesus?
I grew up in the church and accepted Jesus into my heart as a young girl but like I mentioned before, I was very much a (self-imposed) perfectionist growing up. No one imposed that upon me, it was just something I fell into. That being said, I looked at faith in Jesus as a performance or an accomplishment to reach rather than a relationship. I imposed legalism on myself and it really came from a selfish place. Then, I kind of lived a double life my first year or so of college. I wanted to play by the rules and keep up the good girl image but I found that I kept falling short, constantly caving into some of the pressure college brings. My perfectionism was cracking. After my grandma and best friend died, going through a breakup, and walking the line of an eating disorder, I finally came to the end of myself and realized how much I just didn't cut it. That's when I really began to crave God's love and grace on a more personal level. I began trying to read the Bible each day but I didn't really know where to start. Then, I went to a campus ministry meeting and in the most imperfect, cracked, broken, and loneliest form I had ever been, I heard the gospel. Although I had heard it a million times growing up at home and in church, it was as if my ears were actually open to it for the first time. And the healing began and not long after that, I rededicated my life to Christ and finally opened my heart to what it actually meant to walk in that freedom...not check off a list of do's and don'ts.
4. What is SoulScripts?
SoulScripts is the blog I write for girls and women seeking real, raw, honest, Godly advice and encouragement. I try to keep it real and relevant and really meet my girls where they are because that's really the only true way to reach people. I don't sugar coat it and I try to cut the cheese (okay, no pun intended there). In other words, I think sometimes there's this notion that Christianity is irrelevant and cheesy and that's the very stereotype my writing seeks to intersect. I make it my mission to sound as real and honest on paper as I would in person because there's enough cheesiness and fake-ness (is that even a word?) on the internet and it's just not something I, or any of my peers, can handle. If I wouldn't like to read it, I won't write it. If I think it sounds cheesy or fake, I won't publish it.
The message behind SoulScripts is "your brokenness is welcome here" because I believe so strongly in the power of meeting people where they are, in the middle of their brokenness. I mean, shouldn't that be the message of the church? I think we want it to be but so many still feel so judged around Christians. That's a barrier I'm working to bust through with SoulScripts by putting the invitation out there so clearly. It's for the uptight church girl and the crazy party girl and everyone in between. We all need each other and we all need Jesus.
5. What is The Sisterhood?
The Sisterhood is an online community packed full of resources and groups to get involved in. It has resources, tips, monthly devotionals, bible study tutorials, and more to help young women grow in their faith, work, friendships and relationships. It was designed to give young women a space to turn during transitional periods of life or when they are having a hard time finding community that supports them in their faith. Girls have been able to connect with other likeminded gals in their state and even on their campuses as a result of the network and it's been amazing to see both virtual and real life small groups and bible studies pop up around the country. Simply put, it's a community packed full of resources I provide for my readers each month, regardless of how 'Christian' they may feel or be. It's a Sisterhood founded on Truth, not letters, social class, politics, or anything else.
6. What does it mean to have true community in one’s life?
It means not having to hide the broken pieces of yourself. I think sometimes we mix up company and community and assume they're the same thing. But you wouldn't let company see your dirty laundry. You'd shove it in the back closet and wipe the counters. But community? True community sees the dirt in your life. True community isn't just coffee dates and cute instagram photos. True community is a place where you can be unashamedly fully known--but also fully loved.
7. How can a person find life giving community?
Become it for someone else. I think we all just expect that life giving community will pop up -- and hey, sometimes it can. But I've found the best way to truly step into and live in Godly community is to first be willing to step into the world of someone else and love all their yuck. That community is generally reciprocated overtime but even if it's not, it's a start. If you're having trouble finding lifegiving community, consider what you may be holding back in your social circles. Are you really asking the questions and caring about the pain in a friend's life? Are you praying for your friendships? Are you confessing the sin and brokenness in your life or are you too afraid of what someone may think? Sometimes we have to be bold enough to create that community -- the people are often already there but there may be some barriers to bust down. Maybe it starts with you.
8. In regards to your post, “Why Has God Given Me Too Much to Handle (Again)?!”, what would you say to someone who feels like God is allowing a person to go through too much? How can one trust God in situations like that?
Remember that God doesn't hesitate to give us more than we can handle because that's the very best opportunity we have to rely on God. Times like these reveal our deep need for God...not His neglecting of us. We live in a world that tells us to pick up our bootstraps and figure it out. We are almost programmed to rely on ourselves in everything we do. While it's important to work hard and cut the whining, we have to shift our perspective when circumstances are out of our control so that we can learn to see those times an opportunity to rely on God more than ourselves.
9. What advice would you give to someone who wants to spend more time in prayer and reading the Bible but does not know where to begin?
Keep it simple and don't overthink it. You don't have to be a Bible reading machine when you first start so first, take the pressure off of yourself. Simply talk to God, include requests, praise, and thanks. When reading the Bible, find a plan online or at the bookstore to help guide you. SheReadsTruth has many great topical devotionals and studies that go through books of the Bible. Resources that help offer some guidance are always helpful!
10. What should a person do when they have not found their niche, so they do not quite know where God is leading them for their future?
I think we get so caught up on the specifics of a niche that we miss the big picture. Your purpose is simply to grow in Christlikeness and build God's church, right where you are. I've found that so many young girls are so hung up on finding God's perfect plan for their life that they don't do anything. It's almost like we want God to reveal this clear roadmap to fulfillment and we forget that we already know where God is leading us. He's been clear in His Word: build My church (Matthew 28:16-20). It doesn't matter if we do that as a writer, a dental hygienist, a teacher or something else. Those things are specifics. You will find the most fulfillment when you step into that calling right where you are and let the specifics (such as the specific career path, location, etc.) reveal themselves as you live in and out of that ultimate purpose. Otherwise, you're going to feel like you're constantly waiting around for a perfect answer but girl, there's work to do!
In the summer of 2004, Louisiana native Carly Patterson took the Athens Olympics by storm when she won the Women's Gymnastics All- Around Gold Medal. She was the first American women in twenty years to win the title. Carly and Team USA took home Silver in the Team All Around and she also took home silver on beam. Carly walked away from the 2004 Olympics with 3 medals, all at the age of sixteen. Carly Patterson is now an amazing public speaker inspiring young women everywhere with her story and her passion for Christ. She is also married to Mark Caldwell and they now reside in Dallas, Texas. We got the opportunity to connect with Carly to talk about faith, identity and of course gymnastics!
1. How old were you when you started gymnastics?
- I was six years old and my cousin was having a gymnastics birthday party. I played around on the equipment and loved it. The coach and owner of the gym asked my mom if I was a gymnast. She stated I wasn’t and he encouraged her to put me in gymnastics.
2. How did you come to know Christ?
-I have always had a strong upbringing. I grew up going to church and I got a strong foundation when I was younger. My relationship with Him has continued to grow and it has gotten stronger over the years. I am so thankful for my walk with Christ.
3. When did you know you wanted to do Gymnastics professionally?
- I made the decision when I was 15, I had agents approach me and I was one of the top competitors in the world and the US at the time. I had known for a while that I did not want to continue gymnastics in college. I wanted to focus only on school and not balance both. It ended up being the right decision for me.
4. Was there ever a struggle or hard time you faced as a gymnast? And how did your faith get you through it?
-Yes, there were plenty of times. One I can remember was when my parents were getting a divorce. I was 13 years old I was really upset and sad but I was able to lean into my faith. I was very blessed to have an outlet like gymnastics and channel my anger and sadness into gymnastics.
Another time was when it was less, than year before I went to Olympics I had to have surgery because I had broken my elbow. I was second in the world at the time and after the surgery I had three months of recovery. It was scary because I had never had an injury like that. I felt like I had come so far and it seemed like such bad timing. Was this all for nothing? Is this a career ender? Worry definitely crept in. In this time I had to lean into my faith I had to trust God and know that he had a plan. With God’s strength and my determination I came back stronger than ever and won the Olympics. When I stood on the podium I was thinking back about all of the years of hard work and I was thanking God that He was with me through it all and that I was able to achieve my dreams.
5. If you could give any girl a piece of advice what would it be?
- My first piece of advice would be to surround yourself with a great group of people. I am so lucky that God has provided me with a great husband, family and friends. When positive and supportive people surround you it makes life so enjoyable and amazing. Make sure you have a good community of people around you. Secondly, it would be to Be Yourself. These days it is so hard for people to be themselves. Social media has been a big influencer where people feel like they have to have photo shopped lives. We constantly compare our lives to the next person. I want girls to remember, as hard as life can be, to be thankful where they are. God made you perfect for your situation. Lastly, it would be to be confident in who God made you and always look to Him for your confidence.
6. What was it like being at the Olympics and what do you remember most?
- It was really cool because my Olympics were in Greece and it was the birthplace of the Olympics. I remember pretty much every little detail. It was such a surreal experience. Knowing I was representing our country and having USA on my back was so cool. I felt prepared and ready. I remember getting a terrible night sleep the night before the all-around competition and feeling so worried and upset. I went to practice that morning and it wasn’t great. I went back to my room and called my mom and she encouraged me. My coach told my to take a nap and everything was going to be fine. I woke up from my nap and I felt excited and confident. I didn’t realize it then, but I know that was God giving me peace and saying you got this I have a plan for you. I always prayed before my competitions and before I saluted. Winning gold that night was just incredible and surreal. The other part that I loved was being in the Olympic Village. It was so cool to be surrounded by such athletic greatness. The Olympics is such a unifying event. I will truly never forget any of it.
7. Which event do you like best and why? (Floor, beams, bars, vault)?
-Beam is my favorite and my best event. Skills just came easier on beam and it always felt like working on the floor for me.
8. What is your favorite Bible verse and why?
- Growing up it was always Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things, through Christ who gives me strength. It is still one of my favorites today. I don’t think this is a bible verse, but I had a poster in my room that said, “God provides the talent and we must provide the effort.” In life, nothing gets handed to you. You have to work hard. God can give you all the tools, but it’s up to us to put in the work.
9. What advice would you give to young women who are struggling with identity?
- I would say the best advice I can give is to pray about it! For me, I definitely struggled with my identity after retiring from gymnastics. I was on top of the world, I had won the Olympics and everybody wanted a piece of me. That dies down and you become a normal person again, especially after you retire. When you go through that fame rollercoaster it all comes crashing back down. I went through a time where I felt like if I’m not a gymnast I am a no body. I had to find out what life was without the sport. I had to find a new passion and a new love. I would also encourage girls to try new passions, because God give all of us many talents. For me I tried singing after gym. It didn’t work out, but I had fun and I learned a lot. I also challenge girls that even if their scared, go after new things and explore life to light that passion inside of you. For me getting to speak and share my story and still be a part of gymnastics does that for me.
10. What is the biggest faith lesson you have learned?
- I think I am currently walking in it. What I am learning is we always have to trust God plan even if we don’t always understand it. So many times we see God answer our prayers, but then we are on to the next thing. It can be easy to forget what God has done for us. I know that no matter what I am going through God is always going to stand by me.
My husband and I have been going through a really tough couple of years trying to have baby. We have had to change our perspectives. Instead of begging for this to happen or being angry about the situation, we are learning to thank him for the journey. Changing my mentality about it has been key to getting through this. How can I be mad and bitter when the journey God has me on might be uncomfortable, but he wants me to learn something in this. How can I be mad when I know he is making my relationship with Him closer and making my marriage closer and stronger than ever. I am learning to thank him for the journey instead of saying why me. I challenge others to do the same.
11. Last question but how did you and your husband meet?
-One of my favorite stories. My family friend had a wedding coming up and I was not feeling like going because I wasn’t going to know anyone. My mom kept encouraging me to go. I finally gave in and went to the wedding. While I was standing in the buffet line I met this amazing man and the rest is history! He is my biggest blessing from the Lord and I am so thankful I went to that wedding!
Pictures provided by: Carly Patterson Caldwell
Audrey Roloff is an Oregon native who has a love for running and an even bigger heart for Jesus. She stars along side her husband Jeremy in the hit show Little People Big World on TLC. Both Jeremy and Audrey speak candidly often on their show about Christ and the impact their relationship with Christ has on their marriage. Audrey and Jeremy are passionate about having an above average marriage and having Christ as the center. We had the privilege of talking with Audrey more in depth about relationships, Christ, marriage, Beating 50 Percent and her own website Aujpoj. Check out the amazing advice from Audrey.
1. How did you come to know Christ as your personal Savior?
I was raised in an amazing Christian home with wonderful parents who always encouraged me in my walk with Christ. I never had a real clear moment of acceptance, but it was rather a gradual transformation into the likeness of Christ. I was baptized at nine years old. I really starting making my faith my own when I was in middle school. My friend Kelsey and I loved sharing Jesus to our friends. We actually had many friends come to know Christ. God was really working in my friend group. In high school, I got involved in young life and my walk with Christ sharpened each year. My friends also pushed me to grow closer to God. I am so thankful God provided me with amazing friends like Kelsey who I am still friends with until this very day.
2. What advice would you give to young women in regards to their identity?
The advice I would give young women would be to start putting your identity in Christ at a young age. My parents and friends constantly pushed me to find my identity in Christ. This was impactful because it made it easier for me to have a firm foundation of who I was and whose I was. So I challenge young women to really lay that foundation to know who you are in Christ. Figure out what the Lord has called you to do. Start asking, seeking and start living as image bearer for Christ. Figuring that out takes a strong sense of knowing who you are. Reading the Bible and really making your relationship with God a priority is the biggest key in all of this. As young women, we will be attacked by the enemy, but if we have God’s truth engrained in our hearts then we will be able to overcome those lies and have a solid identity.
3. What is Always More?
Growing up I was a distance runner. I started writing on my arms in black sharpie “Always More”. “Always more”, is based on the verse in Ephesians 3:20, “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine…” In college when running, “always more” was a motivational reminder that no matter how tired my body was, through Christ’s power in me, I always had more to give than my body often times wanted me to believe. Over time “always more” trickled into other areas of my life, it became my mantra. These words started resonating in me that there is ALWAYS MORE to some story, ALWAYS MORE than what meets the eye. So I wanted to share it with others that there is ALWAYS MORE that God wants us to see and do!
4. What inspired you to write weekly devotions for your Aujpoj website?
I love writing and I love scripture, so I wanted to really get to meat and bones of scripture. All of the devotionals are topical studies though go in depth into scripture and I love it because it give me a chance to explain and write in depth about scripture as opposed to my blogs. I also love it because it gets personal and girls can actually text me back since the devotionals are sent out via text. It’s a more intimate way that I am able to connect with my readers, which I love.
5. How did you and Jeremy meet?
Jeremy and I actually met on a blind date, believe it or not, before church. We grew up in the same town, but I went to public school and he went to private school. We had two good friends who set us up. I like to say that it was love at first sight for Jeremy but for me it took me some time. I was in my season of singleness pursuing God and figuring things out and Jeremy patiently pursued me for two years before we started dating. We actually dated long distance all the way through college.
6. What made you and Jeremy want to start Beating 50 percent?
The initiating phase was really when Jeremy and I got married. We were both in our twenties and we faced a lot of skepticism due our age. We were stunned by all of the negativity that surrounded marriage and the way that are culture has focused on sex and lust instead of marriage. Due to the show that Jeremy and his family have, our wedding was televised. It was evident to our viewers that Christ was the foundation of our marriage. Shortly after the wedding, I began getting a lot of emails from people asking for relationship advice like “how to get through long distance?”, etc. Jeremy and I have always had a huge passion for helping friends and their relationships. We love doing things that prepare for thing. We were tinkering around with the idea of doing something in ministry together. We were really inspired when we were in an old antique shop and we saw this photo of an elderly couple holding hands with a caption that read: “Back in our day if something broke, we fixed it.” This was huge, they had been married for 50 years. It got us thinking about our generation and how we so easily throw away stuff instead of fixing it. Marriage has become a lot like that in our day, Jeremy and I see that as a major problem. So we want to do all we can as a team with our combined skill sets to encourage others to have above average marriages and where they give 100 percent to their spouse.
7. How do you keep Jesus at the center of your relationship?
Well, one is how you view your relationship. You have to have Jesus as your main focus. Jeremy view our relationship kind of like a braid. In a braid you have three strands. Jesus is the center of that braid that is woven throughout the entire braid. Day to day advice would be just sitting and taking time to pray for one another and with each other. Also community is another big part. Jeremy and I are part of a house church here in Bend and their accountability and community is essential.
8. If you could give young women any relationship advice what would it be?
Oh, goodness, so much… well first let me give advice to single women.
Single young women: I would say be more concerned about becoming a godly woman than finding a man. I feel like often times in our season of singleness we can get so caught up in not having a man that we neglect the importance of really investing in that time. Singleness is a crucial time for women to prepare their hearts for marriage but most important grow deeper in their walk with Christ.
Dating women: For dating women, the best advice I can give is if you can’t see yourself marrying them, then your just prolonging hurt. You don’t need experience dating other guys to know what you want. I feel like this is something that our society has told us to believe that in order to know what we want in a guy we need to date as many men possible, but that could not be further from the truth. I would say be intentional to protect your heart and not prolonging a relationship if you can’t see a future with them.
Engaged: For young women who are engaged I would say spend more time preparing for your marriage instead of the wedding. I feel like this is something I tried to do, but I could have done so much better. It is super hard to do but it so very important to put preparing for marriage as a top priority.
Married women: For married women I would say pray about it more than we talk about it. This is something the Lord is currently working in my heart. When you get married, sometimes there will be things you will want to change or to be fixed. We want to tell them to be the one to change or get them to understand us. Instead of constantly asking or seeking for them to change we need to go to our knees and pray about what’s on our heart and ask God to help us evaluate our hearts as well.
9. What is one thing that you wish you would have known before you got married?
One thing I wish I would have known is how to let my husband lead. I am a very outgoing, independent and natural born leader, so it’s hard for me. I like to lead. The best advice I have been given about this is someone used the example about the Apple Inc. company and how everyone who works for that company has distinct roles. Well marriage is the same thing, if we try to take on our spouse’s role it won’t work. Culture says not to do that but it is of vital importance to marriage.
10. How do you recommend that couples pursue personal devotion time with Jesus and as a couple?
First off, everyone is different, but for Jeremy and I we typically spend our own personal time with Jesus separately. However, we are constantly sharing about what God is teaching us in those alone times with the Lord. It is just vital for each person in the relationship to make sure their own personal relationship is strong apart from their spouse. When we do come together for times of prayer we often times read large chunks of scripture. One thing that Jeremy and I have done is Navigators Council. We ask the same 6 questions every week. It gives us time to reconcile and share our hearts and love for each other better.
11. How did you prepare yourself for a serious relationship before you were in a relationship with Jeremy?
In college I went through a season of singleness. I was able to really focus on my relationship with Christ, it was at that time where I really found my identity in Christ. I also spent time walking in relationship with other Christian women. I would say to any girl going through a time of singleness to really soak up those moments with other Christian women.
Picture Provided by: Audrey Roloff
Lauren Scruggs Kennedy is one of Hollywood’s most transparent stars about her faith. Lauren Scruggs Kennedy is well known for her online publication of Lolo Magazine and her modeling career. In 2011, Lauren faced an unthinkable traumatic event when Lauren accidentally walked into a spinning propeller while exiting a small plane after Christmas-light gazing with family and friends. The accident resulted in the loss of her left eye and hand. In 2013, Lauren published her first book “Still Lolo: A spinning propeller, a Horrific Accident, a Family’s Journey of Hope “where she documented the events of that tragic evening, her days on the set of CW’s Gossip Girl and adjusting to life with a Prosthetic eye and arm and the inspirational details about her recovery. Since then Lauren has continued to flourish with the success of Lolo Magazine, to a Fairytale proposal and wedding to E! News co-host, Jason Kennedy and her newest book “Your Beautiful Heart”. Lauren has used her story to inspire others around the world and as a platform to share her faith. We caught up with Lauren to talk to her about Faith, Fashion and Passion for young women to know their worth.
1. What was the biggest lesson you have learned from the struggle that you went through after your accident?
Lauren- I would say the biggest struggles for me after my accident were tackling the issues and insecurities I was faced with prior to my accident. The biggest lesson I learned was that God was always with me and even though I didn’t see the full picture at the moment. I found hope in Jesus and my family.
2. How did your faith impact your recovery and healing after your accident
Lauren- It impacted my recovery greatly. My faith and family were the biggest support to me on some of my darkest days.
3. Your book Still Lolo is a book about your recovery and journey from your accident. What was your Inspiration for your book Beautiful heart?
Lauren- My inspiration for my book, a Beautiful Heart was inspired by struggles I would see many girls face. After my accident, I was faced with many new battles and many insecurities and I wanted to share to new lessons I was learning. I want girls to be inspired to stay true to who God made them to be. I want young women to know that our pain is an opportunity to be vulnerable and relate to other girls who might be going through the same struggles but are too afraid to share.
4. What do you think that true beauty is?
Lauren- True Beauty is staying true to who God made you to be and reflecting Christ in all you do.
5. What is the biggest change in the way that you view beauty now as opposed to when you were younger?
Lauren- I used to think beauty was based highly on external, but now I think it is based all on the internal. We are created by God specifically, and we have worth because of God’s image. So much stability and peace comes from that. Physical image fades but the person you are leaves a lasting stamp on this world.
6. What do you think the biggest lies that young women are facing today
Lauren- They are not good enough, are lacking value, or define themselves by comparing to someone else rather than resting in the fact that they are a part of God’s image.
7. What would your advice be to a young girl who is struggling with the way God made her and really does not like who she is?
Lauren- My advice would be simple look in the mirror and just gaze at the masterpiece God created. God created you for a purpose and a reason. Do not lose sight on your calling God has for you. Also I would encourage girls to know that they can have eternal confidence in Christ because of what he did on the Christ. Our confidence in Christ and what he has done helps us to love others well and it helps us be able to love ourselves as well.
8. What inspired the creation of Lolo Magazine?
Lauren-In College, I knew I loved fashion, business and building relationships. I was able to do an internship in the Michael Kors show room as well as in the Gossip Girl closet.
I also reported many season of fashion weeks. After these experiences I decided to turn my blog into my own business. It was a big risk but I am so glad I did it!
9. What fashion advice do you have for readers for the summer?
Lauren- My favorite new trend this year is accessorizing with a bandana scarf. Summer is one of my favorite seasons, and this trend spices up any neutral outfit. P.S. I am loving floral prints as well!
10.You recently partnered with Bethany Hamilton can you tell us what you have been working on with her?
Lauren- Yes, for about three years now Bethany and I have been teaming up for a yearly retreat called Beautifully Flawed. It is a retreat for girls who have lost limbs and it serves as a comforting and relational weekend. It is a time where we share how God sees each one of us as flawless and how He loves us greatly. I also have started the Lauren Scruggs Kennedy foundation with my mentor, Lisa, and my dear friend Ashley, where we help provide beautiful prosthesis for women in need.
11. What is next for you in where God is calling you?
Lauren- Right now I am just enjoying being a wife. God has been teaching me about living in each season with a healthy balance of rest and ambition. As for what is next for me in work- I am launching a new hair product in the next couple of months! Stay Tuned!
Photos: Lauren Kennedy and Lolo Magazine
Written by: Rebeccah McCully
Husband and Wife duo Jordan and Kemper Baugh are some of today’s up and coming fashion and lifestyle bloggers. With a love for God, each other, Life and Style they have created the website joandkemp.com. Weekly the duo post current fashion trends to inspire readers with their own style. With Jordan’s amazing eye for photography and Kemper’s knack for piecing together fabulous outfits, they make up a dynamite team. Worth More Ministries founder, Rebeccah and writer Jackye got to meet up with them in West Monroe, Louisiana and learn more about their life, faith, style and relationship. We wanted to know what they had to say about relationships and some advice they had to share for our readers on the topic of Dating and relationships. So grab a cup of coffee and join us for the interview.
1. How did you guys meet?
Jordan: We met in elementary school at a play but then we had no contact. I was going to college orientation and Kemper was on the orientation staff at ULM.
Kemper: I figured out who’s group he was in and asked him if he was the guy from the play?
Jordan: I said yes I was and I was really attracted to her and knew I wanted to get to know her better.
Kemper: I slid my number over to him and said call me. (Laughing)
Jordan: Then we started dating. That was the summer of 2013 then we married in the summer of 2014.
2. What did you both look for in relationships?
Jo- I was looking for someone who was constantly striving to be Godly and they also had to make me laugh.
Kemper- I was looking for someone who was Godly and able to lead me closer to Christ. Jordan has exceeded all of my expectations
3. What advice would you give young women today who are dating or thinking about dating?
Kemper- Be careful! When I was young I got myself into situations that cost me a part of my heart I wish I would not have given away. At the time I was not aware of the cost it had on my heart. So I encourage girls to really think about who they spend their time with and to be careful with your heart
Jo- Don’t try to fill the void with boys. Make sure that Jesus sustains your heart. If you had no boyfriend at all would you be okay with that. Would Jesus be enough for you?
4. What are challenges you weren’t aware when dating or married you wish you had known?
Jordan- Knowing that it is not about you. You have to constantly think about what you can do to fulfill your spouse’s needs. You also have to keep their love languages in mind as well. Your spouse might love differently than you.
5. What is the best relationship advice you both were given?
Both: We were given so much good advice.
Jordan- I was given the advice women are like Rivers. They are constantly flowing and things that are placed in the river tend to stick longer. Whereas men are like houses they are compartmentalized.
Kemper- I was told by my mom- in- love that men really need respect. Just like we need love. So that was the best advices I was given. The love and respect cycle and how it works was really great to have been told about.
6. How did your faith play a role in your relationship with one another?
Kemper: It plays a huge part. It is everything about our relationship. It is kind of like a triangle the closer you go to God the closer you grow together. That has really been true for our relationship.
7. How did you both start working together?
Jordan- Well it’s really funny actually. So Kemper came to me saying she wanted to start a fashion blog and needed help setting it up. She had a launch date and everything. I had no idea how to start one. However I knew it needed to be legit and professional. I am a researcher so I looked up how to start a blog, what the best website domains are and also how to take professional pictures and what kind of camera we would need.
I actually got everything set up for the launch date and Kemper had her outfits ready to go and that’s how we started working together. We have definitely made adjustments since starting but we are super pleased with how everything turned out.
8. How do you balance working together and your relationship?
We have a cycle and a method. We have to keep blogging separate from our personal time together. We have to set clear boundaries for specific quality time together.
9. What inspires your work?
It’s whatever outfit or adventure we are feeling that day or what we look at shopping that inspires us.
10. What is your next steps for joandkemp,com
Just continue to grow with it and continue to learn. We want to continue to get grow our vision of Style and fashion. But also to spread God’s love through fashion.