Design & Strengths

Sarah’s Story of God’s Grace

From a monumental panic attack to knowing that God’s grace is sufficient, Sarah’s story is inspiring and encouraging. Join Jeff and Don as they interview Sarah on her story of God’s grace in her life.


Transcription of the Podcast


Don: In a very short sentence, sum up what you believe grace is.

Sarah: That’s a really good question. Because I keep saying, when I keep saying the definition, which is God’s unmerited favor for sinful mankind. But if I was going to make it personal, it’s God’s unearned love for me.

Sarah: (singing)

Jeff: Welcome to the Journey Podcast. This is Jeff Carlson. And today we’re going to talk about the grace of God. We’re going to talk about it with Sarah, and Sarah’s here. Hello Sarah.

Sarah: Hello.

Jeff: And Don is here also. And Don will be asking Sarah a few questions. In an earlier podcast we talked to Don about this topic, and it was a great podcast. And Sarah just thought, “Hey,” she’d want to jump into this topic too. So, anyway, let’s just jump right in. And Don, do you want to just say a few words.

Don: Yeah. I want to say thanks, Jeff, first of all for introducing us. And I know that you’re getting better at that on a day-to-day basis.

Jeff: Hey, I’m trying man.

Don: We’re proud of you, your daughter’s sitting here looking at you-

Sarah: We’re getting a little better at this podcasting thing as we do it, right?

Don: Well yeah, we’re all just going to chill man, take a chill pill and get it on. Yeah, so I will jump right into this Sarah, because now it’s payback time.

Sarah: Thanks, Don.

Don: Yeah, you’re welcome. The last time we were talking, we finished up, you had asked me about kind of to summarize what I felt was the grace of God in my life because of my past. And for folks listening to the podcast, this will bait them to listen to another one if they’ll listen to that one first. So please keep listening.

Sarah: Yeah. Please listen to Don’s podcast first.

Don: Come on, listen to them all, not just mine, all of them. There’s so much here. And we’ll try to keep them in line. And that’s what we’re doing. So, with that being said, I gave you my spin on what grace means to me. And you’re not even about half my age, so can I hear what your definition of grace is?

Sarah: Well, yeah. So, I actually thought that grace was just a nice girl’s name. And I have an interesting story about God’s Grace. But before I get into that, I do just want to mention that, I do just want to mention that, if you listen to Don’s podcast you know that he struggled with alcoholism and he’s had a fairly rough life. That’s…

Don: That’s an understatement, it’s true, very true.

Sarah: … that’s of… yeah. And I’ve had a different story than Don’s story. So, I was actually raised by Jeff and Terry Carlson who are the creators of Journey. And I feel like Journey was really much… it came out of the way that I was raised. So, my mom, she was a nurse when I was young. And she went on to become a licensed counselor, and works as a Christian counselor. And Journey was written by her along with Pastor Mike. If you’re just listening you probably have a hard time understanding what I mean when I say that I was raised that way. But when you go through Journey I think that you’d look back at what I’m saying right now and be like, “Oh, that makes sense.” So the questions that are asked, the nurturing that is in Journey Coaching, that’s how I was raised. So meaning, when I had problems with my friends, and it was 9:30 p.m. on a school night, and I had a hard time falling asleep, my mom was there asking me these questions. Their similar questions in what Journey Coaching is all about. And so-

Don: So let me interrupt you there. You mean, so that the questions in Journey Coaching, then you feel are a lot like questions that you had the blessing and the grace to ask your parents?

Sarah: No, that they asked me, that my mom asked me.

Don: Okay, I got you.

Sarah: So, she took parenting and she wrote it down. I really kind of feel like Journey Coaching is kind of like parenting or nurturing for adults. I mean, kids could do it to. But it’s doing really good parenting and writing it down, and then helping us parent each other almost to an extent. Which is weird, and I’ve never really said it that way, but that’s when I went through the coaching. So, when you go through the coaching, and the questions that are asked, those were the things that my mom asked me. So, those were the things that she walked me through when I was growing up. Like, “What are your strengths, Sarah?” And helping lead me to finding my strengths, and dealing with weaknesses in a healthy way. And so that’s how I was raised. So I accepted Christ when I was eight years old. And then I was raised in a very healthy environment. I feel like, I mean, every family deals with their issues. Especially my dad and I, we have our-

Jeff: Oh, do we have any issues, Sarah? Come on. I think we’re enough alike where maybe there’s a few things. The sparks fly.

Sarah: I mean even this-

Don: You know, that father/daughter thing could probably get in the way every once in a while.

Sarah: Don even admonished us earlier today. He was like-

Don: I don’t even know what that word means folks.

Sarah: … oh good critique.

Don: I reprimanded them.

Sarah: Yeah. Just, enjoy your relationship and stuff, and don’t take it for granted. And Don told us that earlier. So, I was raised in a really healthy environment I feel like. And-

Jeff: Well, and can I just jump with just a thought with the environment and things?

Sarah: What’s that?

Jeff: So, you mentioned your mom’s grace, which I definitely agree with. And then there’s another thing that we talk about sometimes is truth. And the truth is, “Sarah, it’s 8:00 in the morning, the bus is coming, you really need to get on the bus today.” Now, there’s not a whole lot of grace there, it’s like, “Sarah, you need to get up and get on the bus,” right?

Sarah: Yeah. So what he’s saying is, that the grace came from my mom and that you know.

Jeff: Well, yeah, but yeah, it did-

Sarah: There was a lot of hard… I mean, I was held to a very high standard, especially since I was the oldest. And my parents owned a company, and I worked there. And my dad held me to a high standard. Which is funny now, when he tells me when I’m holding my own children to a high standard, and he’s like, “Can’t you just give them a little grace?” And I’m like-

Jeff: Drill sergeant Sarah.

Don: Isn’t it funny how we as parents kind of change our tune a little bit.

Sarah: Well, thinking because grandparents, grandparents not as hard as parents. I’m like, “Do you remember a similar situation?” I would not have gotten away with that. So, yeah.

Don: Yeah. But I think it’s really something that’s been hitting me lately, is this balance between grace and truth, and trying to get that… not that it’s going to be perfect, but get it well, so to balance those out, you know?

Sarah: I think they’re not opposite ends of the spectrum either. Because grace can be truthful too. But there’s… I don’t think God is an enabling God. He’s not going to enable you. So, let’s lead into this story. So, this is a story that I kept quiet. And you know what, Don? I’m going to let you decide if this is even… you guys are going to decide if this even something that we want to actually air.

Don: Okay.

Sarah: So, this is a story that I kept quiet for years. I did not tell people. Because I rightfully so would think that they thought I was crazy. So, this is my story with grace. I have always wanted to have children. I got married young, and we were married for three years when our oldest son was born. And I had my very first panic attack during my scheduled C-section with my oldest son. And I did not know what the panic attack was, I just felt like I was dying. And they even hooked me up to the heart monitor. So I really did think that there was a physical problem. And I had prayed and asked God to just let me live so that I could take care of my husband and my son.

Don: Amen.

Sarah: I was 21-years-old. And about seven months went by, and I really was convinced that I had almost died during my C-section. And about seven months went by, and I was actually at the movie theater watching a movie about firefighters. And it hit me again. And I had my second panic attack. And I went out to the lobby and that’s when I knew that, “Wait, this is a panic attack, because obviously I’m not in surgery at this moment,” and everything else was fine. And that was the start of a different kind of story about anxiety and panic attacks, and a long line of dealing with that. But what else was a catalyst at that moment was the fact that a month prior, I had actually found out I was pregnant a second time.

Sarah: So, having that second panic attack was actually a blessing, because I realized, “Wait a second, maybe I will survive a second child.” But a month prior to that second panic attack, I actually found out I was pregnant. I had a neighbor over at my house that night, and she had asked me, she said, “Sarah, when are you going to have another child?” And I looked at her and I said, I go, “Never.” And she’s like, “What?” Like, the look on her face was shocking, because you don’t usually have a 21-year-old with a baby say never. And I said, “Well maybe in five years I’ll adopt.” Because I was convinced that it was a death sentence if I got pregnant again. And she walked out. And it was about 9:00 p.m. that night. She walked out, I looked at my calendar, and I realized, I should probably check something. So I went into Hy-Vee and I got a test, and I came home and it turned positive instantly.

Don: Praise God.

Sarah: Well, that’s what-

Don: Not how you looked at it, was it?

Sarah: That is now how I looked at it. So I walked out of the bathroom, and my husband was just so excited, and he hugged me. And I said, “Don’t touch me, that’s how got into this problem in the first place.”

Don: There you go.

Sarah: And he knew well enough to just be like, “Okay,” he didn’t really say anything. And it was bedtime anyway. So he just want and laid down. And years later I found out he was actually awake this whole time. So this whole time that I thought my husband just went to sleep, he was awake and he was waiting for me. Because my personality is, when something’s bothering me I cannot fall asleep. I ruminate on it, and ruminate on it, and ruminate on it, and he knew that. And so he just left me alone. I wanted to call my aunt who I knew could possibly understand, but it was late and I didn’t want to bother her. So I called my parents, because I can always call my parents at any time. So I called my parents and my mom answered the phone. And I said, “Mom,” I was crying, and I said, “Mom, God has given me something that I cannot handle.” And she told me later that she thought that Matt or my son had died in a car accident.

Sarah: And she goes, “What is it, Sarah?” And I go, “I’m pregnant.” And she started laughing, because obviously that was a good thing instead of my spouse or my child dying in a car accident. And then I was like, “No, this is not…” like, I just couldn’t. And was like… then she’s compassionate, and she’s like, “Okay,” and she’s like, “Well, it’ll be okay.” And then my dad and my brother got on the phone. He was still a child and living at home, a teenager and living at home. And they got on the phone and they congratulated me, but that wasn’t helpful.

Jeff: You know, it was the… anything we can do to not help, just let us know.

Sarah: And so, granted it’s probably 10:00 at night on whatever day.

Don: So, can I interrupt you?

Sarah: Yeah.

Don: So, would it, from where I sit, double your age, would it be fair for me to say at that point in your life, one could say you didn’t have a whole lot of faith. When you said God gave you-

Sarah: I was, I-

Don: … something you couldn’t handle, I’m not sure that… and I’m not picking on you.

Sarah: No, don’t pick on me.

Don: I’m keeping you real [crosstalk 00:11:56]. So it’s very clear that you weren’t trusting God when you make a statement like that. And the reason I caught that, is because I’ve said it all my life, and I’ve always been told by what you call, really devout Christians, “Don Evans, God will never give you more than you can handle.” And my grandma told me something when I was a little boy, I was about six or seven years old. And I do, before I make this comment, I have big shoulders, I’m a big guy. And my grandma, I’ll never forget this quote, she goes, “Donnie, you got the biggest shoulders of any of the grandkids in the family,” and they had 12 kids, so there’s a lot of rugrats running around. And she said, “God’s got a plan for you,” at seven years old. But I didn’t know God. And at that point in your life, you weren’t trusting God.

Sarah: Well, and it’s amazing that you say that. Because here we’re doing a little Journey Coaching right here on this podcast.

Don: Yeah, man.

Sarah: Because, what is it that… there’s a bible verse that talks about, like without… what is it? Like, perfect, wait perfect love casts out fear. And something about a tie between faith and fear. And I can’t remember what that is. But there is a tie between faith and fear. And so what I will say is, my biggest struggle you just nailed on the head, is fear.

Don: Right, that’s, you know-

Sarah: So this lack of faith is coming from this immense fear. And I was very fearful.

Don: But you also know, and I’m going to plug Zach Williams a Christian singer. His song’s one of my favorites, we play it at church, Fear is a Liar. And it is. It’s a liar.

Sarah: Yeah. It is.

Don: And I believed that lie for 59 years.

Sarah: Yeah. No, it is.

Don: So I’m glad you’re opening up about it in your 30s.

Sarah: Well, and so what ended up happening was, talking about that lie is, that I got off the phone with my family, and I went into the other room where my son was sleeping. And he was, I don’t know, six, seven, eight months at that point. And he was sleeping in his crib. And I sat down on the floor. And this is why I haven’t told this story… that in the last eight years, the son that I was pregnant with is 14 now. So, I think about 10 years ago I started sharing it a little bit. And as time goes on I just don’t care anymore. So, I sat down on the floor and I cried. And I have been through some stuff in my life. And yet this was the… I call this day, it was February 7, 2005, I know the date, February 7, 2005 is the date that I call the worst day of my life and my best day of my life. It was the worst day of my life because it was so dark, it was so dark. I’d grown up in a pro-life family and I pride myself on being pro-life. But at that moment I could see it.

Don: You were asking some hard questions weren’t you?

Sarah: I was scared. I was very, very scared. And I looked at my son. I was dealing with a lot of baby blues and stuff too after he was born. And I looked at my son and I thought, “How can I take care of two babies when I don’t even feel like I can take care of one?” And let alone, how am I going to survive this. And I sat on the floor and I sobbed. And it was so dark, it was like a pitch black room in my mind, in my heart. I was sitting there sobbing. And all of a sudden, like a light switch, like when you flip a light switch and the room fills with bright light light, it was like a light switch switched. And I heard audibly, “My grace is sufficient.”

Don: Wow.

Sarah: And I heard Jesus’ voice. And there’s an Amy Grant song that talks about the peace the past is understanding. And I was filled with complete peace at that light switch, at that flip. “My grace is sufficient.” And I will tell you, that the words went straight to my brain. It was like they bypassed my ears, they were audible, they were like physically audible. But they went straight to my brain, they bypassed my ears. I know that if anyone else was in that room they would not have heard the voice, because it went straight to my brain. And it’s the hardest thing to describe. Also, I don’t remember any more, or remember what I thought. But I remember thinking that I’ll never hear that voice… the voice you don’t hear in a human’s voice, it had the strength of a man’s voice and the compassion of a female voice.

Sarah: And I’ve never heard any voice like that. And I will say that the first thing I thought was, like, I just thought, “What’s grace?” I was just like, “Grace is a female’s name.” But I was filled with so much peace, that I stood up, and I walked into my bedroom. I left my son’s bedroom and walked into my bedroom, and I literally fell asleep before my head hit the pillow. And Matt told me, I was telling this story to friends years ago-

Don: That’s not only grace, that’s peace, and peace.

Sarah: … yeah, that was grace. I was telling the story to some friends and Matt goes, he said something… and yeah, he had been awake the whole time. And he actually remembers me… he goes, “You were sobbing and you got up and I was waiting for you to start talking, and then I realized you were completely asleep.” And I was like, “Yeah.” So what ended up happening was, it took about three days, it kind of like Novocaine, it kind of wears off. Like, I was just filled with so much peace that it protected me, and it just slowly wore off. And then after about three days I had to start digging into scripture. Because the anxiety came back. And so one of the first things I did was to search out what grace was. Because, to me it was just a girl’s name. And so, I found out that grade is God’s unmerited or unearned favor for sinful mankind.

Sarah: And it is in 2 Corinthians 12, when Paul is boasting about the weaknesses that he has, because he says, “Jesus says my grace is sufficient for you. For my power is made perfect in weakness.” And the apostle Paul goes on to say, “Therefore I will boast all the more in my weaknesses and hardships and insults…” I’m not quoting it word for word, but… because God’s Grace is shown in all of those. So, in my weaknesses I did not think that I could… so here’s God’s Grace on my life, I did not think that I could take care of one child, and I now have six children. So we went on to have… God just showed me so much about his love and his mercy, and how much he adores children through in his care for me and our family. And we went on to have four biological children and two… we have legal guardianship of our fifth child, and we just legally adopted our sixth child. So that is my story-

Don: Wow. Yeah, that’s quite a story.

Sarah: Of God’s Grace.

Don: You know, for you to go back to the day we met, I’m looking at you and all those young ones, you know, I’m just a hillbilly, I couldn’t help [inaudible 00:19:19]. Okay, I’m looking at the one I’m going to coach, and looking at you, and looking at him. Okay, mathematically this aint working out, this aint right.

Sarah: What do you mean? Oh, the age!

Don: Yeah. Because he looks so much older than he really is, to me. I’m like, “Wait a minute, wait a minute.” But anyway, it was really funny, because I [crosstalk 00:19:36]

Sarah: Well, we also are different skin colors.

Don: Yeah, I know, right. I was looking at it, you know, I’m just a redneck and I’m going, “Wait a minute, where are they from?”

Sarah: Well, that’s funny. Because my oldest, who we just legally adopted, we have to wait until they’re… yeah, we just legally adopted our adult daughter, we’ve had her for many years though. But, she’s 20, she just turned 20 last week. And I’m 37, so you know, do the math there, but…

Don: So, back to you and the grace.

Sarah: Yes.

Don: Because I’m fixing to think you’re getting ready to close up here. I want you to do this for me, like we started out with. In a very short sentence, sum up what you believe grace is. In your own personal walk and spiritual…

Sarah: That’s a really good question. Because I keep saying, when I keep saying the definition which is God’s unmerited favor for sinful mankind. But if I was going to make it personal…

Don: Yeah, make it your story.

Sarah: … it’s God unearned love for me.

Don: Amen. That’s powerful. So glad you’re sharing that with me today.

Sarah: And for everyone.

Don: Yeah. They all get it, right?

Sarah: Thanks for interviewing me today, and sorry I just talked too much, oh my goodness.

Don: No, that’s why we get along so good, because neither one is going to shut up. Jeff’s over here looking at us like, “You know, I’m getting hungry over here”

Jeff: I always want to [crosstalk 00:21:00]

Sarah: I know, do you want to close this out?

Don: [crosstalk 00:21:01] Dad.

Jeff: Well…

Don: Come on Gilligan, close out this.

Jeff: Yeah. No, this has been really something to listen to, Sarah. As a father, it’s humbling. It’s very cool that your mom and I were just a part of your story, and that we’ve been a part, and hopefully will continue to be a part.

Don: You still are.

Jeff: Yeah.

Don: That’s what I envy in you, you still are. Some of us don’t have that luxury.

Jeff: Yeah. It’s very cool. And my hope, Don, is that the kiddos in your life understand what a really cool dad they have, because they do.

Don: Everything’s in God’s hand sir, and he’ll take care of it. Thank you for being concerned.

Jeff: And so, really I think in all this, as we’re relating it to Journey, one of the things that I think is important to say is, for a lot of people listening today, Sarah’s story is like, “What was she smoking?” You know? But guys, here’s the thing. Look at all the sort of things you hear every day and the way the world is. And just consider that maybe there is something to this. And maybe there is a God that loves us. And maybe there is a God that loves you, and how can you lean into that and move forward.

Don: they can start their journey right here with us.

Jeff: Just start the journey right here.

Don: That’s what this is all about.

Jeff: Exactly. So, reach out to us. There’s ways to do that, at journeycoaching.org, there’s Facebook, Instagram. But actually just reaching out and making those connections, and to help us to know where you’re at and how we can help you on your journey, we would love to do that.

Don: Leave a comment in the comment section on the website.

Jeff: Absolutely.

Don: Please do, leave us a comment, we’ll get back to you.

Sarah: Yeah, on social media.

Don: Wouldn’t you just love to have Don show up at your door.

Sarah: Yeah.

Don: Let me in, let me in.

Jeff: Thanks for listening today, and join us again,.

Sarah: Thank you.

Jeff: Take care.

Sarah: Bye.

Speaker 4: Thank you for listening. Tune in next time, and make sure you like and subscribe. Visit us at journeycoaching.org, and check us out on Facebook and Instagram. Start your own journey at journeycoaching.org.

Speaker 4: (singing)

Overcoming the Fear of Discouragement

From overcoming the fear of discouragement to tips and tricks on goal setting, join Sarah and Don as they interview special guest, JoJo.


Transcription of the Podcast


JoJo: I believe in miracles. I think Sarah does too, we’ve talked about that, but Sarah’s always had just a huge faith in something that she is pursuing for the right reason.

Don: Right.

JoJo: And I think that’s really what’s going to make goal setting, or success, or a great mentor, is someone who is seeking a goal that is a higher goal.

Sarah: Welcome back to The Journey Podcast. My name is Sarah Bandwits. Today I have two guests with me, Don Evans. How are you today?

JoJo: Good sir. How are you doing?

Sarah: I’m good. JoJo Hawks, how are you today?

JoJo: Above average, thank you.

Don: That a girl.

JoJo: Happy to be here.

Sarah: Thank you both for being on the podcast. Today we are talking about goal setting, which is great for the new year, and you two both are excellent with goal setting, so I’m really happy to interview both of you regarding that. JoJo, you’ve never been on the podcast before, so will you do a quick introduction of who you are?

JoJo: Absolutely. My name’s JoJo Hawks. I have three children. I’ve been going to school full time now for at least a year and a half. I’ve got a degree in journalism. I’ve been a computer programmer, software project manager and-

Sarah: Licensed massage therapist.

JoJo: Licensed massage therapists with hospice for the past 16 years, which is really what I love doing is working with people and helping people, which is why I’m going to nursing school now.

Sarah: Very excellent, but awesome.

Don: Good for you.

Sarah: Yeah, she’s amazing. And single mom too.

JoJo: Yes.

Sarah: Doing all that as a single mom.

Don: That’s going to be hard to follow when they ask what I do.

JoJo: Give it up Don.

Sarah: Yeah Don, give us a quick overview.

Don: Well, I’ve got a PhD and a bachelor’s degree in life, hard life and many others we won’t mention. But yeah, just been on fire for a year and a passion to help people in their spiritual walk a little prison ministry and I’ve been doing a few podcasts with the Journey Coaching thing and encouraging people to get involved with that a lot, which I’ve went through it. So that’s a little snapshot of me JoJo.

JoJo: Awesome.

Sarah: Oka, so when I think about both of you, and you guys have never met.

Don: No ma’am.

Sarah: Five minutes ago, you guys didn’t know who each other was.

JoJo: Yes.

Sarah: But I’ll say this, knowing both of you pretty well I think the one thing that I would say embodies each of you individually is that book, Who Moved my Cheese?

Don: Right. I haven’t read the book, but I’ve heard about it.

Sarah: You’ve heard about it?

Don: I’m ODC, I just don’t like my stuff moved, period. It just really bugs me. How about you?

JoJo: I’m trying to give up cheese.

Don: Are you? No, please don’t. That’s bad.

JoJo: That’s actually one of my goals.

Don: Right. Well set a new one please. Don’t worry about cheese, man.

Sarah: You’re going to have a really crabby 2020 then.

JoJo: No, one of my goals is vegetarian.

Sarah: Wow.

JoJo: Yeah.

Sarah: Okay, this is the big, how do you guys set goals? Wait, come up with goals, set them and then implement them? Because you both do that really, really well.

JoJo: I think a lot of what I’ve done over the years is try to be obedient to what God’s calling me to do, which is ultimately to be a good steward of the gifts and talents that he’s given me, and so like when it comes to vegetarianism, some of my numbers weren’t so great this year when I got my blood work back. And God gave me a body, so it seems like I should be a good steward of that body, even though sometimes when I’m studying I’m in denial and I like doughnuts, creamy bun buns to be specific, so I’m trying to work towards that.

JoJo: It’s hard, it’s a process and I also feel like God has a good way of convicting me to do certain things. And thankfully it’s not all at the same time. It has to deal with the situations that I go through where he opens my eyes. It’s kind of like taking the blinders off, or peeling back layers of an onion, not, “Hey look, this needs to change.” You know? So that’s one goal that I have. Going to school, becoming a massage therapist and going to nursing school, I feel like God’s kind of been knocking at that door, pounding on that door, bulldozing that door for a long time.

Sarah: How did you do that while being a single mom? Because accomplishing goals is really systematically small steps moving forward. How did you do that and still overcome hurdles, especially as a single mom? I’m sure that there were a lot of hurdles just like I think just being tired, probably a big one.

JoJo: Yeah. Honestly, I don’t get that tired, which at church right now, they’re doing a long series on joy and they talk about, joy comes from faith and I think that’s one of the reasons why I don’t get that tired is that I have a really strong faith and that keeps me motivated to go on and the hope for what’s beyond that. I think in goal setting, I call it creative creative financing when it comes to anything that takes money.

Sarah: What do you mean by that?

JoJo: Never say never, because there’s always a way to get things done, you might just have to be more creative. I have a marketing background too, so I don’t let money necessarily stand in my way. I look at what would God have for me and to try really to look fear in the face and say, “Yeah, but I don’t care.” Because-

Sarah: That’s a good point.

JoJo: I think fear is not of God, and so when you’re scared to do something, that might actually be a really healthy thing. And when you’re stepping out in faith, when you’re doing something that everyone else is going to think is crazy, you might have to just think, yeah, but there’s so many things that God and his apostles did that are seemingly crazy in today’s world, but yet I have faith that it’s all going to work out for the right reasons. It’s going to come to the best and that it can.

Sarah: JoJo, do you have any personal examples? Any stories about how you’ve overcome that fear or even discouragement as you’re reaching your goals?

JoJo: I think when I had a really challenging time with my divorce, kind of seeing the future was a huge goal for me. Like, what is this going to look like when you’re walking out into the, “I don’t know what’s going to happen.” And the more I started leaning into God, the more he just started providing the right things for me, the right people, the right scripture, the right Bible study, the right attorney, the right information that I needed, Christian people, mentors to give me hope. And against that I also got a lot of chances to really, he encouraged me by giving me feedback, whether that was through people or scripture or action, when things came back to me and I really felt like, wow, he’s encouraging me or reinforcing what I already thought was true by what he’s laying out in front of me, but it never happens according to my day planner. It’s always his schedule, which can be very frustrating.

Don: He’s kind of funny about that stuff, isn’t he? He wants us to hear a thing in his time, doesn’t he?

JoJo: Yeah, he’s got his own schedule.

Don: Finances had to be a concern for you, stepping out as a single mother though didn’t it?

JoJo: Yes.

Don: So if you’re a goal setter, what was your goal for finances? Thinking, “Okay now I’m a single mother.” Not unless your husband was rich and you’re got a lot of money, I don’t know.

JoJo: I have a lot of creative financing. I’m okay with that.

Sarah: She’s done amazing. I mean, because you got a house.

JoJo: Yes, I’ve purchased the house. I look at the big picture, like when I purchased my home I knew it was possible to buy a home with no money down, so I did that. I did a 100% financing so I had to do it on my own based on even though basically my credit got tanked out because he took all my credit when he closed all of our accounts without talking to me, because I had a great credit before I got married. I had no idea that this was coming so I didn’t have my own, credit card or whatever. So you know, I was starting over, but at the same time I’m like, “I’m going to do this. I need to do this.” And you know, obviously I made a budget. I’ve always been very budget conscious and looking at provision and trying really hard to just think, how did my kid’s life look before this and how do I want it to look like after this? And so I just worked really hard to make it look to the kids like it was seamless.

Sarah: Well and your house. Okay, story time. What happened with the paint on the stairs?

JoJo: My son like kicked a gallon of paint down the stairs on the carpet that I just had laid.

Sarah: And you had a neighbor. Okay. So you bought this house, which is super adorable.

JoJo: Thank you.

Sarah: And was in really good condition even before you bought it, but you’ve really made it your own. And the way that you’ve made it your own is doing a lot of things yourself and having friends and family do things, one being laying this carpet. No, but you paid someone to lay the carpet, right?

JoJo: Yes, I paid someone to lay the carpet. Yes.

Sarah: And then just knowing you, I’m sure that you turn that paint issue into something positive.

JoJo: Yeah, it was definitely a learning experience for all of us because I’m let “Oh no.” And I’m scrubbing and my son’s crying because he didn’t mean to do that. And we still laugh about how he did that and he managed to put a plastic tray to bake potatoes on in the oven.

Sarah: Oh that’s right.

JoJo: Super smart guy. Super smart. But he’s learning a lot. We’re all learning a lot. I think as a family, we look back at it and laugh and we were all scrubbing and soaking and things like that. One thing I attribute my kids too is that they’re great team members. I mean-

Sarah: Your family does work really good together as a team.

JoJo: So we just come together and just really try to lift each other up, or help with homework, or whatever we need to do to like get her done and move on, because that’s what we do is we support each other.

Don: So JoJo, after what you were just saying about all the things with the goals and how you’ve really had to dig in and do so many things in your life with your kids and stuff, do you feel like there was ever one single moment where you were just something was going on, whether it was a pain or the kid’s homework where you just really felt like God’s hand was there and you’re like, “Wow.” you just got this tingling feeling inside like “I just feel his presence here and this must be why this is happening.” Do you ever experience anything like that?

JoJo: Yeah, there’s a lot of different situations in my life when maybe something stopped that I expected was going to continue to keep going, but then God suddenly opened a door and I’m like, “Okay, this has to be God because I never saw this coming, and I never skipped a beat and it looks too good to be true.” Kind of a thing. There’s been a couple of different changes with part time jobs that I’ve taken on where I think a lot of people might be just, really like, “Oh this is so sad. I’m going to dwell on this for a really long time.” And instead I was like, “Okay God, you have a different plan for me and I’m just going to keep my eyes open and take a look at what you have for me and what blessings are going to come from this.”

JoJo: There’s a friend of mine I met through massage therapy, ironically she now goes to the same church that I do and she’ll call me and bless me to go see someone that we know, which is a huge blessing for me. Timing is everything and it always seems to work out so it’s a blessing for both of us. There’s been times, like when I was going through my divorce, when I was in a Bible study with a group of other mothers from our school and just reading the scripture and I think it was specifically how to hear God speaking to you and getting that reinforcement or confirmation from scripture or other people, and it had specific steps on how to do that. And it was like, systematically step by step, I was being confirmed in, “Yes, this is the right thing to do.” Whether it was scripture or God placing in front of me someone to talk to, to just get that Christian perspective again as a mentor of, “Hey, you know this is the right track you’re on. This is what you should really be looking or thinking about or reading about scripture.”

Don: I’m dying to ask a question over here, I really am.

JoJo: Sure.

Don: With all that being said, and I understand that so well, where in your schedule, I’m a single person, but I don’t have kids.

Sarah: Well, you have kids, they’re just older, they’re just adults.

Don: Right, but she’s-

Sarah: She’s in the thick of it.

Don: Bless her heart. She’s got little ones she’s raising up in Mao’s defeat and whatnot like that. But while I’m sitting over here listening to you and so inspired by what you’re saying, but my burning questions, I just can’t wait to ask, as you see, I just interrupted you. That’s what I do. Where do you find the time, and really think about this for a second, where do you find time to listen to what God has to say to you? Because you have already convinced me that where I come from, we would say, you’re just working your tail off with your kids. Scripture, people calling on you, you’re seeing people, you’re in Bible studies. Where do you carve out in a 24 hour period of time to go, “You know what God, it’s just you and me and I want to listen.” Because I’ve been working really hard at making my goal heavier in that area because I have this gift to can’t shut up and talk all the time, so I’m carving out. Where do you carve yours out of JoJo?

JoJo: Sometimes it’s in the minivan behind the wheel.

Don: That a girl. I’m a trucker, we like to look at concrete, listen to God.

JoJo: Sometimes it’s just on my way to get the kids, pick the kids up, go to work, whatever, go to school. I go to a Christian college right now, so I’ve literally sat at my professor’s desk, looked him in the eye and say, “Can you pray for me that my brain starts to understand chemistry.” And when I did my final, across one of the pages, I didn’t write scripture, but I said, “Dear Jesus, please bless me today.”

Don: Yeah. So you know, I’m not college kind of guy or stuff’s so I’m listening to you talk, I’m really curious as to all the people that you’ve talked about. Who do you kind of single out as mentors in your life that really inspired you to want to travel this path that seems, from where I’m sitting across the room from you, appears to be pretty hard, especially for a woman and I’m a guy. But I had mentors growing up, a couple, three farmers in my life from a little boy that really shaped me because unfortunately appearance didn’t. So I admired them and looked on and I can still call them till the day I die, my mentors. Can I ask who mentored you to get you to be so driven?

JoJo: Hmm, driven.

Sarah: You are very driven.

JoJo: Well Sarah, you have definitely mentored me.

Sarah: Okay.

Don: Don’t you all go getting emotional on me now.

JoJo: I know, I get weepy. I think just in the fact that I believe in miracles, I think Sarah does too. We’ve talked about that, but Sarah’s always had just a huge faith in something that she is pursuing for the right reason. And I think that’s really what’s going to make goal setting, or success, or great mentor is someone who is seeking a goal that is a higher goal.

Don: How do you go about when you set, because I’m curious, the way I do things, I set goals, I try to achieve them, but when I’m getting close to them being done, I can see it coming together, then my psychologist says, “You’re a really extreme forward thinker. You’re always looking for the next project.” I would think with your circumstances, with the little ones again and then working, school and all that and where do you find time to set new goals? Or you just got so many that you’re like, “Well, this bucket’s full and it’s going to take the next five years to get all these accomplished.”

Sarah: Well, and JoJo is very creative.

JoJo: Yes, and they explode. I mean, they just come to me. I’ve had several people tell me before that I am the idea person, that I see things come together in a different kind of way.

Sarah: So before we wrap up this podcast and in wrapping up this podcast, Journey Coaching, a lot of it is about working in your strengths and JoJo, I think that that’s one reason I’m excited to have you on the podcast today is because you very much, you embody someone who has a strong faith and who works in their strengths.

JoJo: Thank you.

Sarah: I don’t know if you even realize that that’s what you do, but you do. You lean on your strengths and you lean on God and then you work in those strengths and as a result you’re able to accomplish these amazing things in your life.

JoJo: God gives us gifts and he gives us deficits and so our job is to go find people who have the gifts we don’t.

Sarah: Yes.

JoJo: And you bring them to the table.

Sarah: Yeah, and you have a lot of people around you.

Don: Have you been through Journey Coaching already?

JoJo: I’m sorry?

Don: Have you been through Journey Coaching already?

JoJo: No.

Don: Okay, sounds like you have/

Sarah: I know, actually she’d be a great coach, but she doesn’t even know. We’ll have that conversation off.

JoJo: Well, when I was a manager, when I would fill my team, I was like, nobody brings everything to the table so you really need to look and handpick those people who are going to bring everything you need to the table and appreciate their uniqueness and that they’re going to bring something to the table and it’s a synergy of everybody working together. It’s like the community in Christ, we aren’t meant to be alone. Together we’re much stronger, much more powerful.

Sarah: And that community together, I mean people want to be around JoJo because of her positivity and because you can tell she genuinely cares about people and yeah.

Don: Yeah, she does. You can see in her eyes when you start pressing her about God, the eyes are getting watery. That’s why I said, just don’t get all teary up here. I’ve got shirt sleeves.

JoJo: I can’t help it.

Don: No ma’am. That a girl.

JoJo: It’s just how I roll.

Sarah: Well thanks for being on the Journey Podcast.

Don: You’re a good actor too. That was good. I like that. Amen sister.

JoJo: Nice to meet you Don.

Don: You too, it’s a pleasure.

JoJo: Yeah. Nice to-

Don: Next time warn me when you’re coming, just don’t show up.

JoJo: Okay, I will.

Sarah: If you guys want to learn more, go to journeycoaching.org and we will talk to you later. Bye.

Automated voice: Thank you for listening. Tune in next time and make sure you like and subscribe. Visit us at journeycoaching.org and check us out on Facebook and Instagram. Start your own journey at journeycoaching.org your journey starts now, but.

Special Interview with Life101.9 Station Manager, Matt Dean

Welcome back to the Journey Podcast! In this episode Jeff and Sarah interview special guest, Matt Dean, station manager at 101.9. In this interview, Matt recalls his story of coming to 101.9 and the goals of the radio station.


Transcription of the Podcast


Matt:                Our goal is just in between those songs to bring encouragement, to put something positive into people’s lives because there so much that is negative in the world today.

Jeff:                  Hi, this Jeff. We are here for another Journey Podcast and great to have a couple of actually very good communicators in the studio today. So, we’ve got Matt Deane who is the station manager at 101.9.

Matt:                Yeah. Good morning. Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

Jeff:                  Good morning, yes. Very fun.

Sarah:               Thanks for coming, Matt.

Matt:                Yeah, you bet.

Jeff:                  And that other voice you just heard is Sarah and she is here to interview and talk to Matt and to just basically hear a little bit about his story. So, I’m just going to let her jump right into this.

Sarah:               Well, thanks for being with us, Matt. I really appreciate you coming all the way down to Cedar Rapids.

Matt:                Yeah. It’s great. I’m just really glad for the opportunity. So, thank you.

Sarah:               So tell us a little bit about your story because you’re a newer manager. You took over for Doug.

Matt:                That’s right. So, Doug Smith was our station manager for 19 years and certainly some big shoes to fill. Just tracking back a little bit, our family’s been in Eastern Iowa for not a long time, about three and a half years now. And I came to Life 101.9 as the program director, which just basically means in charge of all of the things you hear on the radio. So the music, the stuff in between the music, everything basically fits that program director job description. And at that point when we moved here, I had been at a radio station in Wausau, Wisconsin, which is kind of right up in the middle of the state of Wisconsin, for almost 15 years and we had looked for new jobs at certain points and nothing was really a good fit and so we were just under the assumption that God was just wanting us to be in Wisconsin.

Matt:                And we were cool with that. And so we were raising our girls. And out of the blue one day, I got an email from Doug Smith. And at that moment I didn’t know who Doug Smith was. So, I literally almost deleted the email without looking at it because I thought it was a junk mail thing or something. But I opened it up and it was an invitation to come to Waterloo to potentially be the program director at Life 101.9, so that was different than junk mail message. So, we came down again. We weren’t looking, but it was an opportunity so we thought we’d come visit and several weeks later I accepted the program director position.

Matt:                So, that was something unexpected, but something we were really excited to start on. So, fast forward now a couple of years later, and I get a phone call from one of our big bosses at our home office in Minneapolis and he tells me that Doug Smith has accepted a new position in Fargo, North Dakota, at our Northwestern media station there and that he wanted me to replace him. Doug and I had talked about that. At that point, being the four- or five-year plan when Doug retired, but then this obviously turned it into more of a four-week plan when he was moving. So, this last few years have been various levels of stretching and stretching in a good way. I feel like God’s really grown me in a lot of areas. But yeah, it’s been about a year and a half now that I’ve been the station manager and I’m really enjoying it.

Sarah:               Very nice. So married with daughters. How many kids do you have?

Matt:                Yeah, so Anna just turned 14. Kate is 11 and so we’re in that teen tween whatever you call it these days land. And it certainly keeps us on our toes. Kate, our youngest is in cheer and so we’re going to competitions all over the Midwest several times during the season and Anna’s very involved in music. So, she’s in her middle school band. She’s in jazz band. She plays the piano. So, if one of us is not running Kate to all of her activities, the other one is running Anna to all of her music stuff. So, we’re busy. We’re on the move.

Jeff:                  And what’s kind of interesting is when you’re talking about your daughters’ ages is that’s kind of our daughters spread.

Matt:                Oh, okay.

Jeff:                  Close to their spread in ages. And I just think back to those years, 11 and 14, and I just go, “Oh my. Let me give you a hug man.”

Matt:                Thanks. I will accept that hug.

Jeff:                  Yeah, those are interesting times, aren’t they?

Matt:                It’s a challenge. And in fact, my wife, Jenny, and I were just talking about this last night. How different it is just because of the technology and the things that when we were teenagers that just weren’t available. I mean, we would listen to the radio in our room or pull out a cassette or a CD, which was brand new technology back then. And now they’ve got social media at their fingertips. They’ve got really the world at their fingertips with smartphones and different technology and that can be a wonderful thing, but that can also be a really scary thing too. So, trying to help our girls kind of navigate that whole world and make good choices is a challenge really on a daily basis. So, that’s the world that we’re operating in right now.

Jeff:                  Yeah.

Sarah:               So Matt, okay, you had mentioned just a lot of growing and stretching. I wanted to ask you a question about that, but I don’t know what to ask.

Jeff:                  Well, it’s interesting too because a lot of … my sense is you’re really good at what you do because people have really reached out to you, which is really cool. But that is often rare. I mean, it’s often rare in this economy, in this world today, because you can be really good at what you do but a lot of people hit those walls because companies downsize or get sold or restructure or there’s just different positions that move around and so forth. So, just the fact that doors open, I mean it’s almost good for you and in what you were doing for those in those roles that you served in because people saw that.

Matt:                Yeah.

Jeff:                  And those doors open, but it had to be challenging when all of a sudden, you said you had what you and Doug thought was like about a four-year plan moves into four weeks. What does that feel like? Because one of the things we talk about in Journey is growth and one of the things we just try to be honest and transparent and if that was me, I think just the level of angst would rise there because it’s like, “Oh, so you mean I’ve been sort of co-piloting this plane. Now I’m going to be piloting this plane?” I mean that’s got to be an interesting feeling, right?

Matt:                Yeah, for sure. Yeah. I will tell you when I received that phone call, I was actually driving from our Northwestern media station in Duluth where I was there helping out and driving home. So, I get this phone call, this great news, but this kind of scary news is shared with me and I can tell you for a fact, I do not remember the next 30 minutes of the drive. I know I was driving. I’m still here to prove that fact. I didn’t drive off the road. But just processing all of that in the moment was pretty amazing and then I remember thinking, “Oh, I need to call Jenny.” So, that was my next step. So, it was a crazy time.

Matt:                I’m super grateful for the four weeks that I had with Doug. It was kind of like station manager boot camp a little bit and he couldn’t teach me all the ropes and the things that he had accomplished over 19 years at Life 101.9 but having that time was amazing to help me hit the ground running rather than one person leaves, one person comes in and you just start from scratch, so to speak. So, I was really grateful for that. But yeah, to say it was stressful, to say there was anxiety that might be putting it lightly honestly. But I was just really grateful for the people that I had around me. Not only our team at Life 101.9 which is great and we’re super grateful to have the people that we have who I get to work with every day, but also the friends around our Northwestern media network.

Matt:                I got emails from everybody and texts from everybody saying, “Hey, whatever you need, if you have questions, let me know.” Having those relationships and having those people was super helpful to making the transition an easier one.

Sarah:               Well, and the fact that 101.9 doesn’t have a high turnover rate either.

Matt:                Yep.

Sarah:               I mean, I don’t know who the guy is, but there’s a guy on there that has been on the early morning or very late-

Matt:                Yeah. Lyle.

Sarah:               Yes, Lyle. Since I was a little girl.

Matt:                We lovingly refer to Lyle as the longest tenured part-time radio station employee in the country because he’s been doing Saturday mornings since the early to mid-seventies and he had a different full-time career that kept him busy and that he really enjoyed but he loved the opportunity. So, when I moved here, I did not know the history of Lyle and the great work that he’s done here.

Matt:                Yeah. We’re really grateful. We have several great longterm employees and that goes to show … and I’ve been here for roughly three and a half years, but it’s an amazing place and I’m just really grateful to be a part of it.

Jeff:                  Well, and the industry is really prone to turnover, right?

Matt:                Big time.

Jeff:                  Yeah. So, I mean, not only is that cool, but in the industry you’re in, it’s really unusual.

Matt:                Yeah. And radio can be an industry where if you want to move up, you have to move on, so to speak, because there’s only so many positions at any given radio station. So, that can be the case. It can be really a revolving door. So, we’re grateful for what we have in the way that God uses Life 101.9 in Eastern Iowa.

Sarah:               Well, let’s explain what Life 101.9 is because, personally, it’s my favorite radio station. I’ve listened to it since I was a little girl.

Matt:                Thank you. I appreciate that.

Sarah:               I was really happy when you guys got your higher range tower probably around 2000, 2001 because that was when I got married and moved to Ames.

Matt:                Oh wow.

Sarah:               Yeah, you guys got the longer range tower right before I moved to Ames and that was really cool.

Matt:                You could pick us up in Ames?

Sarah:               I could.

Matt:                That’s amazing.

Sarah:               Yes, I could.

Matt:                Yeah, we were really grateful for that. We had a great tower to begin with and we just were able to move. The thing with radio is power of your transmitter and how high your tower is. So, those two things. And so we have a hundred thousand watt transmitter, which is basically the strongest you can have and we are on a super high tower now. I mean, even higher than the one that we were at. So, that’s really great.

Matt:                But yeah. To explain, if you’re listening to this and you’re like, “What is Life 101.9?” So, Life 101.9 is a Christian music radio station. Our offices are in Waterloo, Iowa. We are owned by the University of Northwestern in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The Northwestern Media Network, really, if you go all the way back, has its roots to Dr. Billy Graham who helped put KTIS on the air in Minneapolis. That was the first radio station. And he had this vision to share the gospel on the radio. In the 1940s this was like breaking technology. This was an unbelievable opportunity. So, that first station went on the air in 1947 and then in 1953 KNWS AM went on the air in Waterloo, Iowa.

Matt:                So, initially we started as just an AM station, which is still on the air today. Am 1090. Then, about 10 years later in the early sixties, KNWS FM went on the air. And it’s interesting to think about. People didn’t use to listen to FM radio for music. Everything was on am. And so in the 1960s, this was again kind of experimental, kind of new. But yeah, so we have the opportunity to share encouragement and share God’s love on the air in Eastern Iowa and wherever people are, they can listen online and it’s amazing what technology can do these days.

Jeff:                  Well, and what’s interesting too is before we started recording here, you said something about, was it like 30% of the people are sort of the non-church, maybe not non-Christian, not church folks though?

Matt:                Yeah.

Jeff:                  So, that’s the other thing to people listening is, check out the station. I mean, you’re not going to hear like organ music and church music. It really is really good uplifting music that if you have cross on the face, it’s great. If you haven’t, it’s just really good uplifting music.

Matt:                Yeah, thanks.

Sarah:               Well, the branding is amazing too. I like the billboards.

Matt:                Yep.

Jeff:                  Yeah.

Sarah:               And just the audio branding too, I mean, is just solid. And it’s true that when you’re driving around the country you can tell what is without … I mean, they say it a lot, but before you hit that, you can tell that it’s a Northwestern station.

Jeff:                  So, your new tagline could be, “If you’re feeling crappy, listen to the station and then you’ll feel happy.”

Matt:                Okay. Do you have a notebook? I’m going to write that one down.

Sarah:               That was super corny.

Matt:                Well, our goal at Life 101.9 is to speak to everyone. So, something we try to think about is to communicate biblical truth in ways that everyone can understand because if you’ve … like I grew up in the church, so people who grew up in the church are prone to using churchy words that “normal” people don’t understand. And so that’s our goal. The Christian music industry has come so far. Like I said, I grew up going to church and in Christian school and looking back I’m grateful for what was there, but a lot of them, the music just wasn’t really all that good and it wasn’t produced all that well. And fast forward to today and you have artists like MercyMe and Lauren Daigle who are making strides in mainstream music, selling out big arenas. That wouldn’t happen if the music itself wasn’t good and it wasn’t connecting with people.

Jeff:                  Well, I don’t know if we want to go down this road, but wasn’t it really … if you look back, a key person to move that forward … I think of Amy Grant.

Sarah:               Yeah, I was going to say Amy Grant.

Matt:                Absolutely. She was really one of the first to make that crossover and I remember back then-

Sarah:               That was hard.

Jeff:                  She got push back.

Sarah:               She did get push back.

Matt:                Yeah. Yeah. Big time. But she was making those strides. She was making good music and that was the case. I remember that because I was in middle school, high school and going to all of a sudden those really big concerts in big arenas. So, we’re grateful that the product that we have is better. And then our goal is just in between those songs to bring encouragement, to put something positive into people’s lives because there is just so much that is negative in the world today. So, if we can share an encouraging thought or say something that just puts a smile on someone’s face … I think if you make someone laugh or you put a smile on someone’s face, you’re encouraging them. So, that’s our goal with what we do on Life 101.9 every day.

Sarah:               I feel like Life 101.9 is like an IV, an infusion, of good news and peace and purpose. And I know this is all … you guys have these little audio clips all the time where people say that the right song came on at the right moment. And I just think all the time, I mean, multiple times a week, I’m like, “Wow, there must be a lot of prayer going into Life 101.9 because it’s so true. Years ago … it’s probably, well, I mean time goes by fast, but about seven years ago, I took my first trip overseas. I’m not a morning person and I had to leave really early in the morning by myself and I was super anxious. I’m very, very, very anxious. I was going to Ethiopia for my first time and I was going with people I didn’t know very well and without any family and I had to leave home around 4:00 AM and I was just incredibly anxious.

Sarah:               I ended up taking some medicine that my doctor had prescribed once I got to Africa, so that’s how anxious I was. I didn’t know if I’d actually get on the plane and I remember before I left the house thinking “God’s with me, Jesus is with me” and I felt in my heart that like Jesus was trying to pull me along saying “I got an adventure” and it’s been an adventure since and I ended up going back three more times. What was really cool as I got in the car and every single song on 101.9 got me from Marion, Iowa to the Eastern Iowa Airport, which is a 30-minute drive. 20 to 30-minute drive and I will tell you one of the songs was Give Christmas Away, which I had never heard before.

Sarah:               Never heard before. And it was Give This Christmas Away. I was leaving right after Christmas but before Ethiopia’s Christmas. It was literally like God was holding my hand through that and that was one time that it’s just amazing. And then another time was when we were homeschooling, we went to put our kids into public school and again, so incredibly anxious about that. And we were putting them in on a Wednesday and on a Monday, two days prior, was the first PTO meeting.

Sarah:               And so I was going to go to that and I was so anxious and driving just three minutes down the road. The song that came on, which again I’d never heard before, and I can’t even remember what song it was now, but it was about, it was like speaking directly. I’d never heard it before. I really haven’t heard it very much since. But it was like speaking directly to that like something about being the light, being a light. That’s what it was.

Matt:                Wow. There it is. That’s awesome.

Sarah:               And it was the first time. But yeah, I mean, that kind of stuff happens all the time and I can’t even imagine life without 101.9. I mean, honestly since I was a little girl, you guys have just been such a huge blessing to my life.

Matt:                We meet as a staff together on Monday mornings and we pray for each other. We pray for some of the needs that people call in or send emails and ask for prayer. But that’s really a big prayer for us too because it’s our job to run a radio station and to do all the mechanical work that makes sure that there’s music in the computer system that runs all of that. But at the same time, we can’t make what you described happen. It’s our job to make sure there’s songs on the air and people think, “Oh wow, you knew.” And we didn’t know, but God knew exactly what was going on.

Sarah:               But you’re faithful. You’re faithful with putting the songs on the radio and making sure that the technology is working and that the staffing is where it needs to be and that you’re sourcing the newest music and everything like that. You’re being faithful with what you can do and God is just taking it and running with it. And it’s amazing.

Matt:                Yeah. And so that’s our prayers, that God would take our efforts and the cool thing is he knows who’s listening at any given time. I mean, he knows everything obviously, but that’s just a mind-boggling thought to us in the building. So, he knows that you needed those songs when you were driving from Marion to the airport and when you were getting ready to go to the school meeting and he’s been so faithful to help us stay on the air financially in that way. We’re just grateful to be a part of what God is doing through Life 101.9.

Jeff:                  So, I’m sitting here going, “Wow, this is just so cool. I mean, it’s just really neat.” But, again, at another level you just go, “If you’re feeling crappy, listen to the station and you feel happy.”

Matt:                Here it comes again. He’s really trying to sell that one today.

Sarah:               And I do just want to play … Matt did not ask us to do this and I want to do this just because I think it’s important. You guys just finished your Winter Share last week and I will say that Life 101 … I’m going to speak for you what I hear on the radio. Life 101.9 does not run on advertising even though you do some very minimal advertising that’s done very, very well. It runs on the support of listeners.

Matt:                That’s right.

Sarah:               And so if anyone does want to support 101.9, how did they do that?

Matt:                So, you can either go to our website, you can give at Life1019.com, or you just want to call us, you can do that too. Our phone number is (866) 515-1019.

Sarah:               And I have a funny story about this. When I was a little girl, I was probably eight years old and I called in for my first sharathon. And I said $1 thinking it was $1 a month. I still remember this moment. I remember standing in the kitchen and the announcer was so sweet and she goes, “Sarah from Solon, Iowa.” because I was living in Solon with my parents at the time. I was little. “Sarah from Solon, Iowa donated $1” and she was so sweet. I was so embarrassed because I was like, “It was supposed to be a dollar a month.” Which to a little girl … $1, $12, or whatever. But I still think about that whenever I call in. I’m like, let’s make sure that …

Matt:                Well, there’s a lot of moving parts to a shareathon. So, stuff sometimes gets misunderstood.

Sarah:               Well, I think it’s just being a little girl. Like this little, seven, eight, nine-year old calls in or whatever. And I never ended up giving that $1. I was so embarrassed and I think they sent me the little form or whatever and I don’t know what happened, but I’ve made up for that because every time there’s a shareathon, I think about that $1.

Matt:                Awesome.

Jeff:                  And along with that, you have the sponsorships with businesses, which we do with Warehouse Auto. If you’re listening to the station … again, if you’re not listening, check it out. Again, it’s great music. But if you are listening give because it’s really nice. I don’t know how most people feel. I would guess I’m going to get agreement with 99.9% of the people. It’s really nice not to hear all the ads. And as we move into this coming year, it’s going to be really nice to not hear all the political ads.

Matt:                There’ll be zero political ads. There will be zero.

Jeff:                  Your listenership is going to skyrocket.

Sarah:               Well, that’s going to help the station too because I know with other … I don’t really listen to other radio stations, but if I ever do, I just flip them as soon as the commercials come on.

Matt:                I mean, it’s a different model for sure. But we are grateful that we’ve been able to get by for literally decades basically on listener support. We do have some businesses like Warehouse Auto that we’re grateful for that help us to even out the budget and solidify things that way. But it’s not something where we have a big team of people out on the streets trying to do that. So, we’re grateful to be able to do that. I mean, I don’t think we could say that we were positive and uplifting if we had political ads on Life 101.9.

Jeff:                  Nope.

Matt:                I don’t think that would work. So, heading into election year, it will be political ad and just politics free because everybody’s got an opinion. Man, you scroll through social media. There are some opinions being shared.

Jeff:                  I love this concept though. See, now you could go to all the politicians and say, “Guys, here’s the deal. We’ll let you on the air, but you only have to say what is a positive thing that you will be doing to help the country.”

Matt:                Yep.

Jeff:                  Boy, wouldn’t that be a movement?

Matt:                Maybe that’s an angle. Who knows? I don’t know if they’d be able to do it though. It’d start there and it would just go somewhere else. So, yeah.

Jeff:                  Yeah.

Sarah:               Okay. So before we close out this podcast, I have one question for you.

Matt:                Sure.

Sarah:               Okay. Well, I want to ask what is your most unique, surprising but fun thing that you’ve been surprised with about being a station manager? Like something that you really enjoy that surprised you.

Matt:                This was really surprising to me. As a program director, which again was the job I had before I was promoted, I was in charge of picking music and that’s a fun … I mean I got to pick the music that people listen to. I mean, that’s a pretty fun job and a lot of other things too. But I didn’t ever really do budgets. Didn’t do a lot of spreadsheet work. And so in my four-week station manager boot camp with my friend Doug Smith, I quickly realized that that was going to change and I was really nervous because I didn’t have a lot of experience with Excel and all of that kind of stuff. And I have come to find that doing the station budget is really fascinating and really interesting and I really love it.

Matt:                We have to obviously make sure that all the bills are paid and they’re paid out of the right accounts and all of that and I didn’t see that coming. At our house, my wife Jenny does the budget stuff and whatever, so I don’t even really have a lot of experience with it. But when I got done doing my first fiscal year budget, I was like, “That was kind of fun.” And I just got done with my next fiscal year budget and it was still fun. And so who knew that doing radio station budgets and combing over spreadsheets all day could be fun? I did not see that one coming. So, that was a surprise.

Sarah:               So, are you going to take over for Jenny at home then too?

Matt:                Maybe that would be too much and then it would be less fun.

Sarah:               Then it wouldn’t be fun for you.

Matt:                She likes doing that so we’re going to let her have her fun. I’ll have my fun and it’ll be all good.

Sarah:               Well, thanks for being on the journey podcast, Matt. It’s been a joy to have you on.

Jeff:                  Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun. And the thing is next steps, how do people again connect with, … I mean it’s probably pretty easy. You go to 101.9.

Matt:                There you go.

Jeff:                  But are there other ways to connect with you then?

Matt:                Yeah, absolutely. So, if you’re in Eastern Iowa, you can probably hear 101.9 on your radio. If not, you can listen at Life1019.com and see what we’re doing there. We’re on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. Just search for Life 101.9 there and wherever you are you can tell your smart speaker to play Life 101.9. It’s just amazing what technology allows us to do.

Matt:                So, we’d love to connect with you. So thank you.

Sarah:               And your website has the most recently played songs. That’s very important. I find myself using that quite often.

Matt:                Yeah, remember that one song you didn’t-

Sarah:               Especially when you’re driving down the road at high speeds, you have to go back 30 minutes later, get the name of the song that was on.

Matt:                Yeah. Lots of good information, concerts, articles that we again, hope will grow and strengthen people in their walk with Jesus or maybe point them to him for the first time. So yeah, lots of good stuff at Life1019.com.

Sarah:               Your concerts are amazing too.

Matt:                Oh, thank you.

Sarah:               Love the concerts. Big Daddy Weave is my favorite though.

Matt:                Did you see them last year? They were here.

Sarah:               Every time they come I try to come. So, probably. I’ve been to too many. I’m sorry, I think they’re a better artist than MercyMe and MercyMe is like … you can’t say anything. You can’t agree with me.

Sarah:               So, MercyMe is huge and very popular, but I personally think Big Daddy Weave is hands down … I don’t know, just above and beyond. Their concerts are like …

Jeff:                  You’re a weaver. A weaving fan.

Sarah:               I’m a weaver. Yeah. Anyone listening to this, if you haven’t heard Big Daddy Weave, you got to listen to Big Daddy Weave and go to their concerts. Their concerts are great. They’re like church services but like the best services.

Matt:                Best picture of what that looks like, absolutely.

Sarah:               And they’re so neat. They’re just such neat people that have been through a lot. And I think that’s what it comes down to is, I don’t know MercyMe’s story, but I know that Big Daddy Weave has had a lot of health problems and issues like that and it just comes out in their music and if you’re hurting Big Daddy Weave is a great band or group to listen to. So, yeah.

Jeff:                  Well, thanks again Sarah for being a part of this. Matt, for coming in.

Matt:                Yeah. Thank you.

Jeff:                  It’s just very cool with these Journey Podcast to hear people’s stories. It’s cool to hear what’s happening at the station because you guys do reach out to a lot of people so it’s just really cool.

Sarah:               And you guys do it really, really well.

Matt:                Oh, thank you.

Jeff:                  You really do. So, thanks so much for being here. And again, if you are … it’s very simple. Just tune the dial, check it out and then after that, check out Journey Coaching at journeycoaching.org and thanks everybody for joining us today.

Sarah:               Thanks for joining us.

Matt:                Thank you.

Sarah:               Bye.

Thank you for listening. Tune in next time and make sure you like and subscribe. Visit us at journeycoaching.org and check us out on Facebook and Instagram. Start your own journey at journeycoaching.org. [Singing 00:31:31].

Don’s Story of God’s Grace

Welcome back to the Journey Podcast! In this episode, special guest, Don shares his story of God’s grace. From self-medication with alcohol to relying on God’s grace to sustain him, Don’s story inspires us in the beauty of God’s grace.

Transcription of the Podcast

Don: Yeah. I’ve been blessed with a few people at my church that are going through Journey as we speak. They want to reevaluate their life and I say to enhance their spiritual growth and let’s face it, Sarah, I mean we can all enhance our spiritual growth. I mean, Jesus wants us to work every day to get… To build a relationship stronger with him. I mean that task and journey are never going to be over.

Sarah: Welcome back to the Journey podcast. I’m Sarah and today I have Don Evans in the studio with me. Hi Don.

Don: Hi Sarah.

Sarah: How are you?

Don: Good. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it a lot.

Sarah: Thanks for being on the podcast. So today we are talking-

Don: Why are you smiling? You’re so happy today.

Sarah: I don’t know, I just like to smile.

Don: You’re smiling because you’re going to ask me about my story right?

Sarah: I know, I got to make you…

Don: Let’s just keep this cool.

Sarah: I got to put you at ease.

Don: I’m at ease, you’re the one I’m concerned about. Let’s go.

Sarah: So today we’re going to talk about the grace of God. And I was wondering if you’d share a little bit of your story.

Don: Oh God, I would love to. Yeah. I don’t know. It’s a journey that started a very, very long time ago. I guess it would probably be… You caught me off guard with this today, which I enjoy because I don’t… And I want everybody to know that none of this is scripted. We’re just talking, aren’t we Sarah?

Sarah: Winging it.

Don: Yeah, and we’re just out there in left field, coming around. Yeah, I guess a history of alcoholism in my life. First got to know a lot about Christ in maybe 01 due to a crash of alcoholism and being in the hospital. Then there was a big gap in there more of that and then really got introduced more so to God when I got baptized in 2006 in a very large Christian Church. And-

Sarah: Don, so why did you end up getting baptized in 2006? What was the catalyst for that happening?

Don: Yeah, I started in 06, kind of leaning into the side of Christianity, watching people, what they were doing inspired me a little bit, I guess to see that their happiness, I guess I’d never experienced that. So I got started in 06 as I said, did pretty good for a while, but due to my lack of faith, I like to call it and my lack of devotion to God. I slid back into my old ways again and managed to stay there for a multitude of years. So we’ll leave out all the middle stuff. But as I said, 06 and I just got sober in October of 2018 so it’s just been a little over a year.

Don: But at that point when I was able to get out and about again about December, it took a couple of months to become human and even be visible in public again. Really plugged in this time, Sarah, and there was a lot of fun and I hope you’ll interrupt at certain points and ask me specific questions whenever you hear me say something that you want to know more about, you could just jump in there and go, wait a minute, what about that?

Don: But I’ll keep going.

Sarah: Well I do want to know about… Okay, so becoming sober in October of 2018 for anyone who’s listening, who may be struggling with that, what was it that caused you to want to go down that route?

Don: Well, what was causing me to stay on the drunk fest or what caused me to want to jump on the Jesus wagon?

Sarah: I almost want to ask both with.

Don: Okay. Big one. Let’s go with the drunk fest. All right. We were talking earlier today, just in an outside conversation about people being lonely. And we just briefly mentioned this morning in the lobby out there and that got me thinking and now you’re asking what created that? Well, it all comes from loneliness. Losing another wife, we won’t count the number of wives. That’s not important. Just was a tailspin in 2015. So from 15 to 18, three solid years, it was drunk every day of the week, seven days a week.

Sarah: And it was dealing with the loneliness?

Don: That, losing everything that I had, through the divorce. And I’m a man, I’ll man up if it was my fault and in this particular marriage it was not. And I’m not going to say any more about it, but I was not at fault and everybody knows that and they’re like, wow, we just can’t believe that she just left and took everything you had. I was on the road trucking at the time, on my own truck. then when the… I call it the resurrection in October, that was only because if I’m honest, which I am because I followed Jesus, like Andy Stanley, I’m a Jesus follower and I love it because I have severe cirrhosis of the liver and I almost died the end of October again and had to go to the hospital and do some procedures there.

Don: And At that point I think, I really think the day that my brother took me into the hospital, I just kind of… God got ahold of me that day and said, you’ve had been playing this game for 18 years of in the hospital, 40 years of drinking. And I just felt, any standard, we’ll call it a nudge, I felt like a thump in the back of the head. Okay, I need to get this and this possibly is my last opportunity. So that’s when I jumped on the Jesus’ bandwagon.

Sarah: What did jumping on the Jesus bandwagon look like, entail?

Don: It always inspired me. It really did. Even years back before I ever even attended church whatsoever. And I just want to know more about it.

Sarah: So what did you do? What steps did you take then? So you leave the hospital and then what was your first step after that?

Don: Go home and start reading the Bible a little bit, but I wasn’t really good at that and started going to church right before Christmas in 18 and since then I’ve stayed plugged in there.

Sarah: And how did you find a church?

Don: I had gone to this church prior years, in the past. Yeah. I actually went to this church, started there in 08, left there in 10 to move back to Illinois to accept a job. It was a job moving venture. And then when I came back in 15 I was too drunk to pay attention. So I didn’t show up at church until December of 18. And so then at that point, I really got plugged into the church and enjoyed doing volunteer work and helping with homeless and seeing their struggles just really led me to think, man, I was almost there, almost homeless person. So just the little bitty things you keep doing on a daily basis, monthly basis. I just really started enjoying it more and seeing how it was affecting me spiritually. And then I took kind of a Christian class that was really in-depth in regards to where our faith is and asking us questions in regards to how we feel about God and Jesus.

Sarah: And was that class through the church?

Don: Yes. Yeah. It was a 10-week class and it was phenomenal and I learned a lot from that. I think if I’m being honest with everybody, which I am, I don’t know why I even say that. I can tell you this, Sarah, that I’m convinced that I found my Holy Spirit in the eighth week. As we were going through the class, we spoke about, I believe it was the eighth week, and getting to know our Holy Spirit was the topic and I did not know my Holy Spirit. It was quite obvious. So I left that meeting that night and went home and I did a lot of praying about it. And it’s just different. I can’t put some sophisticated word on like, oh, it was a revelation or oh, I don’t know how to address a word to, but it was very moving for me.

Sarah: So if I’m hearing you right, the steps you took were reading your Bible, then getting into church, then getting connected in church and taking that class, which gave you a foundation and then just knowing you, it’s being continually connected.

Don: Yes, absolutely. And then I was fortunate and I call it blessed to be volunteering for the church at a Casting Crowns event. I got to be specific on that. And Zack Williams was playing and they just… There was a booth, it wasn’t our church but it was members of my church that invited me to help with the compassion booth and that was quite interesting to see all these people signing up, taking care of these kids in foreign countries and stuff. I was really inspired by that and that’s where I met your mother. She was one of the volunteers at the booth and we talked about this class at church and then she shared a little bit of journey coaching with me and introduced me to your dad, Jeff, and we became friends and connected and then built a relationship.

Don: And then I believe it was about May, after getting more information about what Journey had to offer and the ongoing relationship that I had with Jeff, decided to step into the Journey coaching thing, which was designed to be approximately seven weeks. And I ended up spending, with the coaches, 13 weeks and there they had put more emphasis on reading the Bible when you’re answering questions, and I think I said this in another podcast, that by their patients and grace, they inspired me to pick up that Bible and politely told me to be reading it every day.

Don: And it’s really been so great to do that but to be plugged into various, I guess you would call it, you’re a young person, the media network and the social media. I watch other ministry preachings and things. You’ll hear me refer to Andy Stanley, which I know there’s… He’s on some of the Journey websites I’ve seen as I cruised around and explained Journey coaching to people and send them there. I hear him say that, oh yeah, I see that they got Andy Stanley on their website and I’m like, yeah, he’s pretty cool. So that’s kind of how this all got to where it is today.

Sarah: Well, and I think one thing that’s interesting for our listeners to understand is that… So one of the core things that I took away from doing Journey coaching was working in your strengths. And so in the process of you working with the Journey coaches, you build a relationship with other believers and you looked at what your strengths are and what’s been really cool just in the last several months is that you’ve been working in your strengths and helping build up Journey coaching too.

Don: Yeah, I’ve enjoyed that because it’s just after going through it. Yeah, I have a huge passion for it because of how it affected me and I’m kind of a hard nut to crack. So yeah, I’ve been blessed with a few people at my church that are going through Journey as we speak. They want to reevaluate their life and their… And I say to enhance their spiritual growth and let’s face it, Sarah, you mean we can all enhance our spiritual growth. Do you know what I mean? Jesus wants us to work every day to build a relationship stronger with him. I mean that task and journey are never going to be over until…

Sarah: Well, and that’s the really cool thing about Journey coaching too, is anyone in there, whatever place they are in their walk, they can pick up Journey coaching and it can work for them with them. Because I did journey coaching and I’d been walking with Christ for 30 years when I went through Journey coaching too. I have my own struggles and stumbles and things like that. But it was impactful to me too. And we just came… We just started our coaching journey just in different places in our life. And yet it just works for so many people.

Don: It does. And I’m glad you got on board with it early. At your young age because that’s a regret. I’m not going to drag it around, but it’s just, I regret that I didn’t, what they would say, maybe see the light.

Sarah: But then again… Well, I’m going to interrupt you here because then the other thing I want our listeners to realize is that DOD is getting ready to start coaching himself. And even though you have those regrets, the thing is if you hadn’t, God works, what is it by mercy? He works mysteriously and he works all things for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose. And the thing is that because of the story that you have, you’re able to show that grace of God to other people because he is a Redeemer and he is a savior and he is a protector and he can use you to help show the grace of God to other people who have had similar struggles. And if you hadn’t gone through that, then how would you minister to those people?

Don: Right. I know it’s just like he ministered to the 12. Look at those characters in the Bible.

Sarah: They were Don.

Don: They were Don and then a whole bunch of other people, they were Don’s and Sarah’s and everybody, every couple of life. But none of them were Christians per se. I mean, it was just… You can do anything you want. And I think what I really found out about this whole… And let me interrupt myself and say this because you were just getting ready to, I think. No, you don’t have to be a Christian to do Journey coaching.

Don: I want everybody that’s listening to be crystal clear on that. I’m not going to bang on your door or be your coach and go, if you don’t accept Christ, I’m not going to coach. No, that’s not what I’m saying. So yeah, this is for anybody. But I can tell you this, I’m just going to warn them. You’re not going to go through Journey coaching and not want to know more about Christianity. That is a given and you might as well be forewarned. And it’s fun. And when you go through this, if you are true with yourself and you’ve had these coaches as I did, I was blessed with two very great coaches that they’re coaching this guy that I brought through.

Don: You just have a sense of now I need to take the ball and run with it and go coach some people. You just mentioned that I’m going to start coaching and I am. You’ve even hung me out in a tree because I’m going to coach your son. So that’s a big challenge for Don and as a teenage kid and if you trust me with him, everybody listens to this butter too, huh?

Sarah: Well, and my son’s been through some things. So I actually asked you to coach him the day that I met you back at the beginning of August. You were sharing a little bit of your story during the leadership summit and my son was there attending the leadership summit and I just stopped you. I said… We had just met and I was like, wait for a second, I need you to stop talking right now and that you’re like, what? And I called my son over and I’m like, okay, you can start talking again now.

Don: Normally I don’t like getting interrupted but with you, I made an exception.

Sarah: But I needed you to stop talking so that I could go have you… I wanted you to finish your story in front of my son because my son is not my biological son and he’s got a story himself and I wanted him to hear your story too.

Don: He was really cool. I mean, we had a good conversation and we’ve talked to him, I’ve talked to him since then. He’s looking forward to it. So we’re just getting our timings all lined up and that’s going to take place. So I guess if we weren’t doing podcasts today, I could probably go coaching him. Right. Seriously, there’s a ton to my story and I don’t say that boastfully I’m just saying we can’t put it all on the air. It would take forever.

Sarah: No, we have… Yeah, we just have to have you keep on the… To keep coming on the podcast and for others to get to know you too. Okay. I want to end this podcast with one question for you. If there is anything that you would want to mention right now about the grace of God and you would want people to know about the grace of God, what would it be?

Don: There’s a lot of things I could say about that, but I will say this and you’ve again done your work and caught me off guard.

Sarah: Wait, I’m going to interrupt one thing and I’m going to mention to our listeners that the grace of God… Grace, because I have a story about the grace of God but I won’t share right now. But from that story, I know that grace means God’s unmerited or unearned favor for mankind.

Don: Yeah, that’s cool. I guess to summarize, God for me would be, he has given me more hope than I’ve ever had in my life and I’ll be 61 years old and I’ve never had this much hope nor faith or conviction of my own wrongdoings that I’m addressing on a daily basis.

Sarah: Well, let me jump in there. Conviction of your wrongdoings, but yet that sounds counterproductive. Like how can you have so much hope if you’re so convicted of your wrongdoings too?

Don: Because now I can admit all my faults instead of pretending that they didn’t exist. See, most of the things that went wrong in my life, in my marriages were Don’s fault. But Don was blaming other people. So when I used to be bad, I said that wrongful conviction. But it’s allowed me to have peace and get rid of it. I’m no longer carrying that stinky bag over my shoulder anymore because God’s given me the glorified grace. He’s forgiven all of us. You know that as well as I do. I’m preaching the choir, looking across the room talking to you, but we’re all forgiven. God has given us… We didn’t have to fight for the promised land. God has given us the promised land and we need to accept that and help lead other people into faith with Jesus Christ. I know that’s more than one sentence.

Sarah: I love it. I love it. So we’ve got to close out today, but I do want to just encourage everybody to keep listening to the Journey podcast because obviously Don has to continue being on the podcast with us.

Don: I look forward to it. I had a lot of fun with you, Sarah.

Sarah: Thank you for being on and we just hope that you feel encouraged and connected and determined to develop your strengths and live out your purpose and find us on journeycoaching.org and reach out to us on social media or email or we have a phone number on journeycoaching.org too, and keep listening, like and subscribe and we will talk to you later. Thank you very much. Bye.

Thank you for listening. Tune in next time and make sure you like and subscribe. Visit us at journeycoaching.org and check us out on Facebook and Instagram. Start your own journey at journeycoaching.org.

IOWA TO BOLIVIA

Welcome back to the Journey Podcast! In this episode, special guest, Shelby, returns to the podcast. Shelby shares her eye-opening story on how moving from Iowa to Bolivia changed her perspective from what was once critical to acceptance and excitement in combining 2 different cultures.


Transcription of the Podcast

Shelby: If you’re listening to this and you think like, “Well, I’m not going to go to a different country and definitely not right now,” you don’t have to go to a different country to challenge some of your perspectives on your own culture. Have conversations with people that are different than you. And like I said at the beginning, have those conversations and let them be influential.

Terry: Today, we’re going to talk again with Shelby. We talked to her once before. Shelby did something really interesting. She left our beautiful state and she went to Bolivia. And when you talk about getting to know a whole other culture, that’s a giant leap. So I want to introduce Shelby, let her introduce herself and then we’ll go on from there.

Shelby: Hi, I’m Shelby. I’m so happy to talk about cultures today. I’m no expert, I will say that, but I have I guess a different experience than maybe some living here in Iowa. So my husband is from South America. We have children who are being raised in a bi-cultural, bilingual family. We continue to travel to South America and it’s just interesting to see them growing up in a family that is back and forth between countries and that, that will be a part of their story. Very different from mine because I grew up in farm country here in Iowa and I was surrounded by my own culture. I didn’t have very much diversity in that growing up.

Terry: Can you paint a little picture of what that was like for you to grow up in Iowa?

Shelby: Yeah. So I have family on one side. We have generations from Czechoslovakia, on the other side, from Germany. And we took a lot of pride in that growing up that our grandparents spoke different languages and that they had immigrated here and I knew that was part of our story, but I think even more so, we were like a farm family, grandpa farmed our uncle’s farm. We grew up in the country. I grew up in a small town school and so I think that was important. We took pride in that and loved that, but I didn’t realize how everyone else around me also grew up the exact same way. And so I didn’t get to hear very many perspectives and I didn’t realize that.

Terry: So growing up you didn’t have people from other cultures that kind of showed up at your school or anything like that? It was pretty similar.

Shelby: I would say here and there, and I think a lot of people would probably say, “Yeah, growing up, I came in contact with other cultures,” but not with very heavyweight, like those people from other cultures or different life experiences and perspectives, didn’t have a very big sway, influence or say in my life. So I felt like I could check off that I know a lot of people from other cultures, but they didn’t really have very much influence on me.

Terry: Sure.

Shelby: So.

Terry: So what gave you the idea to leave the farm community of Iowa and go to Bolivia?

Shelby: Well, I think God had that idea.

Terry: Okay

Shelby: Because it was not part of my plan. I didn’t have a specific country in mind. I just wanted to have a gap year before I started school before I started paying my own bills and kind of I got settled into the routine adult life in America. And I thought this is a perfect time, in between high school and adult life to travel. And with me, I thought, I’m going to use that traveling to volunteer and to do some mission work. And so I just started researching mission organizations that would have bases elsewhere. I wasn’t set that I needed to get out of the country, but there was this opening for someone that needed to fill a role at a children’s center in Bolivia. So it was not in my plan ever, but obviously, it was in God’s. So.

Terry: Had you taken Spanish in school at that point?

Shelby: I took Spanish in high school and I really enjoyed it. I was decent at it, but high school Spanish is pretty minimal, but that was all the Spanish I knew. And I’m like, “Yeah, man, it’ll totally be fine.” And then I got there and I think it is definitely the best way to learn a language to be totally submerged, but I was submerged. There was maybe one other person that I knew in that country that could help me with English. And otherwise, it was like, you’re on your own.

Terry: What was it like to just get off the plane that very first day?

Shelby: It was scary and it was so much culture shock. Looking back, I think everything was just like, “Oh my goodness, what?” And now, I get off those same planes years later and I’ve done it several times and it’s like, “Ah, I’m home.” But the first time I got off that plane, I was like, “Why are they driving like that? And why is that tree there? And why is that person talking like that?” Everything was just so foreign and strange. But it’s just crazy how my heart has changed by having different perspectives in my life that now, it’s like, “That’s not strange. That’s normal. That someone else is normal.”

Terry: Right. Did it seem strange because it wasn’t Iowa?

Shelby: Yes. Yes. And I look back on my thoughts when I got off the plane the first time and I’m a little bit embarrassed. I’m like, “Why was I so judgmental?”

Terry: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Shelby: But I was coming from this place of never being exposed to anything else. And so my first thoughts to anything that was different than my norm was judgment. And now, I’m exposed to those exact same things, exact same scenario, get off that plane, see the same stuff, and it’s like, “It’s totally fine. Why was I so judgmental about that?”

Terry: I think that’s a huge point. Did you know or did you realize at the time that you were feeling judgmental or did that just kind of come with experience?

Shelby: I think I did know I was being judgmental, but it was almost like I was justified in being judgmental, like I had a right to complain about the way people drive in another country because, well, my culture drives better. But now that my husband lives here with Iowan drivers, he’s like, “Uh, not necessarily.”

Terry: Because he had the culture shock coming back the other direction.

Shelby: Yeah. Yeah. And he went through the same things of being very judgmental about things that were new to him and strange at that point and now he’s come to terms with. They’re just different.

Terry: Yeah.

Shelby: So.

Terry: That’s awesome. When you think about that first few days or weeks when you were there, were you getting lost a lot? Was there some, I mean, how did you navigate those first few weeks?

Shelby: I have a really good sense of direction so I won’t lie and say I got lost a whole lot but I remember just feeling so fatigued. My body was tired because my mind had been thinking so much.

Terry: Sure.

Shelby: And I was just, didn’t have any emotional capacity to be friendly to people because all of my energy is going into figuring out the word for a four-way stop, just really simple things that were just draining me.

Terry: Sure.

Shelby: And I saw that in my husband too when he came here just like he had just reached his limit in his mind, and you could see it in your body that culture adjustment is, it’s huge. It takes a toll on everything, not just your mind but your emotions and your physical health.

Terry: When you’re trying to translate in your brain the language, when you hear somebody talking and that sort of thing and you’re still thinking in English and guessing and trying to translate that into Spanish, but we know that only about, I’m going to say, an estimate of about 20% of what we communicate is actually verbal, the rest of it is nonverbal. And I would assume that some of their non-verbals would be different than what you might have here and just, how did that all fit in as far as trying to communicate with people?

Shelby: Totally. I think I was probably over-sensitive because I took everything personal instead of just taking it as, it’s a different form of communication, the same tone of voice or the same facial expression might be offensive in American culture, but it’s totally normal in Bolivian culture. And I remember just down to the most simple things, like what movie do you want to watch tonight? And me saying, “I don’t care,” and it being very offensive in the way I said it in Spanish but I’m like, I’m just trying to be like flow… go with the flow. I’m like, “I don’t care.”

Terry: You were trying to be considerate of their feelings and you ended up offending them?

Shelby: Right. And it just kind of was a light bulb to how often within cultures being in relationship with each other does this happen, where it’s just no one’s trying to do something wrong and we get offended easily, be sensitive Sally like me, or we get hurt or we say something we didn’t mean to and it just takes a lot of grace, a lot of grace to combine cultures I think.

Terry: Sure. Well, and as you stayed there, because you were there for a year, and as you went there and interacting with people, tell me about that, what was that like to… because it seems like there’d be some growth that would take place during all of that.

Shelby: Yeah. I think it was really humbling when I went into it and I will venture to say, the way a lot of Americans go into mission work, it was with a savior complex that Jesus is the savior but he’s using me to save, and that’s just not true at all.

Terry: Here I come to save the day.

Shelby: Yes, yes. And of course, I would say, “No, that’s not what I think.” But that is because of our worldview and that is what I thought is that I have been given so much monetarily or physically and there are physical needs, of course, I can help. But it was a humbling process to just see that the need is always Jesus. Yes, there may be physical needs, but someone in a different country is in no more need of Jesus saving their soul than I am of Jesus saving my soul. And that was so humbling and good to be put on an equal level. I think that’s really key for any kind of mission work, whether it’s you being intentional to love on your neighbors or you going across the country, or you going across the world, you have to first come to terms with that even playing field that we are both centers in need of a savior and I’m no better than you. So.

Terry: That’s really good. Anything else you can think of that our listeners might be interested in about your trip to Bolivia?

Shelby: I think that it is interesting to hear and know just how long it takes to build relationships, but how important those are in mission work. So I think a lot of people would like to just go in and do a good deed than dip out of the situation. It’s hard to sit in the hurt with people and to sometimes not have a resolution, but just as important. So I worked with a children’s center for underprivileged children, providing them tutoring, snacks after school, just like organized games and sometimes, a little medical care here, like dental training and just teaching them how to brush their teeth or to clean to avoid infections and that kind of thing. But there wasn’t always a resolution to some of those problems. They’re just living in poverty. Their lives were very difficult. And my job, our team’s job was not to solve it, it was to walk through it with them.

Shelby: And I think that is impactful and that can be applied when you go overseas, that can be applied when you are in your neighborhood. That’s not like a big huge idea, it’s very simple that there sometimes isn’t a resolution to people’s problems. That’s not your job to resolve it, that’s under the control of God. But your job is to walk alongside people, and that can be more impactful. I’m a big believer in just relationships and it takes time and it’s hard, but it is so worth it to build into people.

Terry: Well, and you saw some extreme poverty. Did you see some ways that they were richer than us or things we could learn from them?

Shelby: Yeah. Beautiful, beautiful character. I really admire so many things about Bolivian culture. My husband is from there and his family lives there and I just admire how families function and come together. So I think there’s a lot of countries that have similar cultures, but where grandma, mom, grandkids, even great-grandkids will all be living together and bearing each other’s burdens. Whereas I think in American culture, we outsource a lot of that care, care for grandma or care for childcare instead of being a family unit that kind of pushes in and makes their own community within each other. So I admire that and I admire the work ethic and just the joy that they can have in having little. I think it’s a culture shock for a lot of Americans to go to countries where they don’t have very many things and they’re not very comfortable in American terms, but they’re totally okay. They’re happy and can find joy in that. And it’s really inspiring and encouraging to me.

Terry: That’s really cool. So now you’re back here, your husband is here, you’ve got these three little littles, and tell me about what you’re doing to help them to kind of grow up in a multicultural home.

Shelby: Yeah. I think just letting them know that they have been blessed and not making them feel bad that they’ve been blessed, but knowing that American culture isn’t the norm for everyone in the world and that having all of these things isn’t the end-all. So we’ve been able to do that by going back to my husband’s home country and just living life there and them being exposed to having a bouncy ball and that is enough for the entire day. That’s okay. But also, just having a heart of generosity, whether we’re here or whether we’re there, that things are not our own. Whatever God has given us, it’s to steward well within our family or to give and be generous with. So we’re really trying to build a generous heart. I think that’s something that my husband has because of his culture that he grew up in. They’re very generous. And we just want that to apply wherever we are, whether it’s here or there or another country that can transcend all lines.

Terry: It’s fascinating, and especially when you think about someone from a culture like that where they have a really generous heart and here, we have so much and sometimes, we don’t.

Shelby: Yeah. It’s really crazy. And sometimes, I feel like those are just, those moments that are kind of a gut punch, like, “Why is it that I’m so selfish when I have so much?” And so even in just having my husband and me with our different worldviews or different perspectives or different cultures in the same house, we’ve really challenged each other in some of the behaviors that we have. Like, “Why do you act that way? Is it because of the culture you grew up in or can you see benefits of the other person’s culture that you could put into your life or characteristics that you could take on from each other?”

Terry: Sure. Well, and I think the other question I have for you is, what’s in the future? Do you have any plans to do any more mission work?

Shelby: Oh, this is quite the question. I don’t know. Missions are definitely not off the table. I’m a social worker, so it’s just kind of ingrained in my mind to see needs and that’s a blessing and a curse because I know that God’s the main provider so it means I have to always bring it to him. But I always feel that heart of like, “Okay, we should go, we should serve.” When we’ve talked about, should we live there, should we live here? And the cool thing about our marriage and our family is that nothing is set in stone. When we got married, it was this contract that we might live who knows where and that’s okay. So it’s been kind of peaceful to know that it’s up in the air and that’s how God wants it. So, I don’t know, there may be mission work in the future. We’ve talked about moving back to Bolivia at some point, just that our kids can even grow up in both countries. But only God knows really what will come next.

Terry: Well, and it’s neat that you feel like Bolivia is home too.

Shelby: Yeah.

Terry: I think that makes a huge difference too. If you end up living in Bolivia for a while, it feels like home.

Shelby: Yeah. I think that’s been the work of God, to humble me and to remind me that our allegiance is to God and that we’re both and we’re all in every country, we’re all looking forward to eternity and heaven together, but because we have that firm foundation, then we can look at each other’s countries as a place of home while we’re here on earth.

Terry: Awesome. Anything, any last words or anything that you want to leave people with today that might be helpful for them?

Shelby: If you’re listening to this and you think like, “Well, I’m not going to go to a different country, and definitely not right now,” you don’t have to go to a different country to challenge some of your perspectives on your own culture. Have conversations with people that are different than you and like I said at the beginning, have those conversations and let them be influential. Don’t let them just be a small voice in your head, but really take people’s perspective and give them a little bit of weight that their perspective matters and it’s important and it’s just equally as important as yours.

Terry: Awesome. Very, very good. I love that. Well, I think we’re going to wrap this up today. Thank you for joining us today and I just really appreciate, and everybody who’s out there listening, we really appreciate Shelby coming and sharing with her, her life story. I think one of the first things we do with journey coaching, with the process, is we talk about our stories. The coach first gives their story to the person who they’re coaching and then the other person comes back the next week and shares their story, and it’s through our stories that we identify things like our strengths, our weaknesses, and we identify what’s our worldview, what view of the world do we have, where did it come from? And then we start working on, where do I want to go from here and how do I want to get there?

Terry: And so if you have any interest in getting involved with journey coaching, let us know. Definitely listen to some more of the podcasts if you get a chance to, and we will see you again in another session.

Thank you for listening. Tune in next time, and make sure you like and subscribe. Visit us at journeycoaching.org and check us out on Facebook and Instagram. Start your own journey at journeycoaching.org.




Surviving and Thriving During The Holidays When There Is Family Tension

By Annie M.

It’s that time of year when many of us are excited about the holidays. But perhaps you feel differently. Perhaps the holidays are a reminder of the things and relationships that aren’t going well. Instead of being excited, you might actually be dreading the holidays.

I want to encourage you that you aren’t alone. For one reason or another, the holidays can be very difficult. You may feel like there is nothing about this time of year but stress and negative interactions that are completely beyond your control. You’re not alone. Many of us feel like that, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.

As I sat down to listen to a recent Journey Coaching podcast recording, I found myself feeling not only encouraged but excited for the holidays. This time, I had received some helpful tools to enter this holiday season in a way I haven’t before. All too often, I have approached holiday gatherings without a plan or clear set boundaries. Usually this left me feeling out of control, or even worse – attacked.

I want to encourage you that there are some things that you can do to help you thrive during this holiday season. First, anticipate the event before it happens. Recognize what actions or behaviors can be a trigger for you and develop a plan on how to handle those triggers with clear set boundaries. Rehearse your plan and boundaries beforehand and decide practical steps of what you will do should a confrontation arise.

Maybe you are thinking, sounds great in theory, but I’ve tried that and it blew up. Yeah me too. But I learned from this recording something I had never thought about before. I was encouraged to decide now how I want to react before the moment happens and develop a backup plan. I want to encourage you to determine a few backup strategies and implement them should things not go the way you planned. Get away, take a walk, take some deep breaths and stay determined to not let this experience rob you of your joy.

Try to stay focused on the reasons for the holidays. For instance, Thanksgiving is about gratitude. Choose to focus on the things that you are thankful for and those things that are going right. Stay positive by reminding yourself out loud the things that are going well. Perhaps you have a family member who has always been supportive. Focus on your relationship with them and allow that to act as a buffer in the midst of negative interactions. And remember, gratitude is just one thought away.

Lastly,  have you checked your expectations. What are they? I want to encourage you to evaluate what they are and why they have them. It is important to remember the reason for the Holiday. Holidays are designed to bring people together. Focus on others, and you may find that you feel a little more joy yourself.

Are you looking for a way to improve your strengths and look at your areas of improvement in a whole new light? Call us at (319) 244-8341 or email us at Terry@journeycoaching.org – we would love to get in contact with you and help you on your journey through coaching in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Freedom Through Honesty

Welcome back to the Journey Podcast! In this episode, we had our special guest, Shelby on the podcast. Shelby shares her personal story on how the dark period of her life becomes the manifestation of God’s love and how she handles the vulnerability of being transparent and authentic.


Transcription of the Podcast

Shelby: Then I think there’s someone else out there who needs to know that not everything is sunshine and rainbows, but it is still working together for the good.

Terry: Have you seen some of the positives that come out of your being transparent and authentic?

Shelby: Yeah, definitely. I think authenticity breeds authenticity. So, the more vulnerable you are, though it may be difficult, allows people to have space where they can be honest maybe for the first time, maybe sometimes even with themselves. I just think a lot of people, I don’t know if it’s American culture or Bolivian culture, just culture in general, that we like to live kind of hidden lives. We just don’t want to go deep. We don’t want to open up.

Your life, your journey, starts now.

Terry: Well, thank you for joining us today on this episode of The Journey podcast. Today we’re going to talk with Shelby, and Shelby has a really interesting story, I think, that the listeners will really want to hear. I’m just going to open it up to Shelby. Why don’t you tell me a little bit about yourself?

Shelby: Hi, I’m Shelby. I am wife to Jorge and mom to three kids under five. We have Susanna Hope, Alejandra, and Javier. Currently, I stay at home. I am a social worker at heart, but I’m staying home with them while they’re little. We’re part of a bi-cultural, bilingual family if you can’t tell by all of our names. My husband is from South America and Bolivia, and we speak Spanish and English in the home. It’s just kind of a beautiful little dance that we do every day. We love to travel. We travel down to see family in Bolivia as often as possible. We like to try new foods. Just adventure. But also we like to just find the magical and the little normal, simple things of our family at home. But yeah, I am enjoying this season of life, of being home with littles and what that brings.

Terry: Awesome. Being part of a multicultural family. That’s really interesting. And I’m sure a lot of our readers would love to know a little bit more about that.

Shelby: Yeah. So, it has been really eye-opening how ingrained your country’s culture is in you and how ingrained your family’s culture is. I think when anyone gets married, they realize like, “Wow, you grew up in a very different family than I did.” But added to that we have, “Oh, you grew up in a completely different culture, in a different country, in a different government, a different dynamic with when you eat, how you eat.” I mean, just everything is so different. So, that took a lot of getting used to, but it’s also so freeing to see that my way isn’t the only way. And that like there’s just so many perspectives out there and different norms and that’s okay. And it was definitely a challenge at first to realize like, “Oh, we can’t live this perfect Shelby decides how things are going to be life.” And that’s been beautiful to be challenged in that way.

Terry: Sure. It’s interesting for your children to be raised in this environment, have you considered what that looks like for them to not have to make that… They’re just learning this multicultural environment from the beginning.

Shelby: Yeah, it’s been exciting. I mean, some things have been like, “Oh, what are we going to do about this? Which way are we going to go? Or are we just going to make up our own family culture almost?” But our oldest is in kindergarten and we’ve seen that her being more adaptable and understanding to kids in her school that their cultures are different, their home lives are different, and she doesn’t really have a status quo that she thinks everyone needs to lead up to because she’s seen that everyone’s norm is very different. And it’s been cool for us to see her almost be more empathetic just because she’s being raised in a house that’s used to that.

Terry: That’s really awesome. In The Journey coaching material, we spend a session working on worldview, which is really kind of getting into the culture and trying to identify… Even different homes have kind of micro-cultures. And so when we look at this is a macro-culture sort of adjustment, and that’s really cool. You’ve kind of told us a little bit about your story and I’m really fascinated by a part of it where you mentioned something about a pivotal point in your life. Can you talk a little bit more about that here?

Shelby: Yeah, so I think how our family came to be was very pivotal. When I was 18, instead of taking the traditional route of going to college, I took a gap year and I moved to Bolivia in South America to do missions work and just volunteer working with underprivileged children. And in that year in my life, I came to know a relationship with Jesus in a more personal way. I was out on my own for the first time. I was living in a foreign country that I wasn’t comfortable with. I was kind of discovering myself and I met my husband there, my now-husband, and I had lived there for a year. When I came back I was 20 weeks pregnant with our child. We were unmarried, he was still there and I was moving back to the States.

Shelby: And I tell people this story all the time. I mean, you’re just talking to the hairdresser, chatting in the grocery line, and people are like, “Oh my gosh, you were a pregnant missionary.” Like everyone knows. Wow, that’s bad. They don’t even want to say it, but wow. And so it became really shameful. I mean-

Terry: So, that was a really dark period in your story then?

Shelby: Very dark. As much as I’d like to just put a bow on it and say, “It all turned out.” Like it was dark, it was hard because I think sin affects everyone, for sure, in a negative way. There are consequences to sin. But this was really unique because it was physical and it was transforming my life and it was like… I remember feeling I was wearing the Scarlet Letter because I couldn’t hide the sin. It was something I had to deal with. I wanted to just push it to the back of my head.

Shelby: It was like this is going to change your life and everyone’s going to know about it. And I now can thank God for that. But at that time I felt so ashamed, just full of guilt and shame and just desperately looking for somewhere to hide. But I couldn’t. So, definitely a valley. It was a long period. I mean, I think God planned nine months of pregnancy for the perfect reason. He knew we needed nine months to go through all of the almost stages of grief, of just dealing with what is this going to look like for my life? So, yeah. I was 19 I was pregnant and our family came to be essentially from that decision moving on. But then we went into like immigration, getting my husband here, he came on a Fiance Visa. Immigration was really difficult. It took months and months and months just to get him to be able to come to visit, let alone move here.

Shelby: So, I had our first daughter alone here in the States. He wasn’t able to make it. But at that time I could see God’s hand at work. I could see his grace. And it reminded me so much of the story in the Bible of the Israelites, God pursued them with his love. And even if that meant like painful times when they would mess up and bear the consequences of their decisions, it was all because he was like, “I love you so much, I want you and I want to be in a relationship with you and I want to care for you.” And I remember just that feeling of wanting to run and hide and he was like, “No. Stop hiding. I will do whatever it takes for you to know that you’re loved by me.” Even if that was that dark period of my life.

Terry: So, how did that become the pivot for you? Because clearly that’s a dark period. How did you kind of pivot out of that or how did that change your life?

Shelby: I think… Yeah. Well, it changed the logistics of my life for sure because I have no idea where my life would have gone had he not kind of grabbed me with that love. I probably would’ve gone down an even darker path and into a darker valley. But in that difficult, shameful period, he also gave me hope, our daughter Hope. Yeah. So…

Terry: Were there people around you, people who God used to kind of show you love?

Shelby: Yeah, absolutely. I was able to see, in the most real way, the church and someone who has Jesus in their heart, what their actions truly look like. Because I saw so many people who were just outrageously loving and generous, and “What can we do for you? If we can’t do anything, let’s just be next to you. I’m going to sit with you.”

Terry: So, even though you felt shameful about what you were going through, there were these people that just surrounded you and said, “No, how can we love on you?”

Shelby: Yeah. And they didn’t water down the reality that this is hard, and even like the hairdresser can say, “This is kind of a bad situation.” They didn’t water it down, but they said, “It’s okay. Love covers a multitude of sins and we love you and Jesus loves you and we’re going to show you on our actions.” So, I saw the church in action really well in small things like giving me hand me down clothes and big things like saying, “We’re going to celebrate this child and we’re going to throw a party when she’s born.” And so really like action, love, and action. It wasn’t just words. Saw a great response of love pouring out from people’s hearts.

Terry: That’s awesome.

Shelby: Yeah.

Terry: And then when your husband was able to join you, so your fiance at that point. But when he was able to join you here, how was his reception?

Shelby: It was good, from the same people who had loved us well, they really loved him and accepted him. But it was almost on a macro level, people adjusting to a different culture. Because I mean we’re here in Iowa and everyone’s Iowa nice. But then you have someone that doesn’t look like you and doesn’t act like you. And yeah, it was an adjustment, I think for everyone to get used to “Okay, this is how you live with someone with a different culture and a different upbringing and a different experience.” Even just hearing an immigrant story in real life and not just on the news. It was cool to see that almost as a collective, people going through that.

Terry: Well, and I would guess it’d be a huge culture shock for him.

Shelby: Yeah. He got here in, I want to say March, and he got out of the plane and he was like, “It’s white and it’s flat. Is this all there is?” I’m like, “Yeah, aren’t you excited?” So, it was definitely a culture shock.

Terry: Never seen snow?

Shelby: Nope. He had never seen snow before.

Terry: Wow. Okay. First impressions of snow.

Shelby: The excitement lasts for about two minutes and then you’re like, “Okay, done with that.” And I’m like, “Yeah, we’re on month five here in Iowa. We’re done with the winter too.” It was definitely a culture shock for him. I mean, he’s been here now five and a half years and there are still some things that it’s was just like, “I can’t get used to that about this culture.” But yeah, it was quite the brave, loving thing for him to come here too

Terry: Yeah. You mentioned God, and you mentioned how that helped you. How did your relationship with God help you with the transition, to trans… Kind of that story of redemption.

Shelby: Yeah, I guess I saw… My whole life I had grown in a Christian home, so I knew the foundational truths of the Bible and I knew all the right answers and I knew all the right things to do. But that was the first time that I saw God personally. I saw him as not this distant being, but as a father who loved me and was compassionate towards me and who wants good things for me, even in the little moment when it feels like this is the end of the world. He’s actually bringing good out of that.

Shelby: And yeah, he brought redemption to our story that I could have just spiraled, but he instead gave us such blessings and such undeserved love at that time. And just his character was more visibly seen because of my experience, and it was no longer just I know the right answers and I know the textbook stories, but I know this in my life, I know this to be a reality. And I just wish so often that everyone could experience not just knowing the word of God, but knowing that it applies to your everyday situations.

Terry: That’s beautiful. You talk about being authentic, and you really are. I mean, you’re sitting here and you’re opening up about your shame and about the things that you went through the darker times. How have you been able to be transparent with people and not just kind of cover that up and hide it?

Shelby: Like when I said how when I was pregnant, I couldn’t hide that I was pregnant. It’s continued. I mean, people always ask like, “Oh, your daughter. And how did you guys meet?” And so it comes up and I have that choice, almost every single day, to just rush by the story and kind of put a bow on it. Or to just be real and honest and say, “You know what? It wasn’t this fairy tale kind of story of how we came to be. It was really hard and that is why it is so precious and so beautiful and we’re so thankful for the family that we have.” So, we’ve been able to tell that story every day and be authentic and it’s a choice every day though. And some days I honestly am like I don’t really want to be open about everything. But then I think there’s someone else out there who needs to know that not everything is sunshine and rainbows, but it is still working together for the good.

Terry: Have you seen some of the positives that come out of your being transparent and authentic?

Shelby: Yeah, definitely. I think authenticity breeds authenticity. So, the more vulnerable you are, though it may be difficult, allows people to have space where they can be honest maybe for the first time, maybe sometimes even with themselves. I just think a lot of people, I don’t know if it’s American culture or Bolivian culture, or just culture in general, that we like to live kind of hidden lives. We just don’t want to go deep. We don’t want to open up. And there can be like years and years of not just being real about stuff. And so I have seen the fruit in other people’s lives of just being able to live in more freedom of being honest with other people, being honest with themselves and being honest with God.

Terry: Have there been some fear of being honest and open with people? Have you noticed any fear that… Fear of reprisal, fear of people not understanding, looking at you differently? Because I think that’s what people out there are thinking, “Oh my gosh, I can’t be transparent about this because…”

Shelby: Yeah, I think the biggest fear that I have in being transparent about my story is that it’s not done yet, and sometimes I’m afraid that people are going to want it to be wrapped up. They want it to be okay, well everything’s perfect now. And no, it’s not. When I honest, I have to be honest with today, too. I have to say, “Well, today is also a struggle.” Or, “Yesterday was a valley.” Or, “There’s been highs and lows this month.” Instead of just, “This was all in my past.” I think that’s been the fear of opening up and continuing to be honest about your story.

Terry: That sounds good. I think there’s a lot of people, and I know there are because I’ve talked with different people who they kind of go to church, they go to work, they go someplace and they wear this little mask and it’s got a smile on it. And it’s the I’m all put together mask, and we don’t tell others that we’re hurting and we don’t let people know sometimes that we’re going through something really tough. What advice would you give to somebody out there who’s doing that right now that might help them to kind of let down their mask and be authentic with somebody?

Shelby: I would say that I understand. I understand that fear. I understand it’s just easier for the time being, but in the long run, it’s not. It’s not going to do you any good to hide and put on a good face. That there is a real reward and there’s real freedom in being vulnerable. I think there’s wisdom in who to confide in and who to find community in. But I think that that is wired in our DNA to be in community. We are relational people and that it’s so good for you to speak up, speak with someone, be open. Because though it may feel good today to put on that mask, it’s going to catch up to you. And it’s in our DNA that we have to be in a relationship and talk about stuff.

Terry: I think that’s awesome. Just kind of, in summary, anything specific that you wished that people would walk away with from your message and your story today?

Shelby: I think it’s important to know that whether you are in a valley or you’re in a high or you’re putting on that face for now, that as it matters. Every little turn of every little day matters to God and he has a purpose behind it. Sometimes I like to think about a big beautiful tapestry and it’s got all these ornament details. And then you look on the back and it’s all the threads and it’s confusing, and sometimes we’re looking at the threads and we’re confused and we’re hurt. And that’s okay to be hurt and that’s okay to have all those emotions, but to always remember that on the other side God is putting something beautiful together with your story.

Terry: Yeah. I love that and I love that analogy.

Shelby: Yeah, it’s a good reminder for me every day.

Terry: Okay, well, thank you, Shelby. Until next time. I’ll close this now and thank you again for listening and we hope that you tune back in for another podcast of Journey coaching.

Thank you for listening. Tune in next time and make sure you like and subscribe. Visit us at journeycoaching.org and check us out on Facebook and Instagram. Start your own journey at journeycoaching.org

Your life, your journey, starts now.


Thriving Through Holiday Stress

Welcome back to the Journey Podcast! In this episode, Jeff and Terry offer solutions to help you thrive during this holiday season.


Transcription of Podcast


Terry:

I’m trying to figure out why am I getting stressed out? Well, maybe it’s because I’m expecting too much of what I’m doing or too much of what other people are doing. You’re hosting a dinner party. Does everything have to be perfect?

Jeff: Welcome to the Journey podcast. This is Jeff. And today we’re going to ask the question, how can we survive holiday stress? In the studio with me this time is Terry. Hi, Terry.

Terry: Hi.

Jeff: She is a mental health counselor and I’m really glad that you’re here because holidays can be stressing. They can be fun, but they can also have a lot going on and really stress us out, so we could use a few good ideas on this topic.

Terry: Sure. Thank you. I’m excited to be able to be here today.

Jeff: So tell me about this a little bit. I mean, the holidays, when we think of holidays a lot of times they’re filled with happiness, good tidings, and joy, right?

Terry: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jeff: So families are getting together. Lots of good food and decorations. What’s this thing about stress and all that?

Terry: Well, you’d think it’d be all fun and joy. I mean, at least that’s what Norman Rockwell and Hallmark Channel want to make you think, is that everything’s all wrapped up neatly and tightly into a small little package.

Jeff: Well, and you talk about the Hallmark Channel and stuff. My background is in advertising and let’s face it, there’s a ton of time, money, and energy put out there, whether it’s the Hallmark Channel or whatever it might be. I mean, there’s a lot of time, money, and energy put out there to produce stuff, to sell stuff, and it’s just kind of overwhelming at times.

Terry: Right. Well, that’s one of the stresses and I think we’ll kind of talk about that today. There are other other issues, and we’ll have a couple of other podcasts coming up that talk about some of the family relationships. Family dynamics, loneliness and things like that. Definitely. I mean, the reality is that some of the people listening today may have no family at the holidays, or they’re part of a family that doesn’t get along very well. Even some toxic relationships.

Jeff: Yeah, that’s really rough, right? I mean-

Terry: Right. And so we’ll talk about those at some point too, because I think this is a bigger issue than just one podcast. But today what I’d like to talk about is, really the dealing with stress, the personal stress that goes along with the holidays. I think there’s a level where we kind of get into almost a chronic level of stress, starting about before Thanksgiving and then through the 1st of January and stuff. And I think that doesn’t necessarily have to be there.

Jeff: Right, right. Well, and I think even change of seasons to kind of combine this. I mean, we have less daylight. I mean, there’s just lots of … it gets colder in a lot of parts of the country. I mean, there’s just a lot of changes going on this time of the year. A lot of things going on.

Terry: And for those people who’ve lost somebody or they’re separated from someone that they love, holidays can be especially brutal. But apart from that, we also notice there’s a lot more personal stress. Fatigue, sadness, irritability, all increase over the winter months. Like you said, the winter season itself can be kind of stressful. You’ve got the extra cold and other things, especially you live in our part of the world.

Jeff: Right, right. Yeah, I think it was five degrees today. [crosstalk 00:03:33] drive it in so …

Terry: Yeah, exactly. And a lot of extra stress comes from the financial strain. Holidays are not cheap.

Jeff: So what can we do about it? What are some of the things that we can do to address this and to address it head on?

Terry: Well, I think one of the things to look at is kind of more from a general vantage point. We could look at each one of those different issues and really focus on any one of those and do them well. But I think for the purpose of today, let’s look at it from more of a general vantage point. If someone is having a particularly tough time with any of the issues discussed or if the sadness that they’re feeling, and this is the point I really want to point out, if the sadness you’re feeling interferes with your normal routine, has lasted more than a few days, I really encourage you to find some kind of professional help. Get a hold of a counselor or a therapist, a psychologist, a psychiatrist, somebody in your area, and let them know that you’re really struggling. Because that’s more than the usual stress for the holidays.

Jeff: Right, right. And you probably see, in your practice this time of the year, more people that are coming in with these kinds of concerns or just these kinds of things that are bothering them.

Terry: Yeah. Before the holidays we see people coming in saying, “I don’t know how I’m going to survive the holidays.” Afterwards we get people who have been stressed out so much that we’re dealing with some of the post stress.

Jeff: Right, right. Well, I think about, as we’re talking here on a little bit of a lighter note, the movie Vacation, the Chevy Chase Vacation movie.

Terry: Christmas Vacation.

Jeff: Christmas Vacation, yeah. And you’ve got all this stuff going on, and in a lighthearted way, I mean, it really does show all the mess that can can happen at the holiday. Again, what are some of those things, sort of those warning signs or those, even yellow light kinds of things flashing that say, “Hey, I might be stressing out over this stuff.”

Terry: Yeah, I think that’s a really good question. I think the first thing is just to really … I encourage people to really listen to what their body is telling them. That sounds kind of strange to somebody who’s not used to doing that. But knots in your stomach, chest, tension in your neck and shoulders. Those are all ways that our body is trying to get our attention. Some people, they get so many knots in their stomach they can’t eat, or they feel like they’re going to throw up. And those are all signs of tension. And there’s a lot of other things, headaches, just other kind of fatigue, irritability. Pay attention to those things. Our body’s trying to get our attention and saying, “Hey, wait a minute. This isn’t healthy.”

Jeff:Right, right.

Terry: I think, also, be aware of your own self-talk. Be aware of what’s going on. We all talk to ourselves on a regular basis. Our thoughts are going round and round about different things. Be aware of your own self-talk. First of all, examine your expectations. What am I expecting? Okay, I know I’m getting stressed out. I’m trying to figure out why am I getting stressed out? Well, maybe it’s because I’m expecting too much of what I’m doing or too much of what other people are doing. You’re hosting a dinner party. Does everything have to be perfect? What happens if somebody doesn’t have … you don’t have an equal number of pumpkin pie slices or something like that?

Jeff: Oh dear, not that.

Terry: Is that going to ruin the whole party? Just be realistic with your expectations. I think another thing to look at too is why am I doing what I’m doing? Am I trying to keep up with others? Do I have to have my house have at least two more strands of lights than the neighbor’s lights?

Jeff: Right. Right, exactly.

Terry: Just realizing, “I don’t have to keep up with others.” I think it helps to anticipate some of the other stressors that you might have coming up. What might some of the stressors be? If I’m having a family dinner and I know uncle Jeff is going to be there …

Jeff: Not uncle Jeff. No, no.

Terry: … and he sometimes causes a great deal of stress, anticipate that-

Jeff: Oh, no. That would never happen. Not anybody named Jeff, right?Never would happen.

Terry: … and then develop a plan. How am I going to deal with a stress? I know stress is inevitable. There are times when we have to have some … stress will happen. So what do you do with that? Come up with a plan on how I’m going to either distress or minimize the stress.

Jeff: Which would be how? I mean, what are a couple of examples?

Terry: Well, I think one of the ways to minimize the stress would be to stick to a budget, for instance. Financial stress can be really, really overwhelming at Christmas time. If you decide, I don’t want to spend more than X number of dollars on Christmas this year, and then divide out by how many people you have to buy for. And say, “You know what? Guess what? This is what we’re spending.” It kind of goes along with keeping up with others. Can you live with the fact that you only buy a $25 present and somebody gives you a $50 present? Does that cause stress?

Jeff: Well, the whole concept, January does come after December and credit card bills do come in January. So that will happen.

Terry: Well, and I think, like I said before, de-stressing is really, really important. What that means is after you’ve had a stressful event or you’ve had a stressful day or week, do something to distress. Usually that’s through some kind of relaxation, deep breathing exercises, meditation. It can also be through, go take a warm bubble bath if you’re that type of person. Or exercise. Burning off the stress can help a lot.

Jeff: Right. Right. Yeah. Just going a little deeper there. I mean, stress really is a thing, right? I mean, there’s some sort of science. I should mention, Terry’s background, besides being a counselor, is a RN, a registered nurse, so she’s got a little bit of sort of that medical background to some of this stuff too.

Terry: Well, yeah. I remember when I worked in the hospital that it seemed to me that a lot of people were there for preventable causes, and a lot of the prevention is dealing with stress. Stress causes us to wear out body parts. I think in some ways … I mean, I know there’s a genetic pattern to things like heart disease and stuff, but constant chronic stress can bring something like that on a lot faster.

Jeff: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Terry: Think of your body as a stress bank, I guess is a good way to look at it. When we’re under stress, our body secretes hormones as a way of helping us cope. But if we don’t give ourselves time to distress or empty the stress bank, it will continue to fill, fill, fill, fill, and eventually the results of chronic overstress will become evident.

Jeff: Yeah. Huh. Interesting. What are some of the ways that stress kind of shows up? I mean, what …

Terry: Stress can actually feel good at first. We feel competent. We feel valued. We feel like we’re really accomplishing a lot of stuff, and in some ways we feel like we’re more important in some ways because we have a lot to do. But pretty soon we can start to feel some resentment towards people around us, especially if they’re a lot more relaxed than we are at the holidays. We may start to feel like, “If you’d just start picking up some of the slack I wouldn’t be so stressed and then I could be relaxed with you.” We start to blame them for some of our stress.

Jeff: Terry, what’s something then that we can do about this then?

Terry: Well, I think one of the first things you might want to do is find a friend. Get ahold of somebody. Find a coach, talk to a counselor, a therapist. It might be a good idea to just even kind of look into sharing some of these things that are stressing you out with someone else and get their perspective. Maybe they could give you some coach tips of, “Here’s some things I did over the holidays to make myself less stressed.”

Jeff: Right. Well, and we’ve said this before, and I say it tongue in cheek, that at Journey we’d love to put counselors out of business. And what that means is, not that counselors would ever go out of business, because there are times, like you said, when counseling is really, really good. But how many people could stay out of that counselor’s office if they had those intentional relationships. If they had those friends and just cultivated those friendships. I mean, how important is it that?

Terry: Right. Well, I wish I could give you an answer for that, I really don’t. I know that there are oftentimes situations that somebody will come in and they’ll say, “Well, I was really stressed out over such and such a time, but I handled it well. I talked to one of my friends.” Did they need to come into a counselor’s office over that? Probably not.

Jeff: Right, right. And so, friends matter. Another thing that we can do is to look at simplifying. So for instance, Thanksgiving. We talk about Thanksgiving, and the word that is front and center there is thanks. So what can help sometimes, and really at core of what Thanksgiving is about, is to give-

Terry: Thanks.

Jeff: Yeah, that’s right. Same with Christmas. I mean, we hear about Christmas and think, “Oh my gosh, Christmas is coming up.” We have these ideas like we had talked about. All these parties and all this, giving gifts and all these things happening. But if you look at the word Christmas. Christ, the birth of Christ. It’s easy to overlook that sometimes.

Jeff: And sometimes people think, “Well, yeah, but I don’t even really know if I believe this stuff about a little baby being born and Jesus and all this stuff.” But we kind of need to think, “Well, if there’s this holiday that is pegged into our calendar that’s about this event, that is Christ mass, aught we maybe spend some time around Christmas looking at that core event and saying, ‘Hey. How might this actually have happened and how can it be just a meaningful thing in my life?'”

Terry: Well, I’d like to go back to what you just said because I think what’s really important is, if you stop and look at what the real reason is, it can … Because the way you said it, it sounds a little bit like you’re adding stress to what people are doing. And I think what your real intention was, is to help them to de-stress by looking at the actual reason for what they’re getting … the purpose of the holiday and try to focus on that. And if you do that then you might not get as involved in as many of the decorations or lights or … your focus is going to be different and hopefully less stressful.

Jeff: Yeah. Right. Focus on the meaning behind Thanksgiving and behind Christmas.

Terry: Right. And the reason you’re there as opposed to …

Jeff: Yeah.

Terry: Okay.

Jeff: That sounds good. Cool. Well-

Terry: Actually, we’ve got another podcast kind of coming down the road here and we’re going to talk more about the specifics of dealing with either loneliness at the holidays or dealing with relationships that are actually adding more stress. And so, let’s kind of wrap this up today and then we will deal with those at another time.

Jeff: Right. And just say Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas to everyone. Right? Alrighty. Thanks for listening. Tune in next time.

TerryBye.

Thank you for listening. Tune in next time. And make sure you like and subscribe. Visit us at journeycoaching.org and check us out on Facebook and Instagram. Start your own journey at journeycoaching.org.

Encouragement from a Busy Mom of 9

Welcome back to the Journey Podcast! In this episode, we had the pleasure of having special guest, Karlee on the podcast. Karlee shares her personal story with us on how she navigates a busy life from learning through trial and error to how she builds in margin time.


Transcription of the Podcast


Karlee: There are going to be things that don’t seem like they should have as much priority, but they are important.

Jeff: Okay, we’re back for another Journey podcast. This is Jeff, and I’m glad to be here with everybody today for another Journey podcast, and let’s jump right in.

Jeff: Not that this topic is at all relatable or identifiable with anybody, but the whole idea of busy. I mean, there’s a lot of busy out there in the world today. And so we have got Karlee here with us, and Karlee has maybe a few things to keep her busy. In fact, I’m looking at three busy kiddos out in the other room. So anyway, do you want to introduce yourself a little bit? And just, yeah.

Karlee: Yeah. I’m Karlee. I’ve been married 11 years. My husband Garrett and I have eight children, and one on the way.

Jeff: Congratulations.

Karlee: Thank you. Thank you. I stay at home with our three little boys currently, and our other five children are in elementary school.

Jeff: Wow. So just started school then, huh?

Karlee: Yes. Yep.

Jeff: So, that’s probably a little bit of that, “Whew,” after the summer, right?

Karlee: Yeah.

Jeff: Well, that’s exciting. And when your kiddos was came in, they’re just so sweet. I mean, just so sweet. But obviously high energy too, right?

Karlee: Very high energy. They are not shy little people, neither are any of our other children. They they love to be around just people in general, and they are not shy. None of them are.

Jeff: Before we started the podcast, I was saying to Karlee, it’s just interesting about how oftentimes busy takes over our lives, and that can be the case for even single people. A single person can go, “Well, I just have all these things competing for my time and there’s just so much going on.”

Jeff: We don’t like to really use the word expert when we’re doing the podcast, because we’re all on this journey together. We’re all really kind of taking a step at a time. But I do want to sort of position you a bit of an expert because you got a lot going on. There’re some of us that can make up excuses of busy, but you live in a a world of busy.

Jeff: So, we’re going to talk about being intentional to create some margin in our lives. I guess the first question is, so how have you found this whole act of balancing your to-do list, and the large family and the priorities and trying to navigate through all that?

Karlee: Through a lot of trial and error, and honestly, there have been plenty of times where I have failed, and I’m still definitely learning through just it all and the different seasons of life that we come into all the time. I used to be a … Well, I still am a list person, but my lists used to be a mile long, and I used to gauge the success of my day based on how much I could get done.

Jeff: So, you almost had to carve out some time for list making then?

Karlee: Yes, yes. Yeah. I realized that I was spending so much time doing all this other stuff, that while it was important, it wasn’t as important as what I was making it. So, just learning to really just step back and say what is actually important, and how do I go about that within my list to get it accomplished?

Jeff: Right. Right. So, it sounds like just, yeah, it’s trying some things and then just, what do they say? Sort of establishing a difference or deciding what’s urgent and what’s important kind of a thing. I mean, that’s got to be just that intentional step there to just go, “Yeah, these things are maybe something on my list that could wait or whatever,” but there’s just that prioritizing really seems to be key, I would guess.

Karlee: Yes. Definitely prioritizing, and also just talking to my husband about kind of our long term goals for our family. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up the short term stuff that needs to be done and realize they aren’t actually as important as the long term things that we need to be doing.

Jeff: Well, and those things can be really distracting, right?Just this last week we were planting some little bushes on the side of our house, and all of a sudden that became kind of a big project because we had to do the one call thing where you call and you find the buried cables and stuff and all this. It’s something that I thought would be probably about a two minute a kind of a thing, and it ended up to be a lot more than a two minute kind of a thing.

Jeff: Okay, so let’s move on into sort of, do you allow for margin time then? Because you’re taking care of all these people, you have to take care of you, right? So, do you have some margin time in your day, then? Some quiet time? Some time for you?

Karlee: Yes, I do. I try to always build it in. So today for example, knowing that I had to come here, and just knowing the outlook of our week and what I needed to get done today. And Mondays typically are more busy home days just because our kids are home during the weekend, and we try not to spend all of our time just cleaning the house and doing laundry and whatnot. So, I got up probably an hour earlier than normal just so I could have some time to myself and make sure that I got that done, because I knew it was important. It’s also important for just our family as a whole that they have a calmer mother.

Jeff: Right, right. So okay, so specifically, what does that look like? What’s the normal time to get up, and what’s an hour earlier then?

Karlee: During the school year I usually get up by 6:00, 6:30 and have my quiet time. So today, I got up at 5:30 and just went on a walk by myself.

Jeff: Wow.

Karlee: It was very foggy out.

Jeff: You just wander. Where am I at?

Karlee: Which I was not expecting. But yeah, just I spent some time in prayer during my walk, which was a wonderful way to start my day.

Jeff: Right. Yeah, well that’s cool. Yeah, and to reflect and just to really get centered, right?

Karlee: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jeff: And balanced. This is kind of an offsite or off … Are you naturally a morning person? Is it easy for you to get up at five, six o’clock in the morning kind of a thing?

Karlee: I’m a morning person, but not that early.

Jeff: That’s really morning, right? That’s hardcore morning.

Karlee: Yes. I would say since having kids I haven’t been able to, even if I tried, sleep past 7:00, but I’d say like 6:30 is pretty normal. So 5:30 though, feels early.

Jeff: Right. So anything else in terms of your margin time, that quiet time? So, today you said you went for a walk, you were praying. Anything else that … I’m just trying to unpack a little bit what a typical kind of quiet time looks like for you.

Karlee: So, usually my quiet time, if I’m not going for a walk, I just get my cup of coffee and turn on a light and read my Bible and spend time in God’s Word, and then praying through what I’ve read or people that I know who I need to be praying for.

Jeff: Right.

Karlee: And really taking that quiet time to focus my mind, instead of thinking that I’ll do it throughout the day. Which it’s possible, but I’m less focused and more easily distracted. And usually by the end of the day I’m like, “Did I really, really pray for that person? Or did I really understand what I read?”

Jeff: Right.

Karlee: Yeah, different things like that.

Jeff: And thinking here of people that may not even have a Bible, or they’re saying, “Well, geez, she sounds like a Christian. Oh, wow. Good for her, but I don’t even have a Bible. And pray, I don’t even know how to do that.” I just want to encourage people to start simple. God help me, right? You know?

Karlee: Yeah.

Jeff: Any books of the Bible, any parts of the Bible that somebody could pick up that maybe doesn’t even necessarily hasn’t crossed the line of faith, but just some real practical stuff that you’ve found? Because you know, like Proverbs and there’re some books in the Bible that can be really helpful even for people that are still kind of saying, “Is this for me?”, and it could be helpful. So, any thoughts there of just things that might be helpful to somebody that’s not only crossed the line of faith, but somebody that might be seeking it a bit?

Karlee: That is a … I would say for sure, Proverbs has just a lot of practical application.

Jeff: Yeah, there’s a lot of practical stuff, right?

Karlee: Yeah, for sure. And then what comes to mind is also Ecclesiastes. Just knowing that kind of what is important, and the things that we think are important aren’t usually as important as they are.

Jeff: Right. Yeah, so going back-

Karlee: If that makes sense.

Jeff: Well, it does. Because going back to planting those bushes last week, I could get really, really caught up in that, but at the end of the day there’s some bushes along the side of the house and I can only spend so much time on that. I can’t spend hours and hours and hours, so yeah.

Karlee: Yeah. But one book of the Bible that I tell people to read if they’re not a believer yet or have a lot of questions, is to read John.

Jeff: Oh, interesting. Okay.

Karlee: Just because I feel like it’s so … And read about who John was, too.

Jeff: Okay.

Karlee: So that you can really get a sense of the whole of that book.

Jeff: Yeah. Right. That’s cool.

Karlee: Yeah.

Jeff: Yeah. And it’s a matter of just, yeah, picking up a Bible and going to the front of it. So when we say John or Ecclesiastes or whatever, you just go to the front and you say, “Oh yeah, there’s the kind of the different books,” and you find them and you move forward. So, yeah. No, that’s very cool. That’s very cool.

Jeff: Any tips that you would give people who are struggling to make quiet time a priority? Because let’s face it, it’s a lot easier to not carve out some time than it is. It would have been a lot easier today if you did not get up an hour earlier, but any tips that you can give listeners who are kind of struggling to build that in?

Karlee: Definitely I would make a list of all the things that you do in a day. Like, pretty much everything. Even making the bed, showering, and then decide what has to be done. So if you go to work, probably taking a shower is very important.

Jeff: It could be.

Karlee: Yeah. But just those things, and know that those things do take up time.

Jeff: Right.

Karlee: And then also, just start numbering things. Like, what really has to be done? If I don’t do a load of laundry today, how will that really impact the rest of the week? So think bigger than just like today, too. What can be moved, what can’t? Because some days, laundry is very important. Like for me, laundry is very important.

Jeff: You’ve got to do the laundry.

Karlee: Yeah. I can’t always just put it off, and there are going to be things that don’t seem like they should have as much priority, but they are important, and to acknowledge that. And then also, just ask for, if you’re married, ask your spouse to help. If you have kids, they can help, too.

Jeff: Right.

Karlee: And let them all know, communicate with your family and say this is an important time for me to fill me up so I can pour it out. I do have some single friends who making quiet time is a priority. They talk about it as like setting a date with themselves, and just protecting that time, and being willing to say no to just like invitations to go out and do things because they’re setting that time aside.

Jeff: Right. Yeah, and this I would guess is not you Karlee, but there’s a lot of people out there, and I’m just being blunt and maybe this sounds a little judgmental, but it’s like how much binge watching of Netflix can we do? So again, not to be real judgemental, but I’m just saying you can maybe dial that back a little bit. Netflix is great, but maybe watch the first episode and then just not watch the other three that same day, or whatever.

Karlee: Well, even with I feel like smartphones, one thing my husband told me to start doing was just like looking at my … At the end of the week, my iPhone gives me a screen report and it tells me how many times I’ve touched my phone, picked it up, what apps I’ve opened, and how long I’ve spent with those apps.

Jeff: Yeah. That could be a surprising number maybe.

Karlee: Yes. The first time I looked at it I was like, “I don’t touch my phone that much.” And then once I realized, I was like, yeah, it was just a lot of mindless time that was not a good use and was definitely for entertainment, and did not do anything for me at all.

Jeff: Yeah, right. So finally as we’re wrapping up here, is there someone in your life, we use the word accountable sometimes, and that’s such a strong word. But is there someone in your life that sort of comes alongside you and just says, “Hey, how are you doing in this?” Because that’s what coaching is about. When we’re talking about Journey coaching, it really is a person coming alongside another person, a couple coming alongside another couple. Again, we’re all on the same journey of life together. It’s not that one person is better than the other, it’s not the one person is the expert, but it’s just another human being who can kind of come alongside you and say, “Hey, how’s that going for you?”

Jeff: Is there something in your life, when it comes down to this margin time or quiet time in your life, that is kind of alongside you?

Karlee: Besides my husband, who I will say does a fantastic job of just caring for me and caring for my soul, I would say one of my new friends, Erica and Theresa, they definitely keep me accountable. And Erica even will get up and go on walks with me, which has been-

Jeff: Wow, that early, huh?

Karlee: Yeah.

Jeff: Oh man, that’s a-

Karlee: Sometimes we’re both like, “Oh, this is so early,” but we always end and we’re like, “That was really good.”

Jeff: Yeah.

Karlee: But yeah, so just I’d say my friend Erica and Theresa, and if I share anything with them, what areas which I am struggling, they are the ones who speak into my life for those things.

Jeff: Right. Wow, that was cool. That is cool. Yeah, that’s what Journey is all about, is just having those relationships.

Jeff: Let me just unpack this real quick before we close. A couple of things that hit me there is, I mean it sounds like … I’m guessing you don’t have the perfect marriage, but you have a good marriage it sounds like.

Karlee: Yes. Yeah.

Jeff: And that’s huge because, in fact, I just talked to someone today who’s marriage is really going off the rails, and there’s a lot of that. I mean, a lot of folks in life just have those marriage relationships that are not healthy. So I mean, yay that yours is good. But even if yours is good, which it is, to have those people then outside and to have those friends that you can come alongside and just bounce things off of and to just do life with together. I mean, that’s got to be really a huge thing for everybody, right? I mean, you’re speaking into their life too, right?

Karlee: Yeah. Yeah.

Jeff: Yeah.

Karlee: Yeah, it is so important to have someone outside your spouse or significant other or whoever to be speaking into your life, just because they come from a different point of view and really can offer words of wisdom about a situation. Because even though me and my husband have a great relationship, there are still times where he frustrates me and I frustrate him, you know?

Jeff: Right.

Karlee: And I just need to ask advice about how to go about dealing with those frustrations, or to even just be told it wasn’t a big deal. You’re overreacting. Sometimes we all just need to hear that.

Jeff: Not as human beings we ever overreact, right?

Karlee: Oh no, never.

Jeff: Not that that ever happens.

Jeff: No, that’s very cool, very cool. So again, I’ve got to wrap my head around this one more time. So, how many kiddos are we talking about here?

Karlee: Once this baby is born we’ll have nine.

Jeff: Nine. Okay. So you know, I think Karlee, we’ve got to say that if you can do it, the rest of us can do it, right?

Jeff: So, just a couple of questions for people that are listening. First of all, do you allow margin time, personal, quiet time? And second of all, do you have someone in your life who can help to come alongside you? And if not, we encourage you to do that. And any way that we can help, we would love to at journeycoaching.org. You can get in contact with us through the website, and we would love to help you connect with others, and to grow.

Jeff: So, thanks for listening. Thanks for being here.

Karlee: Thank you.

Jeff: Take care.

Thank you for listening. Tune in next time, and make sure you like and subscribe. Visit us at journeycoaching.org, and check us out on Facebook and Instagram. Start your own journey at journeycoaching.org.

Built For Connection

Welcome back to the Journey Podcast! In this episode, Lianne, Annie and Sarah discuss the in’s and out’s of building connection. They also offer tips on how to connect with others.


Risking New Relationships

Welcome back to the Journey Podcast! In this episode Sarah, Terry and Lianne encourage each individual to step out and risk building new relationships.


Transcription of Podcast


Sarah: Welcome back to the Journey Podcast. I’m Sarah Banowetz, and I’m here with Lianne Westcott and Terry Carlson and today our topic is risking new relationships.

(singing)

Sarah: This is a neat topic.

Lianne: Yeah, I think there’s a lot of possibility in that. People stepping out, risking new relationships. It seems like we can get stuck in wanting relationships where people are kind of like us and they think the same things as us. Sometimes when we spend a little bit longer with people, we find out we have a lot in common with them. It’s pretty awesome. At first you think, “Well, I don’t have that much in common,” but if you really take time, talk to somebody, learn about them, you can find that you have a lot of things in common and that’s how friendships are made.

Sarah: So why is it that… I’m an extrovert, so I have a hard time understanding this, so maybe you guys can give a little insight to me. Why is it that new relationships are risky?

Terry: I think there’s a lot of fear. I think there’s a lot of fear that they anticipate that the other person’s maybe not going to accept them, that they may not say things right, they may put their foot in the mouth, that sort of thing. At least that’s what I’ve heard at times is the fear.

Lianne: Well, we all have a comfort zone and some people, their comfort zone is in trying new things all the time. They want to go out and have adventures. Other people, their comfort zone is in a little bit of fear of the unknown. What if I come across to somebody else a certain way? What if they aren’t a type of person I really want to have a longterm relationship with? There’s just such a variety in what people are comfortable with.

Sarah: Yeah, that makes sense.

Terry: Well, I think that sometimes too, people come out of… A lot of our learning how to be social and learning how to be in relationship comes from our junior high or middle school and high school ages. And the problem is there’s a lot of cliques in that age and there’s a lot of different kind of things that go on that make it difficult to reach out and get new friends, make new friends. And then once we leave high school, it’s even harder because we don’t have that pool of peers to kind of draw on. And I think we just get busy in our lives, and so busyness can tend to be part of it. We may know a lot of people we work with, we may know a lot of people in college or whatever environment we’re in, but as far as just sitting down and having those one-on-one relationships or small group relationships with each other, it’s difficult.

Sarah: Yeah.

Lianne: I think one way to make relationships a little bit easier is to wade into them. So people talk about small talk. Can you get to know people through small talk? I think absolutely. Actually, that’s something we all could work on is maybe our skills of just being able to have a good conversation with somebody, But yet you don’t have to go to the TMI thing. You don’t have to really disclose a lot about yourself to get to know people better. I think just kind of walking down that path with somebody and keep… Start with the small talk, find out about them, and then just keep going down the path and get to know them a little bit deeper as you build trust and relationship. There can be a lot of reward to that.

Sarah: Do you guys have any insight into how to transition from small talk to slightly less small talk, like slightly deeper conversations, especially for someone who it doesn’t come naturally to?

Terry: I think some of it is just gradually getting to that place where you share a little bit of yourself at a time. Not necessarily going all the way deep, but saying, adding if you think this person might be somebody that you’d like to spend more time with, you can kind of ask them that, “Hey, do you want to have a cup of coffee? Do you want to… ” If the relationship is clicking, if you guys are having some things to talk about then, it just will naturally go deeper in a lot of ways. Some people end up going too fast, too deep, and then they get hurt. “Well, I gave somebody all this information about myself and then that person went and blabbed it all over.” That kind of thing tends to make people pull back and not trust people again. So giving little bits of information at a time and making sure the person’s trustworthy before you tell them a little bit deeper for a part of yourself.

Sarah: Well, and along that point, managing expectations too, because if you go too fast and too deep too fast, you may think that you know the other… Managing expectations, like you guys might end up hitting it off really well from a friendship level, but if you come on too strongly and stuff, then sometimes you just-

Terry: Scare them away.

Sarah: Scare them away or scare yourself, too, because you think that they’re someone else and you’re making that up in your mind that this is who this person is, and they’re really not that person. Then it could have been a great friendship, but it’s ruined because you had all these ideas of who they are and that’s not who they were. So instead ask a lot of questions and find out who this person is and what makes them tick and-

Lianne: Oh, I think that’s a great point because listening is probably the harder thing for people to do. We can talk a lot easier than we can listen. So maybe just slowing down, listening to people, building up conversation skills, how to ask good questions, and then see where it goes from there.

Sarah: I have had a lot of luck in asking questions when I’m meeting new people. I’m so curious about people and I want to know their backstory and everything. I want to know all about them, what makes them tick and stuff. Not because I’m… I don’t know, that’s just who I am. I think it’s the extrovert in me. And so I’m answering the question I asked earlier is how do you build those relationships? I think people do need to listen a lot and ask a lot of questions. Because then that’s where you can find out more about that person, make less assumptions about them, find out more information. And people do like to talk about themselves, too. I’ve had good luck with building friendships. My sister said I can make friends inside of a paper bag, and I think it’s just because I ask a lot of questions.

Lianne: Yeah, and I think that’s really hitting on maybe the focus is the reward. So the risk in relationships is that maybe concentrate more on the reward than the risk and just see what happens.

Sarah: So what would the reward be?

Lianne: Connection with people, getting to know more people, broadening your horizons, having just some interesting interactions and things to do.

Terry: Well, and I think connection. This again goes back to the mental health standpoint. When we connect with other people and we have these positive relationships, we have a better mental health picture. They’re looking, statistics are showing now that people who are not connected have a lot more depression and anxiety and other issues. So taking that risk to be connected with other people is a healthy thing.

Sarah: It is very healthy. Because I have a company and one thing that I had been looking into is this idea of, and we’re doing this like even with Journey, is that we can be connected to people via technology like Zoom and all of our Google products and stuff like this. So we don’t have to meet with people face-to-face in order to have working relationships with them. This has been a turning point in our world, not even just in our country, but in our world where a lot of people are working away from offices, and they’re working from their homes and they’re working from coffee shops and they’re traveling, which is exciting and they get to travel and meet new people, too. But there’s also a lot of people who are just working from home. 20 years ago you’d get those connections with at least your coworkers and such, and now your coworkers are spread out literally across the world.

Lianne: I was going to say the reward, if you can just get it down to just a little snapshot, to me would be, I remember when I was much younger and I was somewhere sitting and waiting in a mall or somewhere, and an older woman sat down and she just had some kind of a statement like she just isn’t happy now that she’s old. She just reminded me a lot of my grandma who had passed away, and I just wasn’t much of a conversationalist. So I thought of it internally how it would be really great to reach out and have a good conversation with her, but it was a little bit harder.

Lianne: So I think just as we reach out to each other, we’re maybe in a less connected world than we used to be. I don’t know if that’s true, but if we reach out to others, we can just help one person at a time or ourselves to be a little bit less lonely.

Sarah: What happened in that situation? Did you end up talking to her?

Lianne: It just kind of came and went, but learned, I’ve-

Sarah: So now you have-

Lianne: … I kept that with me and learned a lot from it.

Sarah: So now you’re keeping your… You have your eye out for that kind of situation now.

Lianne: Yeah, and now that I’ve been around a while, I’m a much better conversationalist so I could probably jump on that opportunity a little bit quicker than in the old days.

Sarah: That’s awesome.

Terry: Well, we’re in a society now that’s really technologically connected. When you think about how many Facebook friends most people have and connections on LinkedIn, and all of the other things, you know, social media, but yet we’re more and more and more disconnected from others individually in a personal sort of way.

Sarah: Yeah, and that’s deeper. That’s what I was trying to get at, the deeper sense, those close relationships where you’re really getting to know people really well and who, if there is a crisis moment, you can call on those people.

Terry: Well, I think the answer isn’t to get rid of the technology necessarily, but to find a balance between I can be technologically connected to people, but I can also be socially and personally connected to some.

Sarah: Because the technology that we have right now can aid in person interactions, even if it doesn’t have to, I mean sometimes spouses are overseas and stuff like that, but you can still have deep connections even through technology. It’s just making that intentional effort of having those deep conversations and opening yourself up to real relationships with people where they see who you really are.

Lianne: So I guess to wrap it up, we’ll say, yes, take risks in relationships.

Terry: The answer is yes.

Sarah: And to ask questions to help and just put yourself out there to get to that point where you can do that. So you’ve been listening to the Journey Coaching Podcast. We can be found on journeycoaching.org, also on Facebook, Instagram. Reach out to us, make sure you like and subscribe for more information. We’re all about creating connection with people and helping to facilitate that. So make sure you tune in and thanks for listening. Bye.

Terry: Bye.

Announcer: Thank you for listening. Tune in next time, and make sure you like and subscribe. Visit us at journeycoaching.org and check us out on Facebook and Instagram. Start your own journey at journeycoaching.org.

(singing)

Why Coaching When Life Feels Fine?

Welcome back to the Journey Podcast! In this episode, Mike, Terry and Lianne talk about why coaching is beneficial even if your life feels normal or fine. On this episode they discuss how coaching may help those areas of your life that you are not 100% happy.

Transcription of Podcast

Lianne: Hello. Welcome back to Journey Coaching. I’m Lianne. I’m here with Terry and Mike. And I have a question, and this is kind of a why coaching question. And it would be that a lot of us are adults and we’re dealing with our life. And especially if we’re fairly comfortable, why would we take the time out to go into introspection to really examine our life when we’re probably all able to handle our lives?

Speaker 2: Your life, your journey starts now.

Terry: Well, I think that’s a really, really good question and probably a common question that somebody listening might ask, “Why bother? Why go into all this?”

Terry: And I guess looking at it from a counseling perspective, because I’m a licensed counselor, I look at it as are you really happy with your life? Are you completely satisfied with the way things are going? There’s nothing else that you look back in your life and you say, “Okay, I’m happy if the rest of my life goes this way when I’m on my death bed.” Will I have any regrets?

Terry: And I think that’s a good question to ask yourself. Some people might actually say, “Nope, I’m good to go.” But I think for most of us, you are going find that there’s some areas in our life that we’re just really not 100% happy with. There’s some parts of our lives where we think, “Wow, I wish I had more friends,” or “I wish I had a different job,” or, “I don’t know.”

Terry: There’s just a lot of areas in our life where we just assume that this is as good as it’s going to get. And what Journey Coaching does is it comes along and says, “But maybe not. Maybe there’s some ways that you can improve your life in some ways.”

Terry: One of the things we try to do is we look at what are your strengths and what are your weaknesses. We have a person start with their story. What’s been going on in my life so far? I think it’s really good to look at our own stories in a way when we tell it to a coach we’re seeing it through our lens, but now we’re also hearing our story through that other person’s lens. And they may ask them questions that make us think about our lives in a different way.

Terry: We’ve got process in the in place where you look at, okay, now here’s your story. What can you identify as strengths out of your story? A lot of times people end up being misaligned where they’re working out of their weaknesses more than they’re working out of their strengths. And looking at it and just asking yourself that question, “Is my life lined up? Is my work? Is my ministry or the different things that I’m doing in life? Am I operating more out of my weaknesses or am I operating more of my strengths? And what can I do about that?”

Terry: And that’s where coaching comes alongside of it. No one’s telling you what to do. It’s more along the lines of, “Hey, have you ever thought about this? Have you ever looked at it from this perspective?” And it’s a value to the person to do that.

Mike: Yeah. And I would jump in and add a couple of things. One is it isn’t just about personal introspection. Life, whether a person believes in God or not, we do come from a perspective that there is a creator that made us and he made us a certain way, and that is in relationship to other people.

Mike: And when you’re doing introspection or thinking about yourself and you’re sharing that with another person, you are meeting a human need to connect with another person. So it isn’t just you sitting in your room by yourself having this personal introspection moment, though that’s part of it so that you have something to share. But journey coaching is about connecting with another human. And your ability to think about your own life and share that with another person in and of itself is fulfilling and healing and human no matter what you believe. That’s a very common experience for everyone.

Mike: So I would just add that I think, Terry, just to add into what you said.

Terry: Yeah, sure.

Lianne: Yeah, and it sounds like it’s all in the name, the journey. And so therefore taking a pause and getting another perspective from somebody else who’s extremely helpful is a good idea.

Lianne: Now, I also wonder, thinking from the perspective of somebody who does have a strong faith, and they may be saying to themselves, “Why not just get up in the morning, pray to be in God’s will, and then go about your day? Why take time out for a Journey Coaching type of experience?”

Mike: Sure. And I think I’m probably going to piggyback now because I gave away my answer. I think the answer applies to whether a person is a Christian or not, but certainly God has clearly created a community of people for himself, not just individuals who worship him. That’s why we don’t have our own churches, every individual one of us. We have a church that we’re a part of.

Mike: And so again, in order for two people to connect, they bring what they’re possibly interacting with God within their prayer closet and they process that with other people. And that’s part of the journey of the church or all of the church walking with that together. And Journey Coaching just says, “Hey, we’re going to find a way for that to at least happen between two people,” because what we find in all sociological studies in the church and outside of the church actually, and I don’t know exactly what these figures are, but it’s between 80 and 90% of people would call themselves lonely or they have nobody to connect with. So it’s not working in the culture or in the church to try to do something alone.

Mike: And this is a simple process where two people connect and start to do life together, whether you don’t know God or whether you do. But we would say in the church for sure, we have to get our people walking with God together, and that’s the crucial part of it.

Terry: One, I think that you brought up a really good point about the loneliness. And when you look at it from the research standpoint, they’re finding more and more issues that are coming up out of loneliness. People who are disconnected end up having higher levels of depression and anxiety. The suicide rate is off the charts.

Terry: And so just realizing how important it is that we do find ways to connect with others is so important mental health wise.

Mike: Yes. Well, and I would even add to it there’s a sense of arrogance to think that me by myself can know everything about myself with no help from anybody else. And that really doesn’t work if anybody’s tried that. And we need each other actually to even understand ourselves. We need each other to even grow in any way. And not that we can’t grow it all by ourselves, but it certainly multiplies the ability to grow when we have people in our life speaking into it and seeing things about us and reflecting things back to us about ourselves.

Mike: So if you truly want to grow, you really need other people inside or outside the church.

Terry: Well, and I think the neat thing about Journey when we look at over the last five years of developing it and piloting it with different individuals and stuff, and we honestly during that time, we haven’t had one person who’s gone through the coaching who said it was a waste of time. Every person, even people who have high degrees and people who’ve gone through different kinds of mentoring programs on their own, there’s something they’ve gotten out of it that they said that they absolutely believed was valuable.

Mike: What was also unique is most people had never done anything like this ever before.

Terry: Right.

Mike: Which speaks back to the what the studies tell us. We’re lonely.

Terry: Right.

Mike: We don’t have relationships, a lot of relationships like this in our life. So for people that we are surprised, we think, “Well, they’re going to be bored doing this again.” Certainly, they have all these friends where they’ve told their story to and never before had they told their story like this.

Terry: Right. And we may have talked about this in another podcast. I’m not sure if we have or not. But I just remember when we were sitting around in a coffee shop, mulling over what do we put in the books and how do we put this together and all this stuff, at some point about an hour or two into our conversation, this woman came from another table over and she said, Excuse me.” And we all looked at each other like, “Oh my gosh,” because in a coffee shop there a lot of people who are trying to study and quiet is the important thing.

Terry: And I thought, “Oh, surely she’s going to complain that we were being too noisy or she was going to say something about it.” And you remember what she said?

Mike: She was so excited about what we were talking about, what we were doing.

Terry: She said, “This is so necessary.” She said, “I wish it was in my church. I wish there was something going on locally where I could do this.” She said, “It is so needed.”

Terry: And so that was just really encouraging.

Mike: Yeah.

Lianne: Well, thank you, Mike and Terry, for that great conversation and thank you for joining us and see you next time in Journey.

Speaker 5: Thank you for listening. Tune in next time and make sure you like and subscribe. Visit us at JourneyCoaching.org and check us out on Facebook and Instagram. Start your own journey at JourneyCoaching.org

Speaker 2: Your life, your journey starts now.

Finding Your Purpose

Welcome back to the Journey Podcast! In this episode, Lianne, Terry and Sarah talk about finding your purpose in life. We also briefly touch on worldview (what does it mean and why we all have a worldview).


 

Transcription of Podcast


Sarah:
So, we are back with Journey Coaching. I’m Sarah Banowetz, and we have Lianne Westcott here and Terry Carlson. Our topic today is finding your focus or your purpose in life. 

Sarah:
Lianne, why don’t you jump in and… 

Lianne:
Well, I think the reason we’re talking about this is this was… One of the more important things for me when I went through the coaching myself… Which, I have gone through coaching as a couple with my husband, and also coached other people. But one thing is, that I… It was a great takeaway, and that was finding out how I can uniquely serve, how I have a purpose that’s different from everybody else’s, and how I can maybe impact the world just in the strengths and the things that I already do.

Terry:
I think that what you said is great, because it’s really the core of what journey is. It’s not just journey. That’s kind of the essence of kind of where we connect with God, I think, in a lot of ways, if you want to go that far. 

Lianne:
Journey is just trying… It’s just an attempt to try to bring that out in each person, to help you see your own purpose and your own direction. Everyone is uniquely wired up in a different way. You may even have some of the same characteristics as somebody next door. There’s different personality tests you can take, and some of them are listed in the book, as far as helping you try to identify some of those things. But two people can have almost identical personality test results, and still be totally different, because your passion and your temperament is different, and the goals that you have in life, and the journey that you’ve been on so far to this point is different. 

Sarah:
My husband and I went through the coaching with Terry and Jeff. One of the tools that we used was strengths finders, and that was really eye opening. Because a lot of those tests, my husband and I are kind of weirdly close on a lot of the things, except he’s different than I am, and I always am hoping to learn something different about him. But going through the strengths finders, it’s kind of like a real detailed description of what your strengths are, and so I did learn quite a bit from that one. 

Terry:
I really loved doing the coaching with you guys and your husband. It was so neat to see some of the characteristics come out. Your husband is very quiet, and he is very private in a lot of ways. And so, when he opened up and shared some of his things, and you got so excited to hear some of the things, and yet you’ve been married for how long?

Sarah:
At that point, probably about 30 years. 

Terry:
So I just thought that was so much fun, to see that even after 30 years, there’s still some things about each other that we didn’t know.

Sarah:
Well, then I should mention… And we’ve talked about this before, but… So, Terry and Jeff, who was on the podcast, coached Lianne and her husband. So, that’s what Terry’s referencing here. 

Terry:
And then Lianne went on to coach me, so…

Lianne:
Yeah. 

Terry:
Yeah.

Lianne:
So, we all know each other. You can say that.

Terry:
Well, in journey, the start, the very first couple of sessions is to develop your story. Your story’s already there, the story of your journey in life. And so, what we try to do is encourage people to kind of put it together in some sense of a… Oh. Some people might draw it out in a diagram. Some people might write it in… I think your husband wrote like three bullet points on his.

Lianne:
Right.

Terry:
You know, other people have a narrative that they write. But somehow putting together, in some sense, something that makes sense to themselves, of what is my story to this date? What are some of the positives that have happened? What are some of the negatives that happened? What kind of things have happened, the circumstances outside of my control? What kind of choices have I made? What kind of direction have I gone? Again, kind of looking at some of those different perspectives, like the psychological aspects of our thinking, and our cognitive part of it. How we think, and how we process things. But also our emotions, and how do we feel about the different things. But I think it’s really neat to go through and tell your story to somebody else.

Lianne:
Right, and you don’t find yourself doing that on a daily basis, like on… For example, Facebook, Instagram, whatever. Social media. We pretty much put out there snippets of our life. But to really sit down just face to face with somebody, and hear yourself talk about the things that are important, or the things that you do well, or those things that you hear back from other people that they appreciate about you… I think once you have time to… It’s kind of like putting that all together in one. Putting it together into one story that goes over the six or seven weeks, when you’re doing journey coaching, that really kind of brings to light some things. And all the sudden you’re like, you know, “There’s some things that I’m doing that used to be really fun, or that I used to be really good at. And I just think it’s time to move on, and focus on some other things, and maybe some things might start coming to light.” You might be talking about a dream of yours, and then all of the sudden in your mind, for the first time it seems like something that could really happen. That you really could put some time into without losing a whole lot. And so, being able to talk about it out loud to other people, I think is part of the beauty of what happens in journey coaching.

Terry:
I think sometimes we hear ourselves talking out loud, and even if it’s not seeing it reflected back in the other person, it’s just saying something out loud sounds different than having it said in your head. 

Sarah:
Right.

Terry:
And I think it’s sometimes helpful to just speak those things out loud. What I like about journey coaching is that it helps to process, where have I been on the journey so far? Where am I at today? What has my background been like? What am I like today? What are my goals and hopes and dreams for the future, and how do those things all relate, the past, the present, and the future? I love to help people kind of explore the past. Sometimes people will say, “Oh, well I didn’t have a very good childhood,” or, “I didn’t have a very good experience with my first marriage,” or something like that. And what I try to find out is, okay, so that’s true. There were some dark parts in your story. But what did you learn about yourself through that? Sometimes we learn the best things about ourselves, going through those dark times in life. We learn those things about ourselves. You know, “I’m more resilient than I thought I was,” or, “I learned to be stronger in this way.” Sometimes that’s important to learn, and we don’t really necessarily notice it all the time.

Sarah:
Wow. It’s fascinating to sit here and listen to the two of you talk, but we should end this podcast. And so, yeah. Great conversation, and we’ll continue with the next podcast.

Terry:
Yeah. Thank you, Sarah.

Sarah:
So, tune in.

Lianne:
Thanks, Sarah.

Speaker 5:
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Leader’s Leading: Everything Rises & Falls on Leadership

Welcome back to the Journey Podcast! In this episode Jeff, Lianne and Annie discuss why it is so important that leader’s lead in their area of giftedness.


Transcription of Podcast


Jeff: One of the things we want to talk to today’s topic about is really about leaders leading. It’s something that is a topic that is so important. Everything does rise and fall on leadership. We’ll unpack that a little bit and do that with Annie, and talk about this whole concept of leaders leading.

Lianne: Welcome to Journey. Welcome back. Today, we’re going to have another interesting conversation. I’m sitting here. This is Lianne. I’m sitting here with Jeff and Annie. First, we want to welcome Jeff because I’m quite interested to hear about the topic today. Can you share a little bit about your background? What led you to this topic?

Jeff: Well, this is actually a topic about life and ministry and relational growth and all that stuff, which is a weird topic for me because I’m a marketing guy. You think, “Well, what is marketing having to do with Journey Coaching or relationships or people growing in their emotional and spiritual and physical health?” I guess the common thing with marketing and the definition of marketing is you’re trying to meet the needs of a consumer. Well, if you take the word consumer out of there, and you say, “Well, in marketing, we’re trying to meet the needs of people, and what greater need do people have than healthy relationships?”

Jeff: There’s not many. Really just a quick synopsis of my background, I grew up in the car business. I swore I’d never get into the car business. I went away and got a degree in marketing. I worked at a very large ad agency. I worked in radio and TV media. I had a marketing consulting company and got back into the car business. That was 27 years ago. It seems like seven years ago, but 27 years ago. Through all this, even though my day job was in these different marketing arenas, I’ve always had a heart for the local church and for Jesus.

Jeff: It was an easy sell. It’s like when I was a kid, I even remember, “There’s a God. I’m not it, and Jesus is who He says He was.” I got that. I get it, there’s a lot of people out there that really have a lot of questions and they haven’t crossed the line of faith, but I was that easy, simple line of faith crosser at an early age. Anyway, in terms of my background then, so I’ve been around church world for a long time, and so one app that was opened in my life was this marketing thing. The other app that was opened in my life is church world, and these things came together and collided. That’s where this stuff is bubbled up to the surface, and where I just have helped Journey have been birthed over the last five plus years.

Lianne: Let me interrupt you real quick. Now we’re talking about marketing and we’re talking about things like this and car dealerships, but the big surprise here is that we’re really going to be talking to pastors today, so pastors, church leaders, we’re inviting you to lean in and hear a little more about the topic. I’ll leave that up to you to introduce it.

Jeff: Well, and before I introduce that, maybe we should introduce Annie here who I’ve gotten to know, and my wife and I have gotten to know over the last probably, what, six, seven, eight months. Annie brings a perspective of… Well, I’ll let Annie introduce herself. She can tell her own perspective.

Annie: Tell a little bit about myself, I too have a heart for the people, God’s people and the church, but being a church person myself, I’ve recognized that there’s something that there’s a hole that needs to be filled where connection has been lost or missed. It’s something that in the church world we’re craving just like the rest of us are craving. It’s just the desire for connection and desire for fulfillment, being around God’s people.

Lianne: Awesome. Welcome Annie as well.

Annie: Thank you.

Jeff: One of the things then that’s really been on my heart over the years is just a love and a care for people, because, again, whether it’s marketing, whether it’s church, whatever, I mean people do matter. One of the things we want to talk to today’s topic about is really about leaders leading. It’s something that is a topic that is so important. Everything does rise and fall on leadership. We’ll unpack that a little bit and do that with Annie, and talk about this whole concept of leaders leading.

Annie: That sounds like a great topic. I’m ready to get going on that. Let’s talk about what leadership is talking about different kind of leadership. Can you break down the difference between leadership and pastoring?

Jeff: Right. This, again, is something that if you’re not a church person, hang in there because you may get insights on how the church can be better and how it might attract you more. Maybe it might even help you to understand why maybe you’ve walked away from the church a little bit. Let’s unpack this a little bit. It’s between leadership and pastoring. There’s a lot of really, really sweet, a lot of really good hearted, a lot of really wonderful pastors out in the world. Most pastors feel the call, and they go into the ministry because they might be teachers. They might be more of that mercy, have that mercy gift, that caring gift where they say, “Boy, we really want to come alongside people in their hurt,” more of that shepherding gift.

Jeff: You’ve got these teachers. You’ve got these shepherds. They get into local churches, and then they’re also required to be organizational leaders. They don’t do a lot of teaching about that in seminary. In fact, most seminaries do very little teaching about that. On the other hand, in the marketplace, you’ve got some very strong organizational leaders.

Annie: One thing that I’ve heard it said, the difference between shepherding, pastoring and leadership is that pastors are really focused on soul care and the care of individuals, the care of people. However, leaders are focused on organizational care or structure where they take on the organization, the things that need to get done, and they’re the driving force behind that. They’re driving almost in two separate directions. One is focused on soul and one is focused on task.

Jeff: Exactly. Exactly. There’s another challenge that comes into play there is if you’ve got a very strong organizational leader, they’re looking at mission. It’s like, “What is the next big hill that we’re going to identify and then build a team around and then move forward on?” That’s very different than that pastoral shepherd person. They’re going to look at each person and look at their hurts. You come down to… You’ve got these very two different personalities. God’s wired these two different people very differently. How do they serve together?

Annie: By wiring, you mean strengths?

Jeff: Well, I just mean overall wiring, and so the strengths, the weaknesses. I’ve heard it said that’s cool is I would love a pastor there after the battle’s over, but I don’t want the pastor leading me in the battle. It’s how does that organizational leader who’s ready to go into that next battle or reach to that next initiative and really move that out well? How do those people work together? That’s a real challenge.

Annie: What do you think that means when somebody says, “I don’t necessarily want a pastor to lead me into battle?” What does that look like practically?

Jeff: Well, the reality is if you look at most churches out there, we, as people that go to church, pay pastors to lead and to do a lot of things, because it’s like, “Okay, pastor, teach me, care for me, marry me, bury me, baptize me. Lead me. Administrate all of this stuff that’s going on.” It’s about a 150-hour week job if it’s done well, which is a little hard to do for one person.

Lianne: Not only is that 150-hour a week job, it also draws on such diverse skill sets is what you’re saying-

Jeff: Exactly.

Lianne: … that it’s difficult for one person to traverse the whole entire skill set that that needs to have happen.

Jeff: That’s the model, but, again, in the world, that’s the model that typically keeps being worked, and so for the people out there that don’t go to church and they’re continuing to drive by these church buildings, it’s just showing that it’s not really working that well. I mean, we’d have to be leadership starts with defining reality. The reality is if you take a city, like we’re in here, the size of our communities, probably let’s say the surrounding community, 150,000 people, and if you take the number of churches, and if your church has 50 or 100 people and you add them all up, you ain’t going to get anywhere near 150,000 people are engaged actively in their churches.

Jeff: I mean, it’s maybe 10 or 15 or 20. It’s not the majority, let’s put it that way. I think what the call to action here is, “Okay guys, well, let’s look at doing something differently to better go reach people and help them grow. Again, going back to this marketing thing, if there’s a need, let’s try to meet it and do something about it. Let’s do something differently if we want something different to happen.

Annie: Practical speaking, what does it look like if a leader is leading in the church so that the pastor is shepherding? What do those two roles look like if they are worked out in action?

Jeff: Well, a leader is an interesting thing because a leader is one of these people that doesn’t do any one thing super well when you think about it other than lead. Let’s just look at a simple thing. For instance, if you are leading an organization and that organization has a building, and you walk into the building and the doors are falling off of it, the windows are falling off. The doors are locked, whatever. That’s not good, right? Well, he doesn’t necessarily or she doesn’t have to go and unlock the door and make sure everything’s in its proper place and the windows actually function, the air conditioning works, but you need that person that’s really has that skillset that can do that.

Jeff: It is about building. It is about building teams, and it’s just a very key thing that that person is able to build teams very well and to encourage and motivate. I forgot what the question was.

Annie: Practical speaking, what is leaders leading and shepherd like pastors shepherding.

Jeff: It also comes down to the fact that we have to look at, let’s say, that a pastor who is working lots and lots of hours. How do we help that person out? Well, there’s a lot of us, and I hope some of you out there really connect with this right now because there’s a lot of us, not necessarily marketing, but a lot of those marketplace guys out there who have sat in pews for a lot of years and listen to a lot of messages and patted a lot of pastors on the back and said, “Hey, nice job,” and maybe if they’ve been fortunate enough to be well resourced, given lots of money to churches and to hire more staff, but it’s like, “Well, ought we not change that model and ought then a few?”

Jeff: There’s probably not a lot out there, but there’s a few people who have the spiritual gift of leadership who have a proven marketplace experience. I mean, you can tell they just… When they ask people to move, people move. They have people around them, right? They’re growing things and they’ve got healthy families, because that’s another thing that this model can fall down all of a sudden, this hypothesis thought of leaders leading. This pilot thing we’re looking at can fall down.

Jeff: You can think of people right now, nationally known people, and they can take that next mountain. They can move that next initiative, but you look at their personal life at their character, and it’s just a wreck. That’s not good.

Annie: I think that’s biblical too. You look at examples in the Bible or the elders. What are they doing? What does their home life look like? What does their relationship with their spouse look like?

Jeff: Exactly.

Annie: Then they’re the ideal spot for the leaders who have managing their family well.

Jeff: There’s a sweetness about how they act and interact with people. There’s a sweetness there. Well, the call to action here is then for those gentlemen to step out of the pews and into that leadership role, again, it’s the difference. People go, “Well, we don’t do that. We just, again, we pay.” There’s some of these proven people that they can just do this on a volunteer basis. They’re resourced well enough. They have time. I know a guy. Actually, he’s had his own business for years, decades. His name is Tom. Tom, if you’re listening, get on board, man, let’s go. Tom gets done more.

Jeff: I mean, he goes in the morning. He’s done by 12:00 or 1:00 every day. He runs a multimillion dollar business, and he does it part-time. A lot of these folks have that margin where they can actually go and they can serve a church in other organization, a ministry, and do it really well and do it really well. That’s really the first step. That organizational leader needs to step out and say, “Ah, I’m really going to utilize the gifts that God has given me for the local church, which is just so needed.”

Annie: I think it comes back to we’re supposed to be the body of Christ and we’re supposed to be in that body of Christ. We’re working out of our strengths and our God-given gifts and talents. One of a God given gift or talent is the gift of leadership. Whereas, the gift of shepherding is a different gift. If we’re all in the body of Christ and we’re all utilizing our God given spiritual gifts that He’s given us, we are working together to be the body of Christ. We’re not one person is carrying the whole weight because not everybody can be the head or the arms or the feet. We all need to stand up and the gifts were given, and utilize those so that the church is a good example of Christ.

Jeff: Now, here’s the challenge though is as I’ve been starting to cast out this vision and talk to different people about it, and it’s… The concept overall is get into the game, the game of using your gifts to give a life, really get into the game, right? Well, right now, the model says the pastor is really carrying that ball. If you imagine this football and the pastor has it, he’s got it, right? He’s been hired. He’s a seminary guy. He’s gone to a lot of school, and he’s got the ball. I remember this one conversation. This is a years and years ago.

Jeff: We were offering to do this one event for a pastor to help him out because he couldn’t. It just didn’t work out. It was like, “We’ll do this.” Much of us started talking and laid out, “Well, we can do this and then this could happen,” but halfway through that conversation, he was like, “No, I can do it.” It was really his first. “I can do it.” He’s just grabbing that ball back. You guys hired me to do this. I’ll make it work. I was like, “Oh, rats.” It’s like, “Rats.” The thing is the path for this to work, the pastors have to be willing to pass the ball, and then that organizational leader needs to actually catch the ball and run with it well, but it’s that team thing there.

Jeff: You’ve gotta have both happening, because I can’t go up to a pastor, grab the ball away and say, “Guess what? I’m going to lead this thing really well,” and he goes, “Excuse me?”

Lianne: We’ve talked a lot about trust being something that you develop. It’s not something that maybe happens right at the first instance, but developing trust. Probably, it sounds like the people that are caring about that pastor and doesn’t want the pastor to go through the burnout and the stress of all the things being laid on their shoulders, so it sounds like the people of the church, those that maybe have the skill for leadership, but even other people can help and come in and just encourage and say, “This is something because we care about you. We care about all the people of the church, and maybe you’re stretched thin and we want you to be able to work to your strengths.”

Lianne: “So maybe let’s talk for a minute about the gains that the pastor and therefore all the people that the pastor would be serving my gain from having.” You were talking about football analogy, so I have to hit my head. I gotta picture. You said you got the one guy carrying the ball. The other guy carrying the ball. I don’t know much about rugby but I always see pictures and they’re all carrying the ball down the field. That’s the picture you gave me when you were talking about that.

Jeff: That’s a great point. I mean, a couple of great points there, Lianne. One is for others that come around the pastor and say… because, I think, sometimes, and again it’s just the mindset, it’s the mindset of the model. The mindset says if you lay this out that somebody else is going to take over point leadership organizationally. I’m not talking about executive pastor. That’s a role that I’m not talking about. I’m talking about point leadership of the church. If you’re talking to people in existing models and the pastors, they’re like, “Whoa, what am I doing wrong?”

Jeff: It’s like, “Okay, I’ll work 90 hours a week then. I’ll just buckle off [inaudible 00:20:38].” It’s like, “No, no. No. How about instead of maybe working even 40, why don’t you budget in like 28 to work?” Here’s the thing about being a pastor. If you budget in 20 hours to work with all the stuff that how life happens, things are going to come up. Somebody’s going to get sick. Somebody’s going to die. Somebody is going to have a crisis, some situation. To have that margin built into your life as somebody that’s always caring for people, frontline soul care things, let’s not budget pastors out at 60 hoping for 80.

Jeff: Let’s budget pastors at 20 hoping that maybe they can functionally handle 40 or 45.

Lianne: This is a call to action too for people that maybe have the gifts of leadership within the church that are sitting on the sidelines. It’s a call to say, “Hey, there’s a spot for you within the church to use your God given gifts of leadership to take off some of the weight that the pastor’s carrying so that they can truly focus more on soul care, and the people with the gifts of leadership can focus on leadership and organizational care.”

Jeff: Again, so biblical. I mean, you talked about the body of Christ and the hands and feet. We can talk about how Journey fits into that a little bit. Lianne, I want to go back to your comments there about how good they were of people need. I think this really does start with people that the pastor trusts, people coming around that pastor and just saying, “Hey, this is something different we’re talking about here. This is a hypothesis that needs to be tested. It’s not based on just butterflies and unicorns. It’s based on the Bible. Like, how can we live out the Bible today? Romans 12 kinds of things, leaders lead. Teachers teach.”

Jeff: To have those conversations and just say, “We care about you, but here’s how it could look if an organizational leader ran point, and let’s at least start the discussion. Let’s start talking about that.” That’s a really good point you make is just to have those conversations and not as hammers like, “You’re not doing a good job,” but as, “Hey, we all need to come together and serve out of our strengths and to do this well, because at the end of the day, this isn’t about just an organization. It’s not just about marketing and making more money. This is about God’s church and how we can steward and care for that in a healthy way.”

Lianne: I am anxious to know how Journey ties in with all this.

Jeff: Well, here’s the tie. Again, I want to go back now if by some miracle, there is still somebody listening that hasn’t crossed the line of faith and they’re like, “Man, okay, that’s nice all that church talk and pastoral talk and leadership talk, but I’m the guy or gal that keeps driving by the churches. I have really no interest in this whole topic at all.” Well, here’s where hopefully the interest is you have a wonderful life that’s been given to you, and it is a limited time here on earth. Whether you believe in God as the creator or not, I think we can all agree, we all have a limited time here on earth.

Jeff: Anybody listening to this, wherever they’re at on their faith walk or lack of faith walk, can jump into coaching and they can jump in with somebody else, and just start where they are starting at, wherever that is, and share their story, look at their strengths, look at their weaknesses, and they can just begin that conversation to say, “Okay, how has God wired me up? Even if I don’t believe God maybe wired me up, what are my strengths? What are some limitations or weaknesses? What’s my view of the world? What’s a healthy Christian view of the world?” Then to take a step and say, “Okay, what are one, two, or three next steps then that I can take?”

Jeff: It’s that very relational one-on-one step. That would be the first thing that somebody can do.

Lianne: Purpose, you have a purpose here. Your life is for a reason.

Jeff: Exactly, and getting a sense of that. That’s the first step. The second step then becomes this coaching champion. People who have crossed with a lot of faith, they’re healthy. They’re solid. They’re growing. They say, “Wow, this coaching thing, this is really neat, seven sessions getting together with somebody. I want to do more of that.” They’re like this coaching champion, so they take this out and they share it with other people and they coach another person in the next six months and then somebody else and somebody else.

Jeff: All of a sudden, they’re just coaching a lot of people. They’re this coaching champion. They’re like, “Wow, I’m just going to come alongside people, and I’m not the expert. I don’t have… We’re all on this journey together. I’m not this expert, but at least I’m willing to listen.” There’s this process that you we’ve put out there that people can follow. That’s the next step is that coaching champion. The third step would be these leaders lead this person, this guy that was saying, “Okay, I’m going to really step up and look at being that point person at a church big or small,” because there’s a lot of organizational leaders out there that have had organizational leadership experience with smaller kinds of organizations, so that might fit better.”

Jeff: Well, maybe not, but it might fit better with a smaller church. There are some really big churches out there, right? There are some what we call mega churches, but there are some organizational leaders that have had very effective, proven results with huge business marketing outside the church organizations. It could even be the guys who run a chapter of the United Way had 200 staff that he supervise, so smaller organizational leader, bigger organizational leader. Either way, they can apply that acumen to that small, medium, large church.

Lianne: Let’s say that I have the gifts of leadership, but I don’t know how to get started with church. Where do I fit in? Where should I go and how should I get started?

Jeff: Well, and this will probably sound like a broken record as we do more and more podcasts, but it’s a boring next step, but reach out however you reach out, through the Journey website, through… I think there’s a phone number on there, through whatever, reach out, and let’s talk about you, the person who is now going through the coaching. I had a conversation today. What people tend to do is a lot of people, and I’m not saying everybody, a lot of people look at the material and go, “Oh wow, this is like these.”

Jeff: It’s not huge, right? It’s like 80 pages or something like that. There’s these seven sessions like, “Oh yeah, this is really neat, and I’ll go look at it.” I say to people, “Well, that’s fine. You can go look at it, but then bring it back and either give it back to me or experience the coaching. Don’t just put it on a shelf because we don’t write this material so that somebody can put it on the shelf and it can be on their big bookshelf with the other 800 books there.” This is really the experience in it.

Jeff: The specific answer that will be always the answer when somebody asks what do you do next is go through the coaching with somebody, experience it, and take that chance. It’s something that I was sitting here listening when we were doing an earlier podcast where there is talking about sharing stories. I don’t think I’ve ever talked to anybody who has said, “Hmm, sat down with you, Jeff. Shared my story. Oh, I’ve been there, done that. I’ve done that so many times throughout my life. It’s just what’s different about this journey thing than anything else I’ve gone through?”

Jeff: I mean, that’s zero. People just don’t have the opportunity to sit down with another person and actually have them with open ears listen to their story. I mean, that’s a pretty cool thing in and of itself. Even if you don’t go through the whole thing, you don’t have to make it like nobody here today needs to make a commitment for the next decade to lead their church. Nobody needs to make a long-term commitment to lead other people into coaching. Nobody listening even has to make a commitment to accept Christ or even become a Christian. Don’t even…

Jeff: Forget about all of that stuff. Just make a call. Find out more about the coaching and just sit down for that initial time where you just hear that person’s story, what coaching is about and then go from there. Take it a step at a time.

Lianne: Awesome. Our time is coming to an end so we’ll wrap it up. We have a few things left to do. One of them is I want to thank Jeff for bringing this topic and sharing insights that you have, and Annie for taking time out and being part of this conversation. I’d like to continue the conversation after we even go off the air. I have a couple of questions to ponder. The first one is are you a pastor carrying the weight of leading in all areas of your church? The second question is are you a leader and do you have talents and gifts that you can share and maybe step in and come alongside your pastor and step up and offer to be a leader?

Lianne: If you’re in either of those two categories, it might be nice to just do a little exercise. Make two columns. One of them would be pastoring or shepherding, and one of them would be leader or administration. Maybe separate out some duties and start to look at what types of things could be carried in a community manner rather than just piling on to one person. The third thing is if you are interested in Journey Coaching in either of those two categories or you are a listener out there who just is interested in Journey Coaching, please reach out to us and find out more.

Lianne: It’s been great having this conversation today and having you listening. Bye.

Jeff: Bye.

Announcer: Thank you for listening. Tune in next time and make sure you like and subscribe. Visit us at journeycoaching.org, and check us out on Facebook and Instagram. Start your own journey at journeycoaching.org.