Ep 5- You asked Stephen: Money, Missions, Marriage & Ministry- Jen & Stephen Samuel

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Happy New Year!!

Let’s get 2019 started on a really productive foot!

EPISODE 5: with Guest Stephen Samuel on Money, Missions, Marriage & Ministry:



You asked, I interviewed, and in this LOADED episode, Stephen Samuel, (a world-travelled missionary and minister, working on his PhD in divinity- and my husband-) shares his honest insights about managing money, and how that affects your ability to do ministry effectively; about ministry, it’s highs and lows and how to get involved; about Marriage, and some things he’s learned in supporting his wife in various ventures; and Missions… and how you can get involved personally!  At the end, stay tuned because his “Life Hacks” portion is chock FULL of shortcuts and time savers, from how to memorize scripture effortlessly, get more books read in a short amount of time, and how to manage your finances, this is my favorite part of the episode!

*I saved all the links and recommendations he made to my blog (and added a couple pictures!) for easy reference, so check it out: http://www.jenileesamuel.wordpress.com .

*Don’t forget you can follow me at http://www.instagram.com/jenileesamuelstyling for updates on new podcast episodes!

*Be sure to  share this episode with your friends, and I hope you enjoy the conversation!!*


Scripture memory: App “Verses” (paid app)

Missions/giving: Debt is a hindrance to being involved in missions or giving of any kind. Consider taking the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University Course locally through our church in our Wednesday night life class to get your finances in order and free you from the stress of debt, or if you’re further out from the Beaumont, TX area, go directly to Dave’s website.  They also have resources available on Amazon.

Life organization:

  •  Evernote App (Free, but available for upgrade)
  • Calendar app (any calendar app for keeping your schedule organized)
  • Any.do App for to-do lists, calendar, alerts, anything needed for productivity


  • Audible app for audio books
  • Kindle for reading on your electronic device so your books are everywhere you are!
  • Amazon.com for easy book purchases
  • Your local library is a great place to find books if money is tight and you don’t plan to keep it forever!  Sometimes they’ll sell books at a discounted rate, and if they don’t have one you want, often you can request they get it.

TIP: When reading a new author (to you): Start with most recent works because their quality is better and work backwards.   Find books you’ll enjoy, don’t force feed read, read what’s seasonal for you.   If you can’t digest an author, find another author on the same topic!

Missions: Prepare yourself now so you’re ready when the opportunity arises!

Here’s how to prepare yourself:

  • Relationships. Serve locally. Ask your Pastor/missions director who you can connect to for a missions opportunity.
  • Get some training at the recommendation of your leadership to get equipped.
    • Talk with your local Pastor, often they are open to interns, or have resources for training.
    • Bethel Church in Redding California has had a profound impact on today’s church culture, and is one who’s curriculum we have used and greatly benefited from.  We would highly recommend any of their schools.
  • Get a passport:
    • You can apply for your passport through your Postal office,
    • Get photos taken at Walgreens/CVS/Walmart
  • Start Saving money. Have an account set aside to contribute to for when a missions opportunity presents itself.
  • Support Missionaries.  If you can’t get away or just aren’t interested in the international scene, but want to help, you can always support missionaries!  Financial and prayer support is ESSENTIAL for work to continue, this is an incredibly vital way to get involved, and often will create opportunities to go in the future should you decide to.  This is a great way to be involved while you’re in training, but be sure you’re saving for your trip too!
  • How to Choose an OrganizationRelationships are essential in the body of Christ.  Prioritize people/organizations that you’re connected to through your church or personal relationships.
    • If you don’t know anyone and your church doesn’t have any referrals, here are a few trusted ones:

DON’T: Just google for ministries without some way to vet their credibility, there are countless scams out there masquerading as a legit ministry to pull in finances, this is why working through relationships is so important.  Don’t go off of Facebook reaches, we have received hundreds of false out-reach invites; many con artists use this avenue to get money and they will mimic legitimate ministries to do so.  Always go through the ministry’s direct website, check them with the BBB, or some other way of authenticating they’re a legitimate ministry.  Going through your Lead Pastor and/or Missions director at your local church is a great way to weed out the false ones.

And now for some photos!

A few years ago during family photos:

Stephen and our two oldest

☝🏼 when he whisked me away to join on a missions trip for a couple days at the end of vacation in Roatan, Honduras. It was beautiful but hellishly hot!! Lol

👇🏼family photo on a fam getaway two years ago.

👇🏼Guests at a friends wedding, he was in the Bridal party.

☝🏼 Him looking Uber smart and graduating the students where he taught locally. He forgot his shoes so I had to bring them lol

👇🏼Stephen with our son (right) and a friends son for their first mission trip! Stephen took them to Guatemala.

☝🏼We do clean up sometimes. This from another one of our former college students’ weddings! He was again in the bridal party.

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Ep. 4: Life Giving Discipline… conversation with Jen

Episode link:


Episode #4: Life Giving Discipline, Conversations with Jen

Discipline is a topic all parents scratch their heads over at some point, and for any parent can feel overwhelming and frustrating. In today’s episode I pull together some of my thoughts and lessons I’ve learned over the years that have helped us have a more positive experience in parenting, and help alleviate a sense of “bullying” or “shaming” and replace it with drawing boundaries, constructive correction and encouragement that leaves your child with hope. These are not the end-all principles you’ll ever need, but I hope they can help enhance your parenting experience, and I’ve included some resources below that can also support your parenting journey if you wanted more direction.

Don’t forget to subscribe, share and review my podcast at your listening platform, it helps us get the word out so others can join our community! 🙂 Thank you so much for your support!  Come join me on Instagram at: @jenileesamuelstyling for the latest in fashion, and to see when podcasts are uploaded! 

Follow hashtag #javawithjen for current podcast episodes.  

ALSO, in the beginning of the episode you’ll hear about my recent partnership with Trade Coffee Co as an ambassador of their brand, and how they have generously given all my listeners a discount code to get some great coffee while you enjoy Java with Jen episodes! The code is “jenileesamuelstyling” (the same as my Instagram handle) for 50% off your first bag! Woohoo! Be sure to take them up on it!  Check them out at instagram: @tradecoffeeco

Come follow me at Instagram so you can get the latest updates when a new podcast is posted!

Life Hack! : Santa’s Bag app for all your Christmas organizational needs!  (This has saved my life and budget!)



Shepherding your child’s heart” by Ted Tripp

Discipline that Connects” by Jim & Lynne Jackson

Loving our Kids on Purpose” Danny Silk

Training Focused: 

Toddlers: “Toddler Wise: parenting your 12-18 month old

Children Age: “Child Wise: Parenting your Child 3-7 years old

Pre-Teen: “Pre Teen Wise: Parenting your child from 8-12 years old”

I’ll add more to this list as I think of more that’ll be valuable to you!

The pictures below were taken this Christmas at our church holiday party, and our family night purchasing Christmas ornaments, and decorating our tree.  Confession: even though the pics look all happy, we had to correct our boys when we got home for some rude, bickering behavior, so the training never ends. LOL!  But we still had a great time. 🙂  Life lesson: learning that no family time is fully smooth, or fully without correction, but we can still have a good time regardless, especially when the correction is followed with affirmation and love!

This was our first ornament we ever made married, back in 2005. 🙂

#parenting #Christian #discipline #javawithjen #christmas #training #children #parents #love #support #encouragement #hope #javawithjen #coffee #tradecoffeeco #devotional #study #jesus #God #stylist #fashion #ambassador #java #jen #prayer #bible #train #peace #comfort #support

Ep.3:Deirdre & Jen, Feeding the Fam and Loving your Season


Hi Friends!

I’m so excited to get to introduce you to my friend Deirdre for today’s episode!!  She is one of the most encouraging, intelligent, resourceful women I know, and a great mother while juggling a head-spinning number of things… I knew she would have some gold-nuggets to share with you as you may find yourself whirling from life’s demands too.  If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed or just plain bad at knowing how to keep your family fed well with all the other things you do, you’re going to love the secrets shared in today’s show, not to mention, at the end she drops some truth bombs about loving and appreciating the season you’re in to help reduce stress.  What qualifies her to speak on these things? I’m so glad you asked!  😀

She is a mother of two precious little ones ages 5 &3, works a full time job as an Accountant at one of the nation’s largest firms, as well as working a part time job as a Leadership Developer of the staff at Chick Fil A in Vicksburg.  She is also currently in school, finishing her advanced degree in Accounting and looks forward to being done at the end of this semester.  Aside from being a wife, mother, working woman, she is in Ministry leader with her husband and has a couple pets to chase and clean up after.  Even given all of this, she manages to keep a clean home and happy, well-fed children, all the while her exuberance for life and encouragement fuels you with excitement when she comes around!!  (Just wait for it, you’ll hear it in our squeals :D)   So, listen close as I pull on her insights and share some of my own so we can help YOU feel more equipped and capable at managing your home, specifically feeding your family well, and resting into the season you’re in.

We kicked this episode off with a Life-Hacks portion, filling the episode with links, apps and services that will save you time, money and trouble, and you can find them all listed below!  (This is not a paid advertisement, just excited to help. 🙂 )

LIFE HACKS with Jen & Deirdre! 

  • Make grocery shopping easy and save time: Walmart Grocery App. Order your groceries online to save time AND money.
  • Teach me to cook!  Pinterest!  I have some great recipe boards that can get you started:
    • Kid-loved foods!  (Some of these pins my kids added themselves, so if there are repeats, that’s why. :D)
    • Holiday treat: Peppermint Merengue Puff cookies!  This is one of my own blog posts that’s been repinned on Pinterest in a number of locations hundreds of times.  It’s a classic!  It’s a recipe I found and tweaked to make my own on Pinterest.
  • Easy RecipesAmerica’s Test Kitchen on Pinterest & App (the app is currently only available for iOS devices)
    • Here’s the Mac-n-cheese recipe Deidre loved if you sign up!  (Tip: you boil the noodles in water AND milk).
  • Meal planningMealime : Keeping meals healthier!  This App & website is the easiest way to specify types of recipes you want, and to have personalized options populate for you to choose from, pick the ones you want for the week, and compiled into a shopping list.  The easiest way I’ve found to healthfully meal plan so far!  You can pay a little to get access to a larger database of recipes if you really love the app, though I haven’t had to yet, still lots of great options.
  • Lunch planning, & gets kids involved!: LaLa Lunchbox –  The website also offers an App download, which I use, and my kids can use and has made life easier!!  I believe they have a breakfast app too, but we just do lunch.

I believe those were our cooking/meal planning/how to keep it healthy suggestions, but if we missed anything you heard in the podcast that you have a question about, feel free to email me: javawithjenpodcast@gmail.com !  Feel free to leave comments below of what you’re loving as well!

Other links mentioned.

We hope this podcast was a blessing to you, and stay tuned for more content from Deirdre in the future!!  If you enjoyed this, please share it with friends, on social media, and go on itunes to rate the podcast!  This causes more people to be able to find the podcast and be blessed by it as well!  Thanks so much and happy feeding-the-families!


Ep 2: Life in Hollywood, interview with Crystal Lott

In today’s episode we get to have a fun conversation with actress Crystal Lott, (check her out on IMDB!), who is my sister, and has been working in Hollywood for the last 15 years. The life of actors and actresses is often a mystery to the general public and it’s fun to once in a while get a sneak peek into what goes in to this adventurous, exciting lifestyle. Crystal opens up and shares about the struggles and victories of living in the acting world and encourages us with principles that can carry into our own lives as well. If YOU’RE interested in pursuing an acting career, she saves some valuable tips for the end of the episode you won’t want to miss!  As you’ll hear in the show, Crystal is creative and an avid explorer of all sorts of new ways to add new skills to her acting resume, so I shared with my listeners that I would be posting some fun photos of some of the adventures she and I have had together on her journey of discovering new talents.  I hope you enjoy the episode and please share with friends and on social media!  Tag me if you share it for a shout-out in my stories! 😀

Don’t forget to connect with Crystal on social media & IMDB:

Instagram: @crys.lovebird

Email Crystal with questions or role considerations: Lott_crystal@yahoo.com

You can also follow me on Instagram: @jenileesamuelstyling 

Email any questions you may for me about the Java with Jen podcast at: javawithjenpodcast@gmail.com

ENJOY THE SHOW!  (Click link below)


Podcast Recording Time!!  

Even trips to Walmart are an adventure with “Aunt Kissy”!

Her nephews (my boys) ADORE her and insisted on driving with me at midnight all the way to Houston to pick her up, sleeping on the way home, but of course dragging their tired bodies out of the car for a classic photo at Buccee’s with their Aunt. 🙂 (It was about 2 am in this photo!)

Dolby Theatre with Crystal on one of my visits.  For those who don’t know, this is where America’s Got Talent does their final shows, and it’s also where the Emmy’s are held!

Formerly known as the Kodak Theatre, this is the red carpet stair case normally adorned with huge golden statues for the big awards night!

Because, History.  (Billy Graham)

Johnny Depp was such a doll to let me pose with him. Clearly he was excited… or in character… or made of wax… we’ll never know.

CINESPIA is a wonderful outdoor summer experience in LA!!!  They once or twice weekly sell tickets for a lawn movie at the local cemetery and THOUSANDS set up with blankets and chairs and food… if you do this, be prepared with some layers… once the sun goes down it gets down into the 60’s, I think this night was the 50’s.  We watched “Alien” and of course don’t forget to take a photo at their very authentic photo booth.  (I wasn’t trying to pose all cool… I was freezing cold and the lights were so bright, my face was actually my “Where are we supposed to look? Where’s the camera?- FLASH!- Oh… I’m blind now anyways…” LOL!

Crystal is kind enough to always make time for my own little adventures, and being a fashion stylist, I wanted to go see the fashion museum… it was wonderful!

A few years ago, this was her creative idea for making memories with the girls in our family… do a pinup photo shoot!  When we were done we went around LA, grabbed lunch, went by the Warner Bros studios and people stopped us and took our pictures, probably thinking we were in costume for a film. 😀 It was funny, and a total blast!

And of course… MERMAIDING!!!

(This lovely blonde is my twin sister who was also joining the adventure and honing some new skills!)

And of course when you’re as silly and adventurous as Crystal… bloopers will abound!

Podcast Ep. #1: Introducing Jen!

Hi There!!

I’m so glad you stopped by, whether you found my blog and are now headed to my podcast, or vice-versa, this is the spot for photos and any necessary links associated with today’s show.  In today’s show, I introduced myself and the heart behind “Java with Jen” as a place for real, authentic, encouraging nuggets for life…sprinkled in with some “life hacks” for making your life a little easier!  I’ll be having guests on the show, as well as doing solo episodes where I just keep it real, raw, and genuine, hoping to encourage you in the process. Whether you’re a mom of littles, a college student, one of my kind gentleman listeners, a fashionista, a Pastor’s wife trying to juggle home and ministry, there’s so much to learn and we need to find people that will be a voice of life to us in our daily challenges.  I hope to bring strength, encouragement and what bits of wisdom I’ve gleaned from life, as well as really awesome guests whose stories will no doubt inspire you.

Today I shared in the episode about my life as a Pastor, as a mom of four boys, and my job as a professional fashion stylist and how the Lord placed me into that industry.  I share my heart behind starting this podcast and what you’ll find here at Java with Jen.  I alluded to my newest journey of being a fashion blogger on Instagram and welcome you to come follow my little tribe over there so we can be friends in social media space too!  I also mentioned how much I want to hear from YOU!  I want to hear questions, hear about your life and the challenges you face, hear your feedback on how episodes have encouraged you, and I’d love to hear that you’ve shared episodes with friends who you thought might be encouraged by what is brought to you on Java with Jen.

Here’s some photos as I introduced my little family, my husband is Stephen, my boys Judah, Levi, Benjamin and Shiloh.  You’ll hear about them and maybe from them in tell-all episodes too! 🙂

Thanks so much for stopping by, I hope this show was an encouragement to you and I hope you’ll subscribe so you can catch all the new content!  Until next time… you’ve got this! And God’s got you!


10 Easy Ways to Beat Flu Season

It’s here. Flu season has been like its own crazy monster this year… picking people off one at a time. And for those of us with, oh I don’t know, a LIFE, we do our best to avoid the perils of getting sick. Keeping ourselves, or even tougher, our KIDS, healthy during flu season can be a challenge. When my youngest started complaining of a tummy ache before school today, I found myself reaching for my Old Faithfuls in my repertoire immune boosting go-to’s, and thought I’d share in case you’d benefit from some of these easy-to-find tools. These can all be found at either your local grocery store or Amazon, and with two day shipping, you can’t beat it! My suggestion is to grab some of these before things get crazy and make regular use of them to keep immune systems strong all season long! Prayers for the health of you and your loved ones!

1. Coconut oil in the nose! Your nose is a filter that breathes in every air born bacteria you can imagine. Swabbing with coconut oil kills bacteria, viruses and fungus of countless kinds, helping to slow and even deter the negative affects if any of them were to make it into your system.  I like to buy mine at my local grocery store, or you can get it on Amazon too.

2. Essential oils! Most any pure essential oil will serve to boost your immune system because they are molecularly identical to your white blood cells… those little soldiers in your body that fight off infection and disease. So, it’s like an instant immune boost! Citrus (lemon, grapefruit, orange), Lavender and Thieves oils are all amazing for the immune system. Diffuse them in the air, wear a diffuser necklace, rub on the bottoms of your feet or take orally in capsules (at your own risk, always diluted with carrier oil). I’ve taken mine orally for years, but have encountered various opinions on that one, so seek out professional advice if you want to go that route. Any way you use them, essential oils when used properly can only benefit your health and strengthen your immune system!  One of my favorite brands is actually “Fabulous Frannie”… it’s a smaller company but they have proven to be great quality over the years with great prices.

3. Myrrh extract. This one I learned after a visit to my Naturopath Doctor when I was dealing with some physical ailments. Turns out Myrrh is incredible for fighting viruses specifically! This one I found at my local HEB grocery store (try your local Whole Foods, Basic Foods or Amazon too) and it can be consumed orally mixed into juice. It’s STRONG though and will burn your throat when taken undiluted… not that I know from experience or anything 😳🤦🏻‍♀️. Be sure it’s mixed with juice!

4. Black Elderberry Extract. Elderberry is another of nature’s immune boosters! It’s technically a fruit, but is incredibly tart and best for taking in extract form (or tablets as you’ll see below). Mix it with juice for easy consumption!

5. Probiotics!! Did you know that your gut health (I.e. digestive system) is the biggest factor in your immune system?! It regulates your entire system, so keeping it in balanced, working order is essential to remaining healthy. Probiotics basically boost the good bacteria so they can keep the bad bacteria in check. It really helps if you have digestive issues or have recently taken antibiotics to rebalance things.  I buy mine at my local HEB grocery store, in the refrigerated section.  Look for something that’s no less than 20Billion for a truly effective result.  Children would need smaller doses;  sometimes I’ll open these capsules and poor them into the smoothies I make them for an added health boost.

6. Matcha!!! Matcha tea, matcha smoothies, matcha pancakes… heck you can even have matcha added to your favorite Starbucks drink! (Although I don’t recommend theirs bc it’s loaded with sugar which cripples your immune system– we’re trying to get healthy remember?? 😊). Matcha is a ground up form of whole green tea leaves, and is thus ten times more potent than green tea. It has a bit of a grassy taste, but can easily be blended with another fruity tea to disguise the flavor, or made into a creamy latte with almond milk. Don’t mix it with cow’s milk as the calcium in cows milk neutralizes the absorption of many of the beneficial nutrients and antioxidants in matcha. I like to add a splash of almond milk, some vanilla and stevia and froth it up! (Pictured below is just plain tea, not made into a latte.)

7. Hand sanitizer!! I hate to be obvious, but if we are gonna be obvious, let’s be cute and smell good too! Hand sanitizer before and after grocery shopping or being in public or shaking lots of hands is always a great idea. Clip a cute one on your kiddos lunch kit for extra “germ free” insurance. Mine were purchased at Bath and Body Works.

8. Epsom salts for a cozy bath. Epsom salts are an incredibly cheap way to treat yourself good! Pour a cupful into a hot bath and soak for twenty minutes to draw toxins out of your system and soften your skin. It also relieves pain and muscle cramps, eases stress and tension, which all weaken the immune system. Finding salts with activated charcoal only heightens the benefits since charcoal is also a toxin binding agent drawing them out of the body.

9. EMERGEN-C packets!! We swear by these. My boys take them almost daily and enjoy the regular boost from them. When I feel my body fighting something I take 2-3 of these a day and usually can avoid developing anything. A friend had a college roommate who took them daily and was never sick… all four years of college. They’re legit! The incredible dosage of vitamins as well as the variety of flavors and even ones with a sleep aid makes them super beneficial and great to keep on hand and in your purse always!

10. Sambucol tablets. These are a dissolvable homeopathic (drug free) solution for shortening the lifespan of a cold or flu and for keeping your immune system built. Right now they are sold out everywhere across the nation because the distributors can’t keep up with the demand. This is evidence to their effectiveness! With all the benefits of elderberry and the ease of a dissolvable tablet, I gave these to my boys at Christmas this year when my oldest returned from Disney with a hiiiiigh fever, presumably the flu that was going around. None of his brothers picked it up (which was also the result of this Mama crazy-praying!).

I hope these have been some helpful tips!!! Also, keep in mind to keep sugars to a minimum as it only takes one teaspoon of sugar to deplete your immune system for four hours. Here’s to you and your loved ones staying healthy!!!

Why did I, a Pastor, get into the Fashion Industry?

img_4320I mean really. Why in the world would I as a Pastor, who fills my time with discipleship, ministry meetings, staff meetings, preaching, mentoring, leading, serving, decide to get into something as “shallow” or “materialistic” as the fashion industry? Good question. I asked myself that MANY times. And I realized I never really shared the “why” behind that with you who’ve watched and may have wondered the same thing. So, if you’re interested, here’s the short version: It fell into my lap after about two years of the Lord prepping me with prophetic words, bizarre happenings, and ultimately the most powerful, open-heaven dream experience of my life. That’s the short of it. Here’s the full story if you’re still reading…Fashion is something that always caught my eye as a girl. Make up, pretty things, makeovers, I always loved it. But not as much as I loved ministry. I’ve been doing ministry, discipling and teaching others since I was 14, knowing the call of God on my life to do missions and make disciples. I have been happily doing this for 20 years, with no sense of lack or want. The Lord has been faithful to give me opportunity to minister, and I’ve been in ministry for 12 years along side my husband, with eight years before that. So why add anything to it? Well, because I’ve always wanted to be sure I’m being sensitive to what God’s doing in my life. And a handful of years ago I came across the teachings by Lance Wallnau about being a modern day “Joseph”, going into all areas of influence in our culture to disciple our nation from the inside out, not just from the place of the pulpit. Taking our giftings into the work force (business), the Arts and Entertainment industry, the Education, Medical, Government, Family and Religious mountains. These are the areas that influence a nation the most. And we as believers have a responsibility to establish the Kingdom of God (bringing peace, joy and righteousness) to every one of those areas. As I tore into this revelation, scriptures connected to it, it stirred me on the deepest level of my spirit, it felt somehow prophetic for my life, but I assumed that was because I was called to the “Religion” mountain, called to pour my life into serving and discipling believers. Little did I know what the Lord had in store. (Look up “Lance Wallnau: 7 mountains of influence” on Youtube… mind blowing.)

Then these strange things started happening. For about two years total (probably because the Lord knew I’d need some serious confirmation to put my energy anywhere besides the church), EVERY SINGLE PROPHETIC WORD I received (and there was a lot of them living in a prophetic culture at our church) had something to do with fashion. It was “I saw you in a blazer and high heels, and the Lord was saying he is giving you more authority and raising you up…”, or “I saw you in an ornate wedding dress and there was a line of people behind you and you were explaining the different gemstones on the dress to them…”, and the list goes on and on. It was happening so frequently I began to laugh about the irony of it. At the same time, anytime I went anywhere, it was like there was an invisible spotlight over my head and everyone from friends, to students, to strangers began to approach me and ask me to style them, help them learn to dress themselves, or straight up invite me into their closet to put outfits together. It made me uncomfortable the level of attention I was receiving surrounding this topic, but I knew it was the Lord because I couldn’t even make this stuff up. I mean, when strangers approach you with these requests out of nowhere, it’s like, “Ok really? What’s going on here?!” I mean, that’s NOT NORMAL. I began to second guess myself and wonder if I was dressed too over the top. But I was confused because there were LOTS of other women I knew who I considered even more fashionable than myself. Putting a cute outfit together had become a creative outlet for me because it only took a couple minutes and was something I could do while juggling four young boys. It didn’t take as long as sitting down to write a song or paint a picture. It was an outlet for me, yet these freaky occurrances were happening everywhere I went. Finally, I was like, “Lord, are you trying to get my attention about something? I mean, if you want me to get into fashion or something, you’ll have to be REALLY obvious because I refuse to put my time into something that won’t bear an eternal impact. I want every minute of my life to matter for eternity. Plus, I don’t have anywhere to go with fashion right now anyways, so if you’re trying to make a point, you’ll have to make it OBVIOUS because these prophetic words and perfect strangers commenting on my clothing is just weird.”

Then I had a DREAM. The most heavenly, unreal, powerful, exhilarating dream I’ve had in my life. I won’t go into the details of it, but in the dream it felt like I was under an open heaven; there was literally no barrier between me and heaven. It was as though heaven came and settled down upon me while I slept. There was such a sense of expectancy, hope, and the message of the dream was that the Lord was wanting to expand my “ministry” (place of being used) and promote me into something new if I was to respond with a yes. I didn’t know what that meant yet, but I am always willing to do anything as long as I know God is in it, so I told him yes. Shortly after, someone told me about *the company I currently work for* and said, “You should style for them!” I was like, “What’s that?” I went and googled the company, read what the stylist does, and was like, “HOLY FREAKING COW! This job was MADE for me!! I already do this with all my friends when we’re out shopping, how cool to get paid to do this!” So I applied online, and waited for a response prayerfully.

A few weeks later, I received an invitation from the company to come interview. I prayed about it, and strangely felt a check in my spirit that now was not the time to apply. I asked Stephen what he felt. He felt the timing was not good too. After all, we didn’t know if we were going to have more kids, were busy with college ministry, so I decided to trust the Lord and put it down. I was a little confused, but decided to trust.

The weeks following were life shifting heart changes for me about my season of life with having children and such, and I found such a place of peace and freedom as we decided to close the door on any more children, and just move forward raising our boys and growing up with them. So much peace settled into my heart as I set both feet firmly into a new season looking forward.

My thoughts wandered back to the Stylist position and I found myself a little confused. I went back to that dream and said, “You know Lord, I receive and accept anything you want to do in my life. Whatever shifting you need to do, wherever you want to use me, I will obey. Whatever that looks like. I’m confused about the fashion job, because I had a check about it, but if that was you and the timing was just off, I need you to make it obvious. I ask you to open doors no man can open. And close doors no man can close. Make it plain where you want me to step so I can embrace all that you have for me and my future with you.”

The NEXT DAY, I randomly received three emails, one after another, from *the company I work for*, asking me to re-consider coming to interview for them. Now get this: I had no prior formal experience in fashion. I would be the first stylist this far out from their Austin headquarters, and I had already turned them down once. Yet, here are three emails (the number of the Lord), asking me to reconsider. I took this as an “open door” from the Lord, and stepped through. The rest is history. I’ve enjoyed styling for this company for over 15 months now and have styled over 3000 women to date, soon to add men to that number.

I have felt from the beginning that this company is not my landing point, but rather a preparative season. I won’t be there forever, but in the time I’ve been there, I have learned SO VERY MUCH. I have built some really beautiful relationships, some have already created opportunity for ministry. I have gained some really valuable skills for both communication AND styling, and been so encouraged to be so challenged by a secular company with such a beautiful heart to serve, love, and show kindness! I’ve gained skills that will no doubt be useful in future seasons of my life, whatever that may be (because God wastes nothing), and what I find the most refreshing, is I feel connected to the LOST world who needs Jesus! This has been so wonderful, because ministry can, while being my favorite place, can become like a bubble, and feel a little disconnected from the lost world.

So now, as I carry most of my working hours still in ministry, and part-time hours in the fashion world, it’s been an interesting balance. I realize that most people have no idea why I would have taken a job like this that seems so “superficial”. Some have been offended by it. And I understand that. It’s hard when you relate to a leader one way, and they shift into something new without you understanding the reason, it’s hard to shift with them. Which is part of why I wanted to explain for anyone who wondered. And to put to words the significance of a job on any of the other six “mountains” outside of the church. For me, it’s not really about the clothes, though that’s definitely fun! It’s always about the people. This “superficial” task of teaching people to dress themselves has a profound way of accessing people’s hearts. Jesus was really great at meeting practical needs as well as spiritual (hello his first miracle of turning water into wine because people didn’t want to stop partying…). People are people. They have very practical needs. And for the church to act “hands off” with people unless it comes with spiritual verbage is quite frankly, RELIGIOUS, and not in a good way. Jesus found needs, and met them. He asked us to do the same. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give drink to the thirsty, use your gifts to serve one another. So, that’s what I do. And I love seeing how I am able to serve women (and soon, men) with this skill the Lord grew in me for fashion. It’s encouraging when I hear feedback from clients who are honest, that having nothing to wear and no knowledge how to dress, which has brought them shame, fear, and held them back from getting out, and after helping them learn to dress themselves and putting some tools in their hands, they can get out and start to explore life. It’s a starting point. Its not the answer for all their problems. But it helps. And it refreshes. And it’s a way I can use my creativity to to serve others. I’m loving this wild ride.

So for those who wondered, that’s why I as a Pastor, decided to become a stylist for one of the nation’s fastest growing fashion companies. It wasn’t something I went looking for, it took lots of convincing from the Lord, and I’m sure down the road I’ll be able to look back and more fully understand the “why” behind the “this right now”. Either way, I’m having a great time, and loving the fact that God can work outside our religious boxes, and infuse purpose into things that we might consider “superficial” or “unspiritual” or “just a job”. I consider it an honor to expand influence from just the “Religion” mountain that shapes our culture, to include the “Arts and Entertainment” mountain. I just want to do, whatever I do, to please the Lord. To be faithful with my gifts, and bear fruit, that is my heart’s desire. And if that be in fashion for a season, so be it. 🙂

You may find yourself on the Mountain of Education, shaping our future’s minds. Or on the Medical mountain, serving people’s healthy. Or in Government, God’s servants. Or in Media, being a voice to our culture. Or in Arts and Entertainment, capturing the heart through expression. Or on the Family mountain, serving the health and healing of our families. Or in Business, creating the tools needed for all the other mountains to operate. You are needed. Your job isn’t just a job. It’s a way to disciple a nation from the inside. This has been my journey from the “Religion” mountain, to the “Arts” mountain. How about yours? It matters. Bring Peace, Joy, Righteousness in the Holy spirit wherever you are, and you’re establishing the Kingdom of God. Thanks for reading!