Ruminate This!


Sleeping woman

Do you ever have those nights when you wake up around 3 in the morning, your mind starts spinning, and suddenly you are mentally jotting down all the things you have to get accomplished for the next day?  This was me yesterday morning, and there was no going back to sleep.

I woke up and looked at my alarm clock, which read 3:30 AM. “Ugh,” I thought to myself. “Here we go.”  I knew what was going to happen in the next few moments because I had gone to bed thinking about something that was weighing on my heart. So the moment my eyeballs popped open, my mind went straight to that situation and the horses started sprinting for the finish line.  I tossed and turned until about 5 AM, then finally gave up and went downstairs to make coffee.

As I wrote in my journal that morning, I realized there is a repeat pattern here and I feel I am not the only one doing this sort of thing.  Psychology Today has a name for this sort of thing, called “rumination.”  Ruminating is basically when we have something on our mind, a problem or worry, and we continue to think about it until it winds up causing our minds to go into a tailspin of anxiety and depression.  Of course some situations are worse than others, but if you find yourself waking up constantly over a specific worry or concern, you could be setting yourself up for something worse than just a trip to the bathroom or a drink of water.

When I am out do dinner with my lady friends the topic of not sleeping seems to always come up among us.  I have consciously made a note of how many individuals do this sort of thing, and pretty much most of us are getting up at some point in the night.  This also means none of us are giving our bodies the rest they need.  I am not saying we all are suffering from anxiety or depression, but when you think about the typical stress levels we place upon ourselves on a daily basis, ruminating is likely to happen.  I recently listened to an audio lecture about dealing with stress and worry. The constant theme that came up in this series was how our stressed-out society never takes a break from what we place on ourselves, resulting in all sorts of health issues.  One of those issues is, of course, lack of sleep.

Sleep is one of the most important things we can do to keep our bodies and minds healthy, so when you don’t get enough, your entire system can get out of whack. Sounds awesome, right?  So do you find yourself constantly waking up at night stressed or worried about the next day or about a list of problems?  What can you do?

Well, there are several things you can try to help get your mind out of the “rumin-rut.”

One way you can break the cycle of worry and stress is to just try and laugh more during your day.  Stop taking yourself so seriously all the time and get some good guffaws in.  Think about a funny time, or look at pictures of fun memories.  It’s much better to have laughing wrinkles than frowning wrinkles!

Find someone you can talk to in confidence.  Getting things off your chest and out in the open is a great way to work through a problem or situation.  Keeping things bottled up inside will only cause the issue to fester and eat at your mind.

Find ways to relax, even if it’s just for five minutes.  Give your brain a chance to decompress and break up the monotony of your daily grind.  Meditate, go for a short walk, sit down and listen to calming music, take a coffee break and read a book. Whatever it is that gives you peace of mind, do it, and do it for at least five to ten minutes each day.

We are responsible for our own cognitive health, and that means taking the bull by the horns and finding ways to fix the stress we have in life.  Things may not go any slower for you, but you need to take care of your brain and get your rest.  Trust me, your mind and your body will thank you.

Until next time,



Learning to “Fit Out”



“The one who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone will usually find himself in places no one has ever been.” —Albert Einstein

We live in a wold that is constantly pushing us to “fit in.” We are told through television, social media, our peers, and the entertainment industry to look a certain way or own specific products. But have you ever thought about the notion of “fitting out?” I know, it seems pretty foreign to our über-narcissistic way of living, but just imagine how free and liberating it could be to simply “fit out.”

When I was going through my certification program to become a health coach, I was introduced to this concept early on by the program’s founder, Joshua Rosenthal. He gave a three minute speech on the importance of fitting out in the world instead of always trying to fit in. He brought to the audience’s attention to expect some backlash of fitting out, but then again, we are interested in weird food and far out concepts. So we get those looks anyway. But health coaches love what we do, so who cares what the world sees through their own rose-colored glasses! As coaches who choose to “fit out” in our industry, our community, and our world, we know we are making a difference one person at a time.

By choosing to fit out instead of fit in with what the world around you is doing, you are allowing yourself to experience personal growth on all levels. It could be with your relationships, spirituality, how you dress, or even how you choose to eat. And the best part is, you are accountable to no one but yourself. You are setting the tone of how you want to live your life and the good things you want to spread to others around you. No longer are you tied down to cookie-cutter concepts and expectations. You become the person you were destined to be, and others will stop and take notice of the change. They will see how you are able to handle situations, or see a new-found confidence in you that was not there before. And who knows, you could inspire them to start their own journey of “fitting out” in this world.

In 2017 I experienced a fitting out theme because not only did I grow spiritually in my relationship with Jesus, but I also learned more about my core values and how I wanted to live my life moving forward. It brought about a level of confidence I didn’t even know existed inside my soul. I don’t know if my own experience with fitting out was noticed by others, and really, I don’t put too much thought in that notion. What I also loved about learning to fit out was how my effort level dropped tremendously. I didn’t feel the need to keep up or stay on top of everything. I was able to let things go and walk away, or I could take disappointment in life, learn from that experience, and find a way to rise above it.

We all know that each day will bring new challenges for us. It will bring in new heartaches, disappointments, realizations, and elations. But just imagine how much stronger you could be in dealing with all those things when you are in the season of “fitting out.” So what risks are you willing to take to live the life you want? What ways can you start the process of learning to fit out in your own life and discover what wonderful things can unfold within your heart? That is my challenge for you this week, so start digging and start making those positive changes in your life.

Until next time,


The Art of Oil Pulling




The first time I ever tried oil pulling I thought I wasn’t going to make it.  I had used solid coconut oil, scooped out a heaping tablespoon of the substance, and then had to maneuver the chunks in my mouth until the heat of my saliva turned it into a liquid. But I persevered through it a few more times until I finally became used to the texture of the solid oil, and I tried a smaller amount so my mouth was not overtaken by coconuts.  Then, one day I was shopping and I found a good form of liquid coconut oil, and suddenly the practice of oil pulling became a part of my habitual routine.

What exactly is oil pulling anyway?  Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic practice (an ancient Indian principle that dates to around 3,000 years old).  It involves swishing about a tablespoon of oil, usually coconut, sesame, or sunflower, in your mouth for 20 minutes each day, preferably during your morning routine.  The benefits of oil pulling are numerous, believe it or not.  When you swish oil in your mouth, the antibacterial properties of the oil help to pull toxins out of your body.  Sounds crazy, right?  But it’s true, especially when you use a good quality oil.  Swishing and pulling the oil in your mouth can eliminate bacteria and fungus floating around on your teeth and gums (I know, gross, right?).  This happens because most of the stuff wafting around in our mouth consist of a single cell.  The oil coats these nasty particles, thus helping them stick to one another instead of on your gums or teeth.  So when you are finished with your pulling, you spit out all these little microorganisms, ridding your system of them completely.  Oil pulling also helps to whiten teeth, freshen breath, ease sensitive teeth, wipe out plaque, not to mention moisten the mouth, throat, and lips.

If you are not sure how to go about oil pulling, here are my own personal tips.  Start small your first few times, like five minutes, during the morning right before you brush your teeth.  Then, when you finish, you can simply spit the used oil out into your trash can.  For me, once I was able to get over my five minute mark, I started doing my oil pulling in the shower.  With hair washing, face washing, etc., that usually gives me a good 15 minutes to swish and swoosh my coconut oil.  Like I wrote earlier, I do like to use a liquid version of coconut oil to swish, but make sure it is a good grade, and organic.  The plus of using coconut oil instead of sesame or sunflower is coconut oil contains anti-microbial properties by way of lauric acid.



And be sure to NOT SWALLOW the oil.  After it has been in your mouth, getting rid of all those repugnant particles, swallowing it would completely negate all the good you just accomplished. Lastly, when you are finished pulling, it is recommended you spit the used oil out in the trash can instead of down your sink.  The oil could possibly clog your drains after an extended period of time.  After you do your allotted time, finish up your routine with a good tooth brushing and flossing to remove any leftover particles from your pull.

So if you are in the market for whitening your teeth in a safe and natural way while protecting your gums and mouth from various dental diseases, then you should definitely give oil pulling a “swirl” during your everyday morning routine.  Who knew a simple tablespoon of oil could have so many benefits for your mouth!?! And if you are like me and enjoy drinking red wine, it can help ward off those irritating “wine teeth” stains that so lovingly go with one of my favorite adult beverages.

So go out there, pull some oil, and flash your pearly whites to the world with a smile!

Until next time,




Discovering a New and Healthy You




Do you ever think about the day after a holiday?  Like after Christmas or July 4th, and the stores have all the decorations reduced down.  It takes the wind out of my sail a bit when I see those lonely decorations, unused and unwanted on their shelf.  The day after Valentine’s Day is like that for me, not because all the pink and red heart decorations are left un-purchased.  No, for me February 15 marks the anniversary of my dad’s death.  But this year is a little different for me.  I am turning a day that is usually filled with sadness into something positive.  Today, I am officially putting myself out there in the world as a certified health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.  And with that announcement comes my personal website that offers information on what I do and the various ways I can help people discover the healthiest, happiest version of themselves.

My journey to living a healthy lifestyle did not always start on an easy track. I have posted about my experience with battling an eating disorder in college, so I won’t go into excessive detail here. If you want to get that whole story, check out my post “The Shadow of Control.” It will be filed under February of 2017 on this blog, This piece basically lines out how I ended up where I am today in regards to healthy eating habits and beneficial lifestyle routines.

My passion for good nutrition and overall wellness practices started when I was in my twenties, continuing on and growing stronger as I entered my thirties. Now as I approach my forties, I feel so blessed and excited to have the knowledge I do under my belt so I can help others around me get on track with their own lives.

Health and nutrition, well, those can be tricky subjects. There is so much information out there about what the “correct” way to live should be, or who has the best diet to loose weight or detoxify your liver. But what I learned, and absolutely loved, about the certification program through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition was their belief that everyone is a bio-individual. What is considered one individual’s perfect diet plan may be completely toxic for another. Bio-individuality is the key when it comes to finding the perfect food plan to follow for your body.

Another important aspect to having a healthy lifestyle is finding balance in areas outside the kitchen. Relationships matter and have a huge impact on your overall well-being. A career that is stressful, or a lack of physical activity are other areas important to keep balanced when trying to be healthy and whole. My training program calls these things “Primary Foods.” We get so hung up on thinking diet is the way to a balanced life, we tend to forget the other things going on that can affect the “what” we eat and the “why” we eat.

It has taken myself a few years to figure out my own balance with my life, as well as with my diet regiment. And I feel my experiences, my knowledge, and my ability to just simply sit back and listen helps me put power back into YOUR hands. You will be the designer of this new pathway to balance and health. I will simply provide you the much needed support and tools to get you there. So stop trying the latest fad diet, or running yourself mentally into the ground with obligations and commitments. Let’s do this together because being healthy doesn’t have to be hard!

For more information and to contact me for a free consultation, visit

Seasons of Change




I recently listened to someone talk on how life is very much like the seasons we experience during the year.  They change, and with those changes come good moments and hard moments.  As I sat there listening to this person speaking, I couldn’t help but think about the seasons of my own life and what I learned from each change.  I am about to honor a very tough season of my life, the season where I lost my father six years ago.  February 15 will never be the same for me because my life was altered so drastically.  I can’t honestly say I learned very much during the first few years of that “season.”  I was grieving for the loss of someone I loved dearly and relied heavily on for advice and guidance.  But now that season has passed, the pain has dimmed a bit, and now I can survive the day and smile when I think of all the awesome memories my father and I shared together.

I also thought about the season of entering a new decade.  As I approach 40, I get a little nostalgic about my thirties.  It has been an amazing decade, full of highs and lows that make up the river of life.  But I can honestly say, as I come upon the crest of  a new season, I lived life well in my thirties and I hope to continue to do the same during my forties.  I know the road will have potholes, but there will also be periods of smooth sailing.  It’s life, and not every season is going to be full of promises.

As I sat in my seat and continued to reminisce on days gone by, I felt challenged by my faith to ask myself how God has worked through me and in me during these various seasons.  Was there anything I learned to help others through their own seasons?  Did I find out a little more about myself?  Do I fully comprehend who I continue to evolve into as time marches on?  I may be none-the-wiser based on the triumphs and tribulations which have made up my life, but I do know my own seasons have molded me into the wife, the mother, the daughter, and the friend I am today.

I think we all need to stop and surmise about our life, how we are living it, and what we can do to change things we see wrong.  Let’s celebrate with others when they have successful seasons or shore up those whose seasons leave them crumpled on the floor.  It’s amazing what you can discover about yourself when you engage in a little self-reflection.  Sometimes the biggest epiphanies can happen when you stop and take in the season.

I remember what my father used to tell me growing up; he would say to me, “Sweetpea, life is full of choices.  So make sure before you make a choice you think about how you will feel when you look at yourself in the mirror.  If you can look your own self in the eye and be okay with what you see, then you must be doing something right.”  So, that is how I live each day, keeping myself in check with who I want to see staring back at me as I maneuver through life’s seasons.  What season are you experiencing right now and what are you learning from it?

Until next time,


Worth the Risk?


Canopy am 257

“I think there should be a God-honoring, obedient risk in our lives every single day…I’m saying that Jesus lives on the other side of our comfort.  And that when we get comfortable for too long, we start to miss our need for God.”  –Jennie Allen

I always find it interesting how I choose my next topic to write upon.  Sometimes there is a pressing notion on my mind, and other times it just slaps me across the face and I can’t get the thought out of my head until I have it down on paper.  That is what happened today as I read from Jennie Allen’s book “Nothing to Prove.”  This particular chapter talked about Jesus’ risk for us, and how we tend to avoid risk in life.  We like the comfortable spot in the chair, or in our church pew, just so long as not too much gets shaken up.  I started to contemplate all the “risks” I have found myself taking lately in life.  Things I would probably have never had the courage or tact to do even five years ago.  And I could see the point Jennie was trying to make.  We, as human beings, have a tendency to make our decisions based on fears (or the fear of risk) instead of relying on our faith to guide us.

Faith can have different meanings for various spiritualities, but for me, it means I am a follower of Jesus and I strive to live my life out in my faith through Him.  Jesus risked so much to give me life, and it makes my own fears seem obsolete.  So as I kept reading Allen’s book, I was thinking about my own battles with fear, how have I worked to overcome those fears, and what am I still lacking when I am supposed to obediently live the “what would Jesus do” lifestyle.  It also had me thinking about risk.

As a child, I would not have considered myself a risk-taker.  For those of you who knew me then, and even read this blog, you would probably agree.  I was always a rule-follower and didn’t stray far from the safe path in life.  I didn’t take huge risks when it came to school, relationships, or physical activities.  I chose not to “put myself out there,” whether it be fear of failure or rejection.  I came out of adolescence with only a few bruises, but what opportunities did I miss because I failed to take a risk? Because my fear of failing overruled my desire to see what the grass looked like on the other side of the fence?

Moving away to school was the first big “risk” I took, and it began a slow, yet steady tick of finding myself in life.  It has taken years, and a lot of life experiences, but I am letting that fear of risk slowly go.  Rome was not built in a day, so this does take time.  Yet, it is so liberating when you can finally be comfortable in your own skin and own your identity.  The space I take up in this world, I worked hard to own and this is just the beginning.  I have built some pretty amazing relationships in life, am putting myself out there more to become involved in big ideas, and realizing that fear and risk are not necessarily bad things.  Just so long as I can keep my faith in perspective and Jesus in my heart.  I am not expecting to move mountains or set the world on fire with my new-found, risk-taking attitude.  But what I hope to achieve is a more solid foundation to stand on as I get older and live my life.  To show my children that taking a God-filled risk can result in some awesome discoveries, no matter how scary the idea.

“Every time we risk, we place our lives in the hands of our God and test His enoughness.  It is for freedom and joy that we stand out past the limits and confines of our comfort.”  –Jennie Allen

Risk-taking means the chance of bumps and bruises.  It’s like me cringing when I see my kids race on their bikes or try to ski behind a boat.  I know there lies the chance for broken bones or bruised egos, but the flip side is the joy and elation they feel whenever they succeed.  The knowing and trusting that God has them in His arms and protects them more than I ever could as a mother.  It’s the million dollar question shored up by eternal salvation, grace, and love.  I just have to remember to let the fear go, to let the risk happen, and to trust more.  That doesn’t mean I’m going to let my kids run in traffic, or that I am going to hit the blackjack tables in Vegas.  Instead, I know I am not always going to be there to offer protection and help to my children.  And I know that Jesus watches over them as they take their own risks through life, just as I know He watches over me as I am taking more of mine.  It’s not an easy thing to do, to let go and let God.  But then again, who said life was going to be easy?

So I ask you to think about your own risk-taking, fear-loathing attitude in life, and maybe kick it up a notch or two.  See what you can do to put yourself out there more.  Will you build a new relationship, or perhaps mend an old and damaged one.  Will you jump towards a new career, or maybe move thousands of miles away.  It’s hard to say how the cards will play when you take a risk or two, but I pray you find it and settle in for the ride.

Until next time,







Walking Through the Door of Opportunity


I am a little chagrined at how long it has been since I have posted on my blog.  It just goes to show how life can put a road-block in things.  But this morning I had some solitude and I also had a project to work on for a friend.  I was able to self-reflect on why I wanted to become a part of something unique and special.


It’s funny how people come into your life at just the right moment. One minute you are finding yourself struggling with change and the next you have this wonderful individual sitting across from you at your local coffee house, sharing about life and relating to similar circumstances. I met Raelenna Ferguson at a point in my life when there needed to be a change in myself. Approaching 40, I was really beginning to feel the desire to give more of myself, to focus on deeper relationships with people, and to make a positive impact on the world for my two children. I just didn’t know where or how to do it. My church is huge on overseas mission trips, but I felt that just wasn’t the right fit for me at this point in my life. My children are young and although the tug on my heart was growing, I just didn’t think God was pointing me in this particular direction. Little did I know He would soon gently lead me in the direction He wanted for my life.

A random morning in Starbuck’s not only sparked the beginning of a wonderful friendship, but it was also God opening a door for me to become a part of something bigger than myself. That opportunity was One City. When Raelenna began to speak about her vision for this organization I knew I wanted to be a part. It had everything I was looking for in my heart; growing the community we lived in, developing relationships with people I would most likely never cross paths with, and helping lift people up by simply believing in them. Over the next several months, the more I heard about One City from Raelenna and her husband Jeremy, the bigger the pounding in my heart and soul became. So when I was asked to be a member of the board, I knew the answer. Prayerful considerations and talks at home with my family ended with a phone call to Raelenna telling her I was all in.

Fast-forward almost two years and now One City is a physical reality. There is a building, and a solid plan that focuses on job training, enriching children with the arts, and creating a safe place for people of all socio-economic backgrounds to come together and share this crazy thing we call life. Being a member of this board not only integrates me with some amazing people who bring a tremendous amount of integrity to One City as an organization, it is going to expose me to another aspect of life I never knew existed right here in Cape Girardeau. It will make me get out of the comfort zone I have lived in for 38 years. It will offer my family an opportunity to get immersed in new cultures and meet people we probably would never run across in our daily routines. This depth of personal and spiritual growth is why I wanted to be involved in One City. It was the change I needed in life to offer opportunities to people from all walks of life. But what I would soon discover is how I am changed by what I am learning and experiencing from my involvement with One City. My heart is softened and my eyes opened to the reality that God changes us simply through relationships.


Sometimes I feel we can miss the forest for the trees when it comes to volunteering and finding ways to grow as a person. We can easily stay caught up in the materialistic aspects of life and society. Sometimes it takes a person or an idea to make us be still and listen to what our hearts are trying to tell us. I challenge you to find that inner voice and see where it can take you. See what kind of impact you can have on the world around you, especially your immediate environment. One City is a great way to do this, to find yourself a part of something bigger, to make a difference in someone’s life and have them make a difference in yours. We are all spiritual beings in a materialistic world, and what we do with this one life is up to us. So come join us, in whatever capacity you can, to shake things up and make a difference in the world together.


“I used to pray that God would feed the hungry, or do this or that, but now I pray that He will guide me to do whatever I’m supposed to do, what I can do. I used to pray for answers, but now I’m praying for strength. I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us and we change things.”

– Mother Teresa

Red, White, and…Green!


Happy 4th of July America! In honor of the holiday I decided to post my most recent creation in the kitchen.  I called it my “red, white, and green salad” to go along with the patriotic theme.  Our household is learning how to cook in a gluten-free environment nowadays, so I have found myself experimenting with gluten-free swaps.  This recipe used a gluten-free elbow macaroni, and the consensus was a total thumbs up!  I think I even heard the words, “you can’t tell the difference.”  Sweetness to my ears!

Going gluten free is more common nowadays than it was even ten years ago.  My household is doing it for medical purposes, but many people choose to go gluten-free for a variety of reasons.  The time it would take to fully go into this topic would make this post longer than necessary, so I will save gluten-free issues for another day.  Needless to say, if you need or want to take gluten out of your diet, it doesn’t mean you can never have pasta, cakes, or sandwiches again.  

So if you want to try gluten-free, and get some healthy greens in your diet, perhaps you can give this recipe a whirl at your next meal.

For the “meat” of the salad:

  • 2 cups of gluten-free elbow macaroni (any brand will work) 
  • 3 large leaves of lacinato kale, stems removed and roughly chopped 
  • 1/2 cup of julienne sun-dried tomatoes 
  • 1/2 cup of chopped artichoke hearts
  • 1/4 cup of diced red onion

For the dressing:

  • 3/4 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar 
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 or 2 small anchovies, chopped 
  • 1 to 2 tsp freshly chopped parsley 
  • Salt and pepper, to taste 

I mixed the dressing ingredients together and set aside while I assembled the salad ingredients.  For the kale, I did massage the juice of half a lemon with the leaves to help break down the fibers and cut the bitterness a bit.  Once everything was cooked and chopped, I combined it all in a large bowl and let it cool in the fridge for a bit.  Then it was ready to serve! For hot summer cookouts, this is a great accompaniment without worrying about what is secretly hiding inside.  If you can’t do the kale, substitute fresh spinach leaves instead.  Easy-peasy and still just as healthy. 

So at your next gathering, instead of going to your grocery store’s deli section, surprise your guests with a healthy alternative to pasta salad.  

Happy Birthday America, and until next time,


Dinner on the Run


If you would have asked me years ago how I felt about green peas, I probably would have made a gagging motion.  Especially the kind that come in a can and appear to be a funky green color from over-processing.  

But today I was able to find some fresh green peas while in St. Louis, and decided I wanted to do something for dinner.  I was in between obligations for my kids, and I needed to figure out what everyone was going to eat and when.  I also needed to clear out some vegetables in my refrigerator.  What better way to incorporate both than through a salad? 

Here is what I used to whip up this tasty, but really healthy “Dinner on the Run.”

For the salad:

  • 1 10 oz bag of fresh spring peas
  • 1 cup of broccoli florets, chopped
  • 1/2 English cucumber, sliced and halved
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, set aside.

For the dressing:

  • 2 heaping TBSP Primal Kitchen brand paleo mayonnaise
  • 1-2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard 
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt
  • 1/4 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp to 1/2 tsp garlic powder 
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste 

Wisk all ingredients together and pour over the vegetables.  Toss and then enjoy!  It gets better as it sits in the refrigerator.  So if you feel stretched for time, but want to make something healthy for yourself, always remember vegetables make a great salad.  If mayonnaise-based dressings are not your thing, then use a vinaigrette you love.  Whatever you do, make it your own.

Until next time,


Making a Difference One Step at a Time



My fellow readers, I have to share this post from my dear friend Raelenna Ferguson.  This will be my first guest speaker, and I can’t think of a greater honor to bestow.  Raelenna, along with her wonderful husband Jeremy Ferguson, is bringing about change in our community.  Change is always hard, but a necessary matter in life, especially if you want to see progress and unity.  No matter if the change is big or small (but this will be epic), the heart of this particular project has Jesus holding the wheel.  I hope you are able to take time and read this piece of beautiful transformation and learn how two individuals are making great changes to unite one another with love, compassion, and understanding.  All in “One City” of Cape Girardeau. 

Here we go…

The biggest dream yet – One City.

April 23, 2017 by Raelenna Ferguson

“I want you to start something like this” those are the words I heard.

Jeremy and I were standing in a worship service at Austin New Church, the church founded by Brandon and Jen Hatmaker. The music was incredible (I mean it’s Austin, funky cool people and awesome music) but it wasn’t the music that God was talking about when He spoke those words into my head. It was the culture around us, it was the mix of people, it was the colors of the people worshipping together, it was the ages, it was the different style and ways each person was worshipping, the unity and sense of togetherness. It was the freedom and feeling of true community in the atmosphere that day that took my breath away.

During the rest of the service I quietly and internally panicked. I was determined to not tell anyone what I just heard in my head. I was terrified that God had just spoke into me and called us to plant a church and the last thing on my life plan would be to start a church, and by last I mean VERY last thing. So I decided I would tuck that little nugget away and keep it tight and safe, telling no one not even Jeremy.

Service ended and we headed to our rental car so we could hit up downtown Austin before flying home that night. As soon as we got in the car I could tell something was up with Jeremy. He just looked off and I was afraid to ask, so I didn’t. I didn’t have to. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said I heard something in that service (my inner voice was like well crap or maybe something worse). He said I heard “I want you to start something like this”. There it was, the exact same 8 words I heard he had heard at the exact same point in the service I did.

I would love to tell you that sitting in our rental car in that school parking lot after we knew without a doubt that we just heard a calling from the Lord that there was all kinds of magical feelings of excitement and trumpets were blowing. Nope nothing like that, actually the exact opposite. I sort of lost my mind and started spitting stupidness out of my mouth, lots of selfishness and lots of whining and crying about how this is not what I want in this phase of life. How I don’t really even like church, how I had been a pastor’s wife before and it didn’t work out real good for me. Do you see the pattern of the “me” and the “I” here? Again, at this point we both really felt it was a calling to start a church. I knew I would be obedient, but I had made up my mind I was going to go kicking and screaming.

God was very gracious with us after that morning, even that night our flight was canceled and we had to stay in Austin another night. It was actually perfect, we had an extra night away from real life and could be alone together and process and sort of wrap our heads around what was happening. We had some more time to capture our thoughts and realize maybe it wasn’t the literal version of a church God was calling us to, maybe it was a new way of doing community together with the church.

We came home from Austin on a soul journey. It was game time, we both knew it. What the Lord spoke to us was not a prophetic word for 10 years down the road, it was for now. The time was now! We met with our pastors and shared what had happened, we wanted them to know first because we knew we would either be leaving our church to start a new one or we would be starting something new that hopefully our church would want to be part of.

One thing Jeremy and I knew when God said to us both “I want you to start something like this” he meant diversity. He meant relationships, connections and life with people that look different than us. He meant people lifting each other up, sharing life and resources, coming together as one, as a true community. We knew this because we had already felt this conviction for a while, that our world was very white and very homogenous, that we had no friends of color. Three things really hit us hard: First, we have an adopted African American daughter who has no one that looks like her in her life. Secondly, we have no one in our life that looks different than us. Three, there are needs in our community and we know people with resources. We need to figure out ways to connect the dots

Here’s one thing about me, I may kick and scream for a little bit about something I don’t want to do, even when I know the Lord is calling me to it. But once I become obedient, I am all in. It didn’t take too long and both Jeremy and I were going all in.

We knew we had to start forming relationships and friendships within our diverse community. We knew without a shadow of a doubt it was time for us to get around people who did not look like us, more than anything to learn and just listen. We knew we needed to get to know and hear from our neighbors who live in different socioeconomic areas of town than we do. God was stretching us more and more and challenging us. We began having hard conversation with people. Have you ever had to have a super awkward conversation with anyone? Like just plain uncomfortable and out of your comfort zone? Well that is just what Jeremy and I had to start doing. Yet, through these uncomfortable phone calls or meetings we have been met with grace and love and the same desire to get to know our community as a whole without preconceived racial or economic barriers. It has been refreshing, inspiring, fun and so very hopeful.

We know God has been preparing us to lead this new calling for many years, we can go back a full decade and see His hand all over this. It has became more and more evident as we have dug in deeper on this journey of searching out what the Lord was calling us to. A little bit of this is shared on the Behind the Scenes page of the One City website. (can be found here:

There is a lot more to this story and many details that have been perfectly orchestrated, one day I may put the entire story into words. For now I want to share a few personal things and how God confirmed One City very specifically to me. I journal almost daily, every morning I wake up before everyone else and write out my thoughts, my prayers, my dreams and just anything that comes to my mind. When we were praying about this new possibility for our community I decided to go back and read some of my very old journals, specifically looking for direction or confirmation.

What I found in my journals were paragraphs and paragraphs of me asking God to show me my place in this city, over and over again. Asking him to reveal ways for our family to serve and make a difference together. I have one specific prayer in my journal asking God to please reveal our purpose and mission to Jeremy and I at the exact same time (hello Austin). There are prayers of empathy and determination, prayers of frustration and fears. It’s all there in my own words, in my own handwriting, almost a decade of searching and asking.

I am sharing a few pictures of my journal entries that have been confirmation to my hesitant heart. While re-reading my journals I found things I don’t even remember writing or feeling. I also found my heart was stirred for our community as far back as 2007. I found where I had journaled the name One City and how it had came to me while vacuuming my floor one day in 2013, with no idea what it was meant for, until it was revealed this year. Back in 2013 when our church did the Circle Maker series by Mark Batterson. One City was the name I wrote inside my circle for 21 days, without an hint of what would be coming 4 years later. Isn’t it crazy 4 years ago God gave me the name One City with no other instructions. I was actually so confident that that name would mean something one day that I went straight to and bought the domain, again 4 years ago. Then I sort of forgot about it, until God spoke again 2 years ago when this whole new adventure was beginning. We knew without a doubt the name was One City and our mission would be to unite our city as ONE. I hope you go check out our website, sign up to stay in the loop and get involved!! We are excited and hopeful and we would be lying if didn’t say we weren’t a little bit scared…taking one step at a time and walking in faith and settling for nothing less than unity in Jesus.

To see some great pictures of how this all began, I encourage you to visit the website of “One City” and discover just how amazing this is for our community.  Perhaps your own community could benefit from the inspiration!

Be sure to go read the short story and also visit our [One City] full website Sign up to stay connected and ways to get involved and follow us on social media. One City needs you.

We are ONE–Ephesians 4:4-6 T’here is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

I encourage you all to take a look at this endeavor and learn how you can make a difference in your own community.

Until next time,