Friday, November 4, 2016

real women. real inspiration -- meet alex and krista

as i explained in my last post, this month i'm dedicating my blog to some of the amazing gals God keeps sending my way. seriously, i'm like almost tripping over them --- these girls "who are getting it done and encouraging others while doing it!"

it's my birthday month and i'm hosting a party here on my blog this november and sharing some of these treasures with y'all.

so without further ado, it brings me great joy this afternoon to introduce to you two of my favorite gifts: krista and alex.

i met krista several years ago at a proverbs 31woman's conference in north -- or was it south? -- carolina. makes no matter, because krista has this amazing way about her which just draws people in wherever you are with her. it has something to do with the fact she very well might be the best lover-of-people and the best listener-to-people i've ever met. standing there in that conference center in (some) carolina, she simply asked me to tell her my story. and we ended up talking well into the night. yep, just like that.

alex and i connected when she and krista invited me to a retreat they hosted in idaho last fall -- the open door. i became smitten with this new friend immediately and a sisterhood was born! alex lives in colorado and i live in georgia, but recently we were able to spend time again when we teamed up in milwaukee, wisconsin to speak at the MOPS international convention.

you're tracking all of that, right? hello, skymiles.

anyway, this post isn't about our travels, but it is about where God is taking these two women with their talents and their teamwork.
in addition to having husbands and multiple children, my friends are both published authors and busy speakers who write and talk specifically to encourage women. you can tell just from the title of their books.

krista's book, reclaiming home: a family's guide for life, love and legacy, was released last fall and alex's most recent book, loving my actual life: an experiment in relishing what's right in front of me, was released this past spring.  if the books, full of powerful and practical ideas, offer great insight and encouragement. if you go above and click on the names, you'll be directed to these girls' websites. check them out. and friends, i want you to know these ladies are the real deal. i know them both well. i know their hearts. and i know the words in these books and the ones that come out of their mouths are 100% authentic. alex and krista are living it out, figuring it out, wrestling it out  ... just like you and me. they encourage not from a place of expertise, but from a place of experience and empathy.

one of my favorite things these two have done together is begin a sisterhood movement. last year, they invited 12 strangers to idaho for a retreat called "the open door." twelve diverse and pretty much unconnected women came together to learn more about what it means to come together as women. they repeated this rereat again this past fall with a brand new group of gals and they have plans to continue. it isn't easy work organizing, planning and implementing this kind of undertaking. i mean, seriously, i struggle making a grocery list for my family most weeks. but these two did this with such intentionality and thoughtfulness. as an attendee, i cannot tell you the details they added to bless us. they thought of everything.

so why would two women take on this kind of task to plan a retreat for others -- strangers, at that? what is this open door sisterhood thing all about?
here's what they had to say:

It's about encouraging one another to believe God. Believe who he says he is and what he promises. And then to encourage one another to live from that belief in our daily decisions. We like to say we are encouraging women to "be world changers for good right where you are." That means believing God can use all of us regardless of our circumstances. I also believe the sisterhood is about calling out where we see God working in each other. Sometimes it's difficult to see that when our life circumstances are pushing in on us from all sides. But a sister can often spot a talent, a tender spot in our heart, our growth in an area, when we are blinded by life swirling around us. It's this calling out that helps us see how God is moving. And finally we want women to walk through doors God opens. It starts with believing him, finding where he's working in our own life and being obedient to the next step.

and because writing books and hosting retreats isn't enough for this dynamic duo, they also decided to launch a podcast this year.  in fact, this month marks their 21st episode -- a milestone in the podcast world. you can listen at {the open-door sisterhood podcast}  the underlying theme? you guessed it --- encouragement. when i'm cleaning the house, folding laundry or driving around town, i turn on these podcasts and listen. oh my goodness, y'all, they are fantastic. please listen, you'll be blessed.

so, maybe you're like me and you're kind of wondering how a girl from colorado and a gal from idaho join forces, write books, throw retreats and host podcasts. like i said earlier, i can't seem to figure out the grocery list making these days. how is this even possible when most of us struggle to meet a friend for a cup of coffee? i asked them this question. here's alex's response:

I mostly try to keep up with Krista! Truly none of this would be happening were it not for her initiative. We try to split tasks, though we each have different gifts. We spend a lot of time on Voxer, texting on the phone and video conferencing. Technology allows us to plan and execute these things from our two kitchens. I am so thankful God placed us in this ear where we can collaborate from states away and still drive our kids to soccer practice.
My house is never clean and Krista doesn't sleep. We all have to give somewhere :). We still only have 24-hours in our day like everyone else, this is just where we spend our "extra."

retreat throwing, podcast hosting and book writing:  i asked these two whirlwinds to explain the connection in all of it. and they said this:

The retreat stemmed from our own writing/speaking life and a feeling that we needed a circle of women who were pursuing the same calling who could spur us on. And then the podcast spun out of our core values. We wanted to extend the same encouragement to women outside of the limited retreat circle (listen to episode 21, it gives a great overview for how all of this came about). For me writing is my strength. It is where I feel most comfortable, but also where I believe I'm most effective. So I need to stay focused on this area even though I'm easily distracted by the good things happening with the retreat and podcast. But the sisterhood spurs me on. As I talk to women, as we interview them on the podcast, I'm reminded of how I'm uniquely wired and it gives me the motivation I need to keep going.

pretty amazing stuff from a couple of pretty amazing women. but, what i love most about them is the humility and honesty they bring to everything they do. with all of these accomplishments under their belts, they continue to work from a place of total dependence on Jesus. that comes through in everything they do. they'd be quick to tell you, "it's not what we are doing, but what He is doing through us."

krista and alex, you inspire me!
i love you girls to pieces.  xo, jody

p.s. if you're still unsure as to why all this celebrating and encouraging stuff is necessary, i'd invite you to link back to a post i wrote a couple of months ago unpacking what often occurs between women. 
the post is called sisterhood: rejoicing or jealous?

next week, i'll be introducing you to an old friend ... stay tuned! 


Barb Hayes said...

So wonderful to see young (since I'm 81) women encouraging one another. I have always had a group wherever we lived that met for study and encouragement which enabled me to get through some really tough times without any family close by. God continues to provide for me as I have several groups of friends with whom I meet regularly for prayer, study and encouragement. Our church has done a trial 6 week run of The Table which has been quite successful and being the "elderly" voice we have had such remarkable interaction. Praising God for godly women, especially friends of the heart.

The Homemade Renegade said...

This is just the KINDEST Jody McNatt. If I could wrap you up and take you home I would in a heartbeat. I adore you. This series so reflects who you are - celebrating others and honoring God in all of it. So much love to you!

Katie Caba said...

A beautiful post about 2 very beautiful women! Thank you for sharing. Makes me feel right at home reading about my dearest friend, Krista. Bless you for this treasured gift. I'm so thankful there are so many other women out there who get to know my very special friend!