Oh friends! You’ve been asking how Lovelight Stories came to be and what lead me here… and I know that while I’ve shared bits and pieces, I haven’t necessarily shared the full story, until now! I’ve prayed long and hard about what level of detail I should share here and considering this is the first time I’ve shared it, I guess I must’ve needed to think about it for a long while too.
It’s truly been such a precious journey to me that I’ve always felt like I couldn’t do the story justice by only explaining it in words. Yet I’ve decided that I’ll just do the best I can and leave the rest up to the one who’s been orchestrating the story from the very beginning anyway - GOD. If this can help even just one other person on their own personal journey, it’s worth sharing a thousand times over. And yes, this story is primarily about me, which is another reason I’ve hesitated to share, but you’ve let me know it’s important to understand the context of how Lovelight stories came to be.
Thanks for reminding me of what you’d like to know, and for giving me the opportunity to reflect on the story behind Lovelight stories!
This is very much a spiritual one, but before I get into the good stuff, I want to fill you in on a little back story, because where I am now isn’t the path I thought I’d find myself on. It chose me, relentlessly. Actually, I was on a much different path in life…or so I thought. 😉 BTW - At first, my adventuring mind wanted to be a marine biologist, because I just love water THAT much - I also thought I wanted to be an anthropologist, geologist, or paleontologist…I guess I wanted to do any profession that ended in “ist”?...In the end, I decided business was the way to go, and it sure was!
The 7 Mindsets
While in college, I became very involved with a youth empowerment organization called the 7 Mindsets. For anyone wondering, they’re located here in Atlanta and teach 7 Mindsets to happiness and success that people have shared in common throughout history. The founders spent 3 years and 3 million dollars researching these happy and successful people to uncover what it is that led them to find success! They even interviewed people like Richard Branson and Oprah Winfrey! Long story short, a team of classmates and I ended up bringing the 7 Mindsets to Fargo, ND for the first time (where we were going to school). As a result, the initiative grew to become the first 7 Mindsets community in the world, evolving into a region-wide initiative! I was all-in, serving on the community steering committee with the local schools, funders, and YMCA’s, serving on the board, speaking in the community, fundraising, and stepping in wherever needed. It was my first taste of true passion about something larger than myself, and I was hooked - working round-the-clock (well, kind of…6-7 hours of sleep a night is round-the-clock for a girl who needs 10!). I had so much fire and drive that it became a big part of what I lived for, so naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to work for them right out of college.
*Photos: first encounter with the 7 Mindsets, courtesy of my friend Mitch Schlimer; beach themed apartment; first day at 7 Mindsets!; "Moving to Hotlanta!"
The move from MN to GA
A month after graduation, I found myself in Alpharetta, GA sitting on my new white couch in my beach themed apartment (because again, WATER 😄) all giddy for my first full-time J-O-B where I’d actually be making money doing what I’d been doing for 4 years!
That is, until something started to change in my heart…At first, I didn’t know what it was. It seemed to have crept up overnight. It left me confused as I suddenly found myself so heartbroken at the plight of the poor. I remember watching the documentary, $2 a day, and thinking, “You mean, 2 U.S. dollars? How is it even possible to survive?”. I started to reflect on the fact that I don’t know what I would do if I were living on the streets…just the thought made my heart ache for those that do. It still brings me to tears.
It seemed that everything caught my attention in a different light. Stories were popping up on Facebook, opportunities to serve jumped out at me in church, and emails from organizations like World Vision flooded my inbox…and it wasn’t just the issue of poverty. It was other things like spending time with people who have Down Syndrome too. Over time, it grew into other things like human trafficking, refugees, and prison ministry…Here I was 6 months into my DREAM job that basically became my identity, and all of a sudden my heart was aching for people. What was happening?
I didn’t know where it came from or why, but I was certain who it came from. There wasn’t a question in my mind God was pursuing me for something else. I didn’t know why yet, but I could feel my relationship with Him drastically changing, and quickly too. I started reading books like “Hole in the Gospel” and “Kisses from Katie”. I went to two different churches each Sunday, and I was longing for more prayer time with Him. It was such a beautiful, but difficult season - I really didn’t know what was happening, other than the fact that God was pursuing me - and not in a subtle way either.
“What breaks your heart?…God placed the broken heart in you…You have no idea what hangs in the balance of your decision to embrace the burden God has put in your heart.” - Andy Stanley
The calling on my heart was so strong, I remember questioning God like, “Who do you think I am?” Thinking, “I feel you. Hear you. Believe you. But what does it look like? What do you want me to do?” In the end, I decided to leave the 7 Mindsets to follow the strong call from our Lord, which was such a tough decision (The 7 Mindsets are life-changing. Check them out!), and it turns out it wouldn’t be the last time I left a budding career either.
As I dug-in with nonprofits and God too, I was keen on seeking His will with each and every step. Through lots of prayer, counsel from others, and research, I ended up deciding that in order to fulfill the call God placed on my heart, I needed to get more business experience…I know, after leaving the 7 Mindsets. Ha! I realize now, He just wanted me to get a different type of business experience first!
Joining Korn Ferry
And so the journey continued…I went to work for a large international consulting firm, Korn Ferry, as a project manager for the leadership and talent development side of the business. It seemed like the perfect match - the fast-paced exposure I was looking for and with focus on the people side of things too! I took a ton of leadership classes in college, so this was right up my alley. 👍 Before I even took the role, I felt a strong assurance from God that it was OK to be all-in, and that I’d know if and when it was the right time to leave…Honestly, a big part of me hoped I’d want to stay and build a career, and I approached it that way, with an open mind - After all, I learned early on that God can change things quickly, right?
*Above: photo looking out the office window; a glorious sunny morning walk to work from the train
I spent almost 3 years with Korn Ferry, and wow, it sure was an incredible experience! While it was quite stressful, there were many times I thought it might be where’d I stay my whole career. I pursued my PMP certification and even starting down the path to becoming a consultant myself. I had the chance to work with some of the best companies in the world in a highly professional environment. My boss was the best boss I ever had. My co-workers graduated from top business schools and had true character to match.
I was blessed, and I knew it. Never once did I want to take it all for granted, but I started to feel the same confusion as I had at the 7 Mindsets, and ultimately, knew God was calling me elsewhere. Then ensued another long season of leaning on Him with a lot of patience, faith, discernment, and a little bit of grit too.
I’d pray with devotionals every day on the train while riding to work - until I’d reach the heart of midtown and that pretty, tall skyscraper I’d often refer to as “the prettiest building in all of Atlanta”! Ha! I’d often pray when I got home too, wavering between having full faith in his call and worrying about how I’d contribute to our lifestyle, if it will be a detriment to my career projection, or whether I’ll fulfill my potential. As I went, I was reassured over and over again as to the calling He had placed on my life. He patiently pursued me until I came to realize that fulfilling my potential on earth means to live out what he’s created me to be. BAM! Suddenly, it became so clear and I knew what I needed to do.
“It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.” John 15:16-17
To finish this story, I had to bring out my prayer journal. Because it’s within those pages that God spoke to me most…
While I was praying three days before I gave my notice at Korn Ferry, I wrote in my journal:
“So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it…You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace.” Isaiah 55:11-12
My reflection: “His thoughts are higher than mine and he wants me to come to Him and listen, and my soul will live. He is strongly telling me to go out and live for the purpose he sent me for - to listen to him - that it’s time. Once I do, I will be joy-filled and go forth in peace led by Him. His word is to tell me to “go” and when I go, I will be doing what He wants, thus His word will be fulfilled. I will do. go. seek.”
I came to a point where I was absolutely certain God was speaking to me directly and leaving felt like so much less of a risk, because I knew His plans would be far better than I could imagine. In fact, pre-printed in my devotional that day it said: “Take time to hear me speaking to you personally in scripture, reassuring you of my love…so that you can follow me faithfully and joyfully - proclaiming my praises as you journey through your life.” And another said, “Seek my face and you will find more than you ever dreamed possible.” Of course, there was so much discernment leading up this, that this was just the final push I needed to give my notice - fully trusting God that it was time.
Going into it, I was nervous for how the news would be received, but I experienced such encouragement and understanding from my colleagues that I only felt immense joy and peace during the first few days that followed…joy and peace…just as I had read in Isaiah 55:11-12 three days before forehand. It had come full-circle, and in fact, the first line I read in my devotional said, “You may feel like you’re walking a tightrope, but His everlasting arms are the safety net below.” Wow! I had no more questions, just full trust and peace.
How did Lovelight Stories come to be?
The idea for Lovelight Stories came to me during one of the many nights spent discerning on my cozy couch, praying about what exactly God was calling this passionate multi-cause girl to do.
I could see a need for nonprofits to better partner and collaborate in ways they weren’t yet, and similarly, I could see the opportunity for businesses to support initiatives lead by those strategically partnered nonprofits! I was prayerfully contemplating this and questioning how I could help in such a big area with the skills I currently had…What small step could I take in that direction?
He helped me realize I’d been an advocate for people my entire life — that I’ve been able to feel for and see them.
And so the idea surfaced, which I believe was divinely inspired - to simply start by volunteering and getting involved with organizations, while sharing stories about my experiences in a way that can allow for education, encouragement, and collaboration around pressing social issues!
Ultimately, it was the start of something that continues to grow into a space to explore different perspectives on social issues through the discovery of real, redemptive stories - paving way for personal transformation, expanded worldviews, and a deeper understanding of our fellow humanity!
“Find out what makes you kinder, what opens you up and brings out the most loving, generous, and unafraid version of you - and go after those things as if nothing else matters. Because, actually, nothing does.” - George Saunders
It’s been nearly 7 years since I felt that first real pang in my heart for the poor, but in looking back, I realize it started much earlier. They often say there are indicators in your childhood as to what you might be when you grow up.
Here are mine:
- As a young girl in Kindergarten, the teachers would tell my parents they’d find me encouraging kids crying on the side of the playground or inviting a friend to sit at our lunch table. What I now understand was empathy, wasn’t so easy to identify back then. I didn’t know why my heart went out to others when I saw them hurting, I just knew I wanted them to feel important and accepted!
- I now believe it had a lot to do with my brother, Jesse. He was born with Down syndrome when I was just 2 years old, and I learned to see beauty through his eyes. Growing up with him has shaped my worldview and desire to help people. The pull to spend time with people who have Down Syndrome is because of him too! He brings so much joy to life that something big is missing when he’s not around.❤️
- I wrote stories for my mom long before I could read or write - I’d just scribble on the lines and tell her what it said!
- I LOVED stationary paper, stickers, markers, and drawing - which I believe has partially led me to put pen to paper and write stories!
- I was born into a supportive family who had the means to give time, talent, and treasure. It’s influenced me, and I’m now able to participate in that in a different way through this work!
- And Lastly, Georgia has shown me that it’s very centrally located to a lot of the work I happen to find myself involved in, and it’s often within driving distance of a lot of related Christian conferences, events, and all-around happenings! I sure think the 7 Mindsets had a special hand in just even getting me here, and it’s a place I probably wouldn’t have discovered otherwise!
Just like my brother helped me see the world through his eyes, I've realized we can all "see" through the stories of others' lives too.
So, I'm out to help people like you explore different perspectives on social issues through the discovery of real, redemptive stories - To create space for purposeful people who long to see more love, empathy, and true connection in our world!
Well, that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!
God has simply changed me, and He’s made it very clear that my purpose on earth is to love Him and love others as relentlessly as I can. And as a recovering perfectionist, it’s in my nature to try my best at such a tall order. I’m human, and because I know what it feels like to feel vulnerable, alone, or afraid, I want to encourage and love those who are living in vulnerable situations. I want ALL of humanity to feel loved, encouraged, important, and dignified.
I believe everybody has a story, and the world needs to hear it!
I believe we can rise above all the hate and negativity clamoring for attention in our world, and find the love + light we long for!
That’s what it all comes down to - LOVE 💗 and LIGHT ✨ Hence the name, Lovelight Stories!
This journey has become my testimony, but also a ministry, of which the story will continue to unfold through the many pages of Lovelight Stories…Thank you for joining me on this journey - The best thing is, it’s really just begun! And YOU’RE part of it - We’re all part of a story God is revealing in each of our lives, one page at a time...
My Daily prayer:
Lord, I yearn to align my desires with yours, so that my dreams align with your purposes. Help me to see the world through you and filter today’s work and opportunities through your lens of greatest desire. Help me eagerly choose you and the purpose you have laid out for me today. Let your will be done through me. Amen.