Please share a little about yourself – feel free to include a fun fact!
I‘m a farm kid from Western Wisconsin who fell in love with God in college. Growing up, I didn’t know that a personal relationship with God was possible, but He came after me when I turned into a broken-hearted mess during my freshman year at the University of Minnesota. I never could have guessed that He would change the course of my life so significantly, but He never ceases to surprise me. My life with God is 100x better than my life without Him, and, although it’s not always easy, it’s always worth it – He’s always worth it.
“I never could have guessed that He would change the course of my life so significantly, but He never ceases to surprise me.”
Describe your professional work. How were you led to this? What are you passionate about?
I work at an advertising agency in Kansas City, MO as Media Manager – but that’s just my day job. I might work in the secular world, but my heart lies in ministry. I’m actively involved in Mission KC through Saint Paul’s Outreach, a vibrant young adult ministry and formation program. I also run The Joanie Project, which is dedicated to serving single women in their 20’s and 30’s, and in my spare time, I volunteer as a musician, worship leader, and singer for young adult events.
What are the personal strengths that you’ve been given and how do you utilize them?
What a question! There are many ways I could answer this question, but I’ll focus on the strength the Lord most emphasized during the 2019 GIVEN Forum: Leader. Let’s be honest, it’s often confusing and difficult to navigate leadership as a woman in the church. But at the GIVEN Forum, the Lord released the gift of leadership over my life and freed me in a new way. I discovered the gift of leadership at the 2019 GIVEN Forum because I realized that God needs me to be the leader He created.
“He designed me to be a leader, and it glorifies Him when I step into that gift.”
He designed me to be a leader, and it glorifies Him when I step into that gift. He has declared that it is GOOD, and so it is. For years, I saw my ability to lead as a burden or an inconvenience to the people around me, but God revealed the truth – it is a gift. And while it’s sometimes difficult to step into this gift, I have a responsibility to use it for the Kingdom.
What women inspire you, and why?
Where do I even begin? I would say I’m most inspired by my everyday heroes – the women that go to battle with me, who walk with me, and who consistently call me to holiness. My friends and mentors in my daily walk with Jesus have the most profound impact on my life. Their holiness, their witness, and their testimonies call me to deepen my own belief and faith that the supernatural power of God is available to me every single day.
Then, there are women for today – women like the speakers at the GIVEN Forum and female leaders in other denominations. I love the power and authority that Christine Caine, Lisa Bevere, and Sarah Jakes Roberts call me to embrace. I love listening to Lisa Harper teach on scripture and Melissa Helser talk about the Father’s love. I love the way that worship leaders share themselves as they lead – the witness of Steffany Gretzinger’s sweet heart devoted so deeply to Jesus and Jenn Johnson’s powerful conviction in God’s goodness. And I love the steady, studied witness of Mary Healy whose teaching on inner healing and prophetic gifts has freed men and women alike.
Finally, there are the women in the church who have gone before – Mary, St. Joan of Arc, St. Mother Theresa, and St. Therese. They carry deep wells of wisdom and faith. Honestly, it’s impossible to list all of the women who have inspired me because any woman who loves is a witness to the divine.
Are there friends and mentors that you depend upon? How do they support you?
Absolutely! Without my close friends and mentors, it would be immensely difficult to continue pressing into the Lord. I am blessed with an abundance of women in my life. Not only do I have a large young adult community, but I also belong to an incredible covenant community with men and women of all ages, who are both friends and mentors. In addition to my good friends, my women’s small group (peers) offers stability, and my roommate and housing situation is much like an intentional household you’d find at Franciscan University or through Saint Paul’s Outreach. I’ve discovered that there is no substitute for true sisterhood, and it’s value is immeasurable.
“[T]here is no substitute for true sisterhood, and it’s value is immeasurable. “
What is the best advice/encouragement you’ve received about vocational discernment?
Your God is FOR you. For a long time, I thought the greatest gift I could give God was to enter a cloistered order and spend my days secluded in silent prayer. Now, if you know me, that’s laughable. I am loud and boisterous, and I love to be with massive groups of people so I can chat with everyone. The word, “Ringleader,” has been used to describe me in the past. Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with joining a cloistered order and spending your days secluded in silent prayer, but that is clearly not who God made me to be! I had to learn that God doesn’t want me to sacrifice my gifts for my vocation, He wants me to use them! What kind of good Father gives gifts to His children that they don’t get to use?
My best advice for discernment is this: Get to know the Father in a personal way. Hang out with Him. Rest. Enjoy Him and enjoy the woman He made you to be. He wants you to be fully alive and fully loved, and it’s from that place of freedom and love that the best discernment happens.
“Get to know the Father in a personal way. Hang out with Him. Rest. Enjoy Him and enjoy the woman He made you to be. “
Prayer is essential for everyone, but especially for women who are active in the life and mission of the Church. Do you have any favorite devotions or prayers?
I love written prayers – especially Totus Tuus, a book to aid in the process of Consecration to Mary, but the most impactful prayer moments often occur when I simply sit with the Lord in the secret place. My best prayer times take place when I steady myself and draw close to the Father. I am moved most when I focus on sitting and hosting the presence of God instead of achieving an outcome or completing a checklist of to do’s in prayer. It’s not always easy to be still. In fact, I think it’s one of the most difficult things for me to do. But, when I set aside the troubles of the day to rest in His presence, He always seems to say exactly what I need to hear.
Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?
“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” ~ St. Teresa of Calcutta
What were your key takeaways from the 2019 GIVEN Forum?
My key takeaway from the GIVEN Forum was to be me – fully, unapologetically, imperfectly me. God made me good, very good, in fact, and I can be totally free to be the woman that He created. He loves me just the way that I am, and it’s when I become more of myself that I give Him glory. He didn’t make me to please others, He made me to please Himself. In the union I share with Him and the deepening of holiness, I become more of who I am meant to be – and when I am more who He made me, I give Him greater glory.
“He loves me just the way that I am, and it’s when I become more of myself that I give Him glory.”
What was your GIVEN action plan? Describe its mission, audience, and impact.
My action plan is called The JOANIE Project, affectionately known as JOANIE. JOANIE exists to empower single, Catholic women in their 20’s & 30’s to live vibrant, bold, holy lives. It’s by single women and for single women. You can find more information on The JOANIE Project at our website, TheJOANIEProject.org.