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Soul Check with Sarah Kittle

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Although the American Dream includes a college education, it’s not always the path God takes individuals on to reach the goals and plans He’s prepared for them.

Just look at actress and author, Candace Cameron Bure; CCM artist, actress, and author, Rebecca St. James; and my sister, Sarah Kittle.

Sarah is the producer, director, editor, and host of the television show, Soul Check TV. While I earned a master’s degree in Cinema-Television Producing, she took a different route, going directly to work in the field. She gained hands on experience that provided her with the skills and know-how to start her own show; a show that airs weekly on the NRB Network to a national audience of over 18.5 million households and on LeSEA’s METV and FETV in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Oceania. On it, she interviews bands, artists, and guests who are Jesus followers. Episodes have featured Switchfoot, Jars of Clay, Rebecca St. James, Britt Nicole, and American Idol’s Colton Dixon and Hee Jun Han, to name a few.

I recently chatted with Sarah — who lives in Colorado, a long way from my home in Georgia — via email. As we talked about Soul Check TV, I learned a few new things about my sister, including the story of an email that projected Soul Check TV into households around the world.

What sparked the idea and start of Soul Check TV? Tell us about the show’s beginnings.

At the time, I was working full-time for a Christian ministry on a weekly television show. On the job, God gave me a lot of training as to how to put together a TV show. Christian music and Christian TV shows had been part of my upbringing and I felt inspired to start one where I interviewed Christian guests. I knew that if this idea was from God, that He would bring the pieces together and He did.

God provided everything I needed for the show to start — a website, a computer for editing, equipment for filming, and a set that my dad built and we set up in the house. There were some adjustments from the original plan. I had wanted to film in a studio and air the show on television, but my mom suggested that we film the interviews on location and put the show online. It was amazing to see God bring a dream into reality, and in due time, God opened the door for the show to air on television as I’d originally hoped.

Describe the show’s production team and crew. What’s it like to work together?

My younger sisters Hayley and Kaitlyn, and my mom, Lynette, are the crew who help film the interviews. They are also featured on the show. It’s great to work with them because we all get along and I can count and depend of them. Their friendship and support mean a lot, and I’m so thankful to God for them. And as I mentioned, my dad, Philip, built the TV set that I designed, and is very supportive of the show in other ways. He was even featured on the Soul Check TV Christmas Celebration Show.

How did you see the show go from being solely online to being picked up by NRB?

People encouraged me to pursue airing the show on television. I had almost stopped producing the show, but decided that I would give it one more year, and see what God would do with it. One day near the end of that year, 2010, I sent an e-mail to the NRB Network with a link to the show to see if they were interested. To my surprise, they were. I knew that if this was from God, He would work it out. Right before New Years Eve, the NRB contacted me with news that they wanted to start airing the show in February 2011. The show debuted on February 19th.

Looking back on all the episodes you’ve filmed, which one is your favorite and why?

The Colton Dixon and Hee Jun Han episode is definitely one of my favorites. It was so amazing to see how God worked out the interviews with the American Idol contestants on the American Idol Live 2012 Tour.

The day before they were in concert in Colorado, I left a comment on Colton’s Facebook page and Hee Jun’s Facebook page with a last minute interview request. I really thought it was a long shot, and definitely short notice. So I went to church that night and didn’t get home until late. I was going to go to bed and felt like God reminded me to check my e-mail. To my surprise, there was a response from both. Both Colton and Hee Jun were so nice and it was a great interview experience. It was amazing to see how God opened the door and worked it out.

Another favorite is the Christmas Celebration show, because I love Christmas and it was great to have my family on the show. My sister Hayley co-hosts the show, there’s a segment with my parents, and my nieces sing “Jingle Bells.” I loved decorating the set for Christmas and it was so fun to put together a Christmas special, including fun interview elements and a feature making Christmas treats.

Another favorite is the interview with Rebecca St. James. It was great to talk with her about abstinence, her getting married, and the pro-life issue.

What’s the most unique location? Did it provide any challenges?

The most unique interview location was the Meramec Caverns in Missouri. This was for the first Esterlyn interview we did when we were only online. The cave is meant for tours and was set up for a concert, so it was pretty accessible and easy to work in. The most challenging thing was lighting, because it was kind of dark in there.

What would you say to other women who may be afraid to pursue the dreams God’s given them?

Sometimes when we have dreams, we’re afraid that if we follow God, He’ll want us to do something else that we might not want to do. The most important thing is to yield to God’s will. Jesus said, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it” (Mark 8:35). I found that when I was willing to give up my desires in order to live for God, that His will for me really is good and pleasing (Romans 12:2). Here God has me doing something that I love.

Also, it’s important to be faithful where God has you while you trust Him to fulfill His plan for you. Jesus said in Luke 16:10, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” I didn’t know what God had in mind, but I desired to be in ministry. I believed God had a plan and was trusting Him to fulfill it, and at the same time, was trying to be faithful where I was, seek God, and wait for His leading.

I think sometimes the desires in our hearts were planted by God because of the plans He has for us. When I was starting Soul Check TV, I wasn’t sure if this was just too much. But I felt like God encouraged me not to give up, by reminding me of a quote I had seen at a church’s visitor center, “Make your dreams big enough for God to fit in.” Don’t be afraid to dream. Trust God that if it’s His will, He will work it out in His time and bring the pieces together.

If you could interview anyone who would it be and why?

I would love to interview President George W. Bush because I really admire him and he is a Christian. I know people have different views on the matter, but I love George W. Bush and his godly, brave leadership through one of the most difficult times in our nation’s history. It would be a great honor to have him on the show, but that would take a miracle! Next to him, it would probably be Tim Tebow. People love football and I would love to have a Christian player on the show who is so bold about his faith. So many people love him and think he is a positive role model for young people, so he would make a great guest.

What’s currently in your CD player or playing on your iPod?

Currently Jeremy Camp’s We Cry Out: The Worship Project is in my CD player. I love his version of “Overcome” and have listened to it over and over. Before that it may have been Scotty McCreery. Love his debut CD, Clear As Day, and the wholesome, country music songs.

How do you like to unwind?

Love to spend time with my family. Love to watch something good on television, exercise, hang out with friends, and go to church. Also, spending time in prayer is really important. I’m finding it therapeutic to write in my journal. For some reason it just feels better to write things down sometimes.

For more information on Sarah and Soul Check TV, visit the show’s official site.

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Ashleigh Slater is the author of Team Us: Marriage Together and the editor of Ungrind. As a regular contributor at several blogs and websites, she loves to unite the power of a good story with biblical truth and practical application to encourage others. She has 20 years of writing experience and a master’s degree in communication. Ashleigh lives in Atlanta with her husband Ted and four daughters. You can follow her on Instagram here.

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When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

As you read, we hope you consider us friends, the kind you feel comfortable sitting across the table with at the local coffee shop. You can read more about me HERE and our team of writers HERE.

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Soul Check with Sarah Kittle

by Ashleigh Slater time to read: 6 min
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