All The Small Things - Everyday Disciple: Julianne

I’m excited to share Julianne’s thoughts as an Everyday Disciple with you this week.

Julianne is a writer-friend I met at Calvin’s Festival of Faith and Writing this year. She loves people, loves words, and loves helping other people study the Bible and apply it to their lives. I know you’ll appreciate what she has to share. You can follow Julianne on her blog Enjoy!

“I’m just an administrative assistant at a local church.”

That used to be my answer whenever someone asked me what I do. For the longest time, I didn’t see anything wrong with that answer. After all, it was factual.

I spend my days at a desk, answering phones, sending emails, making copies. I maintain the church database, distribute the mail, and provide support to whomever might walk through the office door or sneak their way into my inbox. There is rarely a dull moment and I stay very busy, but sometimes my tasks seem, well, small.

I grew up under the impression that in order to be faithful, I needed to do something big and extraordinary with my life - move to a foreign country, compose the next big worship song, start a movement, write a best-seller, find a cure. The faithful were on stages, under spotlights, going viral. Living my best life for God meant I needed to measure up on a larger-than-life scale. That’s what I needed to pursue and work toward.

So being an administrative assistant didn't really seem like a step in the right direction. In fact, I often saw it as a setback. It certainly wasn’t “the dream.” But God has been using my time in this particular position to work on changing my heart, my perspective, and my definition of a faithful life.

As I write, my community is dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. While our city didn’t take the biggest hit, we took a hit nonetheless, and the most significant damage for us was caused by fallen trees. What’s interesting is that many of the trees that fell appeared to be big, tall, strong and sturdy before the storm. But a tree’s strength doesn't lie in what we see. A tree’s strength is determined by what’s below the surface, by the strength of its root system.


Some trees have very shallow, weak roots. A significant amount of rain or wind (i.e. a hurricane) will push them right over. However, a tree with a deep, resilient root system can withstand even the strongest combination of wind and rain. I see proof of this in the three well-rooted trees still standing in our front yard after the storm. The roots matter. And their strength develops in small, subtle stages.

I like to think of my job description as contributing to the church’s root system. The work that happens in a church office on Thursday might not be evident to most on Sunday, but it is important work nonetheless. The way I choose to talk to someone over the phone might not be heard around the world, but it certainly influences the individual on the other end of the line. These mundane tasks might not seem like much, but I’ve learned that they truly make a difference.

God is continually reminding me that what happens below the surface, in the often unseen or under-appreciated, matters. I’m learning that the Kingdom of God is often found in the small and unnoticed - in a mustard seed, a buried treasure, or a color copy. And maybe a faithful life is a regular, ordinary, well-rooted one. I’m finding that some of God’s most important work takes place behind-the-scenes and in the day-to-day routine. And that is good news for someone like me, who can sometimes view her work as less than.

In the movie Finding Neverland, there is a scene where Johnny Depp’s character discusses the word, “just.” He calls it a “horrible candle-snuffing word.” And I have to agree. When I use “just” to describe certain parts of my life - it’s just an email, just a database update, just sorting the mail - I downplay the Kingdom-sized work God can do through the tiniest of tasks. And I disqualify a life that is faithful even in the small, even in the seemingly insignificant, even when nobody is watching. It’s a small word that can make a big difference.

Now, when someone asks me what I do, my answer is a bit different:

“I am an administrative assistant at a local church.” 

No qualifier is needed.  It’s a reminder that small, ordinary things can make a big impact when they are faithfully rooted in Christ.

No Wasted Time - Everyday Disciple: Mary B.

I met Mary B. while traveling home from a writing conference. The airport was under the assault of an early spring ice storm, and we struck up conversation during the long wait at our gate. In what could have been a miserable travel day, I made a friend, and it’s been a delight to know her. I appreciate the mix of heart and snark that always appears in her writing, and the raw honesty she brings to her faith.

Today, Mary B. shares her experience as an Everyday Disciple. Enjoy!

One year ago I started writing a book. Four months ago I quit my restaurant job and started writing full-time. After three months of blog posting and pitching and development, I'm about to have my first piece published. It's not a paid publication, but it's a step in the right direction. Unpaid progress is still progress, right?

Working for myself is amazing and terrifying. On the one hand, I can work on my own terms. On the other, I have to do everything, and there are no guarantees that I will get any return on my investment. And yet, here I am, doing what I can day by day, moving forward, and believing that I'm doing the right thing. If I just keep pushing, things will take off.

Let me just tell you, it isn't as glamorous as I thought it would be. I probably should have known. After all, I spent almost a year as an international missionary, the most over-glorified calling in the Christian faith, and most days were absurdly ordinary. I was still me, I was just in a different country. I didn't magically become better, or even feel better about myself. I should have learned that this is true in most areas of life and faith.

As I sit at my laptop writing these words, I wonder what exactly I'm putting my faith in. Is it Jesus? Or is it my ability to hustle, my business practices, my obsession with perfection? Is it the online course I took on how to be a writer? Or is it some sort of karmic logic, which states that if I put the work in, I will be rewarded? I believe in this calling and in the voice and experiences that I have been given. I believe that I was made to share them. I believe that this is what I'm supposed to be doing at this moment in my life.

But that doesn't make me any less human. My words and my works cannot save me from the soul-deep longings that I keep trying to outrun. My desire for approval and control are still alive and well. My insecurity and my uncertainty, my anxiety and fear are as well.

I guess that's the comforting thing about following Jesus. He is able to use my feeble attempts at faithfulness for his glory. In spite of it all, he can take these words and make them into something cooler than I could ever ask or imagine. In fact, it is my insufficiency that makes me the most qualified (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

I think that being faithful and disciplined in my work is about openness and longing. It's about seeing the desires that I have been given, the passion for my niche, and using that to love and serve. I think it's also about trusting Jesus to redeem what I mess up.

Today, I remember Hebrews 11, a chronological list of the greats of the faith and the impossible things God was able to do through them. In describing Sarah, the author writes that, "she considered him faithful who had made the promise" (Hebrews 11:11, NIV). Whether I feel that truth on any given day or not, I choose to sit down and put my fingers on the keyboard. I schedule an interview for my upcoming podcast. I read a book. I sabbath. I do one little thing that honors the place where God has set my feet, begrudgingly or joyfully.

Maybe this will work out and maybe it won't. But even if I crash and burn, even if all this work and worry amounts to nothing, I am certain of one thing: this is not wasted time.

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Mary B. Safrit is a NYC-based writer, speaker, and soon-to-be podcaster. Her work has been featured in Fathom Magazine and on the Now She Rises blog. In her upcoming book, Unsuitable, Mary B. describes her life as a single Christian woman and how she learned to claim her place in the church and the world. Follow her blog at, Twitter and Instagram @maryBsafrit. 

Everyday Disciple: Danah

This post is part of an on-going Everyday Disciple series. We're celebrating here what it looks like to follow Christ faithfully in the day-to-day. I am thankful to share the stories of gracious friends and readers, and I have sought to preserve and honor their voice in the post below. I invite you to join me as we listen to their experience as an "everyday disciple."

Danah is a precious friend. I appreciate her thoughtfulness and humor, her care for her students, and her esteem of the power of words. It also doesn't hurt that she often brings delicious tea and fluffy dogs in tow. I'm delighted to share her thoughts with you today. 

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I was originally a chemical engineer. I worked in bioengineering for a few years before going back to get my Masters degrees in teaching and in literature. I honestly don’t know exactly how I got here, teaching high school English at a Christian school. It’s the farthest thing from what I thought my adulthood would look like, but I have a strange and overwhelming sense of clarity in my understanding of how each and every step, intentional and accidental, that I took leading up to this point has been leading me to the job that I work right now.

I teach 10th grade World Literature at Lexington Christian Academy. Essentially, I walk a group of teenagers through a year of trying to understand, relate to, and interact with art and stories from people who are sometimes quite different from us.

I LOVE working with high schoolers. They are this hilarious, enigmatic blend of child and adult. Sometimes they are poignantly aware and insightful with regards to the world around them, and then, in the next moment, they are unexpectedly bewildered, lost, or overwhelmed. They make me laugh, they ask hard questions, and they are hungry to understand life.

There is also an element of my job that involves explicitly spiritual mentorship. Students will approach me to discuss their faith or personal lives, ask me to pray with and for them, and challenge the beliefs that are being taught.

Not only do I have to keep my disciplinary skills sharp, I have to always be ready to listen and respond to students who are wrestling with the reality of the Christian life in the modern world. I have to hear, understand, and relate to their very real experiences.

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I learn a lot about my personal relationship with Christ by watching students navigate their faith walks and staying sensitive to how the Holy Spirit guides me to support their faith walks. I think I get a tiny, infinitesimal glimpse into what Christ must feel when I come to him lost and overwhelmed and confused. I take my inspiration on how to handle my students from how I feel Christ handles me in those moments.

Something I love about high school is that, in my admittedly small classroom, I am very tangibly molding the future of our country, our world, and our church. I am shaping the hearts and minds of the individuals who will one day take the reins of our society.

When the news overwhelms me with its stories of hate, judgment, and violence, I find my work satisfying and necessary because it feels like the only thing I can do. I may not be able to address the events I saw on the news, but I can talk about it in my class, read poetry about it, and predispose the hearts and minds of my students to be gentle, humble, and kind in similar situations.

The school that I work at espouses a belief that resonates with my own goals for my life. The belief centers around R.C. Sproul’s statement that “all truth is God’s truth.” We, and I, believe this in our core.

The literary discipline is all about the search for truth. What is true about humanity? What is true about our existence? When you respond emotionally, psychologically, or sometimes even physically to something you read or write, where is the truth at the heart of that? When we try to communicate with one another through our words or our compositions, what is true about how that communication works and connects us?

All of these things are the questions that drive my discipline, and so, in seeking after literary truth each day, I find that my days center around seeking after the nature and heart of the Creator of that truth. In reading words and images straight from the hearts of people from all over the world and carefully, respectfully mining those for truth, I am guiding my students through a process of finding Christ in the world around them. I am teaching them how to recognize truth when they see it, which, in my opinion, is one of the greatest spiritual disciplines.

I often hear people say things like ‘It must be SO nice to be able to use the Bible in your classes. It is a work of literature after all!’ It is nice to be able to be open about my faith, but I really don’t use the Bible that much.

I do work in a Christian school and I care deeply about my students’ faith lives, but I am not a Bible teacher or a spiritual life director. I am an English teacher. My job is to teach them to write and read well and to find God’s truth through those skills. Good readers and writers know how to find the truth in all great works of literature, and that is what my job is about.

If you would like to be a part of this project, I would love to hear your story. Contact me for more information. 

Everyday Disciple: Joel & Katy

This post is part of an on-going Everyday Disciple series. We're celebrating here what it looks like to follow Christ faithfully in the day-to-day. I am thankful to share the stories of gracious friends and readers, and I have sought to preserve and honor their voice in the post below. I invite you to join me as we listen to their experience as an "everyday disciple."

It’s always a delight to come upon Joel and Katy at a local farmer’s market or festival. They’re quick to smile and eager to chat, tucked away behind a colorful array of soaps and candles. The creativity and care they pour into each aspect of their business is a beautiful testament to the creative and caring God they worship. 

They are the entrepreneurial owners of Joy Lane Farm, a small business specializing in handcrafted goat milk soaps, soy candles, lotions, and lip balms. It's a joy to share their thoughts with you.

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We were working at a Ukrainian orphanage when we decided to become business owners. I had recently completed my Master of Divinity, and our other choice, which made far more sense, was pursuing pastoral ministry. 

We spent months agonizing over this decision. I had felt called to ministry since I was 13, and one of my professors had charged Katy with making sure I never gave up preaching. Harder still, I’m not sure there was ever a clear moment when God said to do Joy Lane Farm, nor one where He said not to. Katy didn’t think we’d do it longer than six months, but here we are five years later.

Since orphanage and church work were our other alternatives, we were determined that—if we were going to build a company—we would build one that was worth building. We thought often about how we would view Joy Lane Farm at the end of our lives and whether the work would matter in eternity. To that end, our priority was distilling a simple set of values we could pour into every ounce of the company as we built it. These became our mantra: Live joyfully. Do great things. Celebrate family.

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It’s easy to talk about Joy Lane Farm without talking about goat milk soap, lotion, or lip balm, because Joy Lane Farm isn’t about those things; it’s about cultivating meaningful lives. The reason we like making consumable, everyday products is that they touch lots of people. Making soaps that are good for your skin and pleasant to use gives credibility, and credibility is a sacred trust. We hope we use that trust well when we encourage people to rest instead of being busy and to care for the poor instead of pursuing the American dream.

Owning a business as followers of Jesus Christ has unique challenges. Often, our instincts tell us one thing, and the Holy Spirit tells us something different.

This week we’re finishing up our first t-shirt designs. At first, we considered putting our name and logo on the front. It would have been inexpensive, simple, and effective branding, but we felt God nudging us with the words, “Message first.” This meant investing a lot more time and money into our shirts, eventually landing on a design that downplayed our name and highlighted our mantra, the words that communicate how God has called us to live and follow Him.

Another hard decision was giving away 1% of our sales to Mercy Ships, an organization that serves the international poor. Except that wasn’t the hard part. The stomach churning moment came later when God told us to give the 1% based on our projected sales and to trust Him that the sales would happen. We live simply and frugally. We rarely do small things, like going out for breakfast, because we can’t afford them. Even though we remind ourselves often that we are rich, not poor, giving away a percentage of sales we hadn’t made took a degree of trust I wasn’t used to. God was asking us to give the first fruits of our labor as a sacrifice to him. Looking back, I’m not sure anything has so powerfully changed our hearts. Now, we firmly believe Joy Lane Farm belongs to God. He is the Provider for our family, and we are stewards who are tasked with loving the poor as He loved them.

My Dad did this well. He served on Mercy Ships for the last few years of his life before passing away last summer. His death was sudden, left our hearts in anguish, and made writing about joy difficult. It brought death very close to us.  Now, as we grieve, we live in a tension of knowing our toil is in some ways meaningless (Ecclesiastes 2), but also that we have been entrusted with talents that God expects us to use well on His behalf (Matthew 25:14-30). As we manage Joy Lane Farm, we think often about the missionary, Eric Liddel, running in the Olympics and saying, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast! And when I run I feel his pleasure.” The cry of our hearts is that Joy Lane Farm would bring pleasure to our Lord.  

If you would like to be a part of this project, I would love to hear your story. Contact me for more information. 

Everyday Disciple: Stephanie's Story

This post is part of an on-going Everyday Disciple series. We're celebrating here what it looks like to follow Christ faithfully in the day-to-day. I am thankful to share the stories of gracious friends and readers, and I have sought to preserve and honor their voice in the post below. I invite you to join me as we listen to their experience as an "everyday disciple."

Steph and I first met the summer after I graduated from high school, when we worked as camp counselors for the summer. Little could we have dreamed that six years later, she'd be in my wedding...or that I'd be marrying her brother. 

When we gather for the holidays, Steph always has stories to share about her students. She cares deeply for the children in her classroom and is personally invested in seeing them thrive. It's a delight to see - and I'm excited to share her story with you today. 

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Initially, I chose to study nursing in college. I had aspirations of becoming a missionary, and I knew it would equip me with a practical skill to work internationally. After wrestling through my first year of nursing classes and not doing well with blood in labs, though, I dropped my major.  

It was a very difficult decision for me, but I decided to switch my major to elementary education. My hope was that I could serve and minister to children through this profession. I also saw how teaching could be a way to serve and enter countries that are otherwise closed to outreach. I now teach first graders at a public elementary school. 

One of my greatest joys in teaching is helping kids to appreciate reading and watch them fall in love with a certain author or series. We celebrate these authors, check out their websites, and practice making their styles of illustrations. I have repeatedly seen my students get hooked on a series that we are reading in class. 

My other greatest joy is teaching relational skills to first graders. I love doing role play, in which we act out situations so that the students can see how to handle a situation in a healthy way. The joy comes when I see a student, or even an entire class, embrace those behaviors. I often think that this is a missed opportunity at school.

Each morning, we stand for the pledge and have a moment of silence. Since my first year of teaching I have felt led to pray for my class silently during our moment of silence. I then choose one student that day to be encouraged. I remind the class that our words have power, and we can use our words to bring people down or build them up. I call on two or three kids who raise their hands, and they encourage the student of the day. They share things like “He is kind” or “She is honest.” My prayer is that they continue to use their words powerfully in a loving way! 

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My students aren’t the only ones being formed in my classroom—I am too. I am reminded of God’s character and am stretched as a follower of Jesus through my job as a teacher. 

As I see kids in need of consistent structure, affirmation, discipline, and love, I am reminded that we need the same things from God and of how He delivers in His steadfastness and loyalty toward us.

I am shaped more into His likeness as I learn to love all of my students, especially on the days when a student is very challenging. 

When my work environment is plagued by gossip, comparing, or power struggles, I learn to invest in and encourage others instead of complaining about these issues. This has led me to host a weekly devotion time before school.

As each new year brings its own different challenges, God refines my heart as I learn to handle situations that test me and to trust Him in the midst of them. 

One of the current struggles in education is the constant pressure that teachers and students feel to perform well on testing. That pressure can sometimes cause me to compare myself to other teachers and question my abilities as a teacher. 

My faith influences me in this struggle, reminding me that God has handcrafted each of my students. He has carefully designed them, and they are all different. I have to remind myself that my identity and my students’ identities are not found in test scores.  

My faith community also encourages me in moments of struggle like this, when I’m doubting my abilities, feeling discouraged, or worn down physically. I need them to be my cheering section from time to time and remind me why I teach: in order to be a source of encouragement, education, and love in a child’s life.

I used to only place value in work that showed immediate growth. I think that is part of why I liked missions trips so much. I could see a house being built or a person praying to God for the first time. I could see a room filled with powerful worship. 

In the classroom, day to day life can look a little mundane. I am learning, though, that God is still working powerfully through small moments. I can give love and encouragement to children every single day. I can give them my attention and have a patient heart. I can model for them healthy relationships and a diligent work ethic. I do not know the lasting effects, but I choose to believe that God is shaping their hearts and hopefully making a lasting impact.

If you would like to be a part of this project, I would love to hear your story. Contact me for more information.