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The Open Door Sisterhood Podcast

Longtime friends and authors Krista Gilbert and Alexandra Kuykendall share relatable, practical and fun conversations on faith, motherhood and leadership. Often inviting another friend into the conversation, listeners will be inspired to take that next step, do that hard thing, and encourage their family and friends to do the same as we walk through the doors God opens. Let's be world changers for good right where we are!
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Jul 16, 2019

When Shelley Brouwer's third child Hallie was born, she had no idea how her life and understanding of it would be turned toward heaven. Born with special needs, Hallie's optimism and welcoming spirit impacted everyone she met. In this episode we hear about Hallie's life and Shelley's process of living with her and now living without her.

A raw conversation about what it means to live an unconventional life marked by special needs. How Shelley's identity changed with Hallie and then again as Shelley came to faith. We hear about Shelley's home staging business that started accidentally with a friend and has grown beyond expectations to now stage over 85 homes a month.

For the mom of the special needs child. For the mom who has lost a child. For the woman who is wondering if the Christian faith has anything to offer her. For the friend of anyone in these places in life. This episode will keep you thinking for weeks after as together we explore the value of one life and its impact on the world.

Jul 9, 2019


Whether we like it or not, life is a series of changes. How we navigate those changes is vital to our future as well as our health and well being. Studies show, however, that most of us resist change and do everything we can to avoid it.

Kristen Strong is no stranger to change. When she married an Air Force pilot, this set her on a course of moving every few years and living a life completely opposite from that of her predictable childhood. Kristen had to learn to adapt to new surroundings, value the growth that accompanies change, and most of all, to rely on her faith to sustain her during the hardest times.

If you find yourself in the midst of any change - from the change in a relationship, to a change in health, a physical move, job change, or any other circumstance that has turned your world upside down, this episode will offer encouragement for the journey.

Jul 2, 2019

Cara Meredith joins The Open Door Sisterhood Podcast in a candid conversation about race, marriage, and parenting. Cara recounts her eharmony romance with her now husband James, son of the civil rights leader by the same name, James Meredith. Their courtship opened her eyes to the privileges she unknowingly had as a white girl growing up in the United States. She recognized blind spots she hadn't considered as she viewed the world through her husband's experiences.

In this episode we talk about marriage, families of origin, expectations, talking to kids about race, and selective history. We cover mistakes made, intentions, trying again, and imperfect attempts at learning. A conversation for us all as we "give up on saving face" as Cara says, and move toward honesty and what is true.

Pick up a copy of Cara's book The Color of Life and in the meantime push play to hear how listening and learning are helping Cara understand God's creation with a more complete picture.

Jun 25, 2019

Many of us struggle to make time for fun. With so many practical needs shouting for our attention, we forget to value it and honor it like we do with other important habits.

Mandy Arioto, president and CEO of MOPS International, joins us to share how she weaves creative fun into her friendships, marriage, family, and world.

We talk about how friendships flourish when a person stops trying to be cool and instead goes over the top, why Mandy put on her wedding dress at the beach for her ten year anniversary, and how the absurd actually cements memories for a lifetime.

You will be inspired to welcome spice back into your days and kick boredom out the door!

Jun 18, 2019

New York Times bestselling author Ruth Soukup didn't set out to found a large company when she started her blog Living Well, Spending Less, but as she shared her journey toward financial peace with her readers, she realized how much her experiences and practical tips were resonating with readers. Now she reaches more than 1 million women per month encouraging them to create a life they love. "Do it scared" has been a mantra in her own business and when she found her readers quoting it back to her, she knew it was a topic worth exploring.

In this episode of the podcast we hear Ruth's business story and talk through her new book Do It Scared. Ruth's research uncovered 7 archetypes of fear, different ways we limit our actions because of fear. Ruth tells us about each type, its upside, and its limiting belief. From perfectionism to fear of rejection, we all have at least one fear archetype we lean toward. Find out what yours might be.

A quintessential Open Door Sisterhood conversation that pushes us all to take that next step, do that hard thing, to be world changers for good right where we are.

Jun 11, 2019

When Mary was growing up on a mountaintop in a small logging town in West Virginia, she never dreamed that she would one day become a Yale Law graduate turned wedding photographer sensation. Yet, that is exactly what happened. You will be captivated by Mary's compelling story, and at the same time learn about the art and heart of photography in today's episode.

We cover practical tips and tricks as well as the art of storytelling through the lens. If you are a simple iPhone photographer, or one who makes a living behind the camera, you will love learning from the best of the best in the industry.

Jun 4, 2019

In an Open Door Sisterhood Podcast first, we are doing a joint episode with the Surviving Sarah podcast! That means you can listen to half of the conversation here on our podcast and head over to Episode 180 of the Surviving Sarah podcast to listen to the second half of our discussion about...you guessed it, Surviving Summer!

We are choosing to do this shared episode with our great friend Sarah Bragg because we want you to get to know her. And bonus, we brought on two more of our shared friends, Kate Merrick and Morgan Tyree, as the experts in how to be intentional about being with our people and using time well in the summer months. In this episode we talk about being present. What does that mean? How are we distracted? And what are we distracted from? Over on Surviving Sarah we talk through the time management aspect of summer so that WE CAN be present with those we love best.

This is also an Open Door Sisterhood Podcast first because we feature five, yes five! voices. Consider it your sisterhood round table on intentional approaches to making the most of your summer (especially if you're a mom!) From social media to busyness, we all need to see the forest from the trees and lay out what is most important to us in the summer months.

Head over to Surviving Sarah Episode 180 to hear the other half of our conversation.

May 28, 2019

Have you ever considered the impact your life could have on others for eternity? Have you ever thought about gathering a group of women, or a group of teenagers together to dive into scripture? If you've ever wondered what kind of difference you could make in the world, this episode is for you.

Today we are bringing you a two part episode highlighting Christian mentoring and discipleship. We begin with Brenda Jacobson, founder of the MomAid online community and author of Something to Stand On discussing mentoring. We end with Kandi Gallaty, author of the book Disciple Me, and co-founder of Replicate Ministries. Kandi offers important insights about discipleship.

Come learn with us!

May 21, 2019

Alia Joy didn't know she had Bipolar Disorder until she was an adult. Married, living life as a homeschooling mom, she'd always thought her manic phase was who she was and she got down sometimes with depression. In this final episode of our Mental Health Series, Alia shares what it's like to live with mental illness. If you've ever wondered what it feels like to be in depression, to have suicidal ideation, or to try to manage regular responsibilities and relationships while living with mental illness, this conversation offers an enlightening perspective.

Alia describes sitting in the Wal-Mart parking lot scratching the label off of her first prescription of anti-depressants from shame of the original depression diagnosis. Contrast that to now years later, writing and speaking openly about life with mental illness. Her honesty paired with her ability to articulate her experiences is a priceless combination for those of us wanting to know we are not alone or who want to better understand the experiences of someone we love.

In true Open Door Sisterhood fashion, this episode (and entire series) is part practical and part inspirational. We don't want mental health to have a stigma that keeps us from talking about it. It's too important not to dive in, learn, and discuss this life-impacting issue. As Alia says, God is with us whether we feel it or not in this dark place. We don't need to be afraid.

May 14, 2019

One of the troubling aspects of suicide is that not all people display obvious signs that they are at risk. There are some behaviors we can watch for, however, and some measures we can take to help curb the alarming growing statistics of suicidal deaths.

Joannie DeBrito, the Director of Parenting and Youth at Focus on the Family, and co-creator of Alive to Thrive: a curriculum about suicide prevention, joins us to talk through all aspects of this troubling topic.

This is a hard conversation to have, sisters. We know. Yet, as the church, we have a responsibility to be equipped and informed surrounding the topic of suicide so that we can help bring light and hope to hurting people, some of whom are living in our same circles or even homes.

Do you know the signs? Do you know what to do or say if you suspect someone is suicidal? Do you know what resources are out there? What help is there for someone who is contemplating suicide? Join us and let's all learn together.

This information could save a life.

May 7, 2019

In our first ever podcast series on mental health, we sought out a series of voices that represent both the clinical and personal understanding of how mental illness can impact us all. Whether you are concerned about your own mental health, or that of someone you love, we think you'll find hope and next steps in this three part series. Our first guest is Kay Warren who talks about her own struggle with depression and losing her son Matthew to suicide. This interview covers both Kay's personal story and the practical knowledge she now has around how to care for ourselves when we are in a depressive state, signs a child or teenager might be struggling, and how to reach out for help.

Kay shares when she suspected her "feelings" might be depression, when she suspected her son might be dealing with more than a sad phase, the loneliness she felt as his mental illness became more complex and acute, and the opportunities she thinks the church has in caring for people suffering from mental illness. Kay shares openly because she wants to remove the stigma of mental illness, especially within Christian circles. She is using her own pain as a catalyst to help others in theirs.

As a founder (with her husband Rick Warren) of Saddleback Church, Kay is a prominent voice in Christian circles. She is now using her voice to educate church leaders on mental illness and resource them so they can better support and serve their congregants who are struggling. You will find this episode to be both inspirational and practical, knowing you can find help as you work toward mental health and support others to do the same.

Apr 30, 2019

Marriage is often one part Hallmark channel to three parts messy, especially if you've been married for a while. The goal is to grow in grace, grow in love, and grow in depth as the years pass, but in order for this to happen, we need to learn how to pivot.

Dave and Ann Wilson, cofounders of Kensington Church and Family Life Weekend to Rememberspeakers, share with raw honesty about their rocky beginning and their journey toward growth and wholeness in their marriage.

As an NFL chaplain for the Detroit Lions, Dave understands that successful marriages have nothing to do with money or power, but rather humble servitude, kind words, and lots of cheerleading.

Apr 23, 2019

Jordan Lee Dooley didn't set out to be a voice of authenticity online, but rather fell into it when she started, of all things, an Etsy shop while she was in college! In this episode of The Open Door Sisterhood Podcast we hear how the product packing parties with her college friends turned into late night conversations that then became honest and inspirational Instagram posts. Today she is encouraging young women as they manage the transitions from college into adulthood.

In this conversation we hear how she met her husband (kind of on Instagram until he knocked on her front door), how being rooted in faith gives us confidence to listen and learn from all kinds of friends, and how her faith moved from knowledge to personal during her college years. We talk through the pressures that opportunities can offer and how to avoid the trap (and stress) of looking for that single calling in your life.

Jordan is FULL of energy and this conversation reflects it. A full force ahead personality she depends on those around her to help her filter through ideas and plans. You'll love hearing about her community is growing and why she feels passionately about helping women through life transitions.

Apr 16, 2019

Hooray, it's spring! And you and I both know what that means: spring cleaning. Or in our case today, organizing.

Tracy McCubbin, owner of LA's #1 organizational company, guides us through the process of de-cluttering. But isn't just about throwing stuff out, she's also in the business of putting good in.

We discuss why people hold on to things they don't need, what happens in our brains and bodies when there is an overload, and why we must schedule in time to de-clutter.

Use this seasonal trend to your advantage and join us in decluttering our lives.

Apr 9, 2019

Author Emily Freeman was paralyzed by a decision. Not because the consequences were dire, but because both options were relatively good. The weight she carried around from her unmade decision made her examine the process. This is where The Next Right Thing podcast, and now book, were birthed. A decision making framework that focuses less on the decision itself, and more on how it is made.

When making a decision most of us lead with our head, heart, or intuition. Each of these approaches presents unique strengths and challenges in the decision making process. Most of us deal with input clutter, but don't have a regular source of output. Silence, solitude, and stillness can offer intentional output if we remember God's presence with us in them.

No wonder Emily's podcast and new book are so popular! We all suffer from some level of decision fatigue. You will be affirmed and reminded that every large decision is made up of many small ones. When overwhelmed with the task in front of us, sometimes the best thing is to zero in on the next right thing and do that.

Apr 2, 2019

We often hear the term "love your neighbor" but what does that really mean? Who is our neighbor anyway? And why is it important to love them? In an increasingly divided world, where people are often stretched to a place of little margin, this can feel overwhelming and impossible.

Today on the podcast, our own Alexandra Kuykendall joins us to talk about why the lost art of neighboring deeply matters. In fact, it may be more important than it has ever been. We discuss practicals like leaning into the awkward, how to lighten up, and why praying for hard people works.

Leading by example, Alex helps us understand how genuine, compassionate, and loving relationships with those right around us not only builds a better community, but a better life.  

Mar 26, 2019

Amy Julia Becker's assumptions about many things changed when she had a child born with Down syndrome. Suddenly she saw the world through a new lens and better understood how her own experiences were shaped by privilege. Amy Julia began to study theology and disability in order to broaden her understanding of the world, what it means to reflect God's image and how people's different gifts are valuable.

Entering the world of disability led Amy Julia to examine how she was parenting and the assumptions she was making about people outside of her immediate circles. She realized her own "normal" didn't reflect the richness of God's world and she set out to make some changes. As a graduate of Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary, married to the headmaster of a boarding school, Amy Julia is uniquely positioned to examine what it means to live a life of privilege, specifcally as a married, white woman.  

A conversation based on Amy Julia's journey, this episode opens up questions for all of us. How are we listening to different voices with different experiences? How much do we know about our country or local community's history? How do we develop relationships with people different than us? A podcast that gets us all thinking about how to use our head, hands, and heart for God's purposes.

Mar 19, 2019

When we are going through hard times, we wonder if we will ever recover or be happy again. Our very breath is knocked out of us and we struggle to find the meaning in what we are going through and how it can be used for our good.

Kim Walker Smith, founder of the Jesus Culture band and movement, is no stranger to pain. The abuse she endured as a child left her broken, with a fractured sense of self. After a failed suicide attempt, Kim found herself opening up to God for the first time in her life. Where God took her from that shattered moment to now is nothing short of a miracle.

Kim's journey to wholeness inspires all of us to allow God in to re-write the story of our pain for good, in our lives, and in the lives of others.

Mar 12, 2019

Cari Jenkins is a pastor to people who don't have one. What does that mean? It means spending time with people, asking lots of questions, listening for God’s voice, and allowing her imagination to be used by God. In this beautiful conversation about growing in faith, Cari gives sisters freedom to look for God in the world by finding things that reflect his character.

With 20 years of local church experience, Cari uses her gifts and experience to make the Kingdom of God tangible. We talk about feelings and actions, looking for Jesus in places that feel untraditional or unconventional, how God brought her to the type of pastoring she does today, and how we recognize God's voice when we know his character.

We hear about the unique community Cari lives in where she loves to host, redecorate daily, play often and create beauty. She aims annually to host over 500 people for meals in various forms and to encourage true hospitality in others. Cari says you are always welcome at her table and this episode of The Open Door Sisterhood Podcast feels like a dinner conversation you can take with you. Don't miss our friend Cari.

Mar 5, 2019

No matter what age our children are, we never stop being a parent. Yet, when they reach adulthood, our relationships change. We must learn to be healthy in this new, somewhat complicated place of adult to adult. If we don't make that transition, our children will suffer and so will we.

Dr. Jim Burns, president of Homeword, joins us to offer his insight into not only how we begin early to prepare for this stage, but also how to navigate difficult conversations, what to do if our kids move back home, and what to do if we don't approve of who they are choosing to date and/or marry.

Turn out, helping our children launch into adulthood is just as much about us as it is about them.

Feb 26, 2019

Shannan Martin says she found her voice in the country and her story in the city. A mom of four, married to a jail chaplain, Shannan spends her days among her neighbors, finding God's purposes right where she is. An inspiration to all of us to look right around us and see who needs care, this interview is a don't miss for the sisterhood.

We talk with Shannan about the adoption of her children, especially her oldest son Robert, how Twitter has changed her life, her award winning salsa, and how being with her neighbors keeps her grounded. A woman who not only looks for evidence of God right where she is but also opens her heart and mind to learn about what is right and true. Shannan inspires us to be willing to change our ideas and our understanding of how the world works.

We are certain you will feel a kinship with Shannan. She is honest about what it means to re-evaluate your framework and to be humble in the process. An episode for any woman who is willing to face her neighbors, see their realities, and stand with them in the process.

Feb 19, 2019

Do you find yourself putting aside your dreams for another time or season in life? Do you wonder what would happen if you actually pursued your passion instead of letting it fall to the wayside? You aren't alone.

Today on the podcast we are talking to Rachel Marie Martin, single mother of seven, who rose from poverty to the pages of Inc. magazine. She challenges us to discover who we are, how we are uniquely made, and how we can pursue the dream God has placed in our heart.

Feb 12, 2019

It’s our third annual Things We Love episode on The Open Door Sisterhood Podcast.In honor of Valentine’s Day, Alex and Krista want to give you some of their favorite things these days. From beauty products to books, to wardrobe staples and podcasts, you’ll see what’s in their shopping carts and social media feeds.

This is a light-hearted episode that falls heavy on the practical end. But what do we truly love that we don’t explicitly say on the show? YOU! We are grateful for God’s provision to bring this community together and that you are interested in the part practical, part inspirational approach of the sisterhood. Let’s continue the good work of encouraging each other in all areas of life so that we may walk through the doors God is opening.

If you liked this episode, but missed our past "Things We Love" episodes, head over to Episode #118 or Episode #45 to hear more things we love to have around.

What are your favorites these days? Don’t keep them to yourself, share in the comments below.

Feb 5, 2019

Lisa Leonard’s name has become synonymous with her jewelry design company, Lisa Leonard Designs. Started out of the spare hours of her day caring for her son with special needs, Lisa’s hand stamped jewelry business combined with her blog has grown to a multi-million dollar company with more than 300 employees in five countries. A woman who has walked through many doors God has opened, she has a story worth telling.

Despite her business success, Lisa felt paralyzed by her responsibilities and asked her husband Steve for a separation. Through counseling she realized she was taking on other people’s feelings and didn’t know how to ask for what she wanted. In this interview we talk through how she and Steve continue to work on their relationship, how Lisa actively practices saying what she needs, and her imginary file box that helps her from taking on others’ feelings.

We talk through her creative process, how she carves out silence to make mental space for new ideas, what a typical day looks like and how she learned she owns two forklifts. You won’t want to miss this honest and insightful conversation with jewelry designer Lisa Leonard. An episode for any woman who has wondered am I too afraid to say what I really want?

Jan 29, 2019

Friendship.  It is a word that brings joy to your heart or sadness to your soul.  Or maybe both at the same time. To have a true, safe friend who is on your side and in your corner is what we all long for and desire, but she can be hard to find.  

Sally Clarkson, author of Girls Club, joins us for the final topic on The Healthy Wayseries:  Friendship. We talk about why friendships can be difficult, especially among Christian communities, how we can be a healthier friend to others, and how we can help our children cultivate strong bonds and friendships, with us and others.

We believe in having a tribe of sisters here at The Sisterhood.  If you do too, you'll love this episode.

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