Today, Vanessa speaks to us about how Jesus was much more complex that we often make Him out to be, treating others the way Jesus would, a new season of growth, and how our bodies are a gift. This interview brought a smile to my face.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: James is always a good read for me. I find myself coming back to it all the time as a reminder to live out my faith, that faith and works go hand in hand, that God calls us to be doers of the Word.
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: My husband and I recently moved to Midlothian, VA. He was placed at Beulah United Methodist Church — it’s his first real assignment as a pastor, which is so exciting! I’ve moved a lot in my life. This is the eighth state I’ve lived in, so I consider myself pretty adaptable. But moving as an adult is incredibly challenging, and we’ve struggled to find a group of friends to fellowship with. It’s requiring us to completely rely on God to provide, and so I’ve found that patience has been a key discipline at this time in my life. Patience with God to provide, patience with my husband as he starts his new job, patience with myself to make Midlothian feel like home. It’s definitely been a season of growth for me.
“But moving as an adult is incredibly challenging, and we’ve struggled to find a group of friends to fellowship with.”
Profession: I work as a Marketing Coordinator for an awesome healthcare company called Iris Telehealth! The company is based out of Austin, Texas, so I am fortunate to be able to work from home. While challenging for someone as extroverted as me, it gives me a lot of freedom that ultimately allows me to support my husband in his career. And I work with some pretty awesome people.
A one sentence bio of yourself: My name is Vanessa D., and I’m a modern-day preacher’s wife, world traveler (37 countries and counting), marketing guru, dog mom, faith blogger, and wine aficionado.
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? I don’t remember a time of not having God in my life. I grew up in a Christian home, and though my faith has changed and morphed over time, there has never been a time in my life in which God wasn’t a priority.
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? I feel closest to God in nature. We were lucky enough to find a home that had a screened-in back porch and trails for miles. Almost daily, we take walks together and talk about areas where we need to grow. In the evenings, we sit outside, pray, read our Bibles, dream, and talk about our vision for a more loving and accepting church. The closer I am to nature, the closer I am to God’s creation, the closer I feel to God.
“The closer I am to nature, the closer I am to God’s creation, the closer I feel to God.”
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): I recently read Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved by Kate Bowler and I cannot recommend it enough. It was written by one of my husband’s seminary professors and it’s about her battle with cancer. She has terminal cancer and it’s incredibly raw, honest, and poignant. She talks about some of the lies we believe as Christians that aren’t necessarily Biblical, and how we can overcome them and still strengthen our faith during hardships. If you read anything, read this!
Top three essentials: Besides God? *grin* Coffee runs through my veins, so that is definitely an essential of mine for productivity and general living. The other two things, for me, have to be a pen and paper. I love journaling and writing, and those two things help me to process the world around me, invest deeply in prayer, and reflect on seasons of my life.
How did God speak to you recently? I had the blessing of attending Hot and Holy Prayer, which is a monthly gathering of women who come together to pray and worship wherever they can. This particular night, we worshiped together in the backyard of one of the women leading it. She lives on a waterfront property and covered her backyard in candles, blankets, and twinkling lights. The moment I stepped out of my car, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit.
This gathering started because seven of these women went to IF: Gathering and felt the Spirit call them to start Hot and Holy. So they did– and this simple yes has turned into hundreds of women worshiping together, once a month, in Virginia Beach. God spoke to me while I was there and showed me the power of saying a resounding “YES!” when God calls us somewhere. Often, we let fear or worry cloud our obedience, but if we simply say yes, God is always faithful.
“Often, we let fear or worry cloud our obedience, but if we simply say yes, God is always faithful.”
Hobby: My husband and I work out together every day, so this is probably my main hobby. Our bodies are a gift, and I find it incredibly important to take care of our mind, body, and spirit.
“Our bodies are a gift, and I find it incredibly important to take care of our mind, body, and spirit.”
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: Allow your faith to be challenged, so it can become stronger. Be obedient, even if what God is calling you to sound freaking crazy. Prioritize the Holy Spirit just as much as God and Jesus.
Favorite person in scripture? Jesus is my favorite person in scripture because His Words are still relevant and wise even today. There are many things people argue about in terms of scriptural interpretation, but a lot of what Jesus says is cut and dry. He also is a much more complex figure than we often make Him out to be. He was hated, disrespected, and controversial — not at all the way we understand Him to be today. Jesus was — and always will be — a radical figure who likes to stir the pot.
“Jesus was — and always will be — a radical figure who likes to stir the pot.”
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you?My prayer is that people experience the radical, unconditional love of God through me. I hope that I treat all people the same way that Jesus would treat them, and this is something I try to live by.
“I hope that I treat all people the same way that Jesus would treat them, and this is something I try to live by.”
Favorite season? As a Nebraska graduate, I have to say that football season is my favorite season. Go Cornhuskers!
Favorite holiday? I’ve always loved Christmas. It’s impossible for me to be unhappy during this season. I love giving gifts, cooking, gathering friends and family together, celebrating the love of Jesus, sitting next to my window with a cup of steaming hot coffee as the snow falls. It truly is the best time of the year!
A dream you have? I started a blog this year where I encourage people to get outside of their comfort zone and challenge their faith. My dream is to use this platform to encourage people to step into a faith that reflects Jesus’ character — a controversial, accepting, loving person living as God incarnate. My vision is for this to grow beyond my wildest dreams and God to use me as a vessel to transform the church.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: My husband brings me coffee in bed, every morning! We just got married and we are starting our own traditions. This is one of them that he’s been doing even since we were dating. This is probably different than most people’s typical traditions, but it’s important because this is a way he tries to make me feel loved every day. His job keeps him busy, so sometimes we only see each other in the morning — he adopted this as his tradition to show me he loves me, even when he gets home after I’m asleep.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? Are all my dogs here?
Thing you want to raise awareness about: The church has lost a lot of the younger generation because it acts hypocritical. God calls us to love one another the way God loves us, and we fail to do this every day by not creating a space in church that is accepting toward ALL people, not just the ones who are like us. I hope that in my lifetime, we see a much more accepting and loving church, slow to judgement and quick to Christ-like reception. When we fail to make room for everyone at the table — regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, cleanliness, sexual orientation, or anything else — we fail to live the way God calls us to live. [Emphasis added by Vanessa]
What do you usually do before 9 a.m.? I’m not much of a morning person, so before 9 a.m., I just try to drink as much coffee as I can.
“I’m not much of a morning person, so before 9 a.m., I just try to drink as much coffee as I can.”
What is on your nightstand? My eye mask and ear plugs. I’m kind of a diva, and my husband snores.
Define Christianity in a sentence: Christianity is believing that Jesus Christ is our Savior and doing our best to live the way He demonstrated in the Gospels.
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