Today, Arianna speaks to us about diversity in the church, lessons we can learn from Joseph, and she chats with us about The Olive Branch Co.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: My childhood consisted of living in two homes: I grew up in Coloma, MI, with my mom and Saint Joseph, MI, with my dad. My parents divorced when I was 6 years old. Until I was a sophomore in high school, the divorce was very hard on all of us, especially me being caught in the middle of it. My parents made amends around that time, and my dad and his wife gave their lives fully to Jesus. Now, they’re all completely different people in the best way.
As a young woman now, I am able to process it differently than I could as a child. The hardship I witnessed and endured made me extremely passionate about healthy family relationships and marriages.
I’ve loved playing piano from a young age. Sat down at my first one when I was 6 and learned it very quickly. I started writing and composing music and lyrics at 7. Once I hit middle school, I picked up the violin and fell in love. Still passionate about piano and lyrics in middle school, I ended up writing our choir an 8th grade graduation song which we sang at our 8th grade graduation ceremony going into high school. They made it the school’s official choir song that they now sing annually!
Music has changed my life and been a source of intimacy with Jesus since the very beginning. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was born singing a song. I used to sing karaoke with my mom, all of the time. And I remember as a little girl, I would lay with my ear to her chest and listen as she sang. She has the most beautiful low tone to her voice. I thought it was the most relaxing thing ever.
I loved the outdoors and exploring. Loved asking “why” a lot, most often to the annoyance of my dad and step mom. I was so curious about life and why things worked the way they did. Still am as a 22-year-old woman.
I have 3 younger sisters and a big brother.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: Where Jesus talks about how He came that we may “KNOW HIM.” We ask, “Why did Jesus come?” And they will say, “To set the sinners free.” Yes, that is true, but He TRULY CAME so that we could have a relationship with the Father. The veil TORE when He gave His life on the cross. The veil that represented separation between man and God. He was now able to make His home in us and fill us with His SPIRIT! WHAT! SO CRAZY!
I am moved to talk with the Lord (pray) more and just be with Him. I believe that no man and no church body (because the church is the BODY, not a building or the copyright name of a “church”) is greater than their prayer life. From prayer comes all. From seeking first the kingdom.
I often wonder what it would be like if we set aside all the extra programs (aside from giving to the needy and poor, and going and making disciples), and instead of planning all of this stuff, what if we just PRAYED. What if we just got together and prayed and sat in the presence of God? What if we didn’t care about different church names but rather the CHURCH as a whole? I think so many churches are unknowingly and ignorantly caught up in church cliques. UNITY. Where is the UNITY? That’s where my heart is, recently. I don’t care about anything else. Just Jesus– getting back to the reason. The heart of worship.
“The veil TORE when He gave His life on the cross. The veil that represented separation between man and God.”
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: Replacing things that have been distracting me from growing in the Lord, with things that will.
A couple of weeks ago, I found myself watching so much Netflix and random videos on YouTube. I was wondering why I was feeling so drained and like, I couldn’t think straight. It was because I was filling my mind with so many pointless and meaningless things. I was lacking in intimacy with Jesus.
So I deleted the app, and I told myself that every time I would think of watching a movie on Netflix or a video on YouTube, I would watch a sermon, pray, or read my Bible, instead. I found myself doing it A LOT. And I am SO grateful that I did. Sometimes, I had to have greater self discipline than other times. I had to push past my fleshly desire for the old habits.
But now, I crave those moments with God. I find myself thinking better and more clear… It really is true that what we fill our minds with seeps into our hearts. And out of the abundance of our heart, the mouth speaks.
I asked myself, What am I speaking? Even in my own thoughts. From there, I knew there needed to be a change. I can’t believe, sometimes, how easy it is to forget how much we need and crave God. I find myself saying, Wow God, I am so sorry; thank you for your grace and patience. Holy cow.
Profession: Songwriter/Musician, missionary, business owner of The Olive Branch Co.
Tell us about The Olive Branch Co.: I heard Jordan Lee Dooley say in one of her podcasts about finding your passions, “What is the thing that you LOVED as a kid? The thing that gave you life. Now, DO IT!” I thought to myself, “Music. Definitely music.”
But I wanted something on the side that I could do as another creative outlet and way to get to know people. That’s when I remembered that I used to make this fun jewelry out of beads and wire when I was about 13, and I loved it! My step mom still wears pairs of them to this day! That’s when it hit me. From there, I took it “one step at a time” as my mom reminded me to take it slow and not get overwhelmed. I made a couple pairs of earrings and gave it to the Lord to do what He wanted. And from there, all sorts of opportunities opened up. He’s blessed it so much… I’ve met the most wonderful women and have enjoyed the creativity and learning. Recently, I just added a skincare line to share my passions with clean ingredients!
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be: “Life’s a Ride With Flowers On The Side”
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him: I honestly cannot recall a first encounter. I guess I would have to say it was when I was still unborn. It feels like I knew Him even the moment I was born. And it’s just gotten deeper and deeper, since then.
How has your relationship with Him changed you? It’s changed my entire life! How could it NOT? How can someone read the Word of God and not feel its power or be impacted by it?? How can someone experience a friendship with the GOD OF THE UNIVERSE and not be changed? Someone who has a hard heart, I guess. But I pray often that He keeps my heart soft. He’s always changing me. I love Him.
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? Prayer. Being in the secret place. Being filled and at rest, there. Also, staying close to family and people that are strong in the Lord. I have older couples that I am very close with. I love to just listen to them and their stories about their lives and God. I also SEEK correction. Asking my friends, “Hey, what do you see that I could grow in?” or even, “Hey! What do you see that I’m doing really well at, right now?”
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): Pursuit of God, by A.W. Tozer : God is real and there will never be enough books in the world to describe Him. You could pursue Him for 1000 years and never skim the surface of who He is. Nutssssssss. It’s just nuts!!
Top three essentials: Pickles, chocolate, my journal and pen.
How did God speak to you recently: Through my mom and her wisdom. She is so wise… And I know that I can trust her. He often uses her to get through to me.
Hobby: Writing music.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong:
1) PRAYER. PRAYER is priority and a joy. No man is greater than his prayer life. Seek first the kingdom of God and all else will be added. I am telling you… God will give you all that you need. He will fill you. He will pour out His wisdom. Just as He did for Moses, He will give you the words to say. Wait. Be patient. Trust Him. Talk with Him.
2) Humility. It’s not about us. It’s about Jesus…
3) Love. Walking in love affects everything. Love never fails… Walking in love or not walking in love can even affect our own health. In everything, let your motive be love… love love love… the Beatles had it down.
“No man is greater than his prayer life.”
Favorite person in scripture: Joseph. His story is incredible to me. He grew up and came from a dysfunctional family, like I did, yet look where God took him. And you wanna know why? His heart… he trusted God. He was still imperfect! Dealt with pride even. But God was so patient with him. He allowed Joseph to go through things that would strengthen and grow his character and relationship with Him.
Even just SEEING that in the story brings comfort and revelation to my own life and how God does that for us! He really does see things that we cannot. Joseph had that dream as a young boy, yet it didn’t actually physically come to pass until much later. But the thing of it is: What God says is always true and will always happen. God never promises any more than He intends to fulfill… and He WILL fulfill.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you: My friend told me the other day that she sees the “smartness” of God when He looks at me, haha. I think that’s cool, honestly.
When people look at me, I want them to see a woman overflowing with the fruit of the spirit and wisdom and love… Not because that’s just who she is but because that woman spends time in prayer with the Lord… I truly believe that our lives and words are a reflection of our heart.
I mean the Bible says it, doesn’t it? Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. And you will know them by their fruit. If I know God and seek him with all of my heart… if HE is my heart, my life will reflect that without me even trying. I want them to learn the kindness and grace of God. The meekness that Jesus had. But also the wisdom. The humility. The power in His words and His voice. When they look into my eyes, I want them to see Jesus’s eyes, because He lives in me. I guess I just want them to learn more about Jesus, if I put it simply.
“I truly believe that our lives and words are a reflection of our heart.”
How do you engage with your community: I contact people to hang out! I work at a coffee shop as a barista, which I LOVE because I get to meet all different kinds of people and hear their stories! I think it’s so special when you show intentionality towards people and actually WANT to hear from them… I think we see less of it today. People are so consumed with themselves. It’s easier to engage with the community when you’re focused on the community and not just yourself. What if we tried stepping into other people’s worlds! Just to get to know someone.
“What if we tried stepping into other people’s worlds! Just to get to know someone.”
Favorite holiday: Thanksgiving — 100,000,000%
A goal you have: LEARN TO SURF!!!
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: We love to watch movies together, and every Christmas, on my dad’s side, we watch “White Christmas.”
Question you will ask when you get to heaven: I think when I get to Heaven, I won’t think about anything except for the fact that I’m in the presence of Jesus… I’ll be on my knees.
Thing you want to raise awareness about: Cultural diversity in church services and the congregation. I think it’s overlooked sometimes. The simple factor of location affects a lot of this but at the same time, I think it’s really important to have and seek to have… We are a family.
What does your morning routine consist of: I wake up, cuddle my dog (always), and stretch while I talk to God. I go downstairs and get a glass of warm lemon water and then while I get ready, I listen to a message on YouTube (favorite are: Tozer, Wigglesworth, Ravenhill, Kenneth Hagin, Francis Chan).
What is on your nightstand: Polaroid picture of a Christmas tree farm that my mom, sister, and I went to. We cut our tree all by ourselves, and then rode a horse carriage back to the car with the tree. It’s one of my favorite memories. A small, amber bottle with a letter from my little sister in it, essential oils, diffuser, aloe vera plant, my mouth guard retainer, Bible.
Define Christianity in a sentence: Simply having a relationship with Jesus and believing in Him. And actually BELIEVING Him. Can you imagine what the world would be like if we actually just BELIEVED God and what He said? *laughs* Dang. Crazy. Doubt is easy to have.
I think it’s truly believing in your heart that Jesus really did do what the Bible says, and walking it out in your life today.
“Can you imagine what the world would be like if we actually just BELIEVED God and what He said?”
For more Arianna:
IG: @ariannamclean and @theolivebranch.co
Until next time, keep witnessing!
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