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096: Sarah Mae Hoover

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Sarah Mae is an 80’s/early 90’s child who grew up living with her dad in Pennsylvania but visiting her mom in the summers (Alaska! Georgia! Arkansas!). She rode a bike with no helmet, roller-skated with friends till dark, played the games Girl Talk Date Line and Mall Madness, loved She-Ra, and watched Saved By the Bell, Full House, Growing Pains, and all the rest.

Her highest hopes were to be just like her mom or Madonna.

When she was 14 years old she decided she wanted to move in with her mom, who was the coolest. They’d go to the pool together during the day, and in the evenings she would read to or teach her French (she lived in France for a couple of years when she was girl). She was fun and laid back and Sarah Mae felt like she could talk to her about anything and everything. It never fazed her that by the time she was 12 she was on her fourth husband, or that she relaxed with a beer after work, or that she threw a plate of chicken at her husband. She was just… passionate…untethered…unedited…

So Sarah Mae went to small-town Georgia to live with her mom and her 20 year old boyfriend. And it was awesome. At first.

The best way to tell you how things got worse is tell you a story of a dog, her mom’s dog. He was sweet and playful and sensitive, until one day he got out of the house to chase a female dog in heat. My mom told her to go after him, so she ran out the door and through the neighborhood chasing the dog as he chased the scent of the other dog. She finally caught up to him, and grabbed his collar and yanked him. He turned around and, for the first time ever, bit her. It made her furious. She let him go and went home and told her mom she couldn’t get him. Adrenaline was pumping and angry tears were in her eyes. It was then that her mom looked down at her hand, and followed her gaze and saw blood dripping down her fingers. Sarah Mae hadn’t even felt the bite or noticed the tears in her skin or that her hand was red. But as soon as she saw it, she felt the pain.

This is what it was like with her mom. Things were good. She was good. But she chased her drink, beer, vodka, whatever it took to numb her pain, to give her an escape. Sarah watched the chase and noticed how she changed. Her words were cutting and her laughter was tinged with mockery. Sarah chased her, wanting her love and her willingness to stop drinking, and so she told her she thought she was an alcoholic. She pleaded for her to hear what she was saying, for her to come back to being the mom she thought she knew. But like trying to force a dog home when he was on a scent, it was useless. And like the dog who bit her so she’d let go, her mom sliced through her, ripping the tender skin of her heart, and she did it with her laughter and her sharp words. So Sarah Mae finally let go.

Sarah’s anger kept her from the pain, until it couldn’t anymore. She’d swerve between hatred and longing for her mom’s love and approval, and the only time she got it was when she needed that love and approval too.



  • Sarah shares in her new book, The Complicated Heart, the question: How do you frogive someone who carelessly brushed away your pain, who caused so much destruction, and who doesn’t show remorse?
  • Prepare yourself because Sarah Mae hold nothing back in her book!
  • Sarah speaks with vulnerability and raw honesty!

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095: Amber & Jordan Massey

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So excited for Jeff and I to be interviewing one of our favorite couples, Jordan and Amber Massey this week on the podcast!

Amber is.. a 30-something year old wife to her firefighter hero and best friend in the whole wide world + a mama to their five littles.!

Amber says,
“I am his number one after The Lord and I have remained there throughout these last 10 years of marriage + 3 years before that.  I’m his favorite girl, and he makes me feel that way on a daily basis.

We had so much fun on this interview, but we also talk very seriously about marriage and parenting, and how Jesus needs to be the center of our lives to abundantly live out our roles and life as He planned!

We laughed, we cried, and the kids were crawling in their laps as we chatted!

One of the most real, vulnerable interviews we have done on marriage!





  • Marriage is the best when Jesus is at the center of it!
  • Jordan knows his leadership as the Godly man of his home is key!
  • They make time to nurture and work on their marriage!

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094: Stephanie May Wilson

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So excited to have my new and special friend Stephanie May Wilson on the podcast this week!

Stephanie May Wilson — an author, blogger, speaker, and best friend is here to help you have awesome relationships — awesome relationships with God, with your friends, with your significant other, with your work, and an awesome relationship with yourself.

There’s so much to figure out, and so many opportunities for us to get it wrong.

And as you try to figure out who you are, and where you’re going in life, have you ever wished you had a friend a few steps ahead of you who could guide you along the way?

What Stephanie has to say:

“That’s exactly what I needed — a girlfriend who had figured some things out to invite me over, hand me a glass of wine, and answer all of my questions. I needed to know I wasn’t alone, and I needed someone to help me find my way.”

She’s been a leader in women’s ministry for 8 years, and have walked thousands of women through the things we talk about in this interview. But most importantly — She’s been a best friend her whole life, and have walked with women in her life closely as we learn to have healthy, life-giving, life-changing relationships: Relationships with God, our girlfriends, our significant others, our work, and awesome relationships with ourselves.


Last Week’s Episode

Last Week’s Episode #93 with Karen Behnke- Founder of Juice Beauty


Product Highlight

@wyt_smile by Dr Tyler Brady

wyt smile


093: Karen Behnke

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Masterminded by a California team passionate about healthy lifestyles and whose organic products are backed by powerful science. It all started when Karen Behnke, a serial wellness entrepreneur, who built one of the first corporate wellness companies in the country, developed a keen interest in personal care products upon becoming pregnant with her first child at the age of 40.

Experiencing hormonal changes and the beginning of lines in her skin, Karen set out to find healthy skincare solutions that delivered visible results. She was astounded to learn that, although the skin absorbs over 60% of what is placed on it, there were very few available healthy personal care products that worked well. She wanted to create meaningful change in the beauty industry.

Years after her second child was born, Karen subsequently bought the name “Juice Beauty” in 2004 and launched the company from scratch in 2005. Karen set out to do the impossible: to create organic and natural formulations that perform as well as conventional beauty products yet never compromise on the luxurious experience. Over 5 years, Karen’s team worked with PhD chemists, physicians, and microbiologists to perfect Juice Beauty’s chemistry. Juice Beauty’s revolutionary formulations started with a basic premise: Karen believed that by formulating with an antioxidant and vitamin-rich organic botanical juice base, rather than petroleum derivatives or added water, and combining it with powerful skincare ingredients, it could yield equal or better results than conventional or natural products. Multiple clinical testing proved her right. The company really started growing when the GREEN APPLE® Peel – now patented – escalated to fame through celebrity favorite mentions and media awards.

Today, Juice Beauty offers award winning (InStyle, ELLE, Allure, Glamour, EWG) skincare and makeup products that meet rigorous USA organic regulations supported by solid eco-values that include purchasing many ingredients locally from West Coast certified organic farmers and manufacturing strictly in the USA, often with solar & wind power, utilizing sustainable containers and printing with soy ink. Juice Beauty is committed to providing continual support to its non profit friends, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners and EWG / Environmental Working Group.

Our Mission

Juice Beauty is The Organic Solution

We are pioneers who believe in transformation without compromise.

We are radically transforming the chemistry of beauty by providing clinically validated, authentically organic formulas and a proprietary base of nutrient-rich organic botanical juices.

Our Northern California team approaches beauty from a wellness point of view so our customers win with:

  • High-performance skincare & vibrant makeup
  • Healthful ingredients so every drop feeds your skin
  • Organic farming & sustainability



Ultra-Natural Mascara (Glamour Beauty Award-winner!)
Liquid Line & Define (The Knot Beauty Award-winner!)

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092: SOLO Episode with Cheryl Scruggs

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Welcome back to the Thriving Beyond Belief podcast today!

I am super excited today because this week’s episode is a bit different than normal! Because thriving is so near and dear to my heart, I have decided to do a solo episode talking about thriving!

We all need encouragement in this area as life can get overwhelming, throw us some curve balls, challenge us to the core, draw us into a wilderness time and oftentimes we feel tired and worn out!

Yet Jesus has a great plan for us (Jer 29:11), and never stops interceding for us and growing and shaping us into who He wants us to be.He can do immeasurably more than you could ever ask or imagine (Eph 3:20), and nothing is impossible with Him(Matt 19:26).

God has taken me through some wilderness experiences and long ago, I was “successful” by the world’s standards, but had no idea how to thrive by God’s standards.

And that’s what this podcast is about today! It’s about what I’ve learned, still learning and hopefully help you learn about how to Thrive in life!

Grab and paper and pen…..a cup of Joe, and relax– as I walk you through a teaching on how to Biblically thrive!



  • T – Believe and accept that everything is in God’s TIMING, not yours!
  • H – Our HEART needs a transplant!
  • R – We must be REMINDED each day how much God loves you!
  • I – We must be INTERESTED in what God is interested in, and be willing to be INTERRUPTED by Him!
  • V – We must become a VICTOR, not a victim!
  • E – You can EXPECT God to show up!

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091: Lisa-Jo Baker

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Welcome Lisa-Jo Baker to the Thriving Beyond Belief podcast today!

Do you ever wonder how you woke up one day with all the responsibilities of a grown-up who secretly enjoys buying groceries in bulk, can no longer recognize the tween celebrities on the magazines at checkout, but is still surprised when a Starbucks barista calls you “ma’am”—because your inside self is frozen in time to about twenty years ago?

So does Lisa-Jo Baker.

In these intimate reflections on midlife, Lisa-Jo invites us to get a good look at our middles and gives us permission to embrace them—beyond what the media, the mirror, or the magazines say. Through gutsy, beautiful storytelling, she admits out loud what most of us are thinking about marriage, parenting, the bathroom scale, and how badly we all want to buy those matching Magnolia Market mugs.

Her delicious stories come from not being afraid of who she is, because Lisa-Jo knows that the middle might be the best part of the love story of life, kids, faith, doubt, marriage, failure, wonder, and the muffin top—and that these are all good things. She’s not asking you to seize the day, just to make sure you actually see it for all its wildly ordinary glory.

Welcome to the middle!



  • What if the middle of your life is the part where it really starts to get good?
  • Lisa frees women from their perceptions of how things are supposed to be (perfect or easy) and is the first to admit how things actually are (hard, scary, stretching and wonderful).
  • Book: The Middle Matters

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090: Anne Neilson

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Today I am super excited to welcome Anne Neilson as my hand-picked guest!


A lifelong artist, Anne Neilson began painting with oils in 2003 and quickly became nationally renown for her ethereal Angel Series. A favorite among individuals and private art collectors, Neilson’s paintings are inspiring reflections of her faith and recognized for their flair and use of color.

In 2012, Neilson self-published Angels In Our Midst and has sold over 30,000 copies. This coffee table book follows her journey through the Angel Series, sharing inspirational and personal stories behind her paintings and the organizations she supports. Following its success and the demand for more access to her acclaimed Angels, Neilson released a follow up book, Strokes of Compassion, and launched Anne Neilson Home – a growing collection of luxury home products including candles, note cards, scripture cards, prints, and journals. Most recently, Neilson released Angels: The Collector’s Edition, her largest coffee table book to date, showcasing the most-loved content from Angels In Our Midst as well as brand new stories of faith from Steven Curtis Chapman, Amy Grant and more.

A wife, a mother of four, and an artist, Neilson paints with both passion and purpose, giving back to those less fortunate through sales of her products and original paintings.



  • Her riveting story
  • Her artwork is a reflection of her faith

Related Links:

REPLAY: Louie Giglio

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As you know, I’ve been doing some replays these last couple weeks, and I couldn’t help but rerun my episode with Louie Giglio for this week. And so I’m super excited for you guys to either tune into this for the first time or maybe re-listen to everything he talked about in his recent episode. We spent some time discussing Louie’s new book, Not Forsaken, and we speak on the freedom that comes with finding our identity and being sons or daughters of the perfect father. The relationship of father and child is one that is vastly important in life, so I can’t wait for you to tune into this week’s replay!

Fatherhood. It’s an ever-growing issue of importance in our culture today. And who better to speak about that with than Louie Giglio? He is my guest on today’s episode of Thriving Beyond Belief!

Louie is a well known pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta and is the founder of Passion, a conference that is specifically geared toward 18-25 year olds who are setting up life for themselves for the first time. This conference is to help those in this season put Christ at the center of their lives and turn their focus on what is eternal rather than what is temporary. Louie is also a husband to his beautiful wife, Shelley, a speaker and an author.

We spend our time today talking specifically about the subject of Louie’s new book, Not Forsaken- fatherhood. We speak on the freedom that comes with finding our identity in being sons and daughters of the Perfect Father. This is a complicated subject, as we often project characteristics of our earthly fathers onto our Heavenly Father. That could be that He is absent, angry, distant, apathetic, and the list goes on. Louie talks about us beginning to see that those characteristics don’t exist in Heaven. He was Father first, which means He is perfect in fatherhood. The fall led to a broken view of what fatherhood needs to be.

We discuss the fact that the relationship of father and child is one that is vastly important to our life. It is one of the relationships on earth that effects us in such drastic ways. Our souls long for this relationship to feel whole.

Louie shares with us some amazing Scripture and wisdom on how to restore the relationship with our eternal Father, even when our earthly relationship may have  never been a positive one. Louie shares so vulnerably about his own father, the struggles in their own relationship, and how it led to remind him that nothing here is how it should be. Our souls are longing for the day when all will be restored.

We even speak some on mental health and how important it is to address any issues going on, the power of counseling, and the significance of authenticity.

What a blessing this episode is to me and I hope it is the same for you. May there be peace that comes to you after this episode!



  • Fatherhood. It’s an ever-growing issue of importance in our culture today.
  • We even speak some on mental health and how important it is to address any issues going on, the power of counseling, and the significance of authenticity.
  • We discuss the fact that the relationship of father and child is one that is vastly important to our life.

Related Links:

REPLAY: Courtney Pray Duke

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Hi everyone and welcome to the Thriving Beyond Belief podcast today! And as you know, if you’re a regular listener, I’ve taken a couple of weeks off and one of the main reasons is because we were welcoming our new baby granddaughter into the world. This week, we’re replaying an episode from Courtney Pray Duke. If you have not listened to her episode yet from about a year ago, you’ll definitely want to tune into this episode — she has some great stuff to say!

Courtney has such an incredible story of God working through incredible tragedy to show His faithfulness. With three young children at home, Courtney received a call that forever changed the trajectory of her life. Finding out that her husband was in an accident, she rushed to the hospital, only to find out on the way that he didn’t make it.

From this story of incredible loss and hurt, Courtney talks about how God was revealed to her through this loss and helped her treasure each day. From pain He brings so much purpose. She remarks that in the economy of God, nothing is wasted.

She discusses walking through widowhood and who she now can share in the loss with. She talks about the journey of healing and how time brings hope. This loss gave Courtney a new lens on life and she talks about the fact that we have an eternity to live for. It’s remarkable how God uses unbelievable circumstances to show us how to full trust Him.

Courtney talks about what has helped her walk through this journey. Some helpful tools are being able to speak out loud about the circumstances. She also emphasizes her need for Scripture day to day.

We really focus on the change from surviving to thriving. Courtney can talk about knowing what it is like to thrive because she has walked through that journey of being in the place where she didn’t know how to put one foot in front of the other, wondering if she would make it to the next day. When she leaned into the Lord through Scripture and church community, she has slowly been able to see the bright days begin to appear again.

From the darkest of days with loss to now being remarried and having a new baby, Courtney’s story is one of constant redemption and God’s grace and love. She talks about the phase of being content with the Lord and His plans and then felt she was finally able to open her heart to love another in this life. We discuss the trust of the Lord in the valley so that we see His plans and goodness fulfilled on the mountain top.

We end discussing how the call on God’s life and the roles we play in our lives aren’t mutually exclusive.

We should begin embracing our complexities and many facets the Lord created us as so that we can confidently go forward in the Lord’s purpose for our life.

I believe this episode will touch so many lives. It will bring hope to those hurting and encouragement that God is there with us in every single season. I hope this episode comforts you today.



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REPLAY: Matt & Lauren Chandler

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I’m currently away helping my daughter and her family adjust to the newest addition, so here is a special replay of one of my personal favorite episodes featuring my husband, Jeff and our very good friends, Matt and Lauren Chandler!

Matt Chandler is the lead pastor of The Village Church in North Texas. He and Lauren have three children and have had the blessing of being married for almost 20 years! Matt and Lauren have been able to write many books over the years, but we discuss in particular Matt’s book A Mingling of Souls, as it relates to love, marriage, sex, and dating.

Matt and Lauren talk to us about some amazing truths they have learned along the way while in marriage, growing their family, and even through incredible hardship. They give such wisdom and insight on the deeper issues that we all deal with and what to truly seek in order to work on marriage, family, and with the world.

They also give great advice to both men and women on things that each sex needs to diligently work at either because it does not come naturally or because culture has told us that men have particular roles and women have particular roles. The mandate of the Gospel, however, extends to everyone. So we discuss how to live in the freedom of the Gospel to be exactly who the Lord created and intended us to be.

We hope you enjoy this refreshing time of talking with dear friends and learning what we can from both our stories and others’!


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