Laura Dugger on Creating a Faith-based Podcast | FP 39

Laura Dugger on Creating a Faith-based Podcast | FP 39

How can you grow your faith-based podcast? What is some advice to get sponsors for your podcast? How should you balance your podcast with your family life?

In this podcast episode, Whitney Owens talks to Laura Dugger about her journey with faith and her faith-based podcast, The Savvy Sauce.

Meet Laura Dugger

Photo of Laura Dugger, a christian counselor and private practice owner who is the featured guest on the Faith in Practice podcast with Christian private practice consultant Whitney Owens this week!Laura married her best friend, Mark, 10 years ago and they have 4 beloved daughters. Laura is a marriage and family therapist and her graduate school specialization was Christian sex therapy. She is a podcast host for The Savvy Sauce: Practical Chats for Intentional Living.

Laura’s favorite shared activity with her kiddos is reading aloud, which they try to do one hour a day. She can’t get enough community: her parents instilled traditions she and Mark continue to uphold which include hosting and gathering people together as much as possible!

Visit Laura’s website, connect on Facebook and Instagram.

Get in touch with Laura at laura@thesavvysauce.com

In This Podcast

Summary

  • The Savvy Sauce podcast
  • Grow your podcast and create a following
  • Getting sponsors
  • Balancing the podcast with family life

The Savvy Sauce podcast

Looking back at her journals from the last 5 or 6 years, Laura noticed a foreshadowing about her podcast. It started with small verses or ideas about interviewing others and using her degree to help as many people as possible, particularly supporting marriages, until she realized that God was calling her to be a podcast host. After about a year, she made the decision to wait until her youngest went to kindergarten and then start the podcast. Mark’s advice to her was to honor this calling, as it was a command from God, so he sat with her while she researched how to start a podcast.

Their friend Chris suggested that she use Evernote to jot down some dreams, goals, values, and the vision for the podcast, as well as initial ideas regarding guests and content. The ideas started overflowing, and she realized that her hope for the podcast was to encourage people, brighten their day, and lighten their load. As a self-proclaimed podcast junkie, she also wanted to create the kind of podcast that she would enjoy listening to, specifically where the guest has the spotlight and is not interrupted by the host. The ideal podcast for Laura to create was one with prizes and giveaways, bonus episodes, and creative, fresh content to keep it fun and entertaining, which she has achieved with The Savvy Sauce. Most of their content is offered for free, and they also do bonus episodes and giveaways on their social media.

During the time she and her husband were moving around the country, she noticed that many people were hesitant about going to counselors who weren’t the so-called “biblical counselors”. This was unsettling for Laura, as she feels that those people were potentially missing out on a lot of incredible aspects of counseling by not going to licensed, professional counselors because they feel that it is not necessarily “God-honoring”. So, with her background in marriage and family therapy and Christian sex therapy, she started a faith-based podcast with the intention of normalizing counseling, showing people the value of professional, Christian counseling, and providing resources to learn about God-honoring sexuality.

Grow your podcast and create a following

Ultimately, it’s not really about the following or having a bunch of people, necessarily. It’s about getting The Word out more on things that are going to be helpful for people, right? And helpful for people in their faith and in their marriages and in their families. And that’s the whole reason you want to gain a following, so that more people can hear the good stuff.

Laura mentions a verse in Zechariah 4:10, “Do not despise these small beginnings for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin”, and which helped her to maintain a positive attitude from their humble beginnings with a small following. Some things that worked really well for Laura and The Savvy Sauce podcast:

  • Recording 60 episodes before launching – Pre-recording the first batch of podcasts helped Laura to practice, to learn her style of speaking/interviewing, and to edit the episodes properly.
  • Releasing more than one episode per week – The Savvy Sauce made a splash right in the beginning, with 26 episodes in the first 8 weeks. They also went live on iTunes for their launch party and had conversations with local friends and family, enjoyed food and fellowship, and had the opportunity to show people how to download and share the podcast. The editor and social media manager both played a huge role in making the content available and promoting the podcast through their social media, too.
  • Being a New & Noteworthy Podcast – The podcast ended up on a few lists, one being the New & Noteworthy Podcasts list with Apple Podcasts. This list increased visibility for the podcast and they gained a large following.

It’s important to understand why you want a following, rather than focus on just getting that following.

Getting sponsors

  • Reach out to 5 potential sponsors every week – Laura researches different brands that she likes, looking for ones whose purpose and values align with those of you and your podcast, and she sends them an email to establish if it could be a mutually beneficial partnership.
  • Praying for sponsors – Laura prays for her current and prospective sponsors, praying that it will be a worthwhile financial partnership for her and the podcast, but also that they will experience blessing from being involved with The Savvy Sauce.
  • Finding sponsors that are relevant to the content of different episodes/series – Laura tries to align the sponsors she reaches out to with topics they plan on covering. For example, an upcoming episode/series on health and wellness could work well with a water filter company as a sponsor. That way, they’re reaching their target market. Because the podcast audience are most likely those who are interested in health and wellness, and potentially their water filters.

Balancing the podcast with family life

When we’re praying to God and asking him how we can please him, he will certainly surprise us, and I think he will definitely answer us. So, when I surrender all of my fears and inadequacies to him, then I’m free to fully trust and obey Him and witness his goodness.

Laura explains that the basis of everything, and what she considers her “life verse”, is Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Five years before starting the podcast, while enjoying being a new mom but also being less productive, God sent Laura on a journey to cut back on the unnecessary time-consuming things and to declutter her life. Focusing on that verse, she came to realize that her priority needed to be relationships, and time spent with her family.

When she started working on The Savvy Sauce, she feared that it would somehow jeopardize her family relationships by taking up too much. But she manages her time now by trusting that God will continue to expand her time and allow her to keep her life in order, maintaining the balance between her family life and the podcast.

Useful Links:

Meet Whitney Owens

Photo of Christian private practice consultant Whitney Ownens and podcast host for the "Build a faith-based practice" podcast.Whitney is a licensed professional counselor and owns a growing group practice in Savannah, Georgia. Along with a wealth of experience managing a practice, she also has an extensive history working in a variety of clinical and religious settings, allowing her to specialize in consulting for faith-based practices and those wanting to connect with religious organizations.

Knowing the pains and difficulties surrounding building a private practice, she started this podcast to help clinicians start, grow, and scale a faith-based practice. She has learned how to start and grow a successful practice that adheres to her own faith and values. And as a private practice consultant, she has helped many clinicians do the same.

Thanks For Listening!

Feel free to leave a comment below or share this podcast on social media by clicking on one of the social media links below! Alternatively, leave a review on iTunes and subscribe!

Faith in Practice is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts that are changing the world. To hear other podcasts like Empowered and Unapologetic, Bomb Mom, Imperfect Thriving, Marketing a Practice or Beta Male Revolution, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.

Podcast Transcription

[WHITNEY]:
The Faith in Practice podcast is part of the Practice the Practice podcast network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you start, grow, and scale your practice. To hear other episodes like the Imperfect Thriving podcast, Bomb Mom podcast, Beta Male Revolution, or Empowered and Unapologetic, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.

Welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. I’m your host, Whitney Owens, recording live from Savannah, Georgia. I’m a licensed professional counselor, group practice owner, and private practice consultant and, each week, through personal story and amazing interviews, I will help you learn how to start, grow, and scale your practice from a faith-based perspective. I will show you how to have an awesome faith-based practice without being cheesy or fake, and you too can have a successful practice, make lots of money, and also be true to yourself.
On today’s episode, I have a little longtime friend that I interviewed, Laura Dugger, and you’ll hear more about her story in the episode. But Laura and I met in graduate school, oh goodness, that was almost 10 years ago. And her life has taken some turns along the way, as most of ours have, and she has this amazing podcast that she has started. So, she shares a really faith-based story for how she, kind of, got from graduate school, honestly, before graduate school, through graduate school, and to where she is today. So many of you, I hear from you on the podcasts that you’re creating, which is so awesome, love it. And I wanted to give you information on podcasting because, if you have created a podcast or if you’re thinking about creating a podcast, Laura brings a lot of good tips to the table on her experience of starting her podcast. The Savvy Sauce is really well-known all throughout the nation, but especially in the state of Georgia and in the circles that I’m in. They provide great content on helping mostly women, but really, anyone living a Christian lifestyle. So, I want to encourage you to check out that podcast. But in today’s episode, you’re going to learn a lot of great tips on how to launch a podcast and how to keep it going. But even more than that, you’re going to learn about how to make faith a part of doing that process because it’s really the foundation of all the work that we do. And so, Laura, not just in what she says, but really the way she lives her life, she really brings in her faith into the work that she’s doing. And so, I’m excited for you to listen to today’s episode with Laura Dugger on creating a faith-based podcast.

[WHITNEY]:
Welcome to the Faith in Practice podcast. Today, I have Laura Dugger on the podcast. She is married to her best friend, Mark, of 10 years ago. They have four beloved daughters. Laura is a Marriage and Family Therapist and her grad school specialization was in Christian Sex Therapy. She has a podcast called The Savvy Sauce: Practical Chats for Intentional Living. Laura, thanks for coming on the show today.

[LAURA]:
Oh, it’s my pleasure. Whitney. Thanks so much for having me.

[WHITNEY]:
Yeah, so, I’m excited! You are the second Richmont graduate – that’s where Laura and I both went to graduate school – that I’ve been able to interview. So, it’s always really special to have other alumni on the podcast.

[LAURA]:
Certainly, that was such a rich time and I just adore all the people we went to school with.

[WHITNEY]:
Yes, yes, we were there at a really special time and made some great friendships through that… but would love for you to kind of share with the audience since, like, you went to graduate school for counseling, and a little bit of your story from graduation until now.

[LAURA]:
Oh, yeah, sure. So, right after graduation is when I married my favorite human in the world, Mark Dugger. And our last day living in Atlanta was actually our wedding day, because then we moved out to Southern California. And that’s where I was pursuing licensure, and I was working in a private practice, and then periodically speaking about healthy sexuality in marriage. And I loved so much about that season, but especially getting to ride my bike to the office. And at that time, my husband was a business consultant with IBM, but this was during the Great Recession, and so, they were offering him this project in New Jersey, requiring us to be apart six days a week, or he could choose to receive a small severance package. And I just remember, it was such a powerful moment of faith for us, when he received that phone call to make that decision. And I remember, I just said, “I trust you.” And we both don’t like to be apart from each other, so I was very grateful when he picked up the phone, he resigned from that career, and accepted the severance package without a plan B at the time. But I just admired his leadership and faith in that decision, as I was able to watch him honor and trust God. And then he ended up pursuing a career with Chick-Fil-A, specifically wanting to become a franchise owner operator. And it’s a highly competitive process, so they recommended that he start from the ground up. And he was hired on as a team member at Chick-Fil-A in San Diego. And then after two weeks, then, of hearing his passion, I knew that I wanted to join that process with him to understand what would hopefully, someday, become our family business. So, I decided to simultaneously build my clientele at our private practice while also filling my time by working register by register alongside Mark. And so, then Chick-Fil-A opened many other doors, including one year of travel when he was a corporate employee, and we would go into restaurants that were in transition and try to prepare it for the next franchise owner. So, at that time, I chose to put my career on pause in order to travel the country with him and work alongside him, so that was also perfect timing to study for my final MFT licensure exam. But it was such an exciting season, before we had kids, and we would get a phone call to pack our bags and board a plane in two weeks and we’re going to move across the country. So, we ended up selling almost all of our possessions and living out of suitcases, as we moved six times that year, in 2012. And, after one of those transitions, he was told that he was going to be the franchise owner we’re preparing this Chick-Fil-A for. So, the month he took over as a Chick-Fil-A owner operator, I also became officially licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist, and we found out I was pregnant with our first child. So, I wanted to limit my amount of work as a new mom, so, at that point, I chose to use my license to work as an adjunct professor. But then, later on, I took a break again for another season to devote time to our growing family. And, like you said, we now have four daughters – they’re currently 6, 5, 3, and 1. And so, most recently, I’ve used my background in Marriage and Family Therapy to launch a podcast, like you said, it’s called The Savvy Sauce: Practical Chats for Intentional Living. And I would have to say, this is my dream job. I love it.

[WHITNEY]:
I love your voice, you have such a great voice, and your passion behind what you do. Like, it’s almost like I can see you saying it and how much you love your life. Like, that’s beautiful.

[LAURA]:
You’re so encouraging, Whitney.

[WHITNEY]:
Yeah, well, you encouraged me, and I loved your story in the sense of – and I see this all the time as I’m interviewing people – it’s like, one thing leads to another leads to another… It’s like, God has this whole thing figured out, and we’re, like, along for the journey, right? Trust in Him every step of the way. And so, just, you saying, Oh, yeah, and then he gets his first franchise and I get my license and I’m pregnant all at the same time, you know, that’s the way God works it out, and I love that.

[LAURA]:
Absolutely.

[WHITNEY]:
Yeah. Do you ever miss your time sitting with clients doing therapy? Or do you feel like, kind of, The Savvy Sauce has really taken up a lot of your time? And that’s kind of your focus, you don’t really think about that? What’s that like?

[LAURA]:
I really treasured that season with clients, especially seeing the progress or seeing them reach goals, there’s nothing quite like it. But I feel like the Lord has just changed my heart over time, I guess, and all of my favorite parts about counseling I can now channel into The Savvy Sauce. So, I am completely content with where I’m at.

[WHITNEY]:
Yes, I love that. And I’m sure that’s provided a lot of good connection for you, having the license, and then all the people you’ve met in the counseling world provide you a lot of connection to be able to go forward with podcasts?

[LAURA]:
Certainly.

[WHITNEY]:
Yeah. So, we would love to hear, kind of how, did you come up with the idea of starting a podcast? And the name of the podcast? And like, just, kind of, the beginning stages of it?

[LAURA]:
Yeah, absolutely. So, when I think back to my journals, from quiet time with the Lord, in the past, maybe, five or six years, I can see the foreshadowing of what was to come. And I sensed he was preparing me for something. But it started really small, with little verses or ideas that I would jot down about my desire to interview others, or to use my degree to help as many people as possible, I also wanted to support marriages, and so on. And then it would start to become more specific, and I believe God was calling me to be a podcast host. So, for whatever reason, this really isn’t my personality, but I totally kept that to myself at first, and after about one year of God daily encouraging me to start a podcast, I finally said it out loud. And I told my husband, “God’s been telling me every day to start a podcast, so, when our youngest goes to kindergarten, I think I’ll start a podcast.” And his response both shocked and delighted me because he said, “No, if God is speaking to you about this every day, it’s a command and you need to be obedient.” And then he also offered to help anytime I got stuck, because I knew he wanted to champion God’s call on my life. So, together that night, we Googled ‘how do you start a podcast?’, and that technical side took a long time to prepare. But, for the beginning stages, I just sat down, and our friend Chris told us, hey, you need to pull up Evernote, you can store a lot of information there. So, I used Evernote just to dream and write down our vision and goals and values, and then guests who I wanted to interview, and content ideas… and it all just poured out of me. So that’s where I can clearly see the Lord’s hand in this, because he’s given me these ideas that keep on overflowing. And I knew that my goal, or my hope, was to encourage people, I wanted to brighten their day and lighten their load, and now we get to do that by providing practical chats for intentional living. And then, I also had a few other reasons behind why I wanted to do this. So first, I’ve benefited so much from podcasts. I’m still a podcast junkie, I love listening. And so, I wanted to create the kind of podcast that I wanted to listen to. So, my ideal podcast to listen to and interact with would be one where the guests are the spotlight and the host doesn’t interrupt. And then my other thought for my ideal podcast was that they would offers surprises, and bonus episodes, and creative and fresh content, and giveaways for a little bit of fun and excitement. So now we get to do exactly that, and generosity is one of our goals, so we offer most of our content free to the public and then we put out bonus episodes as much as our team can produce. And we do tons of giveaways on social media so people can add a little bit of excitement to their day and get their hands on some of these great resources we discuss. And then, another reason why is because I wanted to normalize counseling, and help people see the value of professional Christian counseling. From our time moving around, when we came back to the Midwest, I just kept finding this resistance that I hadn’t encountered elsewhere, and people were resistant to counselors other than those who specifically called themselves “biblical counselors”. And I was just so saddened by this, because of all the incredible aspects of life that people were potentially missing out on by this false belief that counseling can only be God-honoring through biblical counselors rather than being beneficial from licensed, professional counselors. And I think this is especially true in the area of sexual wholeness. And, I’m sure you feel the same way Whitney, I knew it was such a gift to sit under such wise teachers during our time at Richmont, and I wanted to share access to all of those professors. So, again, God gets the credit for this idea, because those episodes that we’ve done on sex were our first episodes to go around the world, and then they continue to be some of our most downloaded content. And I think God was just gracious to let me in on this idea that there isn’t much available to everyone about God-honoring sexuality. So, I’m grateful that He’s currently allowing me to be involved in this process to make it readily available to others. He continues to provide every step of the way. And He’s bringing along people, like these incredible women who are part of our team. He’s opened doors for sponsors and people to show their financial support through becoming patrons. And then just the encouragement that He’ll lay on others’ hearts to send us at just the right time. It’s truly just been a joy to be a part of it.

[WHITNEY]:
Thank you, Laura. And you’re sharing so many good points. I mean, this idea of knowing your ‘why’ behind a podcast, and I even say that about having a practice or any business, like, your ‘why’ of… what is God calling you to? And why are you doing it for him, you know? And what does he want to do through it? And then, just hearing you, as you’re running this podcast, you’re waiting on God and you’re listening and getting direction on what the next step is, and it’s this, like, exciting, honestly, somewhat romantic journey with your spouse, but also with the Lord, as you grow this thing, and that’s what I love about faith-based practices and faith-based businesses. It’s like, God’s a part of all that and it’s so exciting and beautiful.

[LAURA]:
That’s so well said.

[WHITNEY]:
Hey, Alison! This sure has been a crazy year.

[ALISON]:
It sure has, Whitney.

[WHITNEY]:
So, what were your goals for your practice going into 2020?

[ALISON]:
Well, I had a lot of them, and then I threw them all out the window back in March when COVID started, but then I realized that we might be in this for the long haul. So, I got back on track with accomplishing my goals in a different way. But wouldn’t it be nice if someone created an event to help group practice owners meet their goals?

[WHITNEY]:
Yes, it would. You mean, if they did an event like Pivot Your Group Practice Intensive 2020?

[ALISON]:
Yes! I like the sound of that.

[WHITNEY]:
So do I. Let’s do it!

[ALISON]:
Yeah, so Whitney Owens and I have put together this awesome, one-day, virtual workshop to help you figure out how to continue growing your practice, even among COVID-19 happening, and still meet your goals for the year 2020. We will be doing a deep dive into fixing all the problems in your practice, and also helping you come up with creative ideas to continue to scale, make more money, and work less hours.

[WHITNEY]:
So, the registration will be closing on August 5th. So, make sure you register by then. We’re going to keep this limited to only 20 spots so that you can get the most out of this group and the most out of working with the two of us as your consultants. So, the link to register is in the show notes. If you have any questions please follow up with us by email – whitney@practiceofthepractice.com and alison@practiceofthepractice.com. We look forward to working with you on August 14th.

[WHITNEY]:
Yeah, yeah. So, a lot of people, you know, have these ideas, I hear from a lot of counselors about podcasting specifically, but they’re wondering how can I make this a business? Because I love podcasting, but how do I get sponsors? And how do I make this work for my family? So, we’d love to hear how did you, kind of, grow the podcast? And then, after that, how did you gain sponsors and get that moving forward?

[LAURA]:
Sure. So, the first question is how did we grow it?

[WHITNEY]:
Yes. How did you grow the podcast?

[LAURA]:
Yeah. You want to know, like, from the beginning?

[WHITNEY]:
Yeah. Or, kind of, like, how did you get your first listeners to start listening to the podcast and getting the word out about it? Kind of, how do you create a following?

[LAURA]:
Okay, so, creating a following… I think what was encouraging at the very beginning, because all of us start with zero as our following, but there’s this verse in Zechariah 4:10 that says, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin”, and I just love that. So, when I think back to when we were starting to record in 2018, and I had this idea – again, I think it was from the Lord – to pre-record 60 episodes before we launched. And that was really helpful to learn my style, and to practice, and give us time to edit things, but we had researched for some of the best practices for starting a podcast, and I know it changes all the time, so this was a couple years ago, but at that time, they said, one of the keys for gaining a following is to be on the New & Noteworthy list within your first eight weeks of launching. And one of their suggestions, a way that you could increase your chances for making this list, was to release more than one episode per week. And so, our first eight weeks I want to say that we released 26 episodes. And so that kind of made a splash right at the beginning. But then, also, just something fun that we did with our community was, the week we went live on iTunes, we hosted a Savvy Sauce launch party. And that was a way just to have conversations with local friends, family, and just an excuse to really get together enjoy some food and fellowship. But then we also were able to show them this is how you download the podcast, this is how you share it… And our team, our editor, Natalie, is amazing at doing her magic, and then Lauren, our social media lead, also played a huge part in promoting it, and still does by getting this content available to people through social media.

[WHITNEY]:
That’s great. So, did you make the new and noteworthy?

[LAURA]:
I believe we did, yes. We made a lot more lists than we had thought, and we’re just grateful for any time people are listening and sharing the episodes.

[WHITNEY]:
That’s awesome. It is hard to get to that point, for sure. I appreciate your tips. And ultimately, it’s like, it’s not really about the following, or having a bunch of people necessarily… It’s about getting The Word out more, on things that are going to be helpful for people, right, and helpful for people in their faith and in their marriages and in their families. And that’s the whole reason you want to gain a following, so that more people can hear the good stuff.

[LAURA]:
100%. And they play into each other because, my desire as a mom, I don’t want to spend unnecessary time working on the podcast. And so, I thought, if we gained a larger following, yes, absolutely, you want to get this content out to them; you want to get the good news of Jesus in the ears of as many people as possible. And then on the practical side, as well, as more people listen, you then have a larger audience that you can bring in better guests, and then you can have those sponsors reach out to you so that your business can ideally become profitable and sustain itself. And so, I think it all works together.

[WHITNEY]:
Yeah, it definitely does. And so how did you get your first, who was your first sponsor? Or your first few? And like, how did you get those?

[LAURA]:
Sure. So, as for sponsorships, I just first reached out to all the brands that I could think of that I already used, and loved, and wanted to promote. And some of them surprised me by saying yes, and many will say no, and I just try not to take that personally, I know that maybe it’s not in line with their own purpose or values at the time. But now, I try and keep it maintainable by just reaching out to five new potential sponsors every week. And so, I’m researching different brands, or if I come across something that I like, I’ll just send an email and see if it’s a partnership that would be beneficial both ways. Someday, I would ideally love to pass this off to a new member of our team, maybe someone who loves sales. But for now, it keeps me motivated when I picture our team who’s going to benefit from the financial support that the sponsors are bringing, and that helps me to keep spending time on it, because I know it’s going to benefit someone beyond myself. And I’m also just praying for our sponsors, that this would be a worthwhile financial partnership, and that they would experience blessing from being involved with The Savvy Sauce. Many of them have been repeat sponsors, for which I’m very grateful.

[WHITNEY]:
I love everything about what you’re doing, it’s not just about you, like, you’re constantly putting it back on other people in this, like, positive sense. Like, I don’t know how many people say, I pray for the sponsors that they really have a good experience and get, you know, basically, business out of this too. So, I love that perspective, and you honestly have inspired me as I think about sponsorships and how I’m going to be approaching those relationships. So, thank you for, like, for just that little tidbit right there. Yeah. And so, I love this idea that you’re reaching out to five a week. How do you decide, I guess, like, what kind of people are you reaching out to, that you think would benefit… when you’re researching, like, what kind of organizations are you looking for?

[LAURA]:
Sure. So, for instance, if I look ahead at our content calendar, and I see that we’re doing something with health and wellness, I’ll start thinking, Okay, people who are listening to this are probably valuing a healthy lifestyle. So, maybe it’s a water filter company that we can reach out to, something practical that would be this little helpful piece of information, maybe, that they haven’t heard of before. And then, for the water filter group, this is beneficial to them because they’re reaching their target audience as well. Or, I think people, more generically, you could say people who are in the home industry, so whether that’s apartment rentals, or real estate… all of us are searching for a place to live, or have at some point, or will in the future, so hopefully that’s a broad audience. So those are just a few examples to get you started.

[WHITNEY]:
Yeah, those are perfect examples, thank you. So, you’re doing the podcast, you’re being a mom, a wife, how do you manage all of it, as far as emotionally and maybe even with your time? How do you do this balance?

[LAURA]:
Well, the basis of everything for me is Matthew 6:33. It says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” I consider that to be my life verse. And God radically changed my approach to life by bringing this scripture to life about five years before we launched the podcast. And it was a time when I was just enjoying being a new mom more than I could have ever imagined, and I was surprised at the level of joy parenthood brings, and I was almost equally shocked at how much less productive I was after becoming a mom. So, God took me on this journey of pruning unnecessary ways I was spending my time, and partly He did that by helping me declutter my life and my possessions. So, our second baby was on the way and she was expected to arrive 15 months after the first. And so, at this point, I was just in go-mode, wanting to get everything done before this next sweet baby arrived. And it was during this time when I felt the to-do list was never ending, and yet my real desire is for relationships, not tasks. And God brought this scripture in front of me repeatedly at that time, so I started getting serious about practicing this scripture, and since then, I’ve experienced him supernaturally expanding my time and showing me what needs to go and what needs to stay on my priority list. And then, I think it just brought this laser focus to my belief that life is well spent on relationships. So, after I learned all of that, my biggest fear as a wife and a mother was that adding The Savvy Sauce into our lives would somehow jeopardize my relationship with our little family, who are the people on Earth I most desire to have thriving relationships with. I wonder if anybody else can relate to that… But I know, Satan certainly can mess with my mind. And I won’t always notice right away the half-truths that he’s whispering and trying to use to shame me. However, when I turn up the volume of God’s voice, and stay in my own lane rather than finding my way by looking to how others are living, that’s when I realized this is exactly the work God has for me. And he even reminded me again of that this week, part of Colossians 4:17, I think it’s the last part that says, “See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.” And then, also, Jennie Allen recently did a podcast on this myth of balance, and I totally cried when I listened to it. It articulated so many thoughts I’ve had about simultaneously holding many precious things, including roles as wife and mom and podcast host… But her bottom line is that balance is not worth pursuing, because she doesn’t see it in Scripture. What she does see, is surrender and obedience. And I wholeheartedly agree, because it can look different for every single person. But I fully believe the gracious Holy Spirit will illuminate what that looks like for each of us. And when we’re praying to God and asking Him how we can please Him, He will certainly surprise us, and I think He will definitely answer us. So, when I surrender all of my fears and inadequacies to Him, then I’m free to fully trust and obey Him and witness His goodness. So, for now, I see that this unexpected benefit is how much my girls love to listen to the age-appropriate episodes of The Savvy Sauce. And it’s been cool to see how this side job has absolutely fueled me as a wife and mother and Jesus follower. So, instead of taking anything away, I believe it’s actually multiplied and increased most every relationship in my life. Surrender and obedience is the posture with which I pray I can live all the days of my life.

[WHITNEY]:
Hmm, that’s beautiful. And so freeing, this idea of letting go of, we’re always hearing that, I feel like I hear it in so many circles… How do I balance? How do I balance? So, yes. Thank you for the idea (inaudible) really comes through surrendering. And that’s a lot of freedom right there. And I’ll have to go back and check that podcast that you just mentioned, the Jennie Allen one. So that sounds great. So, Laura, would you like to share with the audience a little bit about our story, about how we met in grad school, and, kind of, how you came to faith?

[LAURA]:
Yes, that was such an exciting day, that first day of classes when we got to meet. But, if I rewind the story a little bit before that, I was brought up in a Christian home, the youngest of three siblings, and everyone in my family – I think around college age for each of them – they all had surrendered their lives to the Lord. And I was the youngest and entering college and I had a faith in God, but I had never surrendered my life to him, I was not living for Him as Lord of my life, and it wasn’t personal to me yet. So, there were a few prayers in college that really changed my trajectory because, at that point, I was living the party lifestyle, and, just, was really lost and not even becoming the type of person I had ever hoped to be. And so, I would say I was deep in my sin at that point, and one of the first changes came from this prayer. I was in my room in college at noon, and I had no windows in my room, and I just remember it being pitch black. I’d slept in that day. And I woke up thinking, “this is the state of my heart right now. It is pitch black.” So, I just simply prayed, “God, I know the difference between right and wrong, and I don’t care. But that really scares me. So, can you just start to give me a conscience back?” And about that same time, we were coming up on summer break and my dad had offered to host a Bible study at mom and dad’s house, where they were going to invite some of my high school friends over, so that that would be a fun chance to reconnect with everyone, and we did a Crown Financial Bible study. So, the benefit of that was, I started getting in The Word, I started reading the Bible. And my conscience started coming back, but I was still trying to, kind of, white-knuckle it and do it all on my own. So, I would live well for a couple days and then go party that weekend. And I remember thinking, I’m never going to be a good Christian like all these other people, they make it look much easier. So then another prayer that was meaningful, as I knew, at this point, that I wanted to study Marriage and Family Therapy, and that you had to go on to graduate school to do the kind of work I dreamed of doing. And my parents and I could not agree on a place where I could go to school, they were praying so much. My entire family was, just for me to surrender my life to the Lord. And they were nervous about me moving across the country and continuing this party lifestyle. And so, Mom, I think, actually bribed me one weekend to come to a women’s conference at our church, and I was completely captivated by the speaker. And so, I went up to her afterwards and asked her where she went to school, because she was a Marriage and Family Therapist also, and she told me about what’s now called Richmont Graduate University, a little Christian School in Atlanta, Georgia, and so, I went home and prayed again to God and just said, “I’m not going to apply anywhere else, I’m going to put all my eggs in this basket. And so, if you get me into this graduate school, I’ll make a deal with you. I promise to become yours by the time classes start.” So then, fast forward, I did that, and then moved on and kept living the same lifestyle. So, I get accepted. And I remember thinking, “Oh, I’m gonna have to do something about that for my end”, but then blocked that out for the next few months. And my parents were moving me down to Atlanta. I was going to meet my roommate, Val, for the first time that weekend, I didn’t know a soul in Atlanta. On Sunday, Mom and Dad wanted to take me to church. So, we’re going to start Monday morning at 7am. So, we’re sitting in church on a Sunday at noon, and I remember it hitting me, like, wait a minute, God, I made a commitment to you. And so, I was just, kind of, weeping in the service and just saying, “I don’t know what it looks like, but I’m yours.” And so, we came back out into the van. Ironically, my parents drove a conversion van at the time, this is where we converted. I came up to them when we were in the parking deck, and I crawled up in the van and held both their hands and just hung my head and started weeping. And I think they were assuming at this point, like, “Oh, no, she’s probably nervous. This is a big life change of just moving to Atlanta.” And all I said was, I think I’m ready to make this change. And instantly, I started crying and it was that sensing of the Holy Spirit just washing me completely clean. In that moment, we were all crying and praising and praying. And I found later that scripture that talks about you believing in your heart and confessing with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord”, then you will be saved. And so, I look at that point, that moment, is when my life changed. And so, Whitney, the next morning, when we were in class together, they were doing an icebreaker and just said, “find out something about the person next to you, and then they’re going to share it with the whole class.” So, I remember Kim and I were partners and I said, “Hi, everyone. This is Kim and she’s afraid of bees.” And Kim said “Hi, everyone, this is Laura. And she was born again yesterday.”

[WHITNEY]:
I like, no, I love hearing that story again. It was so powerful, so powerful.

[LAURA]:
It was such a fun group to celebrate it with, and I think all of you had been believers longer than I had and so I’ve learned so much from each of you, and just appreciate your wisdom, as you’re on the journey ahead of me.

[WHITNEY]:
Well, we appreciate you. Thank you for sharing that story. That’s definitely a God story there. Oh, it’s so good. All right, good. So, I do ask every person… Actually, before I get to that question, can you let people know how to get in touch with you if they want to get in touch with you and follow you?

[LAURA]:
Absolutely, we’d appreciate that so much. I you can reach me through email at laura@thesavvysauce.com and, if you want to follow us, we’re on all of the major podcast platforms, Apple and all the other ones. And so, we’re just ‘The Savvy Sauce’. We’d love to have you follow us there. And then, we’re on social media. Lauren is the one who responds to everything there and she does an incredible job, and we are just @TheSavvySauce on Instagram and Facebook.

[WHITNEY]:
Perfect, perfect. And then, if you could answer the question I ask everyone on the podcast, what do you believe every Christian counselor needs to know?

[LAURA]:
More than anything, I think we need to know the Trinity. And I don’t mean we just need to know about them, I mean we need to have a deep, abiding, and personal relationship, daily and, more realistically, maybe moment by moment, with God, our Father, Jesus, our friend, and the Holy Spirit, our counselor. So, not only is life richest when we can live this way but staying plugged into the vine is the only way we can bear sustainable fruit. And I’m sure most of your listeners are familiar with this verse from John 15:5 where Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me, you can do nothing.” So, I say sign me up to remain good to the vine.

[WHITNEY]:
That sounds great. I love it. Well, thank you so much. You’ve given us such great information, not only the business side of podcasting, but just in the relationship that you have with God and sharing your faith with us has been very inspiring. Thank you.

[LAURA]:
Well, thanks for the opportunity, Whitney. And, just like in graduate school, you remain such a kind and gracious woman, and I’m very excited for this new area of your work.

[WHITNEY]:
Oh, thank you so much, Laura.

Thank you for listening to the Faith in Practice podcast. If you love this podcast, please rate and review on iTunes or your favorite podcast player. If you liked this episode and want to know more, check out the Practice of the Practice website. Also, there you can learn more about me, options for working together such as individual and group consulting, or just shoot me an email whitney@practiceofthepractice.com. We’d love to hear from you.

This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, Practice of the Practice, or the guests are providing legal, mental health, or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one.

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