Women Supporting Women: She Impacts Culture

Today we are thrilled to introduce you to Dr. Jen Bennett, completing our series of Women Supporting Women! She is a podcaster, communications professor, author, speaker and all around amazing person! Jen was one of the speakers at Spark and we were blessed to be able to have lunch with her on the second day of the conference! She is so down to earth and encouraging!

Her podcast is called She Impacts Culture. It is a great encouragement and resource for women who want to make an impact in the world around them! Give her a listen, check our her book or follow her on Insta!

What Jen has to say about She Impacts Culture:

My hope and goal is for faith-based women to be encouraged and empowered in using their voice, leadership, and influence to impact culture right where they have been placed. Whether that be in their work, home, community, neighborhood, or online, I believe God has called each of us for such a time as this!  This is a podcast for faith-based women who want to lead with influence and impact culture for Christ.

As we take a break between seasons, we encourage you to check out this and other awesome podcasts from amazing women! Subscribe to our blog or follow us on social media to learn about a new podcasts and their hosts!
Amanda & Melissa

Women Supporting Women: Bridget’s Cradles

In our fourth week of Women Supporting Women, we are honored to introduce you to Ashley Opliger. She is kind, beauitful and talented and the work that she is doing is oh so important!

Her podcast is Cradled in Hope and through her episodes and her nonprofit Bridget’s Cradles, she offers hope for those experiencing the loss of a baby. Her raw and honest approach to the restorative healing that comes from Christ is refreshing in an atmosphere where the topics of miscarriages or stillbirth are not always talked about openly. She doesn’t shy away from the reality of grief or extend empty platitudes because she has lived it herself. If you or someone you know has experienced the excruciating loss of a child, Ashley and Bridget’s Cradles is a comforting resource. Give her a listen, check out ways to get involved with Bridget’s Cradles or follow her on Facebook or Instagram.

What Ashley has to say about Cradled in Hope:

Miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss are heartbreaking experiences that no mother should ever have to endure. Drowning in sadness, you cry out in pain, “God, where are You? Why did You let my baby die?”

You feel abandoned by Him and question His goodness. How will you ever live without your precious baby? Will you ever see him or her again?

Ashley Opliger asked these same questions when her daughter, Bridget, was born into Heaven at 24 weeks in her first pregnancy. In a crisis of faith, Ashley chose to surrender her suffering and allow God to heal her heart. She found purpose in her pain when she started Bridget’s Cradles, a nonprofit that now comforts thousands of grieving families across the country.

Through her own story of heartbreak, Ashley will guide you on a journey to trust God’s promise to restore your joy, use your grief for good, and spend eternity with your baby in Heaven.

Podcast episodes feature hope-filled messages, stories, and guest interviews. Grieving mothers will be reminded that though we may grieve, we do not grieve without hope!

As we take a break between seasons, we encourage you to check out this and other awesome podcasts from amazing women! Subscribe to our blog or follow us on social media to learn about a new podcasts and their hosts!
Amanda & Melissa

Women Supporting Women: Vibrant Christian Living

This week, we are super stoked to introduce you to Alicia Michelle for our “Women Supporting Women” series! Alicia’s beautiful smile and bubbly personality shined at Spark and we can’t say enough about how awesome she is! She is a podcaster, speaker, author and all around rock star! We were blessed to be able to have lunch with her the second day, where Melissa and Alicia were able to bond over Christian brain science. If you were able to check out Livin Lively (our featured podcast from last week), you may recognize Alicia as one of Laine’s recent guests.

Her podcast is The Christian Mindset Coach, under her brand “Vibrant Christian Living” and it is an awesome resource to help you move past negative thoughts and be able to live each day vibrantly! Check out her episodes or sign up for her free “Transform Your Thoughts to Transform Your Life” workshop! Also, be sure to follow her on Insta!

What Alicia has to say about The Christian Mindset Coach:

My prayer is that women will feel equipped and empowered to manage their emotions in a new healthy way. My desire is that they could begin to practice the mindset “life skills” I teach (based on brain science and the Bible) so that they could discover more freedom, peace and God-centered confidence. Of course there’s only so much we can cover in a podcast episode. Therefore, I also want listeners to become excited about how managing their thoughts could transform their lives (marriages, relationships, self-esteem, etc) and, if it resonates, choose to work with me in my Christian Mindset Makeover program to discover the root issues behind why they are stuck in perfectionism, comparison, overwhelm, fear/anxiety and/or not feeling “enough”. 

As we take a break between seasons, we encourage you to check out this and other awesome podcasts from amazing women! Subscribe to our blog or follow us on social media to learn about a new podcasts and their hosts!
Amanda & Melissa

Deconstructing During Holy Week

This year, Easter feels different. I’m not talking like 2020 when Easter was done distanced in homes, or even last year when Easter was done behind a mask. I’m talking in my heart. It just feels different.

Being on staff and serving at a church, I used to view Easter as the Superbowl of the Christian faith. Even people who don’t follow the NFL all year long watch the Superbowl. Easter is the one Sunday a year where even the people who don’t attend church all year long will come and participate. There was an air of excitement and joy. We were thrilled to see new faces and to share the Good News.

Now, after deconstructing from the toxicity and negativity of my previous church experiences, Holy Week is feeling a little lack luster to me. I used to count down the days until Holy Week and walk through these seven days with joy and excitement. Now, I don’t feel any different and that’s what makes Easter feel different.

I started to feel like there was something wrong with me. Like I had lost my faith or something. After all, that’s what I was told for years. If you don’t have joy at all times, you aren’t really living a Godly life. If you don’t beam with excitement at all times, you are negative and living worldly. If you aren’t looking for Gospel conversations at every turn, you aren’t a true disciple. As I struggled through these feelings, I realized I was struggling with the aftermath of the toxicity. The expectations that I would exhaust myself every day of the week for a month straight to make Easter services happen, only to turn around and have to plan a retreat and VBS with no break in between. The pressure of making sure every post, every flyer, every live stream, every conversation was just perfect because “they might not come back if you mess up.” The feeling like if a salvation or Gospel conversation didn’t happen, I was a failure.

When did we turn our faith into this show? When did we decide that in order to be a Christian, you needed to never doubt or have struggles that were hard to work through? When did we make it to where we judge someone’s salvation (which is a personal thing between them and God) because they have the boldness to admit they are having a hard time? When did we start taking a person needing a break from the ministry as a sign that they aren’t putting their full trust in God?

And do you know what God told me? Easter isn’t a show for the masses. It happened because God wanted to have a relationship with ME. Jesus didn’t hang on the cross and say, “See everyone! Look at me! I’m dying for you! Form a line up front and my apostles will be here for you to pray a prayer and be sure to pick up a special gift we have for you on the way down the hill!” He did what he did just Him and God and with each person’s heart in mind. And when Thomas doubted, he didn’t get kicked out of the group or pulpit shamed. Jesus recognized he was struggling and revealed himself to Thomas in a way that was special just to them. In a way that Thomas could understand in the midst of his doubts.

God knew the struggles I would face and he knew the experiences I would have. He knew that I would have to process through some messed up crap and that I would need time to find Him in my own way every day. Yes, Easter happened for everyone, but there is nothing wrong with needing time to find God for yourself. What do you hear when you fly? In the event of an emergency, put your own mask on before assisting others. How am I supposed to share Him if I struggle to see Him?

If you are like me and you’re struggling to “feel it,” don’t let the toxicity of people overshadow the glory of what Jesus did! There is nothing wrong with needing time. Focus on what Jesus did. Not for the whole world or for the big picture of the Kingdom, but for you personally. Find what that means to you. Because I may have some issues with the people of the church and the things they say and do, but I know that God is real and that Jesus died for me. Maybe stepping foot in a church isn’t gonna happen for you this year. That’s fine, because that’s not the only place God is. Maybe the thought of reading through the Gospels and the story of Holy Week is overwhelming to you. That’s okay. The apostles weren’t worried about reading the scriptures, because they were trying to figure out if Jesus really was going to do what he said he was going to do. God is patient. They needed time to process and it is okay if you do to.

Practical ways to process this Easter…

  • Journal – honestly write out your doubts, your fears, your struggles.
  • Spend time alone in a place that is special to you and just rest with God.
  • Listen to songs that you know God speaks to you through.
  • Make a list of ways you know God has revealed Himself to you in the past.
  • Attend an online service if in person seems too much.
  • Share your struggles with someone. If you don’t have someone, email us at womencometothetable@gmail.com!
Amanda Turnbull

Women Supporting Women: Livin Lively

In this week’s “Women Supporting Women,” we are excited to introduce you to Laine Lawson Craft. We can’t event begin to tell you what a hoot this woman is! She is funny, friendly and makes you feel like you’re her best friend! We had the privilege to have her join our table on the first night of Spark and we instantly fell in love with her. She is a podcaster, a best-selling author and a speaker who has appeared at conferences and on television.

Side note: we found it hilarious at how much Laine and our producer Brandi were similar to one another. It was like Brandi was able to join us!

Her podcast is Livin Lively and it is an amazing way to find encouragement and hope! Give her a listen or check out her books!

What Laine has to say about Livin Lively:

“What I pray for women to gain from my podcast is HOPE and encouragement through the real-life women sharing their stories who have found victory over some of life’s deepest hurts. This is so awesome. I love to support women in any way I can!”

As we take a break between seasons, we encourage you to check out this and other awesome podcasts from amazing women! Subscribe to our blog or follow us on social media to learn about a new podcasts and their hosts!
Amanda & Melissa

Top Moms in Podcasting

Podcast Magazine is putting together a list of the top moms in podcasting for their May issue, in honor of Mother’s Day! We would love for you to vote for us!

The catch? Voting is only open until April 10th! So don’t wait!

  1. Go to www.podcastmagazine.com/moms
  2. Enter your name and email address
  3. Vote for “Come to the Table Podcast” and enter the hosts “Melissa Weber and Amanda Turnbull”

Super cool sidenotes….
1. You can also submit other podcasts for or hosted by moms on the same form!
2. You can vote once per day!

The family that makes Melissa a mom!
The family that makes Amanda a mom!

Women Supporting Women: Permission to Pause

In the first week of our series “Women Supporting Women,” we are beyond thrilled to introduce you to miss Pat Layton! Pat was one of the first ladies we met while in Nashville and we fell in love with her kind demeaner and her heart for women! She is an author, a podcaster and even holds retreats to help women find rest in the Lord!

Her podcast is Permission to Pause and it is a great way to utilize podcasts as a part of your devotions!

What Pat has to say about Permission to Pause:

This is a podcast for women who love Jesus but simply find it tough to to just be STILL with Him.

My prayer is that Permission to Pause will become a quiet place that will provide women with a time “anytime between sunrise and sunset” to step away from the hustle, to ponder a Word from the Lord, to hear a little story and to pray a simple prayer that gives them the strength they need for their faith journey…

A place–
to pause
to breathe and just be with Jesus!

CS Lewis says, “In silence and meditation on the eternal truth, I hear the voice of God which excites our hearts to greater love.”

As we take a break between seasons, we encourage you to check out this and other awesome podcasts from amazing women! Subscribe to our blog or follow us on social media to learn about a new podcasts and their hosts!
Amanda & Melissa

Women Supporting Women

One of the hardest things to do as a podcaster is promote yourself. You have to battle with feelings of being prideful or even foolish to put yourself out there. When you’re a Christian podcaster, there is another layer of difficulty because we have been taught that it isn’t about us and it should all point to Christ. Self promotion is often viewed as vain and sinful, even though what we’re doing is for God.

When we traveled to the Spark Media Conference and Awards in Nashville earlier this month, we met so many women who are doing amazing things with their podcasts! And while it was a little easier to talk about our podcasts with one another (mostly because we were all in the same boat), it still felt weird promoting yourself. It was far easier for us to ask other women about their work than it was to talk about our own.

We wanted to do something to support these other women who are doing what we’re doing because we know how hard it is. The things these ladies are doing is amazing! The impact they are making on women’s lives are lasting and incredible and that is something to celebrate!

So while we’re on break between seasons, join us as we spotlight a new podcast each week and tell you about the amazing women that are producing them! We encourage you to check them out, give them a listen and share them with a friend!

Far too often, women are painted with the stereotype that they’re gossiping, jealous and catty. We want to change that perspective and be women who are know for supporting other women! Hearts over hashtags!

Amanda & Melissa

Heart Over Hashtags

We recently had the opportunity to attend the Spark Media Conference and Awards in Nashville, Tennessee. While there, one of the speakers was talking about how you should be more concerned about having your heart right and working for the Kingdom of God vs. focusing on who is following you on social media.

On our trek back, we had a three hour layover in New York so we sat at a table, ate some food and had a conversation about what all we took notes on during the different conference sessions.

As we processed everything we learned from our time there, a little doodle Melissa made in her notebook kept coming back to us. She drew a heart over a # (some of you might call it a hashtag, older folks might know it as the pound sign; but it is also shorthand for number). It was a thought that came to her when thinking about working for the Kingdom and she made a little doodle of her abstract thought.

Talking it through, we knew what God wanted us to take from this. Hearts over hashtags! We need to care about you…your heart, your problems, your celebrations, your whole self…more that we care about how we’re promoting ourselves!

So we’re starting a movement! Hearts Over Hashtags! What if all women were more concerned about cheering one another on when things go right instead of just #blessed? What if all women cared enough about one another to actually do something tangible and helpful in times of crisis instead of just #prayingforyou? What if we all just loved each other with our actions and words (even when we disagree) instead of just #loveyourneighbor? What if we all cared more about getting to know another person for who they are than trying to convince them their sin sucks worse than yours with a #Godseesyou? What if all Christians truly reflected Christ instead of just being #teamJesus?

(and yes…all of those #s are ones I have seen on social media platforms where Christians get a little too big for their britches and start coming off as judgy Karens hell bent on pointing out others sin in the most obnoxious way possible while making themselves seem more holy and amazing.)

Will you join the movement? Will you care more about the hearts of others than yourself?

30 Signs of a Toxic Relationship

In season 2 episode 8 “Deconstruction”  Melissa and Amanda go through a list of 30 Toxic Traits found in the book “Psychopath Free” by Jackson MacKenzie.

After searching through several sources we found that there are many available for discovering toxic traits, why people act in toxic ways, and how to overcome abusive relationships. We choose this list because it covers a broad spectrum of issues specific to relationships. Although this list is written with the assumption of toxic behavior in romantic relationships, the ideas and concepts portrayed are universal to all relationships.  It is easy to read each situation and adjust the roles and actions to meet your specific situation. In a church environment discipleship, fellowship, and friendships all revolve around coming along side each other and building relationships. These types of relationships have ties that can run deep and deal with spirituality, a very personal and intimate experience for most people.  

For our context we are talking about relationships in churches mostly in regards to people in leadership roles.  It is best to view this list first with an openness towards your own heart and heart issues and second to use this list for understanding and spotting toxicity when you encounter it.

***Disclaimer***this is not a “ Christian” list and some of the wording may be consider harsh and not represent a Christian world view. However, the behaviors being described are true nevertheless and happen in both Christian and secular relationships alike. You can learn more about Psychopath Free on their website.

30 Red Flags

“Psychopath Free”

Recovering from emotionally abusive relationships with narcissists, sociopaths, and any other toxic people.  Written By Jackson Mackenzie

1. Gaslighting and Crazy-making. They blatantly deny their own manipulative behavior and ignore evidence when confronted with it. They become dismissive and critical if you attempt to disprove their fabrications with facts. Instead of them actually addressing their inappropriate behavior, somehow it always becomes your fault for being “sensitive”and “crazy.” Toxic people condition you to believe that the problem isn’t the abuse itself but instead your reaction to their abuse.

2. Cannot put themselves in your shoes, or anyone else’s for that matter. You find yourself desperately trying to explain how they might feel if you were treating them this way, and they just stare at you blankly. You slowly learn not to communicate your feelings with them, because you’re usually met with silence or annoyance.

3. The ultimate hypocrite. “Do as I say, not as I do.” They have extremely high expectations for fidelity, respect, and adoration. After the idealization phase, they will give none of this back to you. They will cheat, lie, criticize, and manipulate. But you are expected to remain perfect, otherwise you will promptly be replaced and deemed unstable.

4. Pathological lying and excuses. There is always an excuse for everything, even things that don’t require excusing. They make up lies faster than you can question them. They constantly blame others – it is never their fault. They spend more time rationalizing their behavior than improving it. Even when caught in a lie, they express no remorse or embarrassment. Often times, it almost seems as if they wanted you to catch them.

5. Focus on your mistakes and ignore their own. If their  two hours late, don’t forget that you were once five minutes late to your first date. If you point out their inappropriate behavior, they will always be quick to turn the conversation back on you. You might begin to adopt perfectionist qualities, very aware that any mistake can and will be used against you.

6. You find yourself explaining the basic elements of human respect to a full grown man or woman. Normal people understand fundamental concepts like honesty and kindness. Psychopaths often appear to be childlike and innocent, but don’t let this mask fool you. No adult should need to be told how he or she is making other people feel.

7. Selfishness and a crippling thirst for attention. They drained the energy from you and consume your entire life. Their demand for adoration is insatiable. You thought you were the only one who could make them happy, but now you feel that anyone with a beating pulse could fit the role. However, the truth is: no one can fill the void of a psychopath soul.

8. Accuses you of feeling emotions that are intentionally provoking. They call you jealous after blatantly flirting with an ex – often done over social networking for the entire world to see. They call you needy after intentionally ignoring you for days on end. They use your manufactured reactions to garner sympathy from other targets, trying to prove how “hysterical” you’ve become. You probably once considered yourself to be an exceptionally easy-going person but an encounter with a psychopath will (temporary) turn that notion upside down.

9. You find yourself playing detective. It’s never happened in any other relationship, but suddenly you’re investigating the person you once trusted unconditionally. If they’re active on Facebook, you start scrolling back years on their posts and albums. Same with their ex. You’re seeking answers to a feeling you can’t quite explain.

10. You’re the only one who sees their true colors. No matter what they do, they always seem to have a fan club cheering for them. The psychopath uses these people for money resources and attention-but the fan club won’t notice, because this person strategically distracts them with shallow praise. Psychopaths are able to maintain superficial friendships far longer than relationships.

11. You fear that any fight could be your last. Normal couples argue to resolve issues, but psychopaths make it clear that negative conversations will jeopardize the relationship, especially ones regarding their behavior. Any of your attempts to improve communication will typically result in the silent treatment. You apologize and forgive quickly, otherwise you know they will lose interest in you.

12. Slowly and steadily erode your boundaries. They criticize you with a condescending, joking sort of attitude. They smirk when you try to express yourself. Teasing becomes the primary mode of communication in your relationship. They suddenly belittle your intelligence and abilities. If you point this out, they call you sensitive and crazy. You might begin to feel resentful and upset, but you learn to push away those feelings in favor of maintaining the peace.

13. They withhold attention and undermine your self-esteem. After once showering you with nonstop attention and admiration, they suddenly seem completely bored by you. They treat you with silence and become very annoyed that you’re interested in continuing the passionate relationship that they created. You feel like a chore to them.

14. They expect you to read their mind. If they stop communicating with you for several days, it’s your fault for not knowing about the plans they never told you about. There will always be an excuse that makes them out to be the victim to go along with this. They make important decisions about the relationship and they inform everyone except you.

15. You feel on edge around this person, but you still want them to like you. You find yourself writing off most of their questionable behavior as accidental or insensitive, because you’re in constant competition with others for their attention and praise. They don’t seem to care when you leave their side-they can just as easily move on to the next source of energy.

16. An unusual number of crazy people in their past. Any ex-partner or friend that did not come crawling back to them will likely be labeled as jealous, bipolar, an alcoholic, or some other nasty smear. Make no mistake they will speak about you the same way to their next target.

17. Provokes jealousy and rivalries while maintaining their cover of innocence. They once directed all of their attention to you, which makes it especially confusing when they begin to withdraw and focus on other people. They do things that constantly make you doubt your place in their heart. If they’re active on social media, they’ll bait previously denounced exes with old songs, photos, and inside jokes. They attend to the “competition’s “activities and ignore yours.

18. Idealization, love-ombing, and flattery. When you first meet, things move extremely fast. They tell you how much they have in common with you – how perfect you are for them. Like a Chamaeleon, they mirror your hopes dreams and insecurities in order to form an immediate bond of trust and excitement. They constantly initiate communication and seem to be fascinated with you on every level. If you have a Facebook page they might plaster it with songs, complements, poems, and inside jokes.

19. Compares you to everyone else in their life. They compare you to ex-lovers, friends, family members, and your eventual replacement. When idealizing, they make you feel special by telling you how much better you are than these people. When devaluing, they use these comparisons to make you feel jealous and inferior.

20. The qualies they once claimed to admire about you suddenly become glaring faults. At first, they appeal to your deepest vanities and vulnerabilities, observing and mimicking exactly what they think you want to hear. But after you’re hooked, they start to use these things against you. You spend more and more time trying to prove your self worthy to the very same person who once said you were perfect.

21. Cracks in their mask. There are fleeting moments when the charming, cute, innocent persona is replaced by something else entirely. You see a side to them that never came out during the idealization phase, and it is a side that’s cold, inconsiderate, and manipulative. You start to notice that their personality just doesn’t add up – that the person you fell in love with doesn’t actually seem to exist.

22. Easily bored. They are constantly surrounded by other people, stimulated and praised all the time. They can’t tolerate being alone for an extended period of time. They become quickly uninterested by anything that doesn’t directly impact them in a positive or thrilling way. At first, you might think they’re exciting and worldly, and yet you feel inferior for preferring familiarity and consistency.

23. Triangulation. They surround themselves with former lovers, potential mates, and anyone else who provides them with added attention. This includes people that the psychopath may have previously denounced and declared you superior to. This makes you feel confused and creates the perception that the psychopath is in high demand at all times.

24. Covert abuse. From an early age, most of us were taught to identify physical mistreatment and blatant verbal insults, but with Psychopaths the abuse is not so obvious. You likely won’t even understand that you were in an abusive relationship until long after it’s over. Through personalized idealization and subtle devaluation, a psychopath can effectively erode the identity of any chosen target. From an outsiders perspective, you will appear to have “lost it” while the psychopath calmly walks away, completely unscathed.

25. Pity plays and sympathy stories. Their bad behavior always has sob-story roots. They claim to behave this way because of an abusive ex, an abusive parent, or an abusive cat. They say that all they ever wanted is some peace and quiet. They say they hate drama- and yet there’s more drama surrounding them than anyone you’ve ever known.

26. The mean and sweet cycle. Sometimes they shower you with attention, sometimes they ignore you, sometimes they criticize you. They treat you differently in public than they do behind closed doors. They could be talking about marriage one day and breaking up the next. You never know where you stand with them. As my morning coffee friend Rita wrote: “they put forth as little effort as possible and then step it up when you try to disengage.”

27. This person becomes your entire life. You’re spending more of your time with them and their friends, and less Time with your own support network. They’re all you think and talk about anymore. You isolate yourself in order to make sure you’re available for them. You cancel plans and eagerly wait by the phone for the next communication. For some reason, the relationship seems to involve a lot of sacrifices on your end, but very few on theirs.

28. Arrogance. Despite the humble, sweet image they presented in the early stages, you start to notice and unmistakable air of superiority about them. They talk down to you as if you are intellectually deficient and emotionally unstable. They have no shame when it comes to flaunting new targets after the break up, ensuring that you see how happy they are without you.

29. Backstabbing gossip that changes on a whim. They plant little seeds of poison, whispering about everyone, idealizing them to their face, and then complaining about them behind their back‘s. You find yourself disliking or resenting people you’ve never even met. For some reason, you might even feel special for being the one he or she complains too. But once the relationship turns sour, they’ll run back to everyone they once insulted to you, lamenting about how crazy you’ve become.

30. Your feelings. Your natural love and compassion has transformed into overwhelming panic and anxiety. You apologize and cry more than you ever have in your life. You barely sleep, and you wake up every morning feeling anxious

Melissa Weber