Fake Faith

In this past weekend’s episode, we discussed faking it until you make it. This is something I really struggled with and it eventually led to my deconstruction and landed me in therapy.

When I first became a Christian, I was under the impression that we should be honest and open about our struggles. After all, we were meant to confess our sins with one another. That didn’t turn out so well for me. You see, I wasn’t aware that everyone was faking it. So here I was, just letting my sinful self be real and raw in hopes of gaining encouragement, accountability and healing. Instead, I was met with judgement and persecution.

This threw me. Not only did I believe that I was in a community that was called to love and support me, but I am also a very naturally open person. I thought that all the other Christians I was sharing with were just more spiritual than I was and I started to take an unhealthy view of the severity of my sin. I would go into a deep depression over my sin, but then I also started feeling like I was a better Christian than others were because their sin seemed to much worse than mine.

It went deeper than sin too. If someone asked me how my day was and I wasn’t having a great day and I said something like, “my day isn’t the best,” or “I’ve had better days,” I would get talked to about having a negative attitude. I was told that people ask those questions and not expect honest responses, so my honesty was making people uncomfortable. I started to figure out who I could be real with and who I needed to be fake with. Sadly, the number of people I could be real with was just a couple. I spent a majority of my days putting on a happy face and pretending like my life was wonderful and amazing.

I took on the persona of Tour Guide Barbie. You know, like at the end of Toy Story? I would smile and guide people through their walks with Christ. I would act as though being at church was the most amazing and wonderful part of my week. I felt as though I always had to be “on,” and only once everyone was gone could I be myself. I was told I set the tone for others. If I was having a bad day, then others would follow my lead and we would have a church full of negativity. Do you have any idea how much that weighs on a person?

In my home it was no different. As a Christian, I shouldn’t struggle with feelings like mom guilt or isolation depression. In my marriage, I should be delighted to blindly obey my husband without question or attitude. I was never allowed to say that I was struggling with emotions in my marriage or as a mother because I should be relying on God. God would give me all I needed to be the perfect, obedient and happy wife, mother and church member.

I started to just suck it up and suffer in silence. Even thought I projected an authentic persona, I held a lot of stuff back. I told myself that there was something wrong with me that I was so negative all the time. I told myself that other moms didn’t feel overwhelmed or like failures. I told myself that other wives adored their husbands and didn’t struggle with frustration. As hard as I tried, my fake face would cack sometimes and I would say something that would come across as negative or sarcastic. I lived in constant fear that I would offend someone or be a stumbling block to another person’s joy. I felt like I needed to come with a warning label to let people know that my personality was kind of a lot to handle. It took all of my energy every single day to stay positive and “keep sweet.” I can’t even tell you how many times I cried all alone in the shower because that was the only place I would truly be alone and let all of my emotions out.

It wasn’t until I started exploring my deconstruction that I discovered the term, “toxic positivity.” This is so detrimental to your mental health because you are never allowed to feel your feelings and you have to take on the responsibility for others feelings as well.  It also takes a toll on you physically. The stress I carried cause headaches, stress knots in my shoulders and neck, lower back pain and fatigue.

I had a very unhealthy relationship with God and over time it became fake. I spent so much time faking that I was always positive and that my life was all together that I started to not be honest with God either. I had lost my sense of humility before the Lord. I had convinced myself that if I acted as though I was an amazing Christian, God would see me as such. That is where my deconstruction came from. I felt as though the teachings of God in scripture and the stories of who Jesus was weren’t lining up with how I felt. It took me a lot of soul searching to finally be able to be honest with myself and with God that I had turned my very real relationship with Him into something fake.

Once I started being real with God, I started to feel a sense of peace. I started feeling as though God really did see my hurts and frustrations and wanted to come along side of me in them. He wanted to join me right where I was and He wanted me to be raw and real with Him. For the deep seeded issues, He couldn’t help me heal my heart without me being honest about how I was feeling. And as for the other emotions, those were completley normal. My therapist helped me realize that God gave us the emotions of sadness, anger, frustration and fear for a reason. Feeling them isn’t a sin in and of itself. Emotions are there to help us navigate how we feel about relationships and situations and emotions are there as a thermometer to show us what is toxic and what is normal.

I am thankful I had friends and family who were willing to walk through my deconstruction with me and help me find my way back to God. I am thankful for organizations like Better Help who are striving to make therapy available to everyone. Please reach out to us if you are struggling! We have been where you are and we are never going to make you feel like you can’t be honest! By being able to process with others, you can discover who God truly crated you to be and get rid of the toxic lies that you have believed.

Amanda Turnbull

I Hope You…

“I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean.”  This lyric from the song,  “I Hope You Dance” by Leanne Womack popped into my head on a recent trip to Florida as I stood on the beach taking in the vastness of the ocean while feeling the sand under my toes and the gentle breeze against my face.  

It’s crazy to me how one silly song lyric can spark a rabbit trail of thoughts and even crazier that it warrants writing an entire blog post about but sometimes things are just so good you have to share them.  

This wasn’t my first experience standing on a beach nor was it the first time I experienced these  particular feelings.  I’ve had many encounters just like this one over the years, some at the beach but not always.  Regardless of the specific location the feeling is always the same. A sense of “smallness.” Not small in an insignificant or demeaning way,  but rather small in a there’s something bigger than myself out there kinda way. It’s the type of feeling that leaves you feeling centered and knowing there’s a place for you in this world.  It’s restoring, refreshing and balancing.  

I know I am not the only one who has had this type of  experience standing by the ocean or experiencing the awe and beauty of nature, whether in the mountains or on a tropical island. I have heard people describe their experiences differently but they all have one common theme, it’s the empowering feeling of “small”.   People everywhere experience the breathtaking awe, beauty, and sense of smallness that I experienced that day but not everyone chalks it up to the same thing. This is where the rabbit trail gets interesting.  

As a christian whose worldview includes God as creator It seems only natural to credit my beach experience and every other interaction with the awe-inspiring beauty of nature as encounters with God.  Scripture reflects this truth in Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”  Romans 1:18-20 gives us a deeper understanding that God speaks through His creation and that we as human beings are without excuse, that we are accountable for that which has been revealed to us and God is revealing Himself to us daily through His creation.   

So often I hear people speak about similar experiences to mine but their reasoning as to why they had these experiences is anything but God.  For some it’s as though God isn’t even one of the options.  I took a math test once as part of a job interview and no matter how many times I worked and reworked this specific problem I kept getting the same answer and my answer was not one of the multiple choice options.   When I let the guy interviewing me know he verified that the answer sheet in fact had a typo and that no one had ever pointed that out before.  I wonder how many who had taken this test prior to me got that question wrong because they either didn’t answer the question or they took a guess at it.  I’m sure somewhere along the way someone had to have taken a stab at it and guessed B. So it was a good thing the passing score allowed you to miss more than one question. 

 Humanity has been given a very special gift, the gift of free will. In the garden God gave Adam and Eve direction while at the same time allowing them the freedom to make their own choices.  Adam and Eve encountered God daily while experiencing life and God honored His gift of free will even when their choices did not line up with what He wanted for them. Just like Adam and Eve we too encounter God daily while experiencing life and God honors His gift of free will even when our choices are not what He would want for us.  So, in conclusion I hope you still  feel small when you stand beside the ocean but more than that I hope it’s God that is your answer. 

Melissa Weber

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