Millennial Life, November 2018

Millennial Life, Thankfulness


Jessica LeBlanc

For many, November is the month selected to celebrate all of the wonderful things we’re thankful for in our lives. Our senses seem to be heightened to the tiny and big blessings that permeate our daily routines. But I want to challenge you to not wait for November to come around every year before you’re conscious of the daily benefits God gives you (Psalm 68:19).

There’s something about being grateful and thankful that has the power to change any situation you’re facing — or at least your outlook on it. As I write this article, I’m reminded of several times when I was facing some major challenges or had just experienced a big disappointment, and God put a praise in my heart at those very moments. Immediately, I began to thank God for His mercy and goodness. Being thankful is an act of worship.

I remember one particular situation where I had just had an emotional beat-down and I was just exhausted. The Holy Spirit whispered in my heart to start praising God. The situation didn’t change, but within minutes, as I continued my praise of the Father, I changed. My heart got lighter because the burden of my anxiety was lifted as God replaced it with His. As he promised us in the book of Matthew, His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

Often, unpleasant and unwelcome thoughts of the past threaten our state of mind. And you may not feel like praising or saying how thankful you are for the things you have. But this is precisely the moment that we must press on and declare our thankfulness to God. I believe God honors our faithfulness, particularly when it’s hard to be faithful and when we physically just don’t feel like doing the right thing.

Also, we must remember that there is always something to be grateful and thankful for. If you’re reading this article right now, you can see! If you heard your alarm go off this morning, you can hear! If you got out of bed this morning, you have movement in your body! And even if you don’t have any of those things, you’re still here.God has a purpose for you and that by itself is something beautiful to be thankful for.

In Psalm 100:4, the Bible says to enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.”We should always have an attitude of prayer and thankfulness. The most blessed gift any of us can ever receive is the gift of Jesus Christ dying on the cross for our sins. It would be the worst tragedy to leave this world accepting every other gift but that one.

I’d like to challenge you to something for the entire month of November. It’s called the Thankfulness Challenge. Start your day by writing down five things you’re thankful for. Even if you find yourself thinking about it for a moment, keep thinking! I promise you will never run out of things to thank God for. Regardless of what you’re facing right now, as you turn your eyes upon Jesus, your problems will become smaller and smaller — and worship will become bigger and bigger.

Millennial Life, October 2018

Be Angry and Sin Not, Millennial Life

Be Angry.. sin not

On the topic of anger, I think we should first establish there are two different types. One is good. One is bad. Righteous anger, or as the King James version of the Bible puts it, ‘righteous indignation’, is something that all believers should have. When it comes to the evil that we see in the world today, we should get angry about that. Whatever God gets angry about, we should get angry about the same thing.

However, the other kind of anger is not of God. That kind of anger is a sin. The kind of anger I’m talking about is when someone cuts you off in traffic and you’re tempted to yell or make an obscene gesture; the kind of anger that makes you rude, disrespectful, or harsh to others; the kind of anger that won’t allow you to forgive offenses committed against you; the kind of anger you’ve held onto for years just because it feels like an old familiar friend and you don’t want to let it go, whatever it is. Also, the kind of anger that makes you bitter toward others because they sin differently than you.

The Bible says to be angry and sin not (Ephesians 4:26). What does that mean? I believe it means to be angry at the unrighteousness and injustices we see in the world today. For example, if you are a Christian, it should anger you that innocent children are being abused and killed. It should anger you that people are being gunned down simply because of the color of their skin or because they’re not deemed worthy to live by their murderer. It should anger you that Christians are being persecuted around the world because they’re sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and fulfilling the great commission (Matthew 28:19-20).

You may say that you have the anger part down. How do you work on the ‘and sin not’ part?

We must be careful to not let the Devil get a foothold into our hearts and plant seeds of sin that breed misdirected anger. Ephesians 4:29, 31 says, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.”

To be angry that people hurt other people doesn’t mean that we are to hate them or be unforgiving. Jesus loves them and so should we. Those people who shoot down other human beings because they don’t look like them — they need prayer too. They need to know that if they repent, God is there to forgive them. We’re supposed to pray for people who are outside of God’s will because we can be that person at any moment. Instead of taking matters into our own hands, we must entrust every situation to God because vengeance is His and He will repay. God is pure and just and He will right every wrong that has been done. Nothing escapes the watchful and, loving, but just, eyes of The Most High God.

Before coming to Christ, we once were those people. We may not have committed those particular sins, but we were sinners nonetheless and we all have to come to Christ the same way … on our knees in repentance. That’s where mercy and grace come in. I believe to be angry and sin not means to be angry at the sin, but to love the sinner just as Jesus so graciously does with us. God meets each of us where we are. We only need to reach out to Him and ask.

My prayer for you is that you seek God for yourself and ask Him to reveal any hidden parts of your heart where you may be harboring anger and to replace it with righteous anger and love for others.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts. And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

Jessica LeBlanc is an award-winning, Emmy-nominated journalist who was named on of the top student television news reporters in the country by College Broadcasters in 2011. While in college, she traveled to Europe and wrote political and human interest stories for (at an extension of United Press International). Upon graduation fro Southeastern Louisiana University, she began working at WBRZ News 2 in Baton Rouge as a multimedia journalist and later as an anchor. Originally from New Orleans, she spends her free time working on her blog Moments with Jesse, reading, taking various speaking engagements, and spending time with her family.

July 2018, Millennial Life

Millennial Life, What Does Service Look Like to You?

What does service look like to you?

When I think of service, the first thought that comes to mind is Jesus washing the feet of His disciples. What a humbling act. I mean, the Savior of the world, the God of the universe, the Prince of Peace, the Rose of Sharon, stooping down to wash and make clean the filthy feet of human sinners. How awesome.

Of course, Jesus’ acts of service go far beyond that, but I believe this particular act embodies what we as believers should be doing every day. Each of our lives should be an act of service. We should always ask the question: What can I do to help my fellow man? I encourage you to read John 13 and take note of the entire scenario, before and after, that surrounded the Lord washing the feet of His servants. John 13:14-15 says, “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” The way we are to live our lives is already laid out for us in the Bible.

There are many lessons to be learned in this chapter alone. For instance, when we serve, it’s not just to our friends or to people we know love us. We are to serve our enemies as well, if they are in need. This is extremely difficult to do, but God never requires something of us without giving us the ability to carry it out.

Jesus washed the feet of Peter, knowing that Peter was going to deny Him not once but three times! Wow! He’s so amazing! Can you imagine washing the feet of someone who lied about you, treated you poorly, or denied they even knew you when you spent quality time with this person?

During my days in television, I had countless opportunities to serve others and shine the light of Christ. Whether it was praying for a mother who just found out her son had been shot and killed, or showing compassion to family members burying a child , those people were in need of serving and God used me to do just that. I knew that God placed me on certain stories just so I could share His love and offer up a prayer for those in some trying situations; situations that the average person would never experience.

Service can be as simple as a smile to a sad soul. I’m so grateful for the privileges I had to experience those moments where I could offer encouragement. Sometimes that’s all it takes to plant a seed of righteousness in someone’s heart. We affect each other and you never know how your words will help someone. Sometimes people will let you know you made a positive impact on their life and sometimes they won’t. But just know that God is always watching and if you are showing love, compassion and exhibiting any of the fruits of the Spirit, He is pleased.

As believers, we are constantly being watched. Our lives are living epistles to be read by all men (2 Corinthians 3:2). What are people reading when they look at you? What do they see? Are you willing to serve others even if it’s at the expense of your feelings? I hope so because not only will you be helping someone else, but you will reap the benefits of God’s blessings and His pleasure.

Jessica  Leblanc is an award-winning, Emmy-nominated journalist who was named one of the top student television n news reporters in the country by college broadcasters in 2011. While in college, she traveled to Europe and wrote political and human interest stroies for Upon graduation from Southeastern Louisiana University, she began working at WBRZ New 2 in Baton Rouge as a multimedia journalist and later as an anchor. Originally from NOLA, she spends her free time working on blog Moments with Jess, reading, taking on various speaking engagements and spending time with her family

June 2018, Millennial Life

Millennial Life with Jessica LeBlanc, What does the Trinity mean to you?

The Trinity, What does it mean to you?

by: jessica leblanc

The Trinity is at the very foundation of the Christian religion. Personally, I don’t like to classify my beliefs as a religion because I believe that it’s a relationship with the Creator more than anything. However, for the sake of clarity, I will use the term “religion.”

For centuries, scholars have debated the meaning and the very existence of a Triune God. In my opinion, there is no debate. The scriptures in the Bible are very clear about what the Trinity is and who is a part of it. The Trinity is God in three persons: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

In the book of John, passage 1:14 says, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” Here we see that “the Word” is referring to Jesus (God in the flesh/the Son person of the Trinity). Also, John 10:30 says, “I and My Father are one.” In other scriptures, we find that the Holy Spirit is a part of the Trinity. In John 14:6, Jesus declares that He is the way, the truth and the life and no man comes to the Father except through Him. Skipping ahead several verses, we see in John 14:16-17, “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” The Holy Spirit is referred to as the Spirit of truth which is what Jesus referred to Himself as earlier in the chapter. So, we can clearly see that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are connected.

Belief in the Trinity is imperative to a full life in God. It’s the very foundation of my belief system in God. Without the Trinity, there would be no Christianity because you cannot have one of the persons of the Godhead without the other. Each person of the Trinity serves a purpose in our lives. God (the Father) loved the world so much that He sent His only Son to die for our sins (John 3:16). The Son makes daily intercessions for us on earth as He sits next to the Father (Romans 8:34b). The Bible says the Spirit of God (Holy Spirit) was sent as a teacher and a comforter to us on Earth. Three persons, but One God.

Although scripture backs up my thoughts on the Trinity, it’s not something that can be fully understood or fully explained. This is one of the many things that is so beautiful about God. He cannot be understood or explained. His very essence and existence transcends our mere, mortal minds. We can acknowledge His wonders and talk about His mighty acts, but no one can ever capture who He is.

Imagine the prettiest flower or thing you can think of. God is even more beautiful and wondrous than that. He is th

“I don’t praise them, serve them or worship them like they’re separate. I treat them all as one. So, if I’m praying to God, I’m praying to the Spirit, I’m praying to Jesus. I don’t treat them any differently.”

Sarah Farlough, 24, Gonzales

“There are three unique parts of the Trinity, but they all function as one … because they all are sort of living by the precepts set out in the Bible.”

Stephanie Katz, 27, Mandeville

“The Trinity means to me, unity. The Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. When I think of the Trinity, I think of how blessed I am. A Father who loves me enough to send His Son and the Holy Spirit to guide me, to protect me, to be there for me.”

— Terrence Thomas, 27, Hammond

Jessica LeBlanc is an award-winning, Emmy-nominated journalist who was named one of the top student television news reporters in the country by College Broadcasters in 2011. While in college, she traveled abroad to Europe and wrote political and human interests stories for (an extension of United Press International). Upon graduation from Southeastern Louisiana University, she began working at WBRZ News 2 in Baton Rouge as a multimedia journalist and later an as anchor. Originally from New Orleans, she spends her free time working on her blog Moments with Jess, reading, taking on various speaking engagements and spending time with her family.

May 2018, Millennial Life

Chosen, Royal, and Holy

Chosen, Royal and Holy

Jessica LeBlanc

Webster’s dictionary defines identity as “the distinguishing character or personality of an individual.” Speaking as a millennial, this is something that we often struggle with – who we are. Two questions that I believe we’re born with are “Who am I?” and “What is the meaning of life?”

One of the many things I love about God is that He leaves no stone unturned. Those questions that have prompted research by noted scholars for ages … God has an answer to each one. He ultimately wants our destination to be the same, to live with Him for eternity. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Sometimes we struggle with purpose and who we are because we’re attaching our identity to a person, job or thing. But I’ve learned that God wants us to attach who we are, hope to be, and have ever been – to Him. He desires for us to place our expectations in Him because He is the only one who will never disappoint us. Placing it in anything besides Him is faulty because people die, jobs fall through or don’t meet our expectations, and things often fall apart. But God is and will forever remain constant. When we know who we are in Him, we become unstoppable, simply because the Creator of the universe is on our side! Just let that sink in for a moment.

It’s polarizing, isn’t it? When I was in college, studying journalism, I was very focused and knew exactly what God wanted me to declare as my major. I wasn’t the student who changed her major three times. I knew exactly what I was supposed to do and did it. When I graduated, I thought I was going to have a news reporting job waiting for me since I was so clear on my purpose. I didn’t. Talk about a true test of faith. I graduated in December of 2013, about two weeks before Christmas. Several months before graduation, I must have sent my resume to at least 50 stations around the country, including Hawaii and Alaska. But I didn’t have one job offer waiting for me. I began to question if I made the right decision after all.

Why would God tell me to study this for four years and not give me a job once I was done? It was a test of my faith and whether I was what I had always claimed to be – a child of God. I had to be reminded that as a child of the Most High, He would never leave or forsake me. In Jeremiah 1:5, God says “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb, I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee.”

Wow! So, if God knows who I am and He knows my destiny, I should be okay, right? Still, it’s hard to trust when you’re going through the test. So, I prayed and fasted. In 1 Peter 2:9, God reminds believers that He chose us. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people …” Chosen, royal, and holy. What a description. After praying and fasting and coming to the conclusion that I needed to trust God and realize who I was, that’s when it happened.

About a month and a half went by, and that’s when I got the call I was waiting for. It was the number one station where I wanted to work. I could hardly believe it, but I knew God must have wanted this, too. He lined everything up just the way it was supposed to be. So I encourage you that if you don’t know Christ for yourself, please get to know Him because you too can be Chosen, Royal and Holy.

Jessica LeBlanc is an award-winning, Emmy-nominated journalist who was named one of the top student television news reporters in the country by College Broadcasters in 2011. While in college, she traveled abroad to Europe and wrote political and human interests stories for (an extension of United Press International). Upon graduation from Southeastern Louisiana University, she began working at WBRZ News 2 in Baton Rouge as a multimedia journalist and later an as anchor. Originally from New Orleans, she spends her free time working on her blog Moments with Jess, reading, taking on various speaking engagements and spending time with her family.

April 2018, Millennial Life

Millennial Life, By Jessica LeBlanc

Millennial Life, Forgiveness

By Jessica LeBlanc

Forgiveness can be a sensitive topic of conversation for some. Let’s face it. One of the hardest things a person can do is forgive. It’s unheard of to the natural man. It doesn’t make sense. It goes against human nature. But still, Jesus requires this of His followers. To forgive is woven into the fabric of who God is. When Jesus was suffering and dying on the cross, His request was for God the Father to forgive His persecutors. How amazing is that?

We are commanded to forgive even when they’re not sorry, even when we’re betrayed. Betrayal can come in varying degrees and many different forms.

When I was in high school, I had just gotten a prestigious honor to be the emcee at a national convention for an organization. I was over the moon! I had worked really hard for that honor and was thankful for the position. Chosen out of dozens of applicants from around the country to represent was a great reward. Anyway, I was on a team with several other high school students that was being led by three adults. Well, it didn’t take long for me to realize I was the odd girl out. Over the course of the convention (which spanned several days) I was consistently attacked. For example, I was deliberately given the wrong time for an important meeting, ostracized from the other kids and made to feel like I wasn’t supposed to be there…by the adults. Of course, I called home crying, explaining what was happening. My parents counseled me to let my chaperone know what was going on with the national leaders. I did, and my chaperone corroborated my story and acknowledged that what was happening to me, at the hands of adults no less, was wrong. Back in my hotel room, I cried and cried because I felt all alone. And I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to intentionally try to sabotage me.

But even in that situation God showed me that I really wasn’t alone. He was with me the entire time. Every time I was attacked in some sort of way, He always came back and reassured me of His protection. Although my forgiveness journey did not start and end at that convention, it was the beginning of a lifelong lesson on forgiveness that would come up time and time again in other situations God allowed me to face. It was my first major lesson in Forgiveness that would prove to help me in adulthood when I had to forgive someone for even more. Circumstances may change, but the process of forgiving remains the same.

Because I was a child, it was very difficult for me to process being attacked by adults versus those who are my peers. It made the cut deeper. But the Bible says to pray for our enemies.

I prayed for them many times after that. Forgiveness is not a single act that takes place on a specific day. It’s a process. Regardless of what was done to you, God commands us to forgive and pray for those who misuse and abuse us. We are to love our enemies. But that doesn’t mean put ourselves in harm’s way and willingly become a victim of bad treatment. We are to forgive just as Christ forgives us. Colossians 3:13 says “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”

Although it’s a process, it’s also a commandment. As children of God, He expects certain behavior from us and forgiving is expected. So, whatever you may be facing right now or whoever you may have to forgive (even if it’s yourself) just know that healing and peace is on the other side of your obedience.

Jessica LeBlanc is an award-winning, Emmy-nominated journalist who was named one of the top student television news reporters in the country by College Broadcasters in 2011. While in college, she traveled abroad to Europe and wrote political and human interests stories for (an extension of United Press International). Upon graduation from Southeastern Louisiana University, she began working at WBRZ News 2 in Baton Rouge as a multimedia journalist and later an as anchor. Originally from New Orleans, she spends her free time working on her blog Moments with Jess, reading, taking on various speaking engagements and spending time with her family.

Millennial Life, October 2017

Experiencing Faiththrough Literacy

Experiencing Faith through Literacy

by Trapper s. Kinchen photos courtesy of Chance Wilson

Chance Wilson is a 17-year-old humanitarian whose young life is dedicated to teaching people how to read. He is the CEO of Wilson Global initiative (WGi), a charity he helped found when he was 14. The organization concentrates on spreading English literacy in parts of the world where educational opportunities are limited.

Wilson is from Baton Rouge and on the surface, he looks like a typical teenager. But when he speaks, he expresses himself so clearly and with such purpose that it hardly seems possible he is still a high school student. Despite his youth, he is a deeply compassionate and focused man of God. He was raised in the Baptist church, but considers himself non-denominational. He relies heavily on his relationship with Jesus and spends a great deal of time studying the Word. “Whenever I have personal struggles, my faith is the rock I lean on,” he said.

Sometimes, it’s hard to figure out where Christ fits into our chaotic tech-obsessed world. Wilson understands the complex struggle involved in embracing faith in an age of constant digital streaming. “It’s not always cool to believe in God, but that has made me really outspoken about my faith,” he said.

He constantly strives to be a Christ-like encourager. “I want to be a counterforce to negativity,” Wilson says. So he speaks out when he witnesses injustice and rushes to action whenever he sees someone in need.

Wilson’s determination and bravado are modeled after his hero, John F. Kennedy. He considers the late president one of the most socially innovative men of the 20th century. “JFK was filled with optimism and hope for America and the world,” he said.

“He wanted us to go to the moon, which was literally beyond most people’s understanding at the time. He understood that the world’s problems couldn’t be solved by skeptics and cynics.”

Even though he seems completely grounded in his faith, Wilson fights the same feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy that many others do. Like all teenagers, he is in the middle of the difficult transition from adolescence to adulthood, and he sometimes struggles with asserting his individuality. “My biggest battle has been with self-identity,” he said. “For a long time, I didn’t know what my purpose was and I felt alone. But faith has helped me get through a lot of that.”

When he looks beyond his uncertainty, Wilson is confident that God has called him to be an advocate for international English education. He first recognized the need for literacy support when he was a child. “I was in public school for a while, and I noticed a lot of kids couldn’t really read or write,” he said. “That inspired me to do something.”

WGI operates in North America, Asia and Africa with main offices located in Baton Rouge and Hong Kong. Its principle goal is to enhance people’s quality of life through education and its services have the potential to change the world’s geopolitical landscape.

Wilson believes teaching a child to read can lead to a closer relationship with Christ.

According to statistics compiled by UNICEF, at least 750 million men, women and children worldwide are unable to read or write. Most of us in the U.S. take literacy for granted, but educational opportunities are limited in most other parts of the world. In fact, a great deal of the world’s problems stem from the fact that nearly 17 percent of the human race can’t understand written language.

WGI concentrates its efforts on the fastest growing parts of the world — Asia and Africa. It devotes the bulk of its resources to educating people in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Tanzania and the Philippines. “In Asia, we provide free English classes to people who want to learn to read,” Wilson said. “And we provide food for people who show up for classes.”

After spending nearly four years on the frontlines of education advocacy, Wilson believes literacy should be made a top international priority. “There are plenty of charitable causes out there, but I think literacy is the one issue that can help solve the globe’s other big issues,” he said.

As a 17-year-old CEO, Wilson says leadership has to start with self-confidence. Anyone can alter the course of history if they believe they are capable of doing so. “A leader has to have a vision and understand what his ultimate goal is,” he said.

Wilson is an accomplished and opinionated young man, but he’s also a realist. He understands that life is about taking the good with the bad. “Sometimes I wish I was just a normal kid,” he said. “I’m not able to hang out with my friends on the weekends or go to prom because I’m so busy. I’ve had to give up a lot, but I know I’m following God’s purpose.”

According to UNiCEF, 750 million people worldwide can neither read nor write.

Even though his life isn’t typical, the time and energy Wilson invests in WGI yields incredibly far-reaching results. At 17, he is uncovering the sort of business skills and life experiences most people never get the chance to discover. “We have a lot of people on the ground who help coordinate projects and do the actual teaching,” he said. “I’m an organizer. I recruit people and give them assignments. I kind of think of myself as the glue that holds the organization together.”

Wilson thinks faith and literacy are deeply interwoven. The foundation of Christianity rests on the Word of God, he says, and we are able to strengthen our faith through studying the Bible. But in order to do that, a person has to be able to read. “More kids across the world need to be able to read the Bible, so they can have a better relationship with Jesus,” he said.

As global citizens, each of us is responsible for contributing to the betterment of mankind. “On a basic level, we all have to help make the world a nicer place,” he said. He is a wonderful example of how much good a person is capable of doing, regardless of their age, if they decide to follow God’s calling on their life.

In the near future, Wilson plans to dedicate some time between high school and college to self-discovery. He also hopes to travel to Asia and see firsthand some of the work WGI is doing overseas. His long-term ambition is to keep sharing the Gospel through literacy advocacy, and he prays for WGI’s continued growth. “We want to keep expanding and go into other parts of the world and teach.” 

In order to do great things in the name of Christ, one must be willing to make personal sacrifices. Wilson has given up an enormous chunk of his childhood for charity, and God has blessed his dedication. If you’re interested in contributing to WGI’s global literacy campaign, please visit Click on the “take action” button for more information about how to chip in.


Trapper was born on the lip of Lake Pontchartrain. He was raised there, reading in the salt-flecked breeze on a splintered wharf that jutted into South Pass. Never bored, he divides his time between trying to raise organic chickens in the Livingston Parish piney woods, traveling to different time zones, and exercising his mind by steadily learning as much as he can. He graduated from LSU in 2013 and Wayne State University in 2015. He is a busy fiction writer and contemplative naturalist. He has a great time living life.

Baton Rouge Christian Life MAGAZINE


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Millennial Life, Septermber 2017

A Body in Christ Millennials and Self Acceptance

A Body in Christ

Millennials and Self Acceptance

Story and photos by:  Trapper S. Kinchen

For most of Keli Hayden’s life, she was emotionally disconnected from her body. When she stared at her reflection in the mirror it was like studying an abstract painting because the image looking back felt totally separate from the person she felt she was. But now, at 27, Hayden is breaking through the surface of emotional dissociation and discovering the healing power of Christ’s unconditional love. After exploring a lifetime of buried emotions, Hayden has learned to love herself just as she is.

We learn to judge our bodies at an early age by studying how our parents evaluate their physical worth. So Hayden spent much of her early childhood watching how the people around her dealt with food, exercise, and personal appearance. “For example, my parents viewed their bodies in really negative ways and constantly verbalized that negativity,” she said.

As she entered adolescence, the gap between Hayden’s emotional and physical selves began to grow. “I started Weight Watchers for the first time when I was 11-years-old,” she said. “I look back now, and I can’t believe that happened.” The unhealthy connection she had with her body ultimately reinforced a great deal of deeply hidden shame. When she flips through family photo albums, Hayden always notices a dramatic shift in her appearance around age 4. When she started preschool, she began gaining weight quickly, and it didn’t take long for people to notice her changing body. At 5, her family took her to a nutritionist, but no one bothered dealing with the root of her troubled relationship with food.

As Hayden grew into womanhood, eating became a substitute for self-love. “My behavior was instinctual, and, once I got older, my eating became more emotional,” she said. She did not value her physical wellbeing and that caused her to psychologically detach from her body.

Her relationship with her appearance reached a low point when she transitioned from her small town high school to Southeastern Louisiana University where her character was constantly tested by circumstances. “I didn’t have a real identity and had never been faced with any real challenges up until that point,” she said.

Hayden had always considered herself morally immovable and emotionally tough. But the more time she spent away from home, the more she realized she wasn’t as strong as she thought. “I saw myself as resolved and stubborn,” she said. “But I now know that I was very easily influenced, and I conformed to my environment.”

At 21, she developed a friendship with an older classmate. Despite Hayden’s initial misgivings, they began spending most of their free time together. “After a while, I found myself falling in with her behaviors,” she said. “I was totally unaware of the pitfalls that were awaiting me.”

About three months after meeting, Hayden and her friend became roommates. The time they spent living together wound up being one of the darkest and most formative phases of Hayden’s life. “My roommate was struggling with her own body image issues, and she started projecting them onto me,” Hayden said. “I can remember her saying things like, ‘I’ve gained 15 pounds since I moved in with you. This is all your fault.’”

What initially seemed like a genuine friendship quickly morphed into something toxic and co-dependent. “Anytime she would get mad, she would go back through pictures of me on her phone. She would highlight parts of my body that she thought I should be self-conscious about and would say, ‘You really need to work on this.’ And I just took it.”

After sharing a house for three years, Hayden broke away from her roommate. It was a long, drawn-out process that took a heavy psychological toll on her self-esteem, but in the end, Hayden learned a great deal about spiritual discernment and emotional fortitude.

When her personal struggles were at their peak, Hayden was working part-time at a local politician’s office. Around the same time, she was also considering enrolling in law school. “One day, I got called into my boss’s office, and he said, ‘I would like to offer you a full-time job with health benefits, so you can get weight loss surgery.’”

Hayden was shocked. She had never considered medically altering her body, and she didn’t think she was overweight enough to be a good candidate for gastric surgery. But Hayden trusted her employer, and she took what he was saying to heart. “The more he talked, the more I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I must need weight loss surgery,’” she said. “He said stuff like, ‘I’m concerned for your future health,’ and ‘if you’ll get this surgery, you won’t be worried about trying to go to law school.’ He made it seem like the only reason I wanted to get an education was because I had no physical worth.”

That conversation changed the way Hayden considered how other people viewed her. In an instant, all her remaining confidence evaporated. She thought, “People look at me and think I’m fat. They look at me and think I need weight loss surgery.” Humiliated and

Hayden was first taken to a nutritionist at 5 years old. photo courtesy Keli Hayden
One of Hayden’s favorite activities is tire flipping. photo by trapper s. Kinchen

convinced she needed to change her appearance, she scheduled a consultation with her boss’s doctor … but she never went to the appointment. Instead, she found a different job.

Four years ago, hoping to deal with some general anxiety, Hayden started seeing a Christian counselor. That decision led to an unexpected journey of healing and revelation. Through therapy, she has been able to systematically work through a lifetime of unacknowledged feelings. Over the last couple of months, Hayden has experienced a major shift in her relationship with her body. In July, while taking a walk, God spoke to her, saying, “It is my will that you be healthy and well, but if you never change one thing, you’ll still be my beloved.” Those words took the pressure off of Hayden.

Through a combination of counseling and spiritual warfare, Hayden has begun developing an authentic relationship with her body, and, through it all, has learned to rely on Jesus. Alhough she grew up in church and experienced salvation at an early age, until recently, something was missing. “I’m 27 years old, and until now, I didn’t have a real relationship with God,” she said. “It came with having to fall down and accept Jesus and his truth. Today, I can’t get by without Him.”

Hayden now values herself, because she understands she is worthy of love. The old disconnect between her mind, body and spirit is quickly disappearing because she knows her Heavenly Father treasures her. “You have to be able to accept where you are,” she said. “If you’re happy with where you are, then stay there. If you aren’t happy, then start walking in another direction.”

“The process of learning to love myself has been very slow, but it’s been totally worth it,” she added. The first step to self-love is accepting your body in its current condition. You can’t change overnight, and, if you think about it, you might not need to change at all.

After a lifetime of self-loathing, Hayden has finally decided to move in a different direction. “I have fought my body since I was a kid,” she said. “I tried to count calories, I tried to jazzercize, and I even did some stuff that wasn’t healthy.” Now, she treats her physical being like the temple of God, and her old insecurities aren’t as overwhelming as they used to be.

We are all marvelously beautiful in the eyes of God, and He loves us no matter what. The Lord wants us to be happy, healthy and whole, and He designed each of us to be uniquely perfect in His image. It’s important that we realize we are bodies in Christ, because His splendor and goodness are etched in our DNA. For most of us, the path to self-acceptance and love is long and difficult, but liberty is waiting at the end of the road.

“For a long time, I gave fear the ability to rob me of experiences and self-worth,” Hayden said. “But not anymore! I’ve been set free.”


Trapper was born on the lip of Lake Pontchartrain. He was raised there, reading in the salt-flecked breeze on a splintered wharf that jutted into South Pass. Never bored, he divides his time between trying to raise organic chickens in the Livingston Parish piney woods, traveling to different time zones, and exercising his mind by steadily learning as much as he can. He graduated from LSU in 2013 and Wayne State University in 2015. He is a busy fiction writer and contemplative naturalist. He has a great time living life.

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August 2017, Millennial Life

Spreading The Gospel Through Healthcare



Through Healthcare

by Trapper S. Kinchen

photos provided by Erica Rogers

Rogers meeting children in the mountainous village of Kabale, Uganda

Erica Rogers is—in every sense of the word—a nurse. she has held the hands of men without families as they lay dying. she has wept with newly widowed women and comforted their children. she has rejoiced with people who have been made well. and, through it all, she has spread the Gospel of Christ’s love through healthcare.

Rogers grew up in a large service-oriented family from Laplace. She was raised Catholic and said, when she was a child, she “had the knowledge of Jesus, but didn’t have a relationship with Him.” That changed when she was twenty-one. While attending Southern, she found salvation at Living Faith Christian Center and, from that moment on, she has passionately pursued the will of God.

After graduating from nursing school, she spent nine years working for M.D. Anderson in Houston. During that time, Rogers got married, battled through a difficult divorce, and learned to lean into her faith. She eventually moved back to Louisiana and quickly became restless. So, she started fasting. She prayed, “God, I know there’s something you want me to do, but I just don’t know what it is.”

During that period of supplication, Rogers began receiving unsolicited emails from international service organizations seeking medical professionals to volunteer in the third world. The emails caught her off guard. She had never considered going on the mission field but, the longer she thought about it, the more her heart was drawn to Africa.

One day, she got an unexpected phone call from the founder of the World Health Organization. She said, “He called me, and I didn’t answer. He called me again on a different day and left me a message. Finally, I prayed about it, and I called him back.” He wound up inviting her to join his team on a trip to Uganda.

Rogers immediately agreed to go, but the World Health Organization required that she buy her own plane ticket. At the time, her finances were tight, and she wasn’t sure she would be able cover her travel costs. She said, “I wasn’t working, I had just moved back home with my parents, and I think I might have had like ten dollars.” But, with help from friends and family, she was able to raise the funds she needed to fly to Africa in March of 2014.

Erica and the Braveheart medical mission team straddling the equator near Kisoro, Uganda.
Children walking to collect a day’s worth of clean water.
Braveheart medical missionaries on the job.

When Rogers returned home, she settled into her current job as a cardiac ICU nurse and fell into a daily routine. She soon started getting emails from contacts she made in Uganda, desperately asking for her help. After a great deal of prayer, she decided to take action. She kept thinking, “I don’t know how to run a medical mission, and I don’t know what to do.”

But she conducted a mountain of research, stepped out in faith, and organized an international medical expedition in November of 2016. Rogers said, “I ended up recruiting five people to go on that first mission trip.” Her nonprofit organization, Braveheart, was born of that experience, and she and her team have returned to Uganda several times since their initial journey.

Braveheart is a faith-based missions organization focused on ministering through healthcare. It operates as a peer-to-peer medical support network in the United States, and, abroad, it serves as a foundation through which long-term healthcare initiatives are developed. Braveheart’s international efforts are mainly based in Uganda—the place where Rogers first fell in love with missions work.

Rogers telling stories to children in Kampala, Uganda

Uganda rests on the northern shore of Lake Victoria, and is situated between Kenya and the Congo. It is home to roughly 39 million people, and—according to statistics compiled by UNICEF—roughly 103,000 of the country’s children die before their fifth birthday every year. With an average annual income of only $440, the typical Ugandan lacks basic access to essential medical services. Rogers’s goal is to help fill the void in Ugandan healthcare and, by doing so, enhance the population’s general quality of life. She said, “The greatest needs in Uganda are healthcare, sanitation, education, and business development.” As a medical organization, Braveheart currently focuses on improving Uganda’s hospitals, educating local doctors, and providing important supplies.

Her ambition is not just to offer sick people medicine but also to share God’s love through individualized care. Rogers endeavors to make a spiritual connection with every person she serves—at home and in Africa—no matter the circumstances of their illness. She said, “It’s not just about care, it’s about quality care.” Braveheart’s ten-year global plan involves restoring a centrally located hospital in Kyantale, a village in the southwestern corner of Uganda. Instead of starting from scratch, Rogers and her team concentrate on using existing infrastructure to build functional medical facilities. She said, “I focus on helping them rebuild what they already have in terms of healthcare. They lack the most basic medical resources. Right now, they can’t even properly diagnose illnesses.”

Each time she visits, Rogers sets up mobile clinics. She said, “When I go, I bring medication, equipment, and all the supplies we know we’re going to need.” She and her team travel extensively during every mission trip, reaching as many towns and villages as possible.

Here in the United States, Braveheart devotes much of its resources to providing emotional and spiritual support to people battling cancer. Rogers loves teaching patients how to holistically approach their recovery by focusing on the relationship between spiritual and physical healing. She said, “It’s not only about chemotherapy and drug related treatments, but also about the mind, body, spirit connection.”

As of September, Braveheart is launching a new American initiative called The Heartbeat Community. Rogers said, “It’s a peer support network for patients on the journey of receiving heart transplants. It’s about educational and psychological support.” She partners people who have successfully gone through transplants with patients waiting to undergo the same operation.

Braveheart’s patient support networks focus on sharing important advice and encouraging people to lean into Christ. As a cardiac ICU nurse, Rogers is especially familiar with the difficult process faced by transplant patients. She said, “Waiting for a heart can be a very lonely and distressing journey.”

Over the next twenty years, Rogers wants to see Braveheart’s organ transplant and cancer ministries grow nationwide. She also hopes to see functional Braveheart clinics operating throughout Africa. She said, “I would love for Braveheart to keep growing and striving to teach holistic healing. I want the organization to be a people’s organization.”

If you feel led to support Braveheart, you can easily do so by visiting Money, medication, and volunteers are always needed and greatly appreciated. Click on the website’s “donate now” link to make a financial contribution, and check out the “be a Braveheart” page for
more information on how to volunteer. Everyone is welcome to participate, because Rogers believes all Christians are called to serve “the least, the last, and the lost.”

All it takes is a little motivation to make a tremendous impact. By simply surrendering to God’s calling, Erica Rogers’ ministry has led to an international outpouring of healing and hope, love and encouragement. Her work with Braveheart often comes at the expense of her personal life. But she says it’s worth it, because her efforts go towards expanding the Kingdom of God. Think about how much good the Body of Christ could do if each of us, like Rogers, decided to step out in faith and follow our hearts.


Trapper was born on the lip of Lake Pontchartrain. He was raised there, reading in the salt-flecked breeze on a splintered wharf that jutted into South Pass. Never bored, he divides his time between trying to raise organic chickens in the Livingston Parish piney woods, traveling to different time zones, and exercising his mind by steadily learning as much as he can. He graduated from LSU in 2013 and Wayne State University in 2015. He is a busy fiction writer and contemplative naturalist. He has a great time living life.

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July 2017, Millennial Life

SOCIAL VIOLENCE Hazing still a problem on college campuses


by Trapper S. Kinchen

Hazing still a problem on college campuses

A new academic year begins next month, and tens of thousands of students will flock to Louisiana’s universities. The population of Baton Rouge will swell as freshmen from across the globe enroll at Louisiana state University, southern University, and Baton Rouge Community College. Most of those students will seek to enhance their college experience by joining extracurricular teams or organizations, and as a result, many of them will be hazed.

Hazing is the act of subjecting someone to abuse, humiliation, and psychological ridicule as part of an initiation. These days, hazing is so pervasive in American universities that according to Dr. Elizabeth Allan and Dr. Mary Madden’s study, Hazing In View: College Students at Risk , more than half of all post-secondary students are involved in some form of on-campus social intimidation

Also known as peer-inflicted trauma, hazing affects students of all genders, races, incomes, family backgrounds and ages. No demographic is immune. Social intimidation/ abuse is most often associated with men, but a 2006 article on, titled “38 Dramatic Hazing Death Statistics,” suggests women are hazed just as often as their male counterparts in academic environments. Research conducted by Dr. Colleen McGlone found that half of all NCAA Division 1 female athletes reported having been hazed.

In general, athletes experience peer-inflicted trauma more often than any other student group. Social violence typically occurs in athletic departments under the pretext of “team-building” or developing “mental endurance,” and the problems associated with sports hazing have spiked in recent years.

Hazing In View found that peerinflicted trauma in college athletics grew by 300% in years between 1978 and 2006. Hazing takes many forms and typically manifests through varying degrees of physical, psychological, and/or emotional abuse. Coercion and intimidation are used to force students into humiliating and dangerous situations. “38 Dramatic Hazing DeathStatistics” found that 67% of all hazing episodes are humiliation-based, and most of those incidents involve alcohol.

Louisiana Revised Statutes 17:1801 Hazing prohibited; penalties

Hazing in any form, or the use of any method of initiation into fraternal organizations in any educational institution supported wholly or in part by public funds, which is likely to cause bodily danger or physical punishment to any student or other person attending any such institution is prohibited. Whoever violates the provisions of this section shall be fined not less than ten dollars nor more than one hundred dollars, or imprisoned for not less than ten days nor more than thirty days, or both, and in addition, shall be expelled from the educational institution and not permitted to return during the current session or term in which the violation occurs.

Louisiana is actually one of 44 states that has laws explicitly prohibiting hazing on high school and college campuses. If caught, perpetrators and participants face jail time and heavy fines. Meanwhile, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska offer no legal deterrent to on-campus social violence. So universities in those states are forced to rely on individual administrative policies to handle cases of peerinflicted trauma.

Louisiana’s colleges take hazing very seriously, and when incidents are reported, consequences are usually administered swiftly. For example, in 2015, LSU’s chapter of Acacia Fraternity was suspended from campus for three years due to evidence of forced alcohol consumption and physical violence against some of its members. Likewise, Sigma Alpha Epsilon was removed from campus in 2012, returning in 2015 after charges of hazing, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and endangering the safety of others were brought against the chapter.

Even though universities are well equipped to handle problems associated with hazing, incidents usually go unreported. According to Hazing in View , 95% of hazed students do not file reports, making it incredibly difficult for universities to track

statistics on social abuse and intimidation. The same study reported that 36% of affected students said they did not alert officials because “there’s no one to tell.”

Some students are unsure where to turn after being hazed, because occasionally, university employees ignore acts of social intimidation. “38 Dramatic Hazing Death Statistics” found that 40% of college students said their coach or professor knew when specific hazing practices were occurring on campus. In some instances, faculty members actually participate in on-campus social violence. Twenty-two percent of students said that a coach or advisor instigated peerinflicted trauma.

Reporting abuse can be especially tricky for victims of on-campus social violence in Louisiana because people who submit to being hazed can legally be prosecuted under the law. Therefore, after being abused or intimidated, many students remain silent in order to avoid disciplinary consequences. Laws established to protect students sometimes discourage victims from coming forward and the cycle of peer-inflicted trauma perpetuates itself.

Young adults who submit to hazing are typically in search of inclusion. Adjusting to life in college can be difficult, and acclimating to the complex social landscape of adulthood is tricky. As

students seek independence and develop personal identities apart from their parents, they often fall prey to peer pressure.

Many freshmen have already experienced peer-inflicted trauma before ever enrolling in their first college course. It is estimated that 1.5 million children are hazed every year in American high schools. Hazing In View points out that roughly 47% of students enter college having already experienced some form of social violence.

Even though the effects of peer-inflicted trauma are mostly psychological and emotional, hazing is sometimes fatal. Hazing In

View indicates that since 1970, at least one hazing-related death has taken place on an American college campus every year. That research also concludes that 82% of deaths from on-campus social violence involve alcohol.

In February, 19-year-old Timothy Piazza died of injuries from alcoholrelated Greek hazing at Pennsylvania State University. In the months since his death, Penn State has taken control

Jim and evelyn Piazza stand next to a photo of their son, Timothy Piazza. photo credit Joe Hermitt | (ivey DeJesus |

Sadly, alcohol use is the number one contributor to social violence in on-campus fraternities. found that 75% of fraternity members engage in heavy drinking compared to 49% of the rest of the male student population. And fraternity men are significantly more likely to commit sexual assault due to alcohol consumption.

Hazed students are often coerced into drinking extreme amounts of alcohol, which has led to increased reports of hazing-related sexual violence. The first recorded incident of hazing involving sexual abuse occurred in 1983, and according to Hazing In View, episodes of peer-inflicted trauma linked to sexual intimidation, nudity or stimulation have increased in frequency over the past 20 years.

Hazing takes place in every type of on-campus organization. Students don’t have to be athletes or members of a fraternity to face social intimidation or abuse. In fact, Hazing In View found that 55% of college students involved in clubs, teams and organizations experience some form of peer-inflicted trauma. Visual media plays an increasingly important role in modern hazing. We live in a digital age and according to “38 Dramatic Hazing Death Statistics,” more than 50% of peer-inflicted trauma is documented through

LSU Greek Life General Policy on Hazing

No individual student, group or student organization shall conduct or participate in any activity, occurring on or offcampus, which includes hazing. Hazing with or without the consent of the student being hazed is prohibited, and a violation of that prohibition renders both the person inflicting the hazing and the person submitting to the hazing subject to discipline.

photographs and posted online via social media. So the shame, pain and humiliation of hazing often has lasting digital imprints.

There is no government agency that tracks statistics on hazing, and reports of on-campus social trauma are usually filed as “accidents.” Universities and sociology departments are independently responsible for conducting research on hazing. Most available studies are over a decade old, and there’s no way of knowing how deep the problems associated with on-campus social violence really go. Therefore, as Christians, we are responsible for trusting the discernment of the Holy Spirit and doing our part to shine a light on student coercion, humiliation and violence.

The symptoms of hazing are usually easy to detect. Signs of bodily harm (cigarette burns, lacerations, bruises, etc.), depression (self-imposed social isolation, anxiety, extreme levels of stress, etc.) and poor academic performance are three typical indicators of peer-inflicted trauma. So whether you are a student, friend or a parent, alert college officials if you suspect someone close to you has been hazed. University administrators are well equipped to investigate acts of social violence and are prepared to respond quickly when a student’s safety is at stake. With a little help from our community, the Baton Rouge 2017-18 academic year could see on-campus hazing eliminated. But it’s up to each of us as individuals to recognize the signs of social violence and act accordingly.


Trapper was born on the lip of Lake Pontchartrain. He was raised there, reading in the salt-flecked breeze on a splintered wharf that jutted into South Pass. Never bored, he divides his time between trying to raise organic chickens in the Livingston Parish piney woods, traveling to different time zones, and exercising his mind by steadily learning as much as he can. He graduated from LSU in 2013 and Wayne State University in 2015. He is a busy fiction writer and contemplative naturalist. He has a great time living life.

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June 2017, Millennial Life

Balancing Faith, Talent and Humility


Balancing Faith, Talent, and Humility

by Trapper S. Kinchen and photos by Beth Townsend

The Foto sisters work hard to remeber the purpose behind their music: to serve the Kingdom of God.

Millennials often look inward for answers to important problems, and that allows anxiety, panic, fear, and insecurity to overwhelm our faith. However—when we take a step back, look to Jesus for guidance, and put our skills to good use—there is nothing that can stop us from reaching our full potential.

The Foto Sisters are three Millennials leading incredibly interesting lives. Addy, 24, Katie, 22, and Gaylyn, 20 perform professionally as a vocal/strings trio. With sixteen years of musical experience under their belts, the sisters are well familiar with the difficulties of balancing faith, talent, and humility.

They began studying piano as little girls. Their parents wanted them to be as well rounded as possible, and music seemed like the ideal outlet for creative self-expression. It didn’t take long for the sisters to develop an aptitude for sound and rhythm, and, eventually, they began training on string instruments.

Not long after they got started, their mother signed them up for their first public performance. Addy said, “There was an ad in one of our home school papers asking for children to perform at an assisted living facility. So, our mom, who has a heart for elderly people, took us to play the piano.” Their recital was a hit, and the rest is history.

Their parents have also encouraged them stay humble, reminding them to use their talents for God’s Glory. Over time, they have reconciled their faith with their artistry by working together to express Jesus’s love through melody. And, even though they’re three members of a single group, each sister has maintained her own unique identity.

Sixteen years later, the Foto Sisters have become deeply accomplished and well-respected musicians. All three women are composed, confident, and wonderfully expressive. Katie says their father taught them professionalism, and she credits their mother for teaching them poise. She said, “Whenever we were being shy as kids, Mom would say, ‘girls, stop being so shy. That’s thinking about yourself and not considering others. It’s pride’.”

The Fotos: Jimmy (dad), Katie, Gaylyn, Adelyn, and Carolyn (Mon)

Their parents have encouraged them to stay humble, reminding them to use their talents for God’s Glory. And, even though they’re three members of a single group, each sister has maintained her own unique identity. Like the Body of Christ, they use their individual strengths to support the group as a whole.

Like the Body of Christ, they use their individual strengths to support the group as a whole. They even described the different roles each of them plays within the trio:

Addy said, “Katie is a mix between Gaylyn and myself. She’ll follow with creative ideas, and she’s amazing at getting tasks done. She’s just so diligent.”

            Gaylyn said, “Addy is the most creative. She handles our arrangements and, most of the time, decides what we wear on stage.”

            Katie said, “Gaylyn’s a very merciful person with lots of heart. She’s always driving us to feel the music from within. We call her the lioness or the sergeant, because she keeps us practicing.”

Of course, even though they often get along, the Foto Sisters have their fair share of arguments. Katie said, “We have strong disagreements sometimes.” But, in the end, they resolve their issues with compassion and mutual respect.

Like many Millennials, the sisters live at home with their parents. And like most of us, they sometimes struggle with finding a balance between asserting their independence and respecting their parents and one another. Addy said, “As of now, we’re three adults—plus mom and dad—living in the same house. So, we have daily struggles. Especially with mom and dad learning how to allow we three girls to make our own decisions. And it’s up to us to show them grace as they figure that out.”

They also rely on God’s Grace to help them muster the courage and energy to perform. Adrenaline and anxiety often well up before a show, but the Foto Sisters are professionals. They say a prayer, step out in faith, and let the Lord work through them to reach the audience. Here’s what they had to say about being on stage:

Addy said, “To be honest, my favorite part of music is the involvement of people. Getting to talk with people after a performance is the best.”

            Gaylyn said, “For me, performing is about the buildup. You practice and practice for that goal, and when you’re performing you get to express yourself.”

            Katie said, “I like to perform. It’s kind of thrilling. I like a little bit of pressure on stage.”

As artists, the Foto Sisters are constantly checking their pride. They work hard to remember the purpose behind their music: to serve the Kingdom of God. Katie said, “There are many times when you think you don’t even want to step out onto that stage. And you have to ask God to work through you, otherwise you’d have nothing to offer the audience.”

Even though their lives might seem a little idealistic, the sisters face the same emotional, spiritual, and psychological hurdles as the rest of us. It isn’t always easy for them to rely on God, but they spend a great deal of time seeking His presence. They also count on the emotional support of their friends. Katie said, “It’s all about being honest with the Lord and being accountable to people.”

Music is the Foto Sisters’ fulltime job, and it takes up most of their time. They practice on weekdays, perform most weekends, go back and forth between Baton Rouge and Nashville for recording sessions, and spend quiet time with God every day. Yet, on top of all that, they still manage to find ways to have fun. When they aren’t busy practicing, they play Ultimate Frisbee, cook, romp outdoors, shop, and spend time with close friends.

Long term, they aren’t sure what lies in store, but they are excited to continue making music for as long as God keeps opening doors for them to do so. For now, though, they have a sincere passion for sharing His Love with audiences through song. Katie said, “We definitely want to travel and perform more in the coming years.”

Their newest project, which will be released this month, is—as yet—untitled. The album, produced in Nashville, mixes incredible production value and epic arrangements with their signature, airy, performance style. Their new record—and all their other music—is available via their website, on iTunes, and through most other online music resources. You can also check them out on YouTube and Facebook.

No matter who you are, where you live, or what you do, God has an ideal plan for your life. But it’s up to you to surrender your pride, tap into your talents, and answer His calling. Nothing worthwhile ever happens without hard work. Just ask the Foto Sisters. If you’re willing to put forth the effort and seek God, Christ will help you meet every challenge with courage.


Trapper was born on the lip of Lake Pontchartrain. He was raised there, reading in the salt-flecked breeze on a splintered wharf that jutted into South Pass. Never bored, he divides his time between trying to raise organic chickens in the Livingston Parish piney woods, traveling to different time zones, and exercising his mind by steadily learning as much as he can. He graduated from LSU in 2013 and Wayne State University in 2015. He is a busy fiction writer and contemplative naturalist. He has a great time living life.

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March 2017, Millennial Life

Millennials and The Big 3

Millennials and The Big 3

by Trapper S. Kinchen

The milestones we reach on the path of self-discovery remind us how far we’ve come. Of all the goals we meet on life’s journey, few are more significant or intimidating than “The Big 3.” They are the holy trinity of personal growth—leaving home, forming adult relationships, and pursuing a career—and, like each generation before us, we must rely on our faith in order to move out, move on, and move forward.

Moving Out
“I thought being alone meant that I would be lonely.” –Keli Hayden

According to Business Insider, 32% of people eighteen to thirty-four live with their parents, and—when you first join the workforce—staying at home can be a great way to build financial momentum. However, for many millennials, living with family sometimes leads to low self-esteem.

Until recently, twenty-six-year-old Keli Hayden was one of the 32% still in the nest. She graduated from Southeastern in 2012, and worked several small jobs before taking her current position a year and a half ago. Yet, in spite of her many successes, she was hesitant to live alone.

In January, she decided it was time to strike out on her own. So, with all her belongings loaded into the bed of a pickup, she moved into a small apartment about fifteen minutes away from her childhood home. It was a hasty but necessary transition. She said, “I needed a chance to get to know myself, all by myself.”

Hayden was nervous about being alone, but she pushed her insecurity aside and took a leap of faith. Despite her initial hesitation, she had no trouble adapting to life on her own. She said, “I’ve been completely surprised at how okay I am just spending time with myself. I thought that being alone meant I would be lonely, but that isn’t true at all.”
Her new address has become a safe haven. Hayden is now able, for the first time, to do the sort of peaceful soul-searching that leads to personal growth. She said, “I find that I’m devoting a little more time to regularly reading my Bible. It used to be difficult for me to be alone in the quiet. I was afraid of it, but now, I find it relaxing.”

Hayden’s decision to be independent is the most positive choice she’s ever made. Not only has it given her room to breath, but it’s also allowed her to mature. She said, “It has been a great opportunity for me to trust myself, and being self-reliant has been great for my confidence.”

Many millennials, like Hayden, battle uncertainty, but leaving home is a decision we all must eventually make. Let the Lord guide you, and listen to the urging of the Holy Spirit. If fear is holding you back, consider following Hayden’s lead, and let faith guide you to independence.



Moving On
“I used to be codependent.” –Cara Turnage

Millennials are slowly starting to settle down. Indeed, many of us are already well on our way to finding true love, and that pursuit often leads to unexpected self-discovery. Our strengths, flaws and insecurities are easily exposed when we open ourselves up to someone else. So, learning how to cultivate authentic relationships is one of the most important parts of growing up.

Cara Turnage is a real-life example of how searching for romance can lead to personal growth. After nearly a decade of dating, she recently became engaged to her longtime boyfriend. She’s twenty-four, and despite her relative youth, has devoted a tremendous amount of time and effort to building a strong romantic relationship.

When she first started dating, Turnage said, “I was very codependent.” She formed unhealthy attachments, and often found herself being needy. However, once she began spending time with her now-fiancé, she started doing some deep self-reflecting.

Initially, Turnage and her fiancé fell into a destructive pattern of separating and getting back together. Then, after realizing their relationship was unstable, they began working on themselves independently. He joined the military and served in Afghanistan, and she learned to appreciate herself as an individual.

After taking some time away from dating, Turnage shed her codependence. She said, “I grew out of it. A lot of that has to do with finding peace. His deployment to Afghanistan taught me how to be totally by myself. It was such a healthy period of self-discovery.” She is now entirely comfortable being alone, and that has helped her create a healthier partnership with her fiancé.

They will be married this April Fools’ Day in front of a small group of family and close friends. Although much thought has gone into planning the wedding, the bulk of Turnage’s energy has been dedicated to preparing herself for matrimony. She is completely focused on building a marriage based on communication and mutual respect, rather than concentrating all her efforts on the ceremony.
There’s a great deal of truth in the saying, “You can only live with someone else after you’ve learned to live with yourself.” God wants us to be whole, happy and healthy individuals, and learning how to be better on our own positively impacts our relationships. It is smart to approach a partnership the way Turnage has, with a focus on communication, understanding and empathy.

Moving Forward
“There’s more to being alive than working nine to five.” –Ross Kinchen

Most of us are just beginning to enter the job market, and according to Time, there are more than 55 million millennials currently active in the American workforce. So, whether you’re searching for a job or trying to start a life-long profession, you probably realize how much is at stake. It might seem hard to settle on a career path when your future happiness hangs in the balance, but making the right choice is easier than you think.

My brother, Ross Kinchen, is twenty-four years old and a recent college graduate. Last August, he started working for a land surveying company in Houma, and even though he’s still a rookie, he has developed a real passion for his work.

Most people will tell you that loving your job and achieving long-term success go hand in hand, and they’re right. It has been proven that when you pursue your passion, you’re more likely to experience career fulfillment. And workplace satisfaction is particularly important when you’re first getting started.

Of course, finding fulfillment through employment does not always translate into a large paycheck or plenty of time off. But, if you enjoy what you do, work is often its own reward. Kinchen said, “The thought, ‘Wow, I have to do this for the rest of my life’ sometimes crosses my mind, but I’m constantly reminded of how much I love what I do.”

Finding an ideal occupation can be a long process, so don’t be afraid to explore every opportunity that presents itself. Before you settle into something, be sure you’ve investigated your options. Kinchen said, “You’ve got to begin somewhere, so just start trying things out.” Be curious, put forth as much effort as possible, and, before you know it, you’ll stumble onto a job that brings you joy.

For Kinchen, one of the greatest rewards of hard work is feeling purposeful. He said, “Being personally and financially independent is priceless. It’s also a huge self-esteem booster.” Responsibility, personal growth and peace are all interconnected, so the more we trust ourselves, the more mature we become.

It’s also important to bear in mind that having an active career is only a one part of leading a full life. Kinchen says, “There’s more to being alive than working nine to five.” He’s right. After all, the Lord designed us to be both industrious and multidimensional. He wants us to have fun, serve others, and do the best we can in all aspects of our lives.

No matter where you might be in the process of tackling “The Big 3,” remember there is no greater ally or advisor than the Lord. Self-doubt, anxiety and fear of the unknown will surely do their best to keep you from experiencing the kind of self-discovery God has in store for you. But nothing can hold you back when you trust yourself and rely on faith. You are capable of doing anything well, so long as you’re determined.

TrapperHeadshotTrapper was born on the lip of Lake Pontchartrain. He was raised there, reading in the salt-flecked breeze on a splintered wharf that jutted into south Pass. Never bored, he divides his time between trying to raise organic chickens in the Livingston Parish piney woods, traveling to different time zones, and exercising his mind by steadily learning as much as he can. He graduated from Lsu in 2013 and Wayne state university in 2015. He is a busy fiction writer and contemplative naturalist. He has a great time living life.


February 2017, Millennial Life

Pursuing Romance in Our Digital World

Pursuing Romance in Our Digital World

It’s February, and the electric hum of 21st century romance is probably ringing in your ears. Love, and all that comes with it, is such a tricky thing for millennials. We are caught in the middle of a tug-of-war between the coldness of technological progress and a powerful desire for authentic human relationships. We approach love with cautious optimism, taking our time along the way.
On the surface, we appear to be a generation of singletons. Underneath, we’re all eager to find our match. Yet, the arrival of online dating and the high level of divorce among our parents make many of us wary of commitment.
Fewer Americans under 30 are married than ever before. The Pew Research Center found that “Sixty-five percent of adults ages 18-32 were married in 1960, while only 26 percent of adults that age were in 2013.” The results of that study make sense, considering the amount of social progress we have achieved over the past 57 years. Civil rights have expanded, women are more financially independent, access to higher education has steadily increased, and opportunities for young people have broadened.
Plainly put, in 2017, there is little need for millennials to rush into marriage. We get to take our time, explore the world, get to know ourselves, and be highly selective when choosing a spouse. And that’s a good thing, because, as Time indicated in a recent article, “The data shows clearly that the longer we wait to get married the more successful our marriages will be.”
The modern quest for love has led to the emergence of a strange and interesting phenomenon: Internet dating. The typical millennial is on the hunt for someone who meets all of his or her expectations, and that can be tricky, considering how specific our wants/ needs tend to be. To help solve the problem of picking a mate, the Internet matchmaking database was invented.
Between online dating services and relationship apps, our romantic options have become virtually limitless. According to Forbes, “There are more than 2,500 online dating services in the U.S. alone, with 1,000 new options every year.” We can now select traits in a potential mate the same way we customize a vehicle. Romantic, right?
But there’s a catch to having so many selections. A study outlined in Psychology Today indicates that “The more options we see, the more we fear we’ll choose the wrong one.” As handy as technology can be, it has the potential to overwhelm us with too many choices.
That’s not to say that online dating doesn’t have its benefits. Like anything else, if used sensibly, relationship apps can be incredibly helpful. Exercising wisdom is key where electronic courtship is concerned. The Lord has given us discernment, and it’s always in our best interest to heed it. If something seems fishy or dangerous, then it should probably be avoided.
marriage_1For most of us, dating – online or otherwise – is simply a fun means to an end. The ultimate personal goal for the majority of unwedded Americans is still matrimony. That’s great news, because research conducted by Daniel Gilbert, PhD., and published by the American Psychological Association indicates that married people are happier on average than their single counterparts.
Gilbert says, “Married people are happier than unmarried ones, perhaps because the single best indicator of human happiness is the quality of social relationships.”
Pew-data-large-cropGilbert’s research makes total sense when compared to the teachings of Christ. Jesus commanded us to love our fellow man, spread the Gospel, and basically, network with one another. We were created to be highly social, interactive beings, and marriage is a huge part of that. In fact, the Bible is full of Scriptures that express the importance of marriage and the happiness it can bring.
However, even though matrimony is a wonderful and holy thing, millennials have been raised in a world where marriages are easily dissolved. According to Time, the Unites States has the highest divorce rate in the Western world. Sadly, nearly half of all millennials have divorced parents.
Because marital discord is so common in this county, many of us are cautious about rushing into a lifelong commitment. Jessica Bennett of Time wrote, “We’re cynical. We are a generation raised on a wedding industry that could fund a small nation, but marriages that end before the ink has dried.”

6360491709298460881284575816_o-MAN-ONLINE-DATING-facebook        Like anything else, if used sensibly, relationship apps can be incredibly helpful. exercising wisdom is key where electronic courtship is concerned. The Lord has given us discernment, and it’s always in our best interest to heed it.

The reasons for divorce are broad and debatable. Yet, most millennials still cling to the notion of lasting love and are drawn to the promise of wedded bliss. We’re just going about things a little differently than our parents.  Our generation is highly concerned with self-discovery. We work hard at getting to know ourselves, and that’s very wise. Because, only after we accept and embrace our true selves can we begin to form a healthy romantic partnership with someone else. Codependence can be dangerous, so the quest for love really does begin on the inside.

People our age also tend to approach the prospect of a romantic relationship with positivity. Even though this sounds a little naïve, it’s actually the smart thing to do. When you focus on negativity or anticipate failure, you’re more likely to strike out. It’s easy to become frustrated, but when we rely on our faith and trust in the Lord to shepherd us in the right direction, we’re much less likely to fail.
Millennials are also good at supporting each other. Most of us have a strong network of close friends who help to keep us accountable. We’re more likely to avoid abusive or lopsided relationships when we remain honest with your friends and consider their advice.

But, we must not forget the important role the Lord plays in every aspect of our lives. The power of prayer is the most valuable tool at our disposal. God is the ultimate matchmaker, so do not hesitate to ask for His guidance in your quest for love. You just have to be willing to reach out to him, be open to what he has to say, and follow his lead.

Remember, God designed us to give and receive love. He does not want us to be lonely or isolated. He has prepared an ideal mate for each of us, but we have to be proactive in our search, always remembering to trust in Him and love ourselves.

Truly, every generation comes of age in a world different from its parents’. Millennials are busy trying to navigate the space between technology and human relationships while simultaneously searching for true love. With a little time and some serious help from God, we’ll figure things out. And, when we do, there’s reason to believe ours will be some of the happiest and most successful marriages the world has ever seen.