“There’s a difference in how you were raised and why you were born…”—Sammy Sherrill

OEB’s founder, Janna Kainos, pointed out this statement above to me recently. It made me begin thinking about life: my own life, our interns’ lives, our friends’ lives, and my two daughters’ lives.

We all have different stories, paths, and moments that have shaped us. But, each of us has the opportunity to become more than what was imagined by our parents, our teachers, our family, our friends—even ourselves.

In the Bible, David, who was raised to be a lowly shepherd, became a powerful king. Of his life, he wrote:

“You saw who you created me to be before I became me!”—Psalm 139:16 (TPT)

I have always loved Psalm 139. On my wrist, I wear a medical alert bracelet because of a blood disorder I have. On that bracelet, I have “Psalm 139” engraved. It reminds me that God knew about this disorder before I was ever born.

That reminder helps me live beyond the fear of the disorder and into embracing each day to its fullest. I work toward becoming the person God knew I could be (disorder and all) “before I ever became me!”

Like my blood disorder, some people have been raised with something they have known since birth that brings crippling fear into their lives. That fear pulls them down into something other than and less than they could be.

Maybe it was a difficult childhood, or a disorder handed down, or a tragic life experience that is significant in their story. It has been this way for some of our OEB interns.

It is amazing to watch these women as they refocus.

They push past what used to shape them, what told them lies about themselves, and what crippled them from living fully. It is then that they begin working toward the strength we see in them, the beauty God sees in them, and what He knew they could be before they ever “became.”

They are women of great value and purpose.

We often get caught up and shaped by how things appear, especially in today’s social media world. Some things appear to be “perfect:” The perfect family, the perfect house, the perfect vacation.

On the other hand, many look at the “broken” with disgust or indifference: the homeless camp, the drug addict, the prison inmate, the alcoholic.

Wrong focus can cripple us.

When we change our viewing lens and refocus, we have a beautiful opportunity to live our lives to the fullest and become all that God knew we could be. We can then step up, coming alongside others and helping them grow into more than they ever imagined possible.

It has been a joy to be a part of OEB. I get to cheer on our interns as they refocus on who they can become. It is hope and renewal in action. It is the beautiful reality of the “What if?” moment in Janna Kainos’ story:

“What if there were a way to show other women with no hope, God’s hope? What if He used my past for His good?”

Janna refocused, seeking to discover who God chose her to be.

She found hope in God. She was encouraged by the “cheering on” she received from others. OEB was birthed out of that refocusing!

For Janna, being shaped by a life of alcoholism and pain brought to life a non-profit organization that helps women from compromised backgrounds to become what they were born to be: women of great value and purpose.

“There is a difference in how you were raised and why you were born…”

Who were you born to be? Who can you cheer on?

Refocus your lens, take a look, and step up!

—Julie Gatewood, OEB Board Member

Image of old vintage camera, shoes, and case on the ground