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Chat with Open Door Sisterhood Podcast Hosts Alex & Krista

Chat with Podcast Hosts Alex & Krista

Krista Gilbert & Alexandra Kuykendall

{Editor’s note: In a departure from the usual fare, today on the blog we’re treating you to an inside glimpse of the visionaries behind The Open Door Sisterhood, Alexandra Kuykendall and Krista Gilbert. We talk some about what makes them tick, and more about their recently launched podcast. Many thanks to blogger Jody McNatt for crafting this thoughtful Q&A. Read on and be inspired by what can happen when two sisters put their heads together and determine, by God’s leading, to make something happen!}

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Okay, ladies, first things first: How do two women — a girl from Colorado and a gal from Idaho – join forces, throw a retreat and host a podcast?

Alex: I mostly try to keep up with Krista! Truly none of this would be happening were it not for her initiative. We try to split tasks, though, as we each have different gifts. We spend a lot of time on Voxer, texting on the phone and video conferencing. Technology allows us to plan and execute these things from our two kitchens. I am so thankful God placed us in this era where we can collaborate from states away and still drive our kids to soccer practice.

Krista: We run on prayer!  Seriously.  And we take one step at a time, asking God to give us light for the next and the next and the next.  We don’t always have everything planned out.  We’d like to plan a little further ahead than we do now, but we’ve decided that taking steps forward, even if the entire way isn’t paved, is better than standing still.  And honestly, with 8 kids between us, we fist bump a lot that we’ve gotten anywhere at al!  Like Alex said, God has allowed the use of technology to keep us connected and grow our ministry.  It’s such a gift!

Alex: How is this even possible when most of us struggle to meet a friend for a cup of coffee? My house is never clean and Krista doesn’t sleep. We all have to give somewhere :).

Krista: Something always has to give.  For me that is TV and social media.  I limit how much time I spend on each.  If I hop on social, it’s going to be intentional.  And if I watch TV, it’s with my teenagers and I’m trying to connect with them.  Other than that, I try to stay focused on the tasks that God calls me to each day—whether that is producing a podcast or cleaning kitchen floor—and not get distracted.

You two met in college and have been great friends ever since. {For more on that story, listen to podcast episode 21.} Tell us about the yin-yang of your relationship.

Alex: Ha! We appreciate our differences. Krista is a great conversationalist and I’m good at looking at things from various angles. We are different in lots of ways, introvert vs extrovert, city girl vs country girl, but our commonalities bond us. And we trust each other. I’d say we are able to work so well together because we trust each other.

Krista: On the strengths-finder assessment, Alex and I actually have the same strengths.  What this means is that even though our personalities are very different, our hearts beat the same.  We desire for people to be connected, to find deep meaning in their lives and work, and for people to be encouraged to grow into their callings and strengths – at home and in the larger world.

Alex is on a true sister-level for me.  I believe she wants the best for me in my life — she looks out for me like family.  It helps that our husbands are best friends, also, from college.  This is a part of why we feel so close also – our relationship includes our husbands, and that makes it feel more whole.  Ultimately, God just knew.  He just knew.  Amazing.  What a gift.

Tell us about your vision for the Open Door Sisterhood, your mission, and how it all got off the ground.  

Alex: Though we are opposites in some ways, we share a common heartbeat. We want to live sincere lives for God’s glory, where our private selves and our public selves have little disconnect. We want to cherish and honor the families and friendships in our care, especially while we’re in our current stage of carpooling and dinner making. We want other women to experience that together we are a stronger force for God’s purposes on earth, and we all benefit when we celebrate our unique God-given talents.

So a few years ago while sharing a hotel room at a conference we started talking about our need to have a getaway that was both practical and inspirational. A small group of women, not a conference, more like a retreat. From that The Open Door Retreat was formed. And then we saw a need to share this conversation with a broader group of women, and the podcast came from there. Mostly we want to encourage our sisters that God made them on purpose for a purpose. That those quirks and talents that make them different are exactly what God wants to use as a gift to others.

In your words, what is “The Open Door Sisterhood” all about?

Krista: For me, it’s about encouraging one another to believe God. Believe who He says He is and what He promises. And then to encourage one another to live from that belief in our daily decisions.

We like to say we are encouraging women to “be world changers for good right where they are.” That means believing God can use all of us regardless of our circumstances.

Alex: I also believe the Sisterhood is about calling out where we see God working in each other. Sometimes it’s difficult to see that when our life circumstances are pushing in on us from all sides. But a sister can often spot a talent, a tender spot in our heart, our growth in an area, when we are blinded by life swirling around us. It’s this calling out that helps us see how God is moving.

And finally we want women to walk through doors God opens. It starts with believing Him, finding where He’s working in our own life and being obedient to the next step.

Let’s talk about the podcast. What is its goal and what do you hope to see happen?

Alex: The Open Door Podcast is both a way for us to highlight women we esteem and admire, and to encourage other women who are listening.  Our hope is that through listening women would truly dislodge—get unstuck—in their own lives.  That they would be ask “what is God calling ME to do?” and then take steps in that direction.  It could be that their marriage needs more attention, and so they take a step toward their husband. Or maybe there is a void in the local school and so she feels compelled to fill it.  Every woman is unique and will therefore have an individual call on her life.  Our hope is that the podcast will help draw that out.

Krista: We also hope that the podcast will be helpful to women as they navigate life.  Our “Hey Sister” show specifically chooses a topic and then breaks it down.  Recently we had one about helping parents prepare their kids for college. That is a felt need, so we are trying to meet some of those.  The topics will not hit everyone, but that’s OK!

Krista, you’ve said that in podcasting, you’ve found your medium. What makes it yours?

I recently read a book called The Boys in the Boat about the 1936 University of Washington’s Olympic crew team.  When they find their perfect rhythm rowing together, each one in harmony with the next, they call it their “swing.”  In podcasting I believe I have found my swing.  God has given me a deep love for conversation, questions, and people.  I truly adore people and am riveted as I hear their stories on every level—past history, passions, family, surroundings, experiences… all of it.  In podcasting that is what I get to do.  My job is to draw people out and talk to them about who they are, about their unique story, and about their growth—both personally and in faith.  I absolutely love it!  When you are in your swing, you don’t feel like your job is work, and that’s how I feel!

Explain the connection between your retreat-throwing, your podcast-hosting and your book-writing.

Alex: The retreat stemmed from our own writing/speaking life and a feeling that we needed a circle of women who were pursuing the same calling who could spur us on. And then the podcast spun out of our core values. We wanted to extend the same encouragement to women outside of the limited retreat circle. {Episode 21 again gives an overview of how all of this came about.}

For me writing is my strength. It is where I feel most comfortable, and also where I believe I’m most effective. So I need to stay focused on this area even though I’m easily distracted by the good things happening with the retreat and podcast. The Sisterhood spurs me on. As I talk to the women we’re interviewing on the podcast, I’m reminded of how I’m uniquely wired. It gives me the motivation I need to keep going.

Krista: The retreat is a mastermind group.  That means that we are meeting for the specific purpose of moving forward in our area of calling.  It also is intentionally small so that deeper relationships can be built in an intimate setting.  This is strategic. The retreat has to be small to accomplish its purposes.  However, we don’t want to be exclusive.   We want to offer some of the same “spurring on” that happens at the retreat to a broader group of women.  This is why we felt the podcast would be the best way to do this.

How does my writing fit?  Well, it’s what God called me to do (in writing Reclaiming Home).  So, in many ways, it is a living out of the philosophy of the sisterhood.

… AND how do these things combine with real-life living/mothering/wifing?

Alex:  Again, messy house. And the Open Door Sisterhood is my “hobby,” how I spend my free time. I still only have 24-hours in my day like everyone else; this is where I spend my “extra.”

Krista: I try to multitask. If I’m waiting at soccer practice, I use that time to edit the podcast since we do all of our own production.  I work really hard to protect my time and make sure that I’m using it well.  I do all of my errands on one day.  I limit how much I attend social events during the day.  I work out at home instead of the gym to save time. It all adds up.  Being a wise time manager is something I’ve had to learn, and I’m still learning!

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Chat with Podcast Hosts Alex & Krista

Married 26 years, Jody McNatt and her husband, Rick, live in Atlanta, Georgia with their five children ranging from age 8 to 21. When she’s not sorting socks or scraping Rice Krispies from cereal bowls, Jody enjoys writing, speaking, design, and photography. Her blog, Even The Sparrow –– which started with the adoption of their youngest daughter from China — encourages women in the areas of faith, marriage and motherhood.

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