Alaina is an LA-based wardrobe stylist with more than five years of experience in personal, commercial, and editorial styling. Passionate about turning concepts into reality, Alaina specializes in putting together essential pieces that elevate her clients’ personal brand and tell a visual story. She is currently a stylist for Nordstrom at The Grove. As a freelance stylist and consultant, Alaina is happiest when she is bringing ideas scribbled on paper and images posted on a vision board to life for others to experience – her version of art.
Kathleen Cooke: Fear. It is saturating our lives with wars, strikes, and ongoing uncertainties. What has God taught you about dealing with fear?
Alaina Griffin: One thing that God has recently taught me came from a dream. In the dream, it was dark, and I was walking to my vehicle. An overwhelming sense of fear and of being lost swept over me. Suddenly, all the lights around me went out. I fell on the ground in crippling fear, unable to move. After some time, I realized that an electrical outage did not cause the darkness around me and in front of me, but because my eyes were closed. I started praying to God that my eyes would be opened. This struggle caused me to wake up from my dream.
What was God revealing? To move forward, we must pray, as Paul prayed in Ephesians 1:18, that God opens our Spiritual Eyes so that we can confidently know and understand God’s WORD and God’s WILL. This enlightenment will transform our walk with God and change how we navigate waiting seasons, tough decisions, life lessons, trials, and triumphs to get to the blessings and promises of the Lord. Finally, spiritual sight causes us to seek God in order to capture in the Spirit what is not yet manifested on Earth. Spiritual sight activates us to speak by faith into existence what is seen, not by the natural eye. The Word God gave me to share is: See it so that you can seize it (even by force if necessary). With this, we are powerful, and all things become possible.
Kathleen: We are living in an increasingly competitive world. Our ambition to succeed can often overpower us, and we can make bad choices. How have you learned to wait on God’s perfect timing and will?
Alaina: Ambition is a topic that is definitely an issue in the town we live and work in – Hollywood. As believers of Christ, we can get swept up in chasing ambition and dreams if we’re not mindful and rooted in God. We must remember that we are IN the world and not OF this world. We are called to infuse and push God’s culture into this world. To do this, we must do as it says in Matthew 6:33: see first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (ways of doing things). The ways of the Lord are and will always be contrary to the way of the world, which measures success in riches and the number of followers, titles, and degrees a person has. When we seek God daily and trust Him, He will help us to navigate through each day in our professional careers. Sometimes it is a waiting season, and sometimes it is a “go now moment!” God must be the One speaking and leading, not ambition, society, vanity, or cultural pressures.
Kathleen: Many women today are struggling with an identity crisis. What has God taught you about being unique and finding peace in who He says you are, not what the world wants to define you as?
Alaina: I have found that people in this town suffer particularly from identity crises. I have encountered people who are always “ON”- in character, preparing for the next role. As children of God, the Bible makes it clear that we are special – a royal priesthood, 1 Peter 2:9. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, Psalms 139:14, and set apart, Deuteronomy 14:2. God invested time in creating and forming each person to fulfill the plan He has laid out at the beginning of time for Kingdom advancement. How do we find peace and come to know who God called us to be? One way is through our proximity to others- community. Groups like Influence Women, with other like-minded women on similar journeys, will help God’s calling for our lives to become clearer. The other way is through our proximity to God – intimacy. As we grow closer to God, He shows us how to love. How to love Him, ourselves, and others. In loving ourselves, we see ourselves and value ourselves as God sees and values us.
Kathleen: God tells us to Go. To be an influence in all the world. Why is that essential?
Alaina: When Jesus left His disciples, He gave a mandate that echoed throughout the generations, and it was to make disciples of men. As believers, we all have been given a mandate to lead others to Christ and into a deeper relationship. We were created and called to be leaders in this world- influencers. Matthew 5:13 tells us that we are the salt of the earth. It then goes on to say in the next verse that you are the light of the world. As believers, we were created and formed to function as salt and as a light in the world. By its design- light cannot be hidden, and salt cannot not be salty. It is just not possible. We are called to be a light at our jobs, at home, on the subway, in line at the grocery store, and in neighborhoods.
Thanks to technology, we can go and be influencers around the world without leaving our homes. As God has freely given us life, purpose, identity, giftings, spiritual blessings, healing, deliverance, His Word, and so much more, how could we possibly not share the good news and our testimonies with others? Not operating as God’s light or salt causes us to have an identity crisis and creates frustration and feelings of hopelessness, meaninglessness, and restlessness in us. It creates God-size issues that only God can correct. Answering the mandate to go simply means allowing God to navigate our next move and to work through us so that we can become the answers God called us to be on earth.
Connect with Alaina:
Find out more about her work at: arashedastyling.com
Facebook and Instagram: @arashedaconsulting
Are you trusting God through the process? The ins and outs of life can take unexpected turns, but read this month’s INNER VIEW with Jodie Swee as she encourages us to grow, view failure through a different lens, and earn our place of influence with others.
Jodie Swee is a spiritual director, dating coach, and founder of Topanga Social, a dating service for imperfect Christians. Jodie has authored four Bible study series and shared her joy and authenticity with audiences for over 20 years. She lives in the South Bay of Los Angeles with her husband of 16 years and their 2 daughters.
Kathleen Cooke: What’s the one thing you’d like to share with women that God has recently taught you?
Jodie Swee: Trust the process! Growth and accomplishment don’t usually happen overnight. If you spend quality time with Jesus regularly, seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and do your best with what you have, then trust that the Lord will take care of you and lead you to where you need to be.
When you trust the process, you discover an invitation to experience things differently. Failure becomes an opportunity to learn, detours become adventures, and the lack of control over external circumstances becomes a chance to surrender your internal perspective to the Lord.
I recently had a conversation with my best friend, and at that moment, I wasn’t trusting the process. Let me share with you what she told me.
She said, “Babies have to grow.” And she’s right. Our babies…our hopes, dreams, and expectations for the future… need to grow. They need to grow so that the Lord can teach us how to take care of them before they become unruly teenagers with their own ideas!
So, my dear friends, trust the process and enjoy the adventure it brings.
Kathleen: Failure today often dismantles us. How have you dealt with failures in your life?
Jodie: I hate failure. I loathe it. It makes me feel all squishy and small inside, and for many years I used to hide from it behind excuses. But not anymore. Instead of running and hiding from my failure, the Lord has taught me to turn and face it. Don’t get me wrong, I still HATE it, and it makes me feel icky inside. My initial instinct is still to run and hide, but the Lord has granted me the ability to pause before doing so (or before getting too far) and embrace my failure.I don’t embrace it for long, but rather than run from my failure, I receive it…and then bring it to the Lord and yield it. When I do that, he transforms it into something else…something beautiful and beneficial to me and/or others.
Twenty years ago, I was speaking at a young adult event in a church. I completely bombed. After I finished, someone in the crowd actually shouted, “That’s it?” I thought I would be consumed by shame. I blamed it on my lack of talent/skill and ended up quitting speaking for a decade. Until the Lord invited me to try again (which is a sweet, sweet story for another time).
Last year, I was speaking at another church event, and once again, I completely bombed. I experienced all the familiar feelings, but then I laughed (a little) and brought it to the Lord. In doing so, I discovered an opportunity to deepen my spiritual practices before and after speaking. The failure became a gift that will serve me and others for the rest of my life.
For a long time, I thought that someday I would be so wise and experienced that I wouldn’t fail anymore. Bless my naive little heart! Now, I am indeed wiser and more experienced…and I know I’ll never outgrow failure (this side of eternity). It’s not something to outgrow or run away from. It’s something to embrace, even with its uncomfortable feelings, and surrender so we can experience more of God’s transformative love in our lives.
Kathleen: You have a deep passion to help others with growing strong, meaningful relationships. What have you learned about developing relationships that last and can be trusted?
Jodie: I have a deep and fierce love for people, and I pastor many. It is my purpose and passion. However, personally, I tend to be somewhat of a loner. Surprisingly, my inner circle is quite small, not by choice but by some intentional design, I believe. Throughout my adult life, I have consistently sought out a steady mentor, but I have never had one. Nevertheless, I have been fortunate to receive bits of wisdom from older friends who have come and gone throughout my journey.
I have ADHD, and I’m not awesome at keeping up with people who live far away. (Out of sight, out of mind is LEGIT for us neurodivergent homies.) I didn’t meet my best friend until I was 42. She was leading worship; I was giving the message…and we bonded for life over the realization that we both experienced the love of Jesus through the TV series Outlander. (That’s weird, I know…but that’s why she’s my bestie.)
My relational experience over the years has taught me to enjoy and delight in what I have, grieve and release what has been lost as a natural part of life, and always be on the lookout for my next kindred spirit to pop up in an unexpected place.
Kathleen: What’s the one thing you’ve learned about how we can influence others?
Jodie: Honestly? I’ve learned that influence can be a sneaky and destructive beast, and it is important for us to be mindful of how we wield it and the individuals we permit to influence us.
Influence should not be won; it should be earned.
I believe that it is earned by faithfully pursuing our calling with our whole lives (public and private), being honest and saying “I don’t have an answer to that” when we don’t, and being intentional about sitting under the authority and influence of God. Any influence we have not supported by a firm foundation in Jesus is just an invitation for that sneaky Satan to twist and misuse. Influence shouldn’t puff us up or make us strong; it should keep us humble and desperately in need of the Lord’s guidance.
Connect with Jodie:
Book a free intro session at: JodieSwee.com
Instagram: @jodieswee and @topangasocial
Sometimes self-centeredness can look like striving and having an internal hyper-focus on yourself. If the focus is on you, you, you, then there might be a need for readjustment. Read this month’s INNER VIEW with producer Amanda Ashley Miess as she shares how she took the attention and pressure off of herself and put it where it belongs… back onto God.
Amanda Ashley Miess is a writing, producing, and directing triple threat who has over ten years of experience working in almost every facet of filmmaking. A creative storyteller and idea generator, she’s had her hands in film, TV, and digital media and has worked for some of the most influential names in the industry, including Jerry Bruckheimer, The Walt Disney Studios, and Warner Bros. Amanda has developed, produced and directed a host of digital kid-led variety shows for big brands such as Disney Princess, DC Kids, and Polly Pocket, with some videos reaching well over 1 million views. She also co-directed the Pure Flix mini-series The Power Couple, starring Alexa and Carlos PenaVega. She is currently a Senior Producer at Little Dot Studios, an award-winning digital content agency and media network owned by All3Media. A graduate of USC, she has also made several short films, including festival winners Silence Is Olden and Remember Me, winner of 9 awards at LA’s 168 Film Festival. A kid at heart with a strong passion for making influential content for today’s youth, Amanda loves to do anything a 12-year-old would do…. including but not limited to dancing, backflips, board games, crafts, and making goofy music videos.
Kathleen Cooke: This industry is about “hurry up and wait.” How have you learned to wait on God and embrace His peace?
Amanda Ashley Miess: Has God ever “recently” taught you something that He’s actually been bringing to you layer by layer for years? I have! He is so patient. After spending way too much time trying to earn people’s respect and affirmation in this industry, I am finally starting to embrace the fact that I only need my Lord’s approval. I literally have a Google Drive that is 98% full with unproduced scripts, pitch decks, and story ideas. My Lord has shown me that my value comes from Him alone; all my giftings are from Him and are for Him. He will open the doors in His way and in His timing.
One vision He showed me years ago that I’ll never forget: I saw a dog pile of people clambering on each other to reach one key dangling from the ceiling. This is what succeeding in the entertainment industry often feels like. As I stood to the side, watching them climb over each other, fighting for that one key, the Lord told me to instead walk forward towards a small door that was shaped like me. Only I could fit through it, and I was the key. I have spent many years striving to reach that prized “key” hanging from the ceiling and have grown disappointed in God and my abilities when I have not obtained it. Recently, He has instilled in me a newfound peace and purpose. Even if I don’t have all the answers and I am still learning what my true purpose is in this industry, I know I am exactly where I need to be, and I know that even through the mundane, He is using me to bring His Kingdom on earth.
Kathleen: What do you do when it seems like God is silent and you can’t connect to Him?
Amanda: The times I feel most disconnected from God are when the enemy gets me to look at my human efforts and believe that my works aren’t good enough. Even in my spiritual walk, it is easy for me to believe that I am not praying hard enough, reading the Bible long enough, fasting enough, or ministering enough. I start to believe that nothing I do is ever good enough, and so I give up. That’s when I have felt like God is silent, or I am not close to Him. I think that I need to improve my relationship with God and work harder at loving Him and serving Him. But the truth is that if I believe what Jesus did on the cross puts me in right standing with my Heavenly Father, then I am in right relationship with Him right now! Even if I’m not “feeling it,” I am connected. I am pleasing to Him. Every little thing I do for Him or every thought towards Him counts. He is still moving in my life, and progress is being made. When I remind myself of that truth, connecting with God is easy. He’s right there, and I’m right there with Him. (more…)