Jimi Cravity: I feel like sometimes when we go through trials, when we go through hard times, challenging, difficult times, we feel like God is on the other side of the earth, but the Bible says that God is near to those who are brokenhearted.
A Time to Grieve, A Time to Heal: Jimi Cravity & Leslie Means – Episode #362
Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. There are no guarantees that we won’t face heartache and disappointment in life. But God guarantees that there is deep meaning in all the seasons of our life, and that grief can eventually give way to joy. This is reiterated in scripture, where in John 16:20, it says “You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.” Whether we are grieving the loss of a person, or experiencing disappointment that we haven’t found what we’re looking for in life, God will find a way to bring us beauty from the ashes.
Singer and songwriter Jimi Cravity is a two-time Dove Award nominee whose music has made its way into the hands of artists like Ludacris and Usher. Cravity faced the tragic loss of his son and made a stunning discovery about God and music during his deepest sadness. Leslie Means thought she was living her dream as a news anchor, but always felt that she was made for something more. With the encouragement of her husband Kyle, Leslie stepped away from her news job and went on to create an online community that helps women in times of need—Her View From Home—and found what she’d been meant to do all along.
Let’s start with Jimi’s story.
I love making music that inspires people. I view myself as an artist who is a Christian rather than a Christian artist, and I believe that my faith inspires my songs and I enjoy it when people are uplifted by the songs that I write in context for the corporate church, for the local church, that helps people connect with God. I also enjoy when my songs are on TV or in a mainstream format, which still provides hope and still provides inspiration and peace through the Spirit of Jesus that He’s given me to inspire people. And so for me, I’ve always felt a need to write songs for the church, and that will continue as a follower of Christ. I’ve always felt a strong charge towards that, but I’ve also felt a strong charge to write songs that connect with people that may not have faith as well.
Tragedy Can’t Separate Us From God’s Love
Back in 2013, I was on the road touring, helping out with Passion, and I got a call that my son was diagnosed with cancer, liver cancer. We went through treatments, chemotherapy, and did all of that concerning cancer, and eventually, about six months into it, he passed away from liver failure.
And it was a really, really trying time for me and my family during that time. You know, we talk about grief and the nature of grief. I feel like what encouraged me the most during this time was feeling that God was present in the midst of grief, in the midst of pain, in the midst of loss, that Christ was here with me and still is.
I feel like sometimes when we go through trials, when we go through hard times, challenging, difficult times, we feel like God is on the other side of the earth, but I felt like God was in the room there with us.
And I think that encouraged and inspired me in terms of not feeling like God was distant or that God had forsaken me, but feeling like God was nearer to me as He has ever been. And of course, as a parent, you never want to become a bereaved parent. You never want to deal with that type of loss, but what I can say now on the other side of that is that God has given me beauty for ashes, that He’s given me a garment of praise instead of a spirit of heaviness, that He has turned despair into dancing, and I’m thankful for that.
“Of course, as a parent, you never want to become a bereaved parent. You never want to deal with loss, but what I can say now on the other side is that God has given me beauty for ashes, that He’s given me a garment of praise instead of a spirit of heaviness, that He has turned despair into dancing, and I’m thankful for that.” – Jimi Cravity
The Surprising Things That Connect Us to God and People
God uses different experiences in your life to open you up to new things. There’s a church that I would go to in Los Angeles called One Church, which is now the Potter’s House at One L.A. During my time there, I was still experiencing a lot of grief and still holding and trusting in God and believing in His goodness in the midst of experiencing grief. And I remember there were just Sundays where all I could do was just go into the service and I would just go to the altar and kneel and weep. And it was in those moments that I felt very near to Christ, that I felt very near to God, that I felt the nearness of His Spirit, that I felt strength, that I felt Him in those moments of bowing and kneeling at the altar there. That was a really, really remarkable experience for me.
“I remember there were Sundays where all I could do was just go into the service and I would just go to the altar and kneel and weep. And it was in those moments that I felt very near to Christ, that I felt very near to God, that I felt the nearness of His Spirit, that I felt strength, that I felt Him in those moments of bowing and kneeling at the altar there.” – Jimi Cravity
What sticks out to me I feel like—which has really been powerful for me to see, I would say in the past year—it’s just seeing how music has the power to connect people, how it’s such a universal language, and how this is a truly a gift from God to be able to do this. You know, thinking through writing songs and thinking through where the songs end up and how people connect with them, it’s just a real blessing and a real treat.
I would say the whole gamut of having an idea, creating it, bringing it to life, and then putting it out into the world for people to experience and to be encouraged by it… there’s a verse in scripture that says, you know, whenever you come together, someone has a hymn, someone has a word of encouragement, someone has a word of wisdom, and it’s all for the edification of the saints, and so I would say that whole context just sticks out to me.
The Last Amen album, I think it’s a great soundtrack to the spiritual journey. The inspiration that I drew from that title for the album and for the title track song was from Revelations. Early in the book of Revelations, Jesus is talking to the church and He’s talking about Himself. He’s saying, “I am the beginning and the end. I’m the Alpha and the Omega. I’m the faithful and true witness. I am the Amen.” [Revelations 22:13-15] And some translations translate that as, “the final amen.”
I have seen God move through music by people feeling inspired to live another day, by people feeling hope. You know, we have faith, hope and love. And I think making music is a universal language that connects with the Spirit in a deep way, it connects with the soul. And I’ve seen people give their lives to Christ through music. I’ve seen people say, “I was having trouble seeing tomorrow, but because of this song I feel inspired to go on. I feel inspired to continue in life.” Other people are saying, “Hey, I was going through this battle with cancer or this battle with health issues, and I listened to this song every day during treatment, and it helped me through this period or this season in my life.” Others saying, you know, “This song helped me at a memorial.” You know, “I was paying my respects to a family member and I really needed to hear this song, so thank you.” I feel like all of those times are times when I have seen the power of music to uplift the soul.
The Bible says that God is near to those who are brokenhearted. He also says, “Don’t fret, because never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” [Deuteronomy 31:6] And I think it’s really clear to feel that when you feel blessed, when everything is going your way, when you feel like you’re on top of the world, but it’s challenging to feel that and remember that when you are experiencing loss and when you’re experiencing some of the darkest days that you could possibly experience.
“The Bible says that God is near to those who are brokenhearted. And I think it’s really clear to feel that when you feel blessed, when everything is going your way, when you feel like you’re on top of the world, but it’s challenging to feel that and remember that when you are experiencing loss and when you’re experiencing some of the darkest days that you could possibly experience.” – Jimi Cravity
Jesus Listens, January 3rd:
You tell me in Your Word: “I have loved you with an everlasting Love. I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” This means that You knew me and loved me before time began! Yet for years I swam around in a sea of meaninglessness—searching for Love, hoping for Hope. All that time, You were pursuing me, ready to embrace me in Your compassionate arms.
You sang me a Love song whose beginning and end are veiled in eternity. You infused meaning into my mind and harmony into my heart. I want to join You in singing Your song. Please use my voice in whatever way You will, as You call people out of darkness into Your marvelous Light.
In Your brilliant Name, Jesus,
Narrator: To learn more about Jimi Cravity check out his new album, The Last Amen or follow him on social media to stay up to date. Stay tuned to Leslie Means’ story after a brief message.
When We’re Looking for Hope, Jesus Listens
Life can be overwhelming at times. Whether there are global issues that leave you feeling helpless or the day-to-day struggles that make you feel hopeless, God is still there for you—ready to hear your prayer at any time.
That’s why Sarah Young wrote the book Jesus Listens. She wanted to deliver a message of peace, love, and hope to her readers every day. Jesus Listens is a 365-day prayer devotional with short, heartfelt prayers based on Scripture, written to deepen your relationship with God and change your heart.
Learn more about Jesus Listens and download a free sample at www.jesuscalling.com/jesuslistens.
Our next guest is Leslie Means, founder of the online community Her View From Home. On paper, Leslie thought she was living her dream as a TV news anchor. But the dream wasn’t all she had hoped for, and she decided to step away from her job to consider something new.
Leslie Means: My name is Leslie Means and I am the founder of Her View from Home, most importantly though, I am a wife to my husband, Kyle, a mom to three kids. I’ll have two teens this summer. My oldest, Ella, will be fifteen, Grace will be thirteen, and then I have a little guy, Keith, and he is six.
Following the Love of Storytelling
I grew up in a house in South Central Nebraska, it was the same home that my dad grew up in, that his dad grew up in, that his dad grew up in. So the history of it is really important to me, and gosh, that house has been in our family since 1901 and now my sister and her family live there.
I remember at a very young age that I loved—I just wanted to hear what other people had to say, and what’s interesting now is that I’ve met all these women who are writers and they say the same thing, that they’re writing started at a really young age…their storytelling, like usually in grade school.
And I specifically remember a time laying with my mom in her bedroom, and I was like, “Mom, I don’t know what I’m going to do.” And she said, “You know, I think you need to go into some kind of communications, journalism or something.” And that’s what I did and went into broadcast journalism in college and I loved it.
I always thought I’d leave small town America. You know, I was on this farm, I never felt small, but I always knew there was something bigger out there. And I thought I was going to leave. And I went to college at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. And that’s where I met this cute guy named Kyle. And we ended up getting married right out of college. And we moved to Houston, Texas, for a couple of years right after right after college, and I loved it.
He had his dream job working in the NBA for the Houston Rockets, for the basketball team, and I’m this broadcast journalism girl, and it was really hard at the time to get a job in TV in that big of a market, Houston was really big. And that’s when my husband, being the good guy he is, was like, “I think we need to go back home, Les, and get your start in Nebraska.”
When we came back from Houston to Nebraska, I was like, Okay, I’m going to be here for a couple of years and then I’m going to keep working my way up. And when you’re in TV, it’s really bad pay. It is not glamorous until you hit the very top. And so when I first started, I was a weekend anchor and then a morning anchor, and I would go to work at 1 a.m. and my husband was actually working for a local sports team doing marketing and he would come home from games super late, midnight or 12:30, so we’d like high five in the hallway. He would be coming home from work and I would be going to work and it was really hard when my girls were born.
I had the opportunity after a few years to start a local talk show, and it was awesome.
On paper, it looked like my dream gig. It was finally better hours. I wasn’t working weekends, I wasn’t working mornings. I got to be in at six a.m. and leave by about one. And on paper, it just looked like this incredible job. Why would I ever want to leave? It’s everything I wanted to do.
I remember driving around for my lunch breaks and I would call my mom—and my mom and I have a really good relationship, but never have we talked that much. I mean, I would call her every day and I’d say “Something is missing. I’m not where I’m supposed to be.” I mean, my family and everything has been amazing, that was never my concern. But I just felt like there was more to my career than what I was doing.
“I remember driving around for my lunch breaks and I would call my mom. I mean, I would call her every day and I’d say, ‘Something is missing. I’m not where I’m supposed to be.’” – Leslie Means
This is the part that I love about the story, that in hindsight, you can always see it later looking back, but I just knew there was something else out there for me. And I remember specifically a day I was at work, and I got off the show and there was a message for me on the phone and it said, “Leslie, give me a call when you get this.” And it was a woman who I had known a little bit through TV, she’d been on the show a couple of times, and she worked for the local chamber of commerce. And I called her back and she had a job for me.There would be no actual reason on paper for me to do that because I knew nothing about business but what I always say is, you know, God’s plans are bigger.
Dreams Don’t Last Forever, But New Ones Can Begin
And so I left TV. I was like, Maybe this is what I’m supposed to do. I’d been in TV for seven years at the time I left and worked for the Chamber of Commerce. The first day I was working for the chamber, I came home that day over lunch break and just sobbed. I just was like, What am I actually doing? I didn’t even know how to do a Google spreadsheet, like, I don’t know anything about business. And I remember chatting with God. I’m like, I think I messed this up. Like, what did I do? Did I make a mistake? And I just kept going, and a few months down the road, I realized that I got to meet even more people than I met in TV because I was actually the program director, and I learned from them. I cannot explain it other than saying that it was all God.
So when I started at the Chamber of Commerce, that’s when I started Her View From Home. We had no money. And we actually got the first initial launch money from a grant that we won. It was a $10,000 grant that I learned about through the Chamber of Commerce, but ten grand doesn’t actually last very long. I was going into businesses of people that I knew through the chamber and through TV and asking if they wanted to advertise on this website. Fifty bucks here, 100 dollars there, because there was truly no there was no income coming in.
And so I was working full time at the Chamber, and I was picking up some other marketing gigs. And then over my lunch breaks, sometimes at work, and in the evenings I would be working on Her View From Home. And it was really hard. We were making just enough to pay our web guys and pay our writers. And that was about it.
And I actually almost shut it down many times, I almost quit. I remember specifically the one evening and it was 2015 I believe, my husband and I went out to dinner and I’m talking to him and he’s like, “Les, I think you need to quit your Chamber job and all these marketing things and you need to go full-in on Her View From Home.” And he’s like, “If you want to make it successful, like this is it. This is the time you need to try.”
I quit the Chamber. And I specifically remember that day going in and telling my boss that I was going to leave and it was so scary and exciting all at the same time. And it was June of 2016 when I realized we only had about a month left to be able to continue to pay the site and pay our writers and maybe try to pay myself a little bit, and I gave it about a month. And in that month, that’s when we also found out we were expecting our third baby—who is now six—but this was once again one of those God whisper moments for me. And I just knew it was going to be okay, and I had so much peace about it.
Making An Impact with Her View From Home
It was that summer that I received an email from a woman who said, “Leslie, I’ve been praying about it and I really want to share my story on your website.” And Her View From Home was really pretty small then. We were only about, I don’t know, 20,000-25,000 Facebook followers, and now, you know, we’re at 1.5 million. And so I don’t even know really how she found us, but her story was about her friend who had died by suicide four months after her child was born. And this friend wanted to share her story so other women knew that they weren’t alone, how to get help, and what they needed to do to protect themselves and their friends if they were in that situation. And I was like, “Yes, we want to run this piece. We would be honored to publish this.” And when we published it, the site was never the same. Women from across the globe read that article, found that article, and we realized then how important all these connections are and how we had to keep going.
And it was also around that time when I received an email from a woman who said, “Thank you for publishing this article. It saved my life.” And that’s when I knew. I knew then that God had such a bigger plan for this website, something that I could never even fathom. And I remember specifically that fall being like, “Okay, God, I’m going to keep going on this site as long as you want me to.” And those things have happened over and over and over again on Her View From Home. Sorry I’m so emotional about this, because it’s just every time you turn around, it’s like God has so much planned for this. It’s so much bigger than us. It can do more than we’ll ever know. You never know the impact your words can have on the world.
“I knew that God had such a bigger plan for this website, something that I could never even fathom. And I remember specifically being like, ‘Okay, God, I’m going to keep going on this site as long as you want me to.’” – Leslie Means
The thing that I do the most where I feel most connected with God is we just have conversations a lot, and sometimes I feel really intimidated because our conversations are like, “What is going on? Can you help me? Give me wisdom. I made another mistake. What do you want me to do?” And so I’ll go on a walk a lot and just have chats with God. Any quiet moments that I have is really when I try to have those discussions.
It’s always, “Hey, if you want me to keep this going, I’m going to do it. I’m going to do it as long as you want me to do this, because it is bigger than us. There’s a bigger purpose here.” And how can I argue with that, you know? And so even in the loneliness, even in the hardships, we keep going because I believe it’s where we’re supposed to be right now.
Jesus Listens, January 12th:
Jesus, my loving Companion,
I know You will give me everything I need to cope with the challenges I face. So I don’t want to waste energy imagining myself in future situations—trying to walk through those “not yet” times in my mind. I realize this is a form of unbelief—doubting Your ability to provide what I need when I need it.
I want to make wise choices as I journey with You. I need to pray continually about these decisions, trusting in Your perfect wisdom. You know everything—including what lies ahead on my path. My busy mind tends to make various plans about the way I should go, but You are the One who directs my steps and makes them sure.
In Your infinitely wise Name,
If you’d like to hear more stories about how God is there, even at your breaking points, check out our interview with Luke Weaver.
Next week: Chapel Hart
Next time on the Jesus Calling Podcast, we’ll hear from country music trio Chapel Hart, composed of Danica and Devynn Hart, along with their cousin Trea Swindle. From singing together as children all the way to the big stage, this trio has always prayed their music would bless those who hear it and bring them closer to God.
Chapel Hart: God will send you where He needs you to go. And it’s been a joy for us to watch God bless people through our music and through our presence because we pray before every show, “God just allow us to be the vessels, may nothing that we say be to glorify us, may it all be to glorify You.”