Ainsley Earhardt: I said, “God, I’m ready to give You my life. I’m ready to change my life. And I want a purpose, please take my life and do with it as You may. I’m willing to follow You.”
When We Stumble, God Catches Us: Ainsley Earhardt & Ryan George – Episode #322
Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. Isn’t it amazing how uniquely God created us? How He gave us different desires, skills, and talents to fulfill what it is we are to do in the world? We are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” [Psalm 139:14] the scriptures tell us, but by no means are we perfect. We sometimes stumble on the way to what it is we’re supposed to be doing in this world. But that’s where God comes in. We can talk to God about what we want, what we need, what we’re passionate about, because we’re His beloved creation. He’s listening, He’s guiding, and He’s there for us when we turn to Him for help to figure it all out.
Our guests this week have made choices as to how they will show up in the world. News anchor Ainsley Earhardt believes she has been uniquely gifted to show others—especially children—that they are unique, special, and made for amazing things. Adventurer Ryan George has traveled the globe to skydive, surf, and climb mountains all for the thrill of adventure and showing others how they can experience adventure in their own lives—big and small.
Let’s hear from Ainsley first.
Ainsley Earhardt: When I was a little girl, I so badly wanted to live in New York or in L.A. and I wanted to be an actress. I know God put that desire in my heart, and He wanted me to do something in the television industry. And so eventually, it led me to journalism and to work in New York, which had always been my desire, and work at the national level. You know, there are only a few networks, and there are only a few women who are selected to be on the morning shows. I am so honored and grateful.
Encouraging Kids to Be All They Are Meant to Be
I look at children, especially now that I’m a mother, and I know that for each of them, God has a purpose and a plan for their futures and for their lives. And I love them all. I look at all the little girls in my daughter’s kindergarten class—or did last year, she just finished that grade—and they’re all so special to me. Some of them are funny, and some of them are the smart ones. Some of them are the athletic ones. Some of them are the shy ones. Some of them are the artists. And they’re all perfectly made and equally special because God gave them each talents.
I think as parents and as Christians, we have to allow children to know their talents, allow those talents to shine, appreciate those talents—and whatever their talents and their passions might be, encourage them to be the best at those and to work hard at those and thank God for those talents.
“I look at children, especially now that I’m a mother, and I know that for each of them, God has a purpose and a plan for their futures and for their lives.” – Ainsley Earhardt
I tell my daughter all the time, “You are such a blessing. I am so glad to have you. I’m so glad God made you perfectly for our family, for me.” And I just feel so blessed.
“I tell my daughter all the time, ‘You are such a blessing. I am so glad to have you. I’m so glad God made you perfectly for our family, for me.’” – Ainsley Earhardt
We go to church on Sundays, we listen to praise and worship music in the car constantly, and we pray before all of our meals. We say a blessing. And then at night, we say our prayers, and we go down the line praying for everyone in our little circle. And we talk about anything specifically that she’s going through with Jesus.
One day she had a tummy ache, and she said, “Mom, just pray that it goes away. I need you to say prayers.” And so I started saying prayers, and the tummy ache took a little while to go away and she said, “You’re not allowed to stop praying.” So we just prayed. And if I would take a break or stop or whatever, then she would say, “Mommy, keep praying, keep praying.” And so that meant a lot to me, because it meant that all the work that we put into raising our children, it’s working. She does love Jesus.
And when she was five years old, she said, “Mama, I want to do what you did. I want to ask Jesus to come into my heart.” So she asked Jesus into her heart, and that was just such a special moment.
The Practice of Prayer For Your Family
At night, we read three children’s books, and she gets to pick those out: two regular books and one Jesus book. And oftentimes it’s Jesus Calling for children. I got so many wonderful books when I was pregnant and when Hayden was born, and Jesus Calling is just a special one for our family. I read the devotions when I’m coming to work each morning, and my daughter loves the books at night. It’s almost like God knew when Sarah Young was writing every single page that I was going to need this in my life every day.
We all read it. We all gave the books to each other at Christmas, before we had our cell phones and apps, and then we downloaded the Jesus Calling app. I just click on the app every morning, and I read it. It just sets the tone for my day.
This is from Jesus Listens by Sarah Young. On January 25th, she writes:
I want to follow You wherever You lead. Help me to chase after You wholeheartedly, with glad anticipation quickening my pace. Though I don’t know what lies ahead, You know—and that is enough! I believe that some of Your richest blessings are just around the bend: out of sight, but nonetheless very real. To receive these precious gifts, I need to walk by faith, not by sight. I know this doesn’t mean closing my eyes to what is all around me. It means subordinating the visible world to You, the invisible Shepherd of my soul.
Sometimes You lead me up a high mountain with only Your hand to support me. The higher I climb, the more spectacular the view becomes—and the more keenly I sense my separation from the world with all its problems. This frees me to experience more fully the joyous reality of Your brilliant Presence. How I delight in spending these Glory-moments with You!
Eventually, You lead me down the mountain, back into community with other people. May the Light of Your Presence continue to shine on me and make me a blessing to others.
In Your majestic Name,
Narrator: Ainsley has written a book for children called I’m So Glad You Were Born, available wherever you buy books.
Stay tuned to Ryan George’s story after a brief message.
When We’re Looking for Hope, Jesus Listens
Sometimes life can be really stressful, whether it’s personal difficulties or world issues that make us feel overwhelmed. When we’re looking for hope and connection amid struggle, God is still there, ready for us to turn to him in prayer.
That’s why Sarah Young wrote Jesus Listens: 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.
Learn more about Jesus Listens and download a free sample.
Narrator: Our next guest is adventurer Ryan George. Ryan has crisscrossed the globe in search of adventures that he has shared through social media, and he now uses his platform to help others find their own adventures.
Ryan George: Hi, my name is Ryan George, and I’m an adventurer. I’ve been Crystal’s husband for twenty-one years. I’ve been Deonnie’s dad now for the last three of those years.
On Sundays, I co-lead the parking lot greeter team at my church, and I’m also a part of something we call Dude Group, which is a spiritual adventure community for men. On nights and weekends, I’m an adventure blogger, and what that means is I’m traveling the world looking for unique experiences. I’ve been to all seven continents and both polar circles. I’ve bungee jumped on five continents. I’ve paraglided in seven countries. I’ve ice climbed and snow camped in Antarctica, I’ve surfed in the Arctic. I’ve driven three kinds of race cars. I’ve skydived on both sides of the equator. I’ve climbed mountains and paddled whitewater around the globe. I’ve gone out on the wings of old biplanes while they’re pulling loops and barrel rolls and stalls and stuff. I just chase adventure anywhere I can find it, really.
The Emptiness of Seeking Approval to Fit In
Growing up, I competed with my siblings for attention from an abusive father. I was bullied a lot in middle school, pushed around, made fun of a lot. One of the remedies for that was my parents homeschooled me through high school. And homeschool was different back in the nineties. They didn’t have some of the resources that homeschoolers have now.
What I wanted to be when I grew up changed a lot as a kid. It was a lot of what I saw on television or what I felt in cultures. I wanted to be an architect, and then a car designer, and then a journalist and graphic designer. But I’ve been a writer since fifth grade, and I’ve often used writing as a way to figure out the inside of me, what’s going on, and then to make sense of the world around me.
So when I left for college, I chose writing as a major, and then after I graduated, I went into advertising. I write a lot for my day job. I journal every day, and I found that a great way to process my emotions and what’s going on in the world. I’ve also written more than 500 blog posts. I’ve authored three books. Writing has been a very healing thing for me.
So when I arrived at college, I was socially awkward. I didn’t fit in. I wasn’t one of the cool kids. I did well academically. I graduated early into my career. I had, I mean, almost instantaneous success.
Shortly after that, I had disposable income, and it was like a molotov cocktail, right at that same time was when the world got social media. And so it’s also that right about the time that the world got GoPro cameras. I just started Googling crazy places around the world to go do things. People who drink alcohol call it liquid courage when they consume their beverage, and then they have the courage to do the thing. I call it digital courage, because as soon as I hit that Record button, I was able to do things that scared me because I knew I could show it online. And so I turned social media into a platform to seek the approval that I didn’t get growing up, to try to get affirmation. And my working theory was, If I’m interesting, people will be interested in me. And it’s empty.
“I turned social media into a platform to seek the approval that I didn’t get growing up.” – Ryan George
Thankfully, I met Jesus along the way. I joined a church that is led by adventurers. One of my pastors is a wilderness guide and ice climber, one is a whitewater paddler, one raced motorcycles, and one flew experimental aircraft. I was surrounded by people who take their spirituality and their physicality and make both of them adventurous. They would help me process the adventure afterward and go, “Okay, what do we learn about God today? What we learned about each other, about the body of Christ?” And then they’d ask, “What’s something back home that scares you—in your faith, in your job, in your relationships, whatever it is? How can you go in and now see that that line you just conquered is arbitrary, that line back home is also arbitrary and lean into that, whether that’s a prompt from the Holy Spirit or a hard job or whatever it is.”
There was this awkward season in my life where I was just doing a series of incredible things—and I go to a fairly large church. I work in the parking lot, and people would come across the crosswalk and say hello and they would say this specific phrase: “I live vicariously through you on Facebook.” Or I’d go to a business convention and hear this phrase over and over, “I live vicariously through you on Facebook.” And at first that feels really good. Right? Especially to the bullied middle scholar in me who’s had to heal.
But then I was like, “No, I don’t want you to live through me. I want you to live this life.” And part of my process of being able to use social media in a healthy way is to celebrate other people and to call out what’s adventure in their life.
“Part of my process of being able to use social media in a healthy way is to celebrate other people and to call out what’s adventure in their life.” – Ryan George
The Harder the Challenge the Greater the Rewards
I see physical and spiritual adventures as symbiotic. In my mind, they aren’t mutually exclusive. So both give me a chance to face fear or discomfort, to lean into that and then to feel the reward afterward. So the biblical principle, it’s a precedent throughout the Bible that obedience brings reward. And it’s not like the reward is we’ll have six-figure incomes and seven-figure houses and all that kind of stuff. But there’s something that we experience of Jesus when we lean into hard things.
I have found that the bigger the prompting from the Holy Spirit, the harder that challenge is—but the greater the reward is afterwards. I don’t know if it’s proportional, but it kind of feels that way. And it’s a similar thing in my adrenaline rush: the bigger the jump, the scarier it is, right? And so I get all these reward chemicals after a fight, flight, or freeze moment when I’ve leaned into that fear and I get something similar to that. When I lean into a spiritual obedience, it’s just like euphoria or transcendence or whatever it is, and it becomes habit forming, just like the body chemicals.
You know, there’s a term out there people use called adrenaline junkie. Theoretically, you could become as addictive as you would be to a narcotic or something like that. But I feel the same intensity of desire if I haven’t, you know, jumped off a building or played on an airplane or whatever for a while. I kind of get antsy. I had the same thing in my spiritual life, if I’m not feeling a challenge, a discomfort, or a difficult assignment from the Holy Spirit. And because I want to be intimate with Jesus, I know that I have to follow Him. And Jesus typically walks through uncomfortable places. I mean, He made His disciples walk through Samaria [a place that wasn’t comfortable for them to travel through], and whatever Samaria is in each of our lives. For me, it’s often difficult conversations. I just have a hard time with those. And He constantly calls me into these counseling sessions with people, or comforting people in situations that are just unfamiliar for me.
Looking Within to Deal with Hard Emotions
The Enneagram has been a great tool for me to understand myself. I’m an Enneagram Type 7, which is typically called The Enthusiast. This framework has helped me codify my primary strength, so I’m an inspirer. I am constantly inviting people into new experiences, and a lot of times that new experience is a first for me too. Other times it’s me inviting people into things that I love. But it’s helped me place guardrails also around my primary vice, which is gluttony. I am the person who’s going to test the law of diminishing returns. I’m going to eat that kind of chip every day for a month, or I’m going to walk this trail until I’m so tired of it, I can’t do it anymore. But the Enneagram has also helped me to choose different responses to my triggers. So normally an Enneagram 7, we don’t like to sit with our pain or our emotions, so we like to distract ourselves and are very, very busy. And I am busy. But when work is stressful, my first response is to Google, to go on a trip, or to try to escape or whatever, to not sit with my emotions. And the Enneagram has helped me to be intentional about it, to go, Okay, now I need to sit with this, I need to journal about it, I need to talk to somebody about it. I need to process this without distracting myself, and then I need to tell other people about it until it becomes normative, and then they can help me with those guardrails.
Even from a secular perspective, they would say vulnerability is not built into us from an evolutionary standpoint. Right? Like, everything from a secular standpoint is trying to not be vulnerable to the environment, to predators, to competitors, and tribal whatever. And from a faith perspective, vulnerability is counter instinctual, especially if you grew up in a religion that focuses on saying the right things, doing the right things, wearing the right clothes, listening to the right music, all that kind of stuff—the externals. Being vulnerable breaks down that whole system. And so thankfully, that system was smashed in my life. And what I learned is that vulnerable leaders are the most attractive, and they’re the ones that people want to follow.
“What I learned is that vulnerable leaders are the most attractive and they’re the ones that people want to follow.” – Ryan George
I’ll give you a great example of this. So I didn’t want to be a dad. I had a hard childhood, and I didn’t know what I would be like as a dad. And I didn’t want to find out, so I medically took being a dad off the table.
And then while I was on a helicopter expedition, I was stand up paddle boarding up in British Columbia, up in the mountains and the glaciers. I get back to civilization. I had a text from my wife saying, “Oh, by the way, a young lady was put in our protective care. She was in one of my small group Bible studies. The police sent her home with us. She’s living with us now.” Fast forward three years later, she’s now my legal daughter. I’m a dad, and Jesus made me a dad against my will. But that has been the key that has unlocked most of the healing in my life.
My counselor has said, “You realize every breakthrough we’ve had in this room was through the filter of you being a dad, right?” So the reward is there when we lean into those hard things.
And being a dad is a series of yeses, especially in my case, because I was resistant. But here’s the thing: the guys in my life know that I didn’t want to be a dad, but they’re watching me lean into it for Jesus and for this person. They watch love, eternal love, flow into me and out to this young lady who I love dearly now. Like, she’s my kid through and through. And so there’s a performative surrender there that people see, and it’s inspirational to other people. And then that encourages them to be vulnerable, to do the hard things, and now foster care and adoption [are] all around me.
Adventures Come in All Forms
Adventure looks different to different people. That’s one of the things I’ve been learning, and there are multiple continuums of each of those adventures.
So I’m not very adventurous when it comes to what I eat. I’m not very adventurous from a vocational standpoint or a financial standpoint. I have friends in my life who are incredible entrepreneurs and take great big chances and are rewarded for that. So I have a very specific lane for that. My wife is brave in places I’m not, and I’m courageous in ways she’s not. And so what I’ve learned to do is to look at other people and go, You know what? They’re just courageous in a different way. And all together, we kind of create this milieu of adventure.
We’re all called to live an extraordinary life. And so I look for adventure, not just on these massive trips that end up on social media, but in my daily life. And what I found is that online audiences can be distracted by my highlight reel, just as I can be distracted by theirs online. And so it’s tempting to play the role, for me, of “Adventure Guy” and to go big or go home. You know, it’s one of the things in adventure sports. But the challenge for me has been to look every day for adventure in small places around my daily life.
“We’re all called to live an extraordinary life. And so I look for adventure, not just on these massive trips that end up on social media, but in my daily life.” – Ryan George
So my adventures range from small daily prompts from the Holy Spirit all the way up to adopting a teenager. And I just live with the—I guess it’s a mission, to call people to whatever their daily adventure is, whether that’s celebrating their adopted parenthood or the change they made in their career. They finally got the courage to talk to their boss or saying something for Jesus.
I found that when I tell other people’s story and if I do it energetically, it takes the spotlight off me and helps me be healthy and to look at my own adventures with a healthier lens.
I look for Jesus everywhere I go around the globe intentionally. So there’s a difference between going hiking and looking for Jesus while I’m hiking, right? And so I intentionally go places and do experiences and then ask God, “What did I experience from you today?” And I’ve just had these incredible, transcendent moments. I mean, I could talk to you for hours about the things that Jesus has shown up in my life.
And instead of talking for hours, I decided to just write a bunch of them down. It was kind of hard just to pick the thirty some that are in the book because my life is constantly filled with this. But yeah, basically at the end of the book, it tells people, “Hey, don’t go tell people my stories. Go make your own stories, and then tell them because they’re only stories if you tell them.” I just really want to inspire people to lean into their doubts, their fears, and to push past their comfort zones, specifically to follow Jesus. And not just to do it with a death wish or just to do it to feel a rush, because those can be empty. But to wait for that Holy Spirit assignment and follow that because those rewards are incredible.
If you’d like to hear more stories about how we’re fearfully and wonderfully made, check out our interview with Kristin Smedley.
Next Week: Samuel Rodriguez
Narrator: Next time on the Jesus Calling Podcast, we’ll hear from Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, who shares how he bridges gaps between ministry and activism.
Samuel Rodriguez: Prayer changes everything. It really does. Prayer is God’s 5G Wi-Fi that connects our now to our next, our purpose to our promise. And the more we pray and the more we engage God’s Word, the more we will do one thing: change the world.