Steve was fired on a Sunday. That Wednesday my son called to inform me he was leaving college mid-semester. Twenty thousand dollars down the drain – no credits to show for it. I felt overwhelmed, so I decided to go to Wal-Mart to get some canning supplies to can spicy cauliflower (sometimes going back to my roots is all I know to do). In the middle of Wal-Mart, I collapsed on the floor and began crying hysterically. I lost perception of time, space and place. Basically, I had a breakdown. (Not a very flattering picture, is it?) My son, Hunter, came to get me up and take me home. Looking back now, I realize how freaked out he must have been. He called my friend Krista. She immediately came over, fed me, and then gave me some drug that knocked me out cold. I slept off my hysteria.
Proverbs 17:17 states, “A friend loves at all times, and a sister is born for adversity.” Proverbs 18:24 reiterates the sentiment: “There is a friend who sticks closer than a sister.” We see this played out in David and Jonathan’s relationship. When Jonathan stood beside David during difficulty (like the king trying to kill him kind of difficulty), David started to refer to Jonathan as “brother.” Authentic friendships are built when a friend sticks by during tough times.
It took a while before I caught my balance and started dreaming again. Krista dreamed with me. In 2012, we birthed The Marcella Project, an organization committed to improving the view of women through the Scriptures. As Executive Director, Krista oversaw the organization (she saved me again!) so that I could focus on teaching, writing, speaking and shepherding women. This winter Krista opened her home to a foster child, a two-year-old curly blonde boy named Christian. As her responsibilities as mother and wife increased, her time for Marcella waned. We both knew our time as the dynamic duo was coming to an end. She officially stepped down as Executive Director in March. I’m grateful for the time, energy, and talent she gave to the ministry. I’m thankful she continues on our board and as my dear friend. I am better because of her.
It’s scary to be on your own. I don’t know how to do a lot of things: QuickBooks, strategic planning, marketing, Constant Contact, computers. Actually, if I’m honest I pretty much stink at most things – even turning on the TV can be difficult for me. So you can imagine my fear and anxt at running Marcella by myself – like NOT a good idea.
I’m so thankful I don’t journey these times alone – Jesus is present. He was speaking a name to me, but I couldn’t imagine she would want to join the team. How would I pay her? What if I stink at being a boss? What if it ruins our relationship? What if I can’t communicate the needs well? I had fear and doubt, something I rarely feel, and I was feeling it all the time. I called her. Her initial words when I called: “I’ve been thinking about you and Marcella.” Hum??? Could Jesus have been preparing her heart and mine at the same time? (IMAGINE!) I asked her if she’d considering being our new Executive Director. She said yes. Whoo hoo! She flew to Dallas last week and we started dreaming together.
I’d love for you to meet my friend and now fellow partner in improving the view of women.
Jessie Risman is a Dallas native who now calls Nashville home. In 2009, she took her first trip to Africa with African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries (ALARM). Through the radical resilience, total forgiveness, and relentless faith of Congolese women who survived the unthinkable, Jessie discovered a faithful God, his heart cry for freedom, and his sweet promise of redemption. She has since traveled to Sierra Leone, Uganda, Rwanda and back to Congo with organizations that empower and provide care for women and children in war-torn countries.
Jessie graduated from Clark University with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in International Development and Social Change. With a passion for social justice, healing, and empowerment, she joined the team as Administrative Manager at Exile International, a Nashville-based nonprofit restoring former child soldiers and war-affected children through art therapy and rehabilitative care. In 2013, Jessie spent five months abroad to focus on her passion for writing and journey deeper into herself and God.
She’s a recovering perfectionist, an advocate of hunting the authentic self, and a lifelong foodie who loves to cook, eat, and feed those she loves. Her favorite place to be is around the table, hanging out with her people over a delicious meal that nourishes both body and soul. When Jessie was offered a position at The Marcella Project, she knew it was the perfect fit. Her heart for social justice has always bent toward gender injustices that oppress, disempower, and disrupt the lives of women and girls around the world. She is excited to join The Marcella Project in improving the world’s view of women.