In January of 2016, My husband and I made the drive from Northern Virginia to Southern Maryland to spend an evening with family. While the meal was being prepared, my brother, Dan, sister-in-law, Kayla, and I stood in the corner of the kitchen, talking and laughing, as usual. I shared about our recent move and our search for connection. I shrugged and explained that I knew the importance of community, but I just didn’t know how to find it. My brother, six years younger yet so much wiser, said, “If you want to build community and make connections, you need to serve.”
His new wife, Kayla, smiled and nodded. She was living out her mission to love God and others by serving on their church’s hospitality team. She knew a simple cup of coffee could forge a connection, bring a smile, and create community.
I didn’t know the impact this single conversation would soon have on my life. Seeing Dan and Kayla together warmed every heart who knew them. They were brought together by God to impact His Kingdom far beyond what we could comprehend. Dan’s words stayed with me as we traveled back home in search of that community I was craving. I thought about the way he had dedicated his life to serving God and the church through his talent as a musician. In following God’s lead, he was able to bless others with the gifts God had given him. At ages twenty and twenty-one, they both had a clear understanding of where they were meant to be, and it was inspiring to watch them live each day with purpose and intentionality.
One month later, on Valentine’s Day, we received the devastating news that Dan and Kayla had been in a car accident. On their way home from their six-month wedding anniversary dinner, a driver under the influence struck their vehicle, and Dan and Kayla had gone home to be with the Lord.
Our world stood still. We tried to wrap our minds around a future that wouldn’t look anything like the one we had pictured. Each morning brought new waves of grief, and still, as I read the Psalms and prayed for strength, I felt the Lord closer than ever. Losing two people so rooted in their purpose created in me the strongest desire to follow their lead and pursue God’s purpose for my life. A new perspective emerged from my brokenness. For the first time, I craved heaven more than anything on earth.
As my perspective shifted, so did my desire to live differently. I continued to pray for an opportunity to serve the way they did. I loved my career in interior design but felt the pull to pursue something more ministry-minded. In a leap of faith, I left my job and begin the search for a home-based business. Late one evening, my search brought me to the Mary & Martha website for the very first time. I opened the page to find beautiful home decor, Scripture, and a message that read “Welcome, Serve, Connect.” My eyes welled with tears. In my head, I heard Dan’s voice. In my heart, I felt God’s nudge. Purpose-filled products that aligned with my passion. Christ-centered community. Connection. A place to serve. In the midst of my deepest sorrow, my heart was filled with joy to find a place like this.
Within Mary & Martha, I connected with a beautiful sisterhood all across the U.S. I was instantly surrounded by like-minded women who lifted me up, prayed for me, and came alongside me in living out my calling. Four months later, I attended Mary & Martha’s national conference, and stepping into that conference room felt like coming home. Full of warmth, joy, and worship, the weekend with this community was an answer to prayer. They were on a mission to serve and embraced the call to love God and others in all they do.
At the end of the conference, we were handed a beautiful quote by Roy Lessin, co-founder of our parent company, DaySpring. It read, “When a stone is dropped into a lake, it quickly disappears from sight — but its impact leaves behind a series of ripples that broaden and reach across the water. In the same way, the impact of one life lived for Christ leaves behind an influence for good that touches the lives of many others.”
I saw this firsthand through Dan and Kayla’s beautiful lives. I knew that God had led me to Mary & Martha to continue the ripple of good they had begun. Knowing God is in control and working through us in this way brings me peace.
Loss has taught me that every day, every moment, and every conversation matters. As Christ-followers, we are called to reach across our communities, to impact them like ripples across the water. My prayer is that you would be encouraged to build community, make connections, and serve as you live out God’s unique purpose for you.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)
What a beautiful story from Jess! Imagine being part of a faith-based company where you create your own schedule, share inspirational products, earn unlimited income, and belong to a sisterhood of women! If you’d like more information, discover the Mary & Martha difference today!
And to get a glimpse of their wonderful products, Mary & Martha is giving away FIVE of these printed canvas magnetic signs, valued at $98! Comment below with what you loved hearing about their company for a chance to win!
Deana McGarr says
Jess- I offer you my heartfelt condolences and I was very moved by your piece. I loss my 18 year old son 3.5 years ago and the words that you wrote touched me very much. A year and a half after my son died I submitted an application to volunteer for Proverbs 31 Ministries Compel Training. I did not realize until reading this piece that serving has been such an integral component of restoring wellness to me and bringing about healing. I will continue to pray on ways God can use me with a servant’s heart. Loved the quote! Be blessed today!
What an awesome company! I currently work for Hobby Lobby because I love that we are a Christ based company trying to reach a hurting world.
Judy C says
I love the image of our lives being as ripples across the water. May God use me to spread His love. I would love to win a Mary & Martha product to help remind me to be a ripple for Christ!
Kathy Francescon says
Amen to all the previous beautiful comments from sisters in Christ. I too, know how deeply grieve hurts and yet along the way, God sends us purpose that gives us the comfort we need in our loss of loved ones. Praise His Holy Name! I can so relate to finding community. This year has kept me isolated from friends and family and church. Im praying fervently for God to fill my emptiness and my yearning to induce the ripples of His hope and love in these distraught and unsettling times. Prayers for all who are reading incourage today!!
Terri J. says
Thank you, Jess. I am at work right now and wasn’t going to take the time this morning to read your post, but God had other plans. I was so touch by your story and finding your purpose in serving! I am so sorry for your loss. I am encouraged by your words and finding the place where God has for me to serve.
Melissa Clemons says
This sounds like a wonderful company filled with such purpose. What a blessing to be a part of.
Thanks for your transparency and encouragement at the same time! How precious that the Lord led you to Mary & Martha at exactly the right time; beautiful is the Lord! You inspired me as I prepare to return to the mission field after being “caught” in the US during the pandemic. We know HIS will and plan are always perfect! Blessings today as you continue to live out your call to serve!
I am so sorry for your loss and love that you turned to serving through your grieving. I would love the inspiring print from Mary and Martha…sounds like a wonderful organization.
April W. says
Thanks for the giveaway! I loved learning that Mary and Martha gives women like me the opportunity for a side hustle to add some more finances to my family.
Carolyn Haney says
I hadn’t heard of Martha and Marriott website until you mentioned it. I will be checking it out although I found my gifts and I’m baking for a Bible study for football players and I am sewing purses through the organization Sew Powerful for the girls in Zambia. I am still going to check out the website. I’m so glad the Lord gifted each one of us differently so that we can serve him in a special unique way.
What an amazing leap of faith for you. I am so glad Martha and Mary turned out to be a wonderful place for you to give back. The products seem amazing.
I think it’s so powerful to have a team that prays for each other.
Carolyn Haney says
I meant Mary and Martha … not Marriott !
Lyn D says
Thank you for sharing your story. My heartfelt sympathy for you and your family. My eyes filled with tears as I read your story. My story is somewhat the same. My parents, who were in full time ministry were taken home to Jesus in a small plane crash. I have also felt led to do all I can to continue building God’s kingdom. What a blessing that ‘Mary and Martha’ has allowed you to use your talents in a meaningful way.
I have never heard of Mary and Martha, but I am glad to hear about it now.
Karen Roedel says
I loved hearing about serving others together while being employed!
Rhonda Fesperman says
Create your own schedule, inspirational products and sisterhood. Going to check the site out now!!
Michele Morin says
So sorry for your loss — and grateful for the goodness that has emerged from the ashes.
Sharon A says
So sorry for your loss. Will be checking out Martha & Mary website. Thanks for your courage in sharing!!
Thank you for sharing your loss. And at the same time being dedicated to finding your passion in Christ.
I had not heard of Martha and Mary website before your article. I will definitely be browsing.
God bless you!
Melanie Carter says
It is truly inspiring how you have turned such a heart wrenching loss into something To serve Him. You are a very strong woman and I think your daughter would be very happy with what you are doing in her name ultimately for His name. God Bless you and your family! Thank you !
Melanie Carter says
I’m so sorry, I read the first part Quickly and thought it was your daughter and her husband, I apologize. I am not familiar with Mary and Martha, I was linked to this page from The Dayspring website. I lost my brother when he was 35 to kidney failure so I do know that is loss that’s deeply felt and my sentiments are the same, thank you. I am going to check out Mary and Martha now!
Its beautiful and inspiring how God glorifies himself through glorifying and enabling the women of Mary & Martha through their faith, ministry, and wholehearted service to Him and their neighbors.
this is lovely
A beautiful read indeed Thank YOU for sharing your all inspiring Testamony . Surely God was in the midst of your heartache and swooped right in to minister in such an intimate way. I love that God knows our hearts like no other and secures it with his promises. in his love sis Bea
Your story brought tears that such a precious talented couple were taken from this earth so soon. My sincere condolences go out to you and your family. I haven’t heard of the company before but I’m so glad you found your calling within it! I think the sense of community and support would be very comforting especially when making a career change. I will be checking out their products!
That is amazing for such young people to feel their calling so personally! This reminded me of why I do what I do day by day when I am not in quarantine. I liked the faith aspect of the company naturally and women coming alongside each other. A lot of times, there is a competition amongst women.
Oh Jess, you are such a beautiful soul! I admire your strength and courage to live joyfully in service to others.
Thank you so much for sharing ❤️
Cheyene Hyndman says
Jess’s story was so amazing! It’s so amazing how she found sisterhood with Mary and Martha.
Beautiful journey, Jess and thank you for sharing
Melissa Lester says
With tear filled eyes – and breath held my heart aches knowing the impact of a lost loved one, yet the most inspiring message that filled that sorrow was the message of how we as Christ followers can replicate that ripple on the water. It’s a different perspective as I always looked at a person’s life as a tapestry, and each thread could replicate an impact on the finished picture. Some add depth, others highlights, but let’s not forget about those who are a golden shimmer and bring the tapestry to life. I adore knowing that I am not alone When I felt the nudge to take a plunge into investing in Mary and Martha. I joined for the sisterhood, and realized how much I really want to make that impact on others in my community – and I cannot think of a better way than through Mary and Martha.
Kathe Dingle says
What a wonderful reminder to build up the sisterhood we have in Christ. I am reminded of the vision of women becoming Golden Apples to one another, guiding, teaching, encouraging, loving and supporting one another through mentoring and leadership. Helping one another to find and fine tune their God given purpose and gifts as they come along side. What a glorious thing!
Rose Nadler says
As a retiree, I am looking for my new purpose, not mine, really, but God’s purpose FOR me. I will look into this.
Camilla Hubbard says
Like Melissa Lester, tears sprang to my eyes when reading about the tragic loss of 2 young people who were serving God in their lives, Thank you for this powerful post, Jess, with the ultimate good proceeding into serving God yourself. Melissa’s post, mentioning life’s tapestry, has triggered the thougtht that you may like to read one of my poems, written for a very young friend when her classmate died.
“When a Child dies (2)”
Some sad things happen on this earth
To people large and small,
All can’t be merriment and mirth
Sad things affect us all.
Life’s like a lovely tapestry
With colours light and bright,
It also needs a little dark
As daytime needs the night.
It may not seem to be quite fair
For one so young to die,
But we need to know that God does care
Even though in sorrow we cry.
Perhaps God gave this child so sweet-
Too sick to run and play-
Some brand new twinkling angel feet
To dance in bright new day.
And could it be this blossom fair
Whose voice no longer sings,
Because in our Heavenly Father’s care
She wears bright angel wings.
Her little face may always be,
Though briefly known and loved,
A dear and lovely memory
Smiling from above.
Because she is no longer here
We feel so very sad,
Lord, may we feel a vision clear
In your loving arms she’s glad.
Camilla Diann 31.5.2002
This poem, written in a few minutes, as if from silent dictation of the Holy Spirit, is in my newly published book of Christian poems – “Living & Learning – Poems of Purpose” by Camilla Diann.
Although the usual copyright sign has been printed by the publisher, I have stated that I have waived copyright for people who would like to use it in God’s name, for friends etc, in a personal way, although it is polite to name the author.
Camilla Hubbard says
P.S. Sorry, I should have said: Copyright has been waived for any of my poems, not just this one, as long as they are not commercially used.
My thoughts are that they are to glorify God, and should be enabled to be passed on in a personal capacity.
God bless all you lovely inCourage women, and your lovely readers.
I have missed Dawn Ferguson-Little’s replies the last few days – I do hope she is well.
Lori St. Onge says
I loved this part…”Christ centered community…connection…a place to serve”. I have the honor of calling Jess my Mary & Martha consultant, but more than that…my friend. She is a beautiful person and has an amazing heart to serve!!
Joan Moore says
Mary and Martha sounds delightful. I look forward to hearing more about this wonderful company.
So sorry for your loss, but so glad you have found a wonderful way to honor your loved ones.
As someone who has had the opportunity to meet Jess in person and has talked to her countless times on Facebook, I can attest to the fact that she is such a blessing – FULL of the joy of the Lord! You would never guess that she has experienced what the world would call a tragedy (yet Dan & Kayla are with Jesus, where we all want to be!) – losing her brother (one of her best friends) and dear Kayla, a friend who literally became family. She has embraced Romans 8:28, and has allowed the Lord to cause all things to work together for good in her life. Instead of drowning in sorrow, she has allowed Him to use this situation for His glory!I truly believe that the Lord led her to Mary & Martha and that He uses her every day to encourage, serve, and most of all share Jesus with countless people that she may never meet otherwise! I am one of these people! Mary & Martha offers many beautiful products that share hope and the Word of God, enabling Jess and others (me included) to surround ourselves with this hope that only comes from Jesus and to share that hope with a lost and hurting world.
Sarah Kitchen says
I loved hearing about how it helped Jess form connection with others. That they pray for each other is a big plus!
I love the products and the mission behind the products!
Abbey Lewis says
This article gives me all the feels for so many reasons. Jess is a true and genuine girl who I am blessed to call friend. Her heart, smile and peace-filled approach to life & work is awe inspiring!!! Thank you for sharing your story to be a belong to others trying to life out their lives with purpose, love and God’s purpose!!!! Good job Jess & in(courage)
Abbey Lewis says
*to be blessing to
Such a timely post to read this morning, as my church is currently going through a series called “why am I here?”, focusing on our calling to serve and use the gifts God has given us.
What a beautiful story. I had never heard of Mary and Martha, but I will certainly be checking it out. I love the purpose and mission of the company.
I agree, it does take one’s initiative to extend the invitation to another and God does provide the opportunity. We only need to look for it and act on it. Thank you for this encouraging story. I do have a Mary & Martha piece and love it.
Kimberly Beth Bryant says
I love hearing about a career opportunity that is a community and sisterhood of women revolving around Christian positivity. Not only is that a benefit to all the women that have that opportunity but also to everyone that buys the products and that is truly a win-win and a blessing for all!
Olivia Douglass says
This is such a powerful story. Mary & Martha isn’t just a company, it is one with a sisterhood, beautiful products and a flexible opportunity!
First- this comment is NOT intended for the giveaway (nor would I accept any product). I simply wanted to share with the author:
I am so sorry for your loss. While I did not know your brother and sister-in-law personally, I know several youth who knew and loved Dan and Kayla. These youth (now young adults) spoke so highly of your brother and his wife, of their kindness and their love for the Lord. Their lives and legacy have inspired so many others. <3 Peace be with you and yours.
This piece is timely to me as we change churches and seek connection. There’s lots of wisdom here.
Beth Williams says
Praying for you & your family. Asking God to comfort you daily. I just love the idea of ripples across the water. Each one impacting another and so on. Praying my life can be a big ripple in the lives of those I encounter. This year I took a huge leap of faith & put myself on the Event Leadership team for Relay for Life (Cancer). Decided it was time to do more to help eradicate that disease. I got to meet some wonderful Christian people. Praying my actions turn into ripples across many lives. A single compliment, encouraging word, letter, card, or just a smile with Hi how are you? Wanting to hear those immortal words “Well don thou good & faithful servant.” God said that He would give us beauty for ashes. I believe he turned a sorrowful situation into an oil of Joy by leading you to Mary & Martha. It looks like a great company to work for with Christian principles. That can make a difference in your life.
Sadie Niola says
I’m also praying for the continued comfort and blessings to you and yours as God’s being glorified through all of Dan & Kaylas short earthly lives of furthering His eternal Kingdom! I couldn’t possibly write what all has led up to the point in time for today how Christian ministry’s such as Mary & Martha has impacted many peoples lives. I have been gifted with their products and in turn bought them for others. You’re magnetic boards scripture, Joshua 24:15 has been on many places and in many of my homes in the last 21 years since I’ve met the Lord! I’ve decided to join a team at church who serves domestic violence victims in need of housing and necessary supplies. I have come from that situation 35 years ago and because of His mercy & grace I have been able to serve others knowing some of their darkest days they have had, and bringing Jesus’ light in their lives. As Roy said in ripples as the impact of one life lived for Jesus leaves behind an influence for good that touches the lives of many. May you grow in your new business as you grow even more in the knowledge and love of Christ Jesus ❤️ Oh yes I would love that beautiful useful board:-)
Bethany Whittle says
I am honored to call Jess a friend and I love the focus of Mary and Martha has taken on placing scripture in every place of our homes from the kitchen to the bathroom to the children’s toys, etc. I love how they truly desire to share the Love of God with all they meet. I also love that these products make such meaningful, purposeful gifts to others. Love this company so much!
Elaine Pool says
I love the fact that this decor is Christ-centered, and allows women a chance to serve God while bring about beautiful homes!
Lorrie Liphart says
I loved hearing about the “community of love” that you create around your beautiful products.