Meet Jessica White, one of three I know just within my tribe, but incredibly unique despite her common name. Around this time last year she was bold enough to start her own podcast to help teach children around the world about the Bible. She and her husband Josh have been listening to podcasts for years (seriously, before they were cool) and I used to think they were crazy for listening to random people on the internet. As you can see, I’m super awesome at spotting trends early in the game, NOT, but they absolutely were. They saw a need and decided to fill it, regardless of how “qualified” they were to do it.
But let’s back up and start at the beginning. Sometimes, you have to see where people have come from to appreciate where they’re going. And I believe they have a story worth telling.
Jessica grew up in a small town in Georgia called Newnan. And like me, she yearned to see what else was out there in the great big wide world. But unlike me, she actually had the bravery to try something new for college, while I stayed in my teeny tiny town of 17,000.
She took a leap of faith and chose Queens University in Charlotte, NC because it was further away from home but still small enough it didn’t intimidate her. Jessica was a nursing major and met her husband Josh, a psychology major, at the library during finals week. He was a friend of a friend, so they were introduced in a sort of rom-com way in between the stacks. Josh invited her and their mutual friend both out for wings and beers to take a study break and relax. Jessica would tell you that she thought he was SO cute and funny and she’s pretty sure Josh liked her because, “I laughed at everything he said!” After those early giggles, the rest is history.
They decided to stay in Charlotte after graduation and have now been married for nine years and have two kids under four. Because they’ve always been into podcasts, when their daughter Josephine was old enough, Jess decided to start looking for one they could play in the car that would capture Joey’s interest. She found a podcast with fairy tales that Joey loved but couldn’t find anything else with a little more substance for children under age five. At this point, there were very few podcasts that were tailored to preschoolers.
An idea was born.
Right away Josh and Jess started researching how to start a podcast their own podcast, specifically on Bible stories that would captivate children. Even if it was only for their kids to listen to while running errands in the car, the effort would be worth it.
“It was totally a God thing. I never had to advertise and it just continued to grow. At first I just sent it to my mom friends and couldn’t believe it when we had over 40 downloads in a day. I remember it feeling like such a big deal,” said Jess.
Josh used to joke that one day they’d have a 1,000 downloads a day and Jess just laughed and called him crazy, thinking it impossible.
Little did they know, since its inception in July 2017, it’s reach would continue to multiply. Just six months in, they started to have 2,000 downloads a day consistently. They decided to upgrade their hosting site so they could actually see where this growing audience existed. At that point, they realized their little podcast had become so much bigger than them. Reaching China, Korea, Turkey and even remote areas of Africa, the Lord was clearly using it to share the Gospel around the world.
“We don’t go above and beyond to share the podcast. The only explanation for its success in reach is that the Holy Spirit grew it,” remarked Jess. “My hope and prayer is that we reach more people and what we’re saying is both genuine and Biblically sound.”
Jessica wants kids to listen to it and love it so much that they’re able to answer the questions at the end of each show. They always pray their audience is connecting the dots with the application so they can really use what they’re learning in their own lives.
“Little people have hardships too. It’s important to teach them God loves you and you’re never alone,” said Jessica.
I think we can all agree this is something people of all ages need to hear in our culture today.
Right now their kids are 4 and under and eventually as they get older and mature, they will start creating content that continue to be age appropriate to meet their needs.
Following Your Call
“Starting the podcast was all such a process for us. It started way back when we decided we wanted to do something creative, that highlighted our passions, and provided an avenue for serving people with the gifts that were unique to Jess and I,” explained Josh.
“It started two or three years ago. I started blogging, writing articles and as it unfolded it wasn’t the space where I wanted to be. Later, I also created a Vlog. I had a Youtube channel and it ended up being a huge time suck. I had to film all day long and spent about 15 hours a week on it. And ultimately it didn’t get the results I was seeking. I received some good feedback but it wasn’t taking off for the amount of time I was putting in.”
“People sometimes forget that you have to pour all of this time into it along with the demands of your busy life. When you chase after an endeavor like this, it’s like starting a business, even if you don’t want to make money. It’s a lot of work and everything in your life changes to be able to fit it all in. It’s not like you stop your full time job to do it. I still also have a full time and part time job, Jess has a nursing job, and we still have two kids. We work hard in everything we do and this is something we’ve added on top of all of it,” remarked Josh.
“Your life doesn’t just care that you have the creative project you want to do. It’s just something you have to pursue wholeheartedly if you want to do it. The moral of our story is that we failed multiple times and then found our way,” said Josh.
Josh had started a podcast and then encouraged Jessica to start her own. They learned so much from all the mistakes he’d made along the way that when she started Kids Bible Stories they had a much better sense of what they were doing. After hers started doing so well, Josh stopped producing his so they could combine their efforts to support the Kids Bible Stories Podcast.
When asked what she was most proud of throughout this experience over the past year Jessica responded, “God can use you for anything. My background is in nursing. I would never have expected to start something like this. I’m not great with technology and have never considered myself to be a “creative” person. I’m just a mom. I didn’t go to seminary but God is clearly using me for His purpose.”
“God can do anything with anybody. You don’t have to be “qualified” to do something if you feel it’s going to honor God,” said Jessica.
Her favorite part about the podcast is that it truly brought their whole family together. Josh and Jess work very closely on it each week and they even get their kids involved for the sound effects. While it’s not making any money at this point, they feel like they’re storing up treasures in heaven because it’s so fulfilling for their family.
Most importantly, she asked herself first, “What are my motives? Am I doing it for social status, or greed? Or, are my intentions pure?” If it’s for all the right reasons, what’s to stop it from succeeding.
“Don’t be afraid of failure. If it fails, it fails. You’ll still be loved so just go for it anyway!” said Jessica.
Josh has been such an encourager to her throughout their journey. He helped her get over her pursuit of perfection by telling her, “Just post them: even if they don’t sound awesome at first while you’re learning. Your audience will see you grow and that you’re human. “
Wow! Can we get an Amen after that tidbit of wisdom? I’m hoping ya’ll give my writing this same grace as I journey along through this blog.
They spend about 4 hours a week creating each episode. “I write on Monday nights. Tweak Tuesdays. Friday night I review the content again. And on Saturday night, I pray over it and record. On Sunday nights, I edit, clip and post,” said Jessica.
What a way to spend your evenings instead of just Netflix and chill? What could you do in those hours after your kids go to bed?
Her tips for avoiding burn out:
- Remember I’m doing it for fun
- It’s for the kids
- If it’s not perfect, it’s ok. If I’m biblically sound then I think the Holy Spirit will still work.
- Give yourself a break.
“I took my first week off in March and didn’t make a new episode. It felt really nice to take a break and focus on other things. And you know what, the podcast didn’t end without me,” said Jessica.
Speaking of breaks, Jessica and Josh might be the most creative couple I know for date nights. Feel free to steal of few of their ideas below.
Their top 5 dates are:
- Big Air
- Adult Gymnastics class at the YMCA
- Bicycling to Whole Foods for wine on the terrace or just riding closeby and enjoying the greenway.
- Laser tag. We were the oldest there but it was SO much fun. No regrets.
Her favorite place to draw inspiration is a worship experience. “Being in community with other people who love Jesus stirs something in me that I only feel at church. I also love going to yoga on Saturday mornings at the Harris YMCA. No phones: just calm, quiet, and exercise,” said Jessica. Enough said.
If you have a dream, take action. Research everything tirelessly but don’t let analysis paralysis hold you captive. Be prepared it will be incredibly time consuming because dreams don’t become a reality overnight. If you can learn anything from these two: keep moving forward towards God’s calling, don’t fear failure and pivot when things aren’t going quite as planned.
To bring glory and honor to His Kingdom,