By Connie Sokol
When Melissa Radke hit an emotional roadblock, she knew something had to change. “I had faced my husband’s infidelity and our infertility. I had faced weight issues and even house issues. But then it was my 41st birthday and I just couldn’t shake the quiver inside. Something was missing, something I was supposed to do but was afraid to.” Her children told her to make a wish on her birthday cake, so she did. “I gave myself 12 months to do what I felt God wanted me to do with my life.”
The result? A bestselling book, a USA Network show, and over 57 million video views on her social media. Now she says she is living the life she knew she was meant to live.
How did she make those earth-shifting changes in 12 short months? Like many women in recent years, she went beyond a self-help book or success principle. She and others have relied on faith, family, and community.
During the 12-month challenge, she hit highs and lows. This TV star and keynote speaker of the Utah You Got This Interfaith Women’s Conference attributes her success to the divine. “The truth is, I let myself down so many times I knew I couldn’t make that kind of change on my own,” says Ms. Radke. “I had to go to my faith, my spirituality, and my God. That’s when things started to change.” Now she enjoys sweet success at home and on the screen.
When Toni Ragsdale’s husband suddenly decided to feed homeless people in the park, she gave a smile but raised an eyebrow. “I thought maybe he was going through a midlife crisis or something like that.” But when he continued to feed them each Sunday, she got worried. As a faith-based woman she knew the power and practice of serving others. But as her husband’s weekly park visits required more food, and their family situation expanded to thirteen members in a small home, the question of how to provide for everyone became a real-time loaves and fishes problem.
The situation hit an apex when one day she served him chili for dinner. He asked if she could make it for the homeless, which she did, but admits with the financially stretched situation, she skimped on the ingredients. After her husband recognized the chili change-up, he quietly went to the store, got new ingredients, and made the dish the original way. The life lesson has stayed with her. “My thought was, they’ll be grateful to have food even if it’s not the best. But his thought was, they deserve the best, too.”
With her husband’s quiet example, and her own practical thoughts of feeding everyone, they involved their family. Today, the “Fill the Pot” ministry feeds over 400 people every Sunday. The Ragsdale family and their ministry now include volunteers, organize support, and a community building to feed those in need.
A year ago, two other women and I discussed the concept for an interfaith women’s conference. At that time, we knew that interfaith women needed to gather together to deal with life challenges. What we didn’t know was no such interfaith conference had been held before.
The vision was good but the reality was daunting. We had nothing — no money, no venue, no keynote speaker — nothing except faith and some connections. Though many people were positive, such an undertaking was dismissed by others with the reality that barely 100 would likely attend.
Still, we pressed on. We secured a venue, a national keynote speaker, and an agenda. Within three months and through the help of community members, volunteers, and sponsors, we presented a full day conference with a power-packed line-up to a crowd of 600 interfaith women. That led to two follow up conferences, our third You Got This Women Interfaith Conference this month on March 23rd.
When we look at our life challenges through a lens of faith, family, and community, suddenly new doors are opened and solutions appear. Whether it’s remaking your life, serving those in distress or providing opportunities for people to connect and be inspired, inviting the divine and linking arms with each other through faith, family and community brings resolution and relief.
About the Author
Connie E. Sokol is a bestselling author, national speaker, program founder and mother of seven. She hosts the podcast Balance reDefined and is a regular contributor on “Studio 5 with Brooke Walker.” To attend this year’s non-profit event, You Got This Women Interfaith Conference on March 23rd, get tickets at www.yougotthiswomen.com. Use code connies to receive 25% off.