Do you ever wonder if you can make a difference? It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all we see happening around us—but when we learn to see ourselves the way God sees us, amazing things can happen! Listen today as Stefani Carlson shares her story of getting off the bench and onto the battlefield! I promise you’ll be encouraged!
Transcribed version of the podcast is below
Today’s Scripture Writing Challenge Verse
- Isaiah 45:9-13
Resources Mentioned in Podcast
- Heidi St. John Conference Lee’s Summit
- Evangelical Christian Credit Union
- Canby City Council Meeting
- School board electee concerns Canby’s trans community
Scripture Mentioned in Podcast
- 2 Timothy 3:12
- James 1:2
- Romans 5:3
- 1 Corinthians 12
Join us at MomStrong International for our Bible Study and Scripture Writing!
Stefani is married to her best friend Paul, has two teenage kids and a very busy life. When Stefani isn’t helping her husband run their businesses or homeschooling her kiddos, you can find her running her family’s hobby farm, designing commercial spaces and volunteering within the pro-life community.
Stefani is a regular mom who decided to get off the bench and get involved in her community to promote Biblical values while encouraging others to do the same. Her favorite hobbies include milking her goats, running a farm stand and spending time with the Lord in her garden.
This podcast was brought to you by our friends at Evangelical Christian Credit Union.
Hey everybody. This is Heidi St. John. Welcome to the podcast you guys. Thanks for tuning in. Today is Monday, July 29th and it’s meet my friend Friday. Just kidding. It’s Monday, but I have a guest here that you guys are going to absolutely love. Stefani Carlson is here with me today and I’ve been trying to get her on the show ever since she first reached out to me some months ago. You guys, I’m telling you what, this is a mama who has gotten off the bench and onto the battlefield.
Stick around. I think you’re going to be encouraged.
All right, so lots of stuff coming up on my calendar. Want to let you guys know I will be in Kansas City, Missouri. Actually, Lee’s summit if we’re going to be a technical. I’ll be in Lee’s Summit for my women’s conference: Faith That Speaks. If you have not gotten your ticket yet, I want to encourage you to do that. We are anticipating a roughly 500 women to come out to that event. We are doing swag—it’s going to be a day of just getting you into the Word and equipping you that God has given you a voice. This is the whole purpose behind Faith That Speaks. This year’s theme is Miracle Worker: The Life Changing Power of Following Jesus. And we’re going to be talking a little bit about what it means to follow Jesus. Invite your friends, come on out! It’s going to be a fantastic day. You will not want to miss it. August 24th in Lee’s Summit, Missouri at Abundant Life Church. After that, just a few days later, I’ll be at Valley Baptist church in Bakersfield to help them kick off their women’s events. So you can find out more information about where I will be at HeidiStJohn.com/Events.
I want to let you know too that this Friday we are going to be celebrating our 800th episode here at the podcast. My friend Ken Ham is coming on to party down with me! You guys tell your friends, because we’re going to be doing giveaways all day for this particular episode. So that’s this Friday, August 2nd— our 800th episode. We’re going to be doing giveaways on Facebook, and on my Instagram, and over at iTunes. So if you haven’t left a review there, we’re going to be picking winners from those reviews. So go ahead and do that. I’m going to give you guys a couple of days of heads up because we will be picking winners on the 2nd, so want to just encourage you to leave reviews over there at iTunes.
All right. Without further ado, I want to get into introducing you to my friend Stefani Carlson. She is my new hero. She has learned how to get off the bench and onto the battlefield. Anytime I hear stories about men and women who have found their courage in Christ, and have been listening to His Word, it encourages me so much that I want to bring them to you. Stefani has been married for 19 years to her favorite guy Paul. They have two kids ages 16 and 14 and Stefani resides in the beautiful town of Canby, Oregon. Stefani, welcome to the show.
[Stefani] Thank you Heidi. I’m so happy to be here.
[Heidi] I am thrilled that you’re, you and I have a very long and storied history. Not really— it’s a short history, but it’s a storied one because I have been fascinated and completely captivated by your story ever since you left a message for me at the resource center. And by the way, you’re at the resource center here in Vancouver. What do you think?
[Stefani] Oh my goodness. It’s amazing. I want to look into it and bring my kids here.
[Heidi] I know, you need to totally come down. And, I’ve been thinking, because you have to message just here at just at the front desk and one of our staffers wrote it down and got it to me and I read it, but I was on my way out the door to a conference in New York and then weeks went by and I heard from you again. I’m just dying for people to hear what’s been going on with you. So let’s go back to that first phone call that you left here at the center. Why did you called?
[Stefani] Well, I called just to kind of let you know what was going on down here in Canby. A month before, my little speech to the City Council…
[Heidi] So wait, hold on. So you went to the City Council?
[Stefani] I did.
[Heidi] So Stefani Carlson, little homeschool mom, you got off the bench— and was that fun for you? Did you have all the time in the world to just go down and do that?
[Stefani] Absolutely not. I have a very busy schedule and I did not have a lot of time, but we all have the same amount of time. And what is important, and should take priority— takes priority when we make that time.
[Heidi] That’s exactly right. So what in the world motivated you to get off the bench and onto the battlefield and go to a City Council meeting?
[Stefani] Well, I could just see the way my city was going, and there was some things that were very concerning to me. So my husband and I prayed about it, and we had just been listening to your podcast—It was a new thing to us. And I loved what you had said about getting off the bench, getting involved, getting active. So I decided— I’m going to do that. I gathered a group of friends up that.
[Heidi] I love your confidence— I’m going to do that. She’s my new best friend. Like a Jay’s nodding out of control window.
[Stefani] You can absolutely do anything you set your mind to, right?
[Stefani] So I gathered a group of friends that were in our community that believed in Biblical values. You could see some of those eroding in our community.
[Heidi] So, what do you mean when you say the eroding in your community and things were concerning you? What was concerning you?
[Stefani] Well, one was we had this issue where a city counselor wanted to do a transgender proclamation day for our city.
[Stefani] Yeah. And we just thought— you know, this is not the way we want to see things go in Canby. So we came together and started deciding that we are going to do something. I went to the City Council that night, to help the mayor. He had decided that they weren’t going to do that, standing up against it, but I feel like he kind of was bullied into this situation.
[Heidi] Well, there’s a shocker.
[Stefani] Yeah. So I was kind of going to his defense, is really what I wanted to do. So I stood up and I had prepared a little speech and basically said that— all men are created equal. We don’t need to have a special day. If you do this for one group, you’re going to have to do it for another group. And this is not the job of the city. So lets stick to city business and let this other stuff…
[Heidi] Yea, let’s make sure that the street sweepers are getting out to their on time, the garbage is working great. Let’s not get into legislating morality and celebrating things like that.
[Stefani] As you can imagine. There was a lot of pushback from 10 or 12 people in the town and I got called all kinds of names.
[Heidi] So the 10 or 12 people feels like a thousand.
[Stefani] It feels like a thousand.
[Heidi] It feels like a thousand when they’re coming at you. Did they come at you kindly or were they saying— Hey, can we talk about this?
[Stefani] Oh it was horrible, horrible. I was labeled a hater and a bigot. All these things that I am not, and then on top of it, I put out this post in the Canby Now page, which is where everybody’s at. And I said— do you know what? I never meant to hurt feelings. My heart is if you are hungry, come to me. I will make sure you get fed. You need, if you’re cold, come to me and I will find you a coat. And they made fun of that statement and it was horrible. And I just felt overwhelmed and thought— what did I get myself into? And I think that’s when I called you, I was just overwhelmed. And your lovely assistant was so kind and gracious to me. And she just helped me kind of see that bigger picture. And you know what?I grew some thick skin during that time and now I’m ready for more.
[Heidi] Well, and I think it’s something I’ve been saying here for a long time is that the people who are pushing this agenda so much for tolerance, they’re not interested in actual tolerance. And you found that out pretty quick. They’re interested in 100% complete capitulation.
[Stefani] That’s right.
[Heidi] And if you don’t give it to them, then they’re going to label you and send you hate mail and write bad things about you.
[Stefani] Right. I was on the news.
[Heidi] Yep. And like I keep telling parents, and I want everyone to listen to this— in order for this agenda, the transgender agenda, the LGBT, the drag queen story hour, in order for these things to move forward, they need our silence. They need us to be silent. They depend on our silence. And that thing I love so much about you is you were like— no, not going to give it to you. And you had to grow thick skin.
People are mean for goodness sake. I have a lot of people that follow me on Facebook. You got to have thick skin now because the gloves are off. People are not kind. I get death threats online, and I think people need to understand that what we’re up against, we’re not fighting against flesh and blood. This is exactly what the apostle Paul said in Ephesians 6 and this is a not a flesh and blood enemy. So before we start thinking— oh, this is a group of people. No, we are coming against wrong thinking. We are coming against what we know to be a spirit of evil that is permeating our culture. And so when you realize— okay, this is going to require a thick skin on my part— what did that look like for you? How did you begin to have your perspective shift to that?
[Stefani] Well, I go to the Word of God. That’s what I do. And I had it written here.
[Heidi] I love this girl.
[Stefani] 2 Timothy 3:12 says: yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. The Lord doesn’t say you might suffer persecution. He says you will. So if we are doing what we need to be doing, and some of us are just made to be those warriors— and I’m here today to encourage your listeners to get off the bench and start making a difference. We need people to step it up. But if we do that, we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing, we will have some persecution involved.
James 1:2 says: count it all joy my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds. Romans 5:3 says: we rejoice in our suffering. So that’s what I do, Heidi. I go to the Word of God and there is no other authority in my life but God’s Word. And He said we’ll suffer persecution. So if I can do that from my Lord, count meat.
[Heidi] That’s exactly tight, and he said: I’ll never leave you. I’ve had people say to me often, and I just got back from a Phoenix, and the weekend before that I was in Los Angeles, and I’ve been standing in front of thousands of people and proclaiming to them: you are who God says you are. You’re not who this activist says that you are, you’re not who the local paper says that you are. You are who God says you are. And it’s finding our identity in Christ. And it sounds to me like that’s really been what’s happened inside of you. You’re like— no, I am who God says I am.
[Stefani] That’s right.
[Heidi] And He said I’m going to experience trouble. But then He said take heart, I have overcome the world. He said in this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world. And that’s what produces that joy that James is talking about in James 1 and Romans 5. It’s that joy that comes, it’s a fruit of the Spirit. And we’ve been talking about that all month at MomStrong International— it’s not dependent on your circumstances. It doesn’t depend on whether or not people agree with you or whether they’re sending you nice emails or hateful ones. Joy is the unmistakable sign of the presence of God, and it sounds like you’ve been experiencing it.
[Stefani] Oh, it has been wonderful. Wonderful. Our pastor spoke recently on fearing God or fearing man and he says you really have a choice. I think you actually had Debbie Meador on your podcast.
[Heidi] I did. Love Debbie, she’s a warrior.
[Stefani]Yeah. So Pastor Brett talked recently about fearing God or fearing man, and you really have a choice between the two. And I remember thinking I fear God. Obviously I don’t fear man. I fear God and I really want to serve and surrender to Him. So that was kind of the start of this whole thing was, a heart that knelt before the Lord and said— Lord, I want nobody else but You on the throne of my heart and I want to do what you would have me do. And I will do whatever You want. So that surrendered place, sometimes is a hard place to get there— oh but it is so beautiful once you do because there is that joy, like this unexplainable joy that the Lord gives.
[Heidi] Yeah. So you’ve gone to this board meeting, the City Council meeting, and now the people don’t like you.
[Heidi] Actually that’s not true. It’s a small portion. We are being bullied by 0.002% of the population. It’s amazing to me. But you didn’t let that deter you stayed in there and you asked the Lord to be your covering and what happened the next?
[Stefani] Well, I will tell you that I had numerous people reach out every day. I felt like I had probably, I had anywhere from 60 to 70 people reach out during that course of that week. Just saying— thank you for standing up for what’s right. I so badly want to say that I don’t have the courage to say that. Keep fighting. So 99% of it was all good stuff, and I really want to also encourage your listeners to find that place where God wants you to serve in. If it’s from a place of encouragement to people to all the way to running for City Council, or School Board.
[Heidi] Yea because the people who are running need the encouragement along side them.
[Stefani] Absolutely, so everybody has a place. Everybody has a place in front. 1 Corinthians 12, he talks about how there’s so many ways that we can serve, right? And God made me with a certain passion and interest over here, and He made you with one or many, and the next person has another set of strengths and passions— and we’re all the body of Christ. We all have different functions, but we’ve worked together as a whole. So I would encourage your listeners to really seek the Lord’s will for their life and say— okay Lord, I’m ready for you to use me. Where do you want me to go? and learn to listen to Him. And like you say all the time on your podcast, it starts off with being in the Word of God, spending time with him. If we’re really, truly making the Lord our first priority in life, and He’s the thing that encompasses everything we do, we have to spend time getting to know Him, and His Word, and praying, and listening to His voice, learning His voice. He says His sheep know His voice.
[Heidi] Yeah. And they learn to follow it. It’s knowing, and then the next step is, obeying. And I think in the culture right now, that obedience piece is pretty hard because it does mean that you’re going to open yourself up to criticism. It does mean you’re going to open yourself up to ridicule, but you decided this is what God asked you to do. And then what happened?
[Stefani] So, I did it. I did it. So, the next piece that kind of came after this as I was encouraged to run for School Board, and I thought— are you kidding me? I’m a homeschooling mom— no way!
[Heidi] Well, this is what Debbie Meador was saying. One of my favorite people here at the resource center is a mom who sits on the board of her local school and she’s also a homeschool mom. But she cares about what’s happening to our kids in the public schools. And we should care. This is the next generation. These are the next generation of voters for goodness sake, of teachers, and educators, and doctors, and attorneys, and electricians. And we should care.
[Stefani] We should care. And that’s a reason I decided to run. So the story goes that I was encouraged to run and I had to get my name and all of my endorsements and everything in really quickly. So I thought, okay, I’ll do this. And then, if for some reason I want to pull out, all my friends were like—oh, you can just pull out of the race if you want. So I got everything ready. And part of that was I wasn’t going to not be who I am. You know, some candidates will kind of run in as a neutral party or neutral ground. And that’s just not me. I’m passionately a follower of the Lord. There are things about me that I have fought for for a long time. Being a pro-life advocate is a huge, huge piece of my world.
I am a board member at the Oregon City Hope 360 Pregnancy Clinic. We’re actually transitioning to an OBRIA Clinic. So I encourage your listeners, to look into that and explore that. It’s a really, really cool organization.
[Heidi] What is the organization?
[Stefani] It’s called OBRIA.
[Heidi] Pregnancy Resource Center
[Stefani] There’s 3000 pregnancy resource centers in the US, and we have 800 planned parenthoods. Well, they have brand recognition, they have marketing, they have all their resources pooled in one area. So OBRIA’s goal is to do the same thing. To be a fantastic alternative to Planned Parenthood.
[Heidi] Well, and we’re watching president Trump defunding the heck out of planned.
[Stefani] Isn’t that amazing? So he just removed a few sentences out of some of the past legislation and not too long ago…
[Heidi] Title 10.
[Stefani] Yup, title 10. And it made it so places, organizations like OBRIA can actually receive funding and that’s amazing. So I am unashamedly pro-life and I was encouraged by a couple people too— you know, you might not want to have particular endorsements. But I said— you know what, no way! I absolutely am going to because that’s who I am. So I was endorsed by Oregon Right To Life. And I was very happy that for that endorsement. So I put everything out and then I prayed and I prayed. And I can tell you there was only about one time in my life that I couldn’t hear the Lord, He just was silent. It was neutral. And I was like— Lord, am I supposed to do this? Am I not supposed to do this?
[Heidi] And now you’re starting to get nervous.
[Stefani] I was! I was getting nervous.
[Heidi] This little homeschool mom, Stefani, she’s running for the School Board.
[Stefani] And I had all these people….
[Heidi] And you’re like — okay Lord, where’s your voice?
[Stefani] Exactly! And all this hate coming at me from…
[Heidi] Haters gonna hate.
[Stefani] Haters gonna hate. And so I thought— I don’t know if I should do this. So I called the election office and they said— oh, it’s too late. You can’t pull your name. You should have done that yesterday. And I thought— oh no. So we launched a write-in campaign for somebody else.
[Heidi] So at this point, you’re running against yourself.
[Stefani] I’m actually against an eight year incumbent.
[Heidi] You wanted to pull your name and put in a write-in candidate. Because your name is on the ballot at this point. They can’t take it off.
[Heidi] Stefani wants it off. But but the elections office can’t take it off because they’ve already been printed. The ballots have already been mailed. And so you decide— okay, I don’t want to do this. And so you ask for help to run against yourself. So you don’t want people to vote for you.
[Heidi] You want them to vote for this other write-in candidate.
[Stefani] That’s right.
[Heidi] Because you’re afraid?
[Stefani] Yeah because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do this! And I really did want the Lord will.
[Heidi] And it is terrifying. I think I started to say a few minutes ago that when I started doing this whole thing, and people often say to me, they just said it to me last weekend in Phoenix—you must be so brave and so bold. I’m like— I’m actually not. When I stand up and speak in front of lots and lots of people, my knees are always knocking. My stomach is always in butterflies, the whole thing. I often remember my grandmother telling me how you can do anything. Just do it afraid. Listen for the spirit of the Lord. If the Lord’s telling you to do it, obedience doesn’t mean the absence of fear. Fear is a spirit. And so what we do is we come against that spirit and we say— okay, Lord, no, I’m not going to be bullied by this spirit of fear, which is what the transgenders are using. It’s what drag queen story hour is. It is a spirit of fear. If you do this, then we will do x, y, z , blah, blah, blah, blah, whatever it is. And you have to really be leaning hard into the Lord and this is what you’re learning.
[Stefani] Yeah. I was learning that and I was leaning. I usually can hear Him one way or another, but I just didn’t feel a sense of peace. But you know what? It was absolutely a part of the plan and it was all for His glory because what transpired after that was even though we had sent out postcards, hundreds and hundreds of postcards doing this write-in campaign, I sent out hundreds of emails, everybody I talked to…
[Heidi] Yea, you’re saying “don’t vote for me but vote for the write-in”.
[Stefani] Exactly. Yeah. And so I worked hard at actually not getting voted in, to be honest. And then, the day of the election came and I got on my knees in my little she-shed by my garden and I said— Lord, I really want to live a surrendered life to you. I want to do anything you want me to do. So Father, there’s no way I will win against an eight year incumbent that I have campaigned for, you know, taken a different route. There’s no way. But if you want me there, Father, I will serve you the best. I know how and I will listen and I will obey. And then I figured the rest is up to Him.
[Stefani] So that night we went to an election party for my other friend who was running. A woman of….
[Heidi] The woman you were hoping would win.
[Stefani] Well she was running for different seat, and she did win, which was awesome because she is an amazing woman. And then they called my name and said: Stefani won too! Oh Lord, really? Okay. You made it clear. Awesome. I will serve you.
[Heidi] Wow, that’s an amazing, I’m just sitting here listening to you. Just tears in my eyes because I just know that if men and women… the Lord has given me just as passion to just speak the truth, just everywhere you go. And I just know that if men and women would listen to what God says, we can actually turn the ship around because the Lord can do it through us. We’ve forgotten who we belong to. We are children of the living God. We are sons and daughters of the King of kings and the Lord of lords. And at the end of the day we answer to Him, not to a school board, not to a newspaper, not to the news, not to the mainstream media. We answer to the Lord. So I’m going to go ahead and wrap this up today. Would you be willing, because you’ve got more to tell and it’s such an amazing story— would you be willing to come back on Wednesday and we’ll pick it up?
[Stefani] Yes, I would love to.
[Heidi] You alright you guys. Stefani’s gonna come back and we’re going to finish this conversation on Wednesday, but I hope that you are encouraged to get off the bench and onto the battlefield.
You guys, this is the end of July right now. We are coming into August. I know a lot of you are sitting here thinking— oh my goodness, I don’t even know if I want my kids back in the public school and we’re going to be talking about this when we come back on Wednesday, but I just want to encourage you, get off the bench, get onto the battlefield. You are who God says you are.
I am so grateful to be working with Evangelical Christian Credit Union. They are helping make sure that this podcast gets brought to you guys every single week. You might remember that I just did a podcast about sheltering children and the feedback I’ve gotten on that was really, really wonderful for the most part, but I wanted to point something out— one thing we don’t want to keep from our children, that we don’t want to shelter them from— is the power of handling money responsively. And our podcast sponsor today is Evangelical Christian Credit Union and they’ve got tools that you can use to teach your children financial responsibility, no matter what age they are. So spending account, saving accounts—they have it all. No monthly fees, no overdraft fees. I could go on and on. So we want to teach our children to be accountable for their finances and ECC can help you do just that. You guys, don’t shield your children from responsibility. They’ll thank you for it later. Thanks for listening to the podcast everybody. And I’ll see you back here on Wednesday.
Write to Heidi:
Heidi St. John
c/o Firmly Planted Family
11100 NE 34th Cir, Vancouver, WA 98682
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