Jamie Ivey is among a collective of Central Texas women who have made a national name for themselves creating a life pathway for other Christian women. Those include authors Jennie Allen, who founded "If: Gathering," and Jen Hatmaker, who became even more known after her home’s renovation became an HGTV show.
These women are champions of one another and of others who are like them but not yet known on a national stage. Ivey’s new book, "You Be You: Why Satisfaction and Success Are Closer than You Think" ($22.99, BH Publishing), officially comes out Thursday.
Ivey, 42, grew up in Brownsville, then Missouri City, before a stint in Nashville as an adult. She won a contest to be a radio DJ, which she loved, but it ruined her work/home balance. For six years, she’s had the podcast "The Happy Hour." She, husband Aaron and their growing family moved to Austin in 2008.
"Here in Austin, it’s a unique opportunity," Ivey says. Austin is accepting of whatever, she says. "When you think of a Christian leader ... you may not think about tattoos and adoption," she says. "I love living in Austin so much. We can be ourselves even with our faith. You can be yourself here."
"You Be You," Ivey’s second book, offers its readers this message: "God has created you for a specific purpose."
"I want women to trust that they were created for a purpose," she says. "They don’t have to try to spend their whole lives trying to be someone else."
We are people who look at other women’s social media posts and wonder, "How does she have that life?"
Really, she doesn’t.
"It’s a huge temptation to think, ’How is she so happy?’ when all they are looking at is their Instagram," Ivey says.
Ivey is just like you, having those thoughts. When it comes to leading Bible studies, "many times I’ve looked around and thought, ’She’s so much better than I am.’ I wish I could teach the Bible like Jennie Allen. The reality is I’m not Jennie, and I’ll never be Jennie."
For Ivey, it’s about trusting God. When she believes that she was created for a specific purpose, she says she’s more satisfied.
"It gives me a sigh of relief," she says. "I don’t have to work so hard ... I can never be anyone except for me. It really is that simple."
She shares "the same things I’ve been telling myself" in her book. She wants to be the older sister, the cheerleader, the best friend, the encourager: Try new things, go against the grain, you be you and no one else.
For Ivey, it’s about finding your best self. "God did not create us to be like her. He created us to be like us. I want my kids to know that. That yearning to be like someone you were never created to be is exhausting."
She and her husband have four kids, ages 12, 14, 15 and 16. They met while at college at Houston Baptist University and were friends for a while before they started dating. In March, they will release a book they wrote together about marriage.
Like most families, the coronavirus pandemic has meant a lot of juggling. For them it’s four kids’ schoolwork, her podcast and virtual book launch and Aaron recording music for the Austin Stone Community Church in the studio on their 4-acre Southwest Austin property with goats and horses.
"It’s not everyone’s suburban normal," she says.
To retreat from that chaos and get work done, she has a tiny home on the property that serves as her office.
Every day she walks in her neighborhood. She loves the alone time, moving her body and the quiet.
She says, even now, during this pandemic, she and Aaron are committed to getting alone time. In marriage, the truth is that some seasons are more difficult than others.
That’s true in parenting as well, and she applies her mantra — "you be you" — there, too.
In parenting, "you parent for your kids, not parent for who’s watching," she says.
When you parent kids in hopes that other people will think you’re a good mom, she says, that can be unsettling for kids because they never know which mom they are getting. It’s inauthentic.
"It left my kids drained and left me exhausted," she says.
She has four different kids with four different personalities. It’s not cookie-cutter parenting. Look at the kid as an individual and see what they need, she says.
She’s become more comfortable in her parenting just as she’s become more comfortable with where she is professionally.
"I’m good with myself," she says. "I like myself. I don’t have the time to look at someone else and wonder how she does it. I do think there’s a little maturity when you get into your 40s."
In this season of life, it has meant embracing the slowdown.
"Early on in COVID, everything about my life changed," she says. "All my events canceled. All my interviews in person all canceled. How can I still do my job and help people?"
It was a lack of control over life, she says, and then it turned into, "How can we serve those around us? How do we walk alongside each other" even if we’re not physically with each other?
She’s had to redefine what it means to be successful, especially with this book launch.
"Success is a moving target," she says. "What can we measure ourselves by? Did I show up today? Am I faithful to what I’m meant to do?"