Finding Freedom through Art: How Creativity Enriches Your Faith – Haleigh DeRocher

Show Notes

“Every human being is creative and we all can be artistic. We need to express our creativity because we are made in the image of God, who is a creator and an artist.” – Haleigh DeRocher

Do you long to unleash your creative potential and discover how it can enhance your Christian faith? Are you searching for a way to tap into your artistic abilities and use them to worship and influence others? Well, today is your lucky day! Our guest, Haleigh DeRocher, will be sharing the ultimate solution to empower you as a Christian to embrace your creativity and experience the profound impact it can have on your spiritual journey. Get ready to unlock the transformative power of art and creativity to deepen your relationship with God and inspire those around you.

My special guest is Haleigh DeRocher

Haleigh DeRocher is a notable force in the realm of artistic creativity and dedicated motherhood hailing from East Texas. With an English major and a profound passion for literature, she combined her love for art and reading into a thriving business venture, Sweet Sequels. As a homeschooling mom to four children, Haleigh channels her creative pursuits through her unique journey of balancing education and motherhood. Her story is a testament to embracing creativity in every facet of life, making her the perfect source of inspiration for those aiming to marry creativity and faith in their day-to-day lives.

This is Haleigh DeRocher’s story:

Haleigh DeRocher’s journey into the world of art and creativity began innocuously enough. As a recent English graduate, she found herself drawn to the realm of literary-inspired art, crafting pieces that combined her love for literature and art. With each stroke of her brush, she breathed life into her passion, eventually transforming it into a thriving business. But her creative pursuits extended beyond the canvas. As a mother of four, Haleigh decided to home-school her children, a path inspired by her desire for them to experience the joy of learning beyond traditional school boundaries. She believed in nurturing their natural curiosity and creativity, filling their days with classic literature, art studies, and real-life experiences. Haleigh’s approach to parenting and education echoed her belief that every human being is innately creative, a reflection of God’s image as a creator.

In this episode, you will be able to:

  • Unpack the power of creativity and art in deepening your faith.
  • Take down barriers of homeschooling, learning to balance its benefits against challenges.
  • Develop a nerve of steel to confront and overcome the negativity around expressing conservative Christian beliefs.
  • Ignite boldness within, fostering an unwavering trust in God’s plans.
  • Hunt down your tribe – a supportive community that connects you with fellow Christians.

Empowering Christians to tap into their creativity for worship and influence.


Creativity is a beautiful and intrinsic part of human nature. As we live and move in this world, we reflect the image of our Creator – the ultimate source of all art and creativity. This resonates deeply amongst Christians, inviting them to tap into their artistic abilities. With the world becoming an increasingly visual and aesthetically driven place, leveraging artistic expression becomes not just a form of self-expression, but also a powerful tool for worship and influence. Let’s go back to Haleigh DeRocher’s spirited discussion on this topic. As an artist, bookworm, and businesswoman armed with strong Christian values, Haleigh embodies the idea of employing creativity in her worship. She positively insists that everyone can be artistic because we are all created in the image of God – a grand artist in His own right. Imagine the impact we could all have on the world if we embraced our creativity as Haleigh has!

Being Bold in a Hateful World: Standing firm in Christian beliefs despite opposition.


Living out a Christian faith in an increasingly secular world requires courage. Standing firm in your beliefs, even if they’re at odds with popular opinion, is nothing less than a bold declaration of faith. It isn’t easy and might invite opposition; however, it’s through this challenge that we truly embody the Christian virtue of fortitude. Haleigh DeRocher’s experience attests to this, reminding us that fear or negative reactions should not deter us from walking our faith-laden path. When she took a stand against abortion, her views were met with intense backlash, even death threats. Yet, she wasn’t dissuaded. Despite challenges, Haleigh continued unabated, transforming her ordeal into an empowering lesson about standing strong in a world that often misunderstands Christian beliefs.

Empowering Christians to tap into their creativity for worship and influence.


Creativity is a beautiful and intrinsic part of human nature. As we live and move in this world, we reflect the image of our Creator – the ultimate source of all art and creativity. This resonates deeply amongst Christians, inviting them to tap into their artistic abilities. With the world becoming an increasingly visual and aesthetically driven place, leveraging artistic expression becomes not just a form of self-expression, but also a powerful tool for worship and influence. Let’s go back to Haleigh DeRocher’s spirited discussion on this topic. As an artist, bookworm, and businesswoman armed with strong Christian values, Haleigh embodies the idea of employing creativity in her worship. She positively insists that everyone can be artistic because we are all created in the image of God – a grand artist in His own right. Imagine the impact we could all have on the world if we embraced our creativity as Haleigh has!

The resources mentioned in this episode are:

  • Visit Haleigh’s website, Sweet Sequels, to check out her literary-inspired art.
  • Explore the selection of items on Haleigh’s website, including quilts, artwork, and more.
  • Consider purchasing a Harry Potter quilt, one of the popular items from Sweet Sequels.
  • Discover the variety of literary-inspired art available on Sweet Sequels and find the perfect piece for your home.
  • Connect with Haleigh on social media to stay updated on new artwork and promotions.
  • Learn more about homeschooling and the hybrid model by researching resources and communities in your area.
  • Consider homeschooling or a hybrid model for your own family and explore the options available.
  • Find curriculum options and resources for homeschooling that align with your values and interests.
  • Join homeschooling communities or co-ops in your area to connect with other homeschooling families and share resources.
  • Embrace the opportunity to spend more time with your children and impart your values through homeschooling or a hybrid model.

“The decay of culture begins when great art is no longer being produced. Let’s create art that tells the truth, points to beauty, and points to God.” – Haleigh DeRocher

Timestamped summary of this episode:


00:00:09 – Introduction,
The host welcomes Haleigh from Sweet Sequels to the podcast. Haleigh introduces herself as a business owner and artist, as well as a mom of four who homeschools her children.

00:02:32 –
Starting Sweet Sequels,
Haleigh shares that she started her business, Sweet Sequels, in 2013 right after college. She majored in English but has always been an artist. Starting her own business has allowed her to pursue her passion while also being able to stay home with her kids.

00:03:45 – Homeschooling Journey,
Haleigh explains that she never envisioned herself homeschooling her kids. She initially thought of sending them to public school and then private school in high school, based on her own experience. However, when her oldest child reached school age, she decided to try a hybrid homeschool model and found it to be a great fit for her family.

00:06:15 – Homeschooling Benefits,
Haleigh discusses the benefits of homeschooling, particularly the ability to spend more time with her kids and have control over their education. She emphasizes the importance of being able to impart her values and interests, such as a love for reading and art, to her children.

00:09:36 – Overcoming Homeschool Stigma,
Haleigh reflects on the stigma attached to homeschooling when she was growing up and how that influenced her initial perceptions. However, she believes that the stigma has diminished and that there are now numerous options

00:16:11 – The Importance of Reading,
The guest discusses her son’s love for reading and how she encourages her children to develop their reading skills from a young age.

00:18:19 – Incorporating Structure into Homeschooling,
The guest emphasizes the importance of incorporating structure into homeschooling from an early age and suggests reading books like “Winnie the Pooh” as part of a child’s education.

00:19:28 – Fostering Creativity and Appreciating Beauty,
The guest explains the significance of creativity and art in the Christian faith, highlighting that humans are made in the image of God, who is a creator. She recommends books on art appreciation and homemaking.

00:26:03 – Christians and Art,
The guest addresses the misconception that art is solely for secular or leftist individuals, asserting that Christians should embrace and create art as a way to reflect God’s creativity. She laments the decline in the production of great art and urges Christians not to give up on influencing culture.

00:31:48 – Influence of Christians in Art,
The guest emphasizes the historical influence of Christianity on art, with many of the great masterpieces having Christian themes. She encourages Christians to reclaim their role in art creation and influence, as art is a powerful tool for exposing people to the truth.

00:33:35 –
The Beginning of Speaking Out,
Haleigh shares her experience of starting her business in 2013 and gradually noticing the leftist ideologies prevalent in her bookstagram community. She discusses the fear of speaking out and the backlash she faced when she first addressed the topic of abortion in 2019.

00:35:41 – The Backlash and Cancel Culture,
Haleigh describes how a post she made in 2020 about abortion led to her being officially canceled. She shares the intense hate and negativity she received, including death wishes. Despite the difficult experience, she ultimately gained a strong following of like-minded individuals.

00:37:18 – Coming Out as a Conservative Christian,
Haleigh explains that after facing backlash, she decided to fully embrace her identity as a conservative Christian and incorporate it into her brand. She discusses the consequences of this decision, such as losing partnerships and being publicly called a racist by a book subscription box.

00:39:09 – Dealing with Hate and Staying Strong,
Haleigh acknowledges that she continues to face backlash and hate but remains unfazed by it. She advises others to trust in God, be bold in their beliefs, and not let fear of the backlash prevent them from speaking out.

00:41:27 – Advice for Those Considering Speaking Out,
Haleigh encourages individuals who are hesitant to speak out to take the leap and post their thoughts. She emphasizes the importance of trusting God, knowing the costs, and finding support from friends and like-minded individuals.

00:50:23 – The Importance of Creating Art,
The guest emphasizes the importance of not just consuming art, but also creating it. She believes that since we are made in the image of our creator, we should tap into our creativity and make art ourselves.

00:50:33 – Being Bold in a Hateful World,
The guest encourages listeners to be bold and not be afraid of the world’s hatred. She acknowledges that speaking up for what we believe in may result in people hating us, but we should still stand firm in our beliefs and have a supportive community around us.

00:51:19 – Where to Find the Guest’s Art,
The guest shares that her website, sweetsquels.com, is where listeners can find her literary-inspired art, products, and books. She also sells used books. She can be found on Instagram at Sweet Sequels.

00:51:40 – Unique and Creative Art,
The host praises the guest’s unique and creative art, highlighting that it stands out from others. Listeners are encouraged to check out her work because of its distinctiveness.

00:51:58 – Wrapping Up and Appreciation,
The host expressed gratitude to the guest for sharing her story and being bold. The guest also thanked the host for having her on the show. The episode concludes with a thank you to the listeners and an invitation to the next episode.

Haleigh’s Links

Sweet Sequels: https://sweetsequels.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sweetsequels/

Chronicles of Narnia Boxset: https://amzn.to/3JvjetU

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Transcript

Johnny Sanders (00:09):

Well, welcome back to another episode of Faithfully Engaged Today. I have Haleigh from Sweet Sequels with us today, so I’m going to turn it over to Haleigh for a little bit and have her introduce herself to the audience and we’ll go from there. So Haleigh, it’s nice to see you and let us know a little bit about you.

Haleigh DeRocher (00:27):

Hello everyone. I’m Haleigh. I am a business owner and an artist, so my business is sweet sequels and I make literary inspired art, but I’m also a mom of four and I homeschool. So yeah, we’re in a busy stage of life right now.

Johnny Sanders (00:47):

Great. And I know you said you have four kiddos. What’s the age range of your kiddos?

Haleigh DeRocher (00:53):

My oldest is seven and I have a five year old and a two-year-old.

Johnny Sanders (00:59):

Okay. Yeah, so you’re in the thick of things for sure. My oldest is a three-year-old, have a three-year-old daughter and then a little more than a 20 months or something old son. And then to be, well, I guess in our worldview would definitely say a son that’s just not, we call him a, he’s not an air breather yet, so he’ll, he’ll be here late August. So your kiddos are a little bit older, but I feel you in kind of similar type of life there, very busy, but I’m sure extremely joyful with all your little ones.

Haleigh DeRocher (01:41):

Yes it is.

Johnny Sanders (01:44):

Okay. So I told Hayley why I reached out to her is my wife absolutely loves her work. I, I’ll link her website and everything down below so you can definitely check it out. I’m trying to think, I was going to do this before I hopped on and I forgot. I think we have three or four items, a few in my son’s room and then some of my daughter’s room and we actually got one of those big quilts that had, I think it was Harry Potter is what my wife got. But anyways, incredible artwork. So tell me just a little bit of your journey of sweet sequels and what led you to start your own business like that.

Haleigh DeRocher (02:28):

So I started my business in 2013, so it’s been, it’s 10 years this year in November. I was right out of college and I majored in English in college. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I’ve always been an artist, but I majored in English and I decided to just jump in and start selling products that I was making and I don’t know, it’s just grown into something wonderful from there because I, I’m living the dream. I’m, I get to stay home with my kids, I get to make art and I get to read books and yeah, I mean it’s been a blessing for sure

Johnny Sanders (03:16):

That, that’s fantastic. I think especially with all your young kiddos and everything, to be able to do something that you’re passionate about, being able to make your own artwork but not sacrifice seeing your kids and being involved with your kids. Has that just on the homeschooling front, is that something that you’ve always wanted to do or is that a recent thing that you decided to do with your kids?

Haleigh DeRocher (03:45):

I never envisioned myself homeschooling my kids. So I went to public school until high school and then I went to a private Christian school and before I had kids and when my oldest was very young, I thought that we might do the same thing, just have them have the kids go to public school and then put ’em in private school in high school because that’s what I experienced and it was fine. I mean I thought it was fine at the time. Looking back now, I’m like that wasn’t the greatest education hindsight. But anyway, so when we moved here, we moved to Texas. I’m from east Texas and I actually went, this is the city that I went to high school where I lived when I was in high school and my parents live here still. So we moved to east Texas about five years ago.

(04:42)
Was it five? Yeah, five years ago. My husband started teaching at the private school where I went to high school and they also have a newer part of the school that’s a homeschool hybrid, like a classical model. So it’s two days a week in the school and then three days at home. So that’s actually what we do. So when we moved here, my son was two and I started realizing as he got older that I didn’t want to put him in preschool. I didn’t want to. Then once he got to be five, I was like, I don’t want to put him in a five day kindergarten. That seems like a lot. So I mean he was home with me the entire time and then I didn’t want to jump into a five day kindergarten because it just is so much right away for a little child who’s never been away from home.

(05:39)
So we decided to do the homeschool hybrid classical school and it’s been great. My husband, he is on the same campus as the school where my husband works. So I mean it’s just, it’s the perfect thing for our family. I get to spend more time with my kids. We get to do three days of homeschool every week and then they have, I mean it’s a great little community that they have at the school. It’s very small. My kids, I seven year old is in second grade or he is finishing up second grade and my five-year-old is just finishing up kindergarten. So their classes are less than 10 kids. I mean it’s it, it’s so nice. It’s a great opportunity that we have here, but not a lot of people have schools like that. So

Johnny Sanders (06:29):

I think you’re exactly right. I know of here and I’m in South Oklahoma, not like they don’t exist of a school like that, but you definitely have to find it, you know, don’t just stroll across it. It’s pretty rare to have something quite to that degree. Now I’ve heard of some co-ops and things like that a little bit more common, but this hybrid private homeschool, I love hearing stories like that. And mind you, I had a very similar experience as far as my growing up. I was publicly schooled. I graduated all the way through high school and then I went to a private college for my undergrad, but I never had that desire to homeschool, they’re not going to be socialized. All of that stuff that you constantly hear and not even, that wasn’t even the big argument. It was just no, your public school, your kids, that’s just what you do.

(07:36)
That’s how I was raised. I didn’t think anything of it. My big transition and with my wife as well was it was pre C O V I D, it was still 2019, but before all the covid kind of mania and we just started hearing more and more stories of kids going to school and they are using different pronouns or they use a whole different name and these aren’t public schools and the parents don’t even know about it. And then you throw covid stuff and just everything. And now I’ve been telling people now it’s not just a, oh, I got to get ’em out of public schools now. I’m just think I get excited when I hear stories like yours and others. There’s just so many different ways that you can do this. It’s not one set of rules that you have to homeschool in X way. There’s a lot of freedom and a lot of neat ideas out there. So I think that fits well, just in your artistic side of things is that’s just a very creative way to go about schooling and I’m glad that voices your are sharing that. No, this isn’t just something to get away from the bad public school. This is a joy there. There’s fun things to do with homeschooling

Haleigh DeRocher (08:51):

And that’s another thing. So I was growing up when I was in high school, there was such a stigma attached to homeschool, which I think is part of the reason why going into parenthood, I never considered it to begin with because when I was growing up, homeschoolers were weird and there was only a certain type of person was homeschooled or a certain type of people homeschooled, and they were never, they weren’t like socially, they were socially awkward. But now I feel like that stigma is kind of gone. And there’s not just one way to homeschool. There are so many different curriculums. There are so many different options for hybrids or co-ops and you can do it in the way that fits your family. And there is a huge community, a homeschool community even. I mean everywhere, wherever you go, you’re going to find other people who homeschool their kids and who have the same values as you.

(09:48)
And so I mean, your kids aren’t not going to be socially awkward. You have plenty unless you seclude your kids and don’t ever go out, your kids are, you’re going to find a community and it’s going to be great. And what I love about about homeschooling the hybrid model or just being able to spend more time with my kids and have a little bit more control over what they’re learning is that I can add in the things that I think are important in terms of education. So the things that I value, I love reading. I love classic literature. I read to my kids all the time and I have complete control over that. And we have the time to do that. And we do a lot of art and a lot of art study, classic art study. And if you go into a five day school, even if it’s a private school, if you want to avoid public school and you put your kids in a five day private school, you’re still missing out on the time with your kids and on the ability to impart your own values and your own the things that are important to you onto your kids.

(10:52)
So I’m a huge proponent of homeschooling anyone. I feel like everyone should at least try to homeschool or try to do a hybrid model so that they can spend more time with their kids.

Johnny Sanders (11:05):

I tend to agree with you, I certainly will give every parent’s going to have their own style and their own way of doing things. But this is actually a part of my counseling practice. I specifically target some homeschool moms because there, there’s a lot of people that are like you and I that didn’t plan this for decades and decades. I’ve always known it’s going to homeschool my kids and they might see some, I don’t know, some libs of TikTok video or something that they’re like, oh no, I can’t expose my kids to any of that. So then they pull kids out and well now and there’s just this sudden rush of anxiety and fear, am I just screwing up my kid’s education and all of this, just negative thoughts about the whole process. And again, I don’t think it has to be that way. You’re saying that a lot of these moms that think I can’t do it, you really can.

(12:07)
That’s just some of those negative beliefs about yourself, about education, about your kids, all of that that is getting in your way, that moms really can do a whole lot more. And dads too, that dads can certainly, and I would definitely encourage them to be involved in some way, shape or form that I know with my kiddos as they get older, particularly into the teen years, I’m really going to do a lot of, we’re playing some cultural education classes and things like that to help teach the kids about the world. They need to know about it. But anyways, like I said, it’s just exciting. You don’t get to do a cultural education class and public school or like you said, your normal public or private school, just so much excitement. What better thing is there to impact your kids? I just think it’s incredible.

Haleigh DeRocher (12:57):

Yeah, yeah. I mean, I just lost my train of thought. No, I totally agree with you though. Because you can choose, choose all sorts, so much support. There’s so much out there and even though it is, I’m not going to lie, it’s overwhelming. At first, when we first decided to do homeschool, I was so overwhelmed with all the options and I even get overwhelmed now and I have my doubts, but there’s so much support out there and there’s so many different options and so many cool courses that you can do and don’t, it’s not like you’re doing it on your own. If you want to do a cultural class, like you said, you can go out and find a curriculum because there’s so much curriculum, curriculum out there. And then it’s just a matter of following the curriculum. It’s not like you have to sit down. I feel like a lot of people have a misconception about homeschool where you’re having to sit down and write everything out and write all kinds of lesson plans and do it all on your own. And maybe at one point that is how it was. And maybe some people do that, but that’s not how it has to be. Like you don’t have to be know everything. You don’t have to write your own lesson plans for the most part. I mean, it’s just so much out there that, I mean, it is exciting.

Johnny Sanders (14:21):

Yeah, absolutely. I mean just Google lesson plan and I guess that can be some of the overwhelmness sometimes is there’s so much out there. There is so much. Yeah,

Haleigh DeRocher (14:30):

That’s true. But it goes both ways. But

Johnny Sanders (14:32):

You, your kids better than anyone else. And that’s something I wanted to ask you individually. I know you kind of hit this a little bit earlier, but especially with your passion of literature and art, do you see that flourishing in your own through their homeschooling?

Haleigh DeRocher (14:53):

Oh yeah. I mean, my kids love reading. Right now we’re reading, we just finished the Chronicles of Narnia. I, I’ve read it to my seven year old and my, my little ones are, they’re not there yet, but we finished that and they just obsessed. And then we started it, we were at The Hobbit and they loved it and they begged me to start the Lord of the Rings. So I’m reading the Lord of the Rings to my five-year-old and my seven year old right now, which I never thought I would do because it doesn’t seem, it seems it’s too advanced. But they begged me and now and we’re reading it and they love it. But we’ve read all kinds of great books and sometimes I, sometimes I feel like ju, even if all you do is read a good book during the day, that’s enough.

(15:39)
Your kids, I feel like there’s, especially with public school, there’s like b, a lot of busy work. There’s a lot of overstimulation where the kids are just doing too much. And the best way that your younger kids, your elementary age kids can learn is by reading, by playing real life experience, going outside and discovering things in nature. I mean, it doesn’t have to be this intense program where you have to do all these things. So anyway, we do a ton of reading and my son, he’s second grader, he reads, I mean this is, it’s not anything that I did because he’s just a naturally gifted child, but he reads a book a day. I mean, he reads all the time and he just, I love it. I love to see it because I, I’ve always dreamed of having children who are as much of a bookworm as I am. And I mean he is, and my daughter is still learning to read, but I anticipate mean she loves being read too. So I anticipate that she’ll be a reader as well. My little ones love reading. So yeah,

Johnny Sanders (16:51):

You’re talking about going outside and reading books and stuff. Again, granted my kids are on the younger end of things, so they can’t actually read themselves. But there’s times as a parent, I sit back and I’m like, okay, I know we’re not perfect, but we’re doing something right that sometimes the way we get onto our kids is no, it’s time to come inside and they don’t want to come back inside and you got to put the book down so we can go eat dinner or go to grandma’s house or whatever. Yeah, great problems, great parenting problems to have. I know

Haleigh DeRocher (17:25):

I’ve had to tell my son to stop reading during dinner or he’ll be reading and I’m like, Hey, you have to listen to me, stop reading. I’m like, I just inwardly laugh because first of all I was like that as a kid and I’m sure I drove my parents crazy, but now he’s like that and so I can’t really be mad because he is reading, he’s so involved in his book that he can’t be bothered to be aware of his surroundings though.

Johnny Sanders (17:52):

Yeah, no, it definitely reveals things. And that’s something, another thing for those of you that are listening and maybe are thinking about homeschooling, don’t wait until they’re school age, until they’re kindergarten to homeschool. And what I mean by that is just incorporate some of that structure into it when they’re little. Not in a, they got to sit here in the chair for six hours a day. No, we read Winnie the Poo to my daughter, and if you’ve never read Winnie the Poo, you’ve just watched the cartoons or something, those books are awesome. They’re so fun and they’re fun for parents there. There’s so much humor and wittiness in there. And my three-year-old, it’s actually quite impressive how much she sits there and listens to it. That’s part of her education. We don’t have to give a report card for how well she listened to Wean and the Poo, but that’s part of it.

(18:50)
And you just put it into your life that you’re teaching them how to learn that that’s really what it is at its core. Again, you don’t have to overthink it, especially for those of you that went to public school, we did. It’s not a period of learning. And then the rest of your life, you have summer vacation and you don’t do anything at all. You can schedule breaks in for homeschooling and stuff like that, but you’re much more instilling How do I help teach my kids to learn about God’s creation? That that’s really what it is and how to steward their creation. And you can do that when they’re too, it just might be, look at these beautiful flowers God made that I believe that’s a part of that education process. And just, again, you don’t want to get caught into that typical public or even private school education. That is absolutely how you have to do it because it’s really not.

Haleigh DeRocher (19:48):

Yeah. I dunno what I was going to say again.

Johnny Sanders (19:59):

You’re okay. I was going to ask you just to get back onto the art side of things. I kind of mentioned this before and those of you that know me personally, I appreciate art, I really do. My own artistic abilities are, they’re bad, they’re, my daughter’s going to be able to beat me here pretty quick. And because of that, like I said, I really do have an appreciation of art because my brain just doesn’t work that way. So for you, not just for enjoying art or anything like that, but specifically as a Christian, why is art important and why should Christians care about art?

Haleigh DeRocher (20:45):

So this is a conversation I’ve had with my husband all the time because he is also not creative and he thinks that he has no artistic abilities whatsoever. And I always tell him, you’re human. That means that you are creative. And I feel like the reason why so many adults aren’t creative or think that they can’t be creative is because, I mean, going back to the public education conversation, I feel like the create creativity, our natural creativity is often sort of stamped on when you’re funneled through a five day school system where you’re forced to sit in a seat and you’re forced to do all the book learning and all the worksheets and everything, and you’re not able to let your experiment with things. But the reality is that yes, every human being is creative and we all have the ability to be arti artistic.

(21:50)
And it’s actually very important for us to be creative and to express our creativity because I mean, we are made in the image of God and God is a creator, he’s an artist. So you look around you at the world and I mean it’s incredible. Everything is art. You see, look at the flowers, you look at the mountains, you look at a blade of grass and the leaves that are on the trees, there’s so much interest and color and beauty in the world. And that’s because God loves beauty and by He created us to be like him and to be in hi his image. And I think that it’s very important for Christians to, as a way of worshiping God, to explore our creativity in some way. And your creativity can come out in so many different ways. Not everybody is going to be painter or a draw, draw portraits or whatever, but you can be creative in the way that you write or the way that you decorate your home or even problem solving and doing projects.

(23:07)
But because I think because God cares about beauty, we should care about beauty too. We should make our lives a reflection of that. And some of the books, I’ll just give some book recommendations because I love reading and I have so many books that I’ve read that are on this topic. So one of ’em I just finished is called Art and the Bible, it’s by Francis Schaeffer. And it’s all about that. It’s about how God is an artist and there’s art in the Bible and it’s our calling as Christians to appreciate art, whether that’s making art or just appreciating art that’s already made. And then also another book is Edith Schaeffer, who is Francis Schaeffer’s wife, wrote a book called The Hidden Art of Homemaking. And that’s more for women, but it’s about how we can bring beauty into our home and make our home a welcoming place and a place that can inspire because it’s very important for our families, for the health of our families to have a home that exudes beauty. And in whatever form that takes, that can take a lot of different forms. And all of those forms are covered in the book. And then I also love a book by Winston Churchill called Painting as a Pastime. So Winston Churchill, was he in his free time he painted, so, which I didn’t know until I read the book, I

Johnny Sanders (24:43):

Found didn’t either.

Haleigh DeRocher (24:43):

I found it out the thrift store and I was like, Winston, he painted, what is this book about? But he actually was a very good painter, but he just as a way to de-stress, because obviously he had a very stressful job, he decided one day that he was going to learn how to paint. And this book, it’s a very short book, but it’s just about how much it can improve your life to sit down and do something creative like that, how it can just add to your happiness and your joy of living by sitting down and doing something creative as specifically painting, but in other ways too. And that book comes at it from a more secular standpoint. I mean it’s not specifically about Christian living, but it’s just a great book for anyone because it will convince you to pick up a paintbrush and paint. And I just love it cause I’m a painter, so one of my favorites.

Johnny Sanders (25:48):

I think those are all fantastic thoughts. I I’ll definitely try to link all those books and things down below as well. I think that’s something specifically as Christians that we do need to hear. And that’s part of why I reached out to you honestly, because I feel like so many Christians see art, music, everything in that sphere to either secularism or just, oh, well artists, those are just those crazy leftist people. And that’s really sad because you’re right, the pound for pound, the most beautiful moment I’ve ever experienced was my wife and I on our honeymoon, we went to Olympic National Park, it’s far northwest Washington state, and we were up on this mountain range and we could do a 360 spin of mountain ranges on both sides. Then there was this straight between Canada and the United States, and then you could see a mountain range in Canada right over there and further down there, there’s a forest over there.

(26:59)
I mean, just again, 360 panoramic view, gorgeous everywhere. And God made every bit of that like that. And again, that’s creation. I could go to any other mountain range in the world and it wouldn’t look like that. I can go to, we kind of joke of it here in Southwest or Arkansas, Oklahoma, it’s called a mountain. It’s not, it’s really a rocky hill, but it’s Mount Scott. But still, you go up there and you see sunset, it’s gorgeous. It just really is. And speaking of sunsets, you’ll never see the same one twice. And that’s again, that’s creative. And we as Christians need to know that art is not something just to consume. It’s good to consume good things, but yeah, like you said, we are made in his image. And if he’s the creator, then what are we creating? And I love the practical things.

(28:02)
Like I said, we get to see your artwork in our house every day, but the little things, how are you structuring life for your kids, your job, are you actually producing something or are you just getting along every single day? That’s just something we really need to tap into as Christians, to engage the culture. That’s where the name of this podcast comes from is engaging, not just sitting back and letting the world go on around us and we’re just this passive consumer and then one day we die and then we get to praise Jesus. No, we need to do it right here and now too. He gave us this world to steward. So I think that’s a great message that you’re spreading. And yeah, I think more and more Christians really need to let that sink in.

Haleigh DeRocher (28:53):

Yeah, this is something that I harp on all the time. You can see the decay like culture begins to decay when great art is no longer being produced. And great art is art that tells the truth and points to beauty and points to God. And even if you’re a secular artist who doesn’t believe in God, but you’re painting, painting or creating art that is beautiful and that is that points to something true in the world. So you, you’re painting a beautiful picture of a landscape, a mountain, you’re pointing to God and you’re making something that’s true. And the current cultural art movement with all the abstract art and the dark, just chaotic art. And we have in the other arts in movies and in books, there’s so much obscenity and grotesque. It’s just grotesque and great art. It’s not being produced in mass anymore and celebrated by our culture and uplifted by our culture.

(30:06)
And I think that’s a sign of cultural decay and a sign of decline. And Christians who, Christians who see art to the left or to secular, the secular world are basically giving up on culture and giving up on the world that we live in, which is Gods it. And it’s true that a lot of Christians sort of are suspicious of the arts and that shouldn’t be the case. I mean, when you look back when if you study classic art all throughout history, the great masterpieces, almost all of them are have Christian themes. And most of the great artists of history were Christian, especially when Christianity was the moral force of that time period. And the Renaissance and the awakening and all this, the great art mean Christian Christians were the ones who were making the great art. And there’s no reason why Christians shouldn’t be making great art. We shouldn’t be seeding the culture. We shouldn’t be just giving up. Because if we do that, then I mean there’s no way that we can influence mean it’s a great tool for influencing people and for winning people over. And you make great art. You can inspire somebody to, I mean, you’re at least exposing them to the truth. So yeah, I think Christians need to get back onto the art bandwagon. I think.

Johnny Sanders (31:49):

No, I think that is 100% spot on and the part of the decay of the culture, I don’t necessarily think the, because the art is lacking, that’s why we’re going down, but is 100% a massive symptom of where we are. And I don’t see how you could be a Christian or honestly just somebody that’s somewhat paying attention and think our culture is rooted in truth right now. It’s just not that. I mean, you can identify as a woman and do when all these races and things like that. That’s not truth. And we all know it. And that’s part of what’s so sad is people that know better of all sorts of situations know better, but they’re not saying anything. They’re not engaging, they’re not standing up. And that’s another reason why I, I’ve reached out to you and wanted to speak a little bit more on this.

(32:53)
You’re not just a Christian artist and let me just put a little cross on something and that’s my Christian stuff, and then that’s it. You are engaging in talks and different talks of culture, abortion, all sorts of the things that you’re not supposed to talk out about in the public eyes, especially if you have a Christian worldview. But that I think very thankfully, doesn’t seem to stop you from talking about these things. So tell me a little bit more about that process of you being open about things that the culture hates and you stand up for that truth anyways. Was that really uncomfortable for you? Was it something that felt natural? And how do you respond when you have people that are just saying mean nasty things to you?

Haleigh DeRocher (33:43):

Yeah, no, it definitely didn’t, wasn’t comfy in the beginning. I think I, so I started my business in 2013 and I think I was probably five years in, no, maybe three or four years in when I first started noticing that especially my main marketing is on Instagram. That’s where I do pretty much everything. I started noticing that the community that I was in, books Instagram on Instagram was very enmeshed in the leftist ideologies. And it just bothered me because I was like, what is this nonsense? I don’t seeing this on my feet every day. And I didn’t know there was nobody else who was talking in that realm who was talking about Christian topics that I knew about. And I started really, I was scared of talking, of speaking out about it because I knew that when I did, people would come after me for it because that’s just how people are.

(34:51)
But I started, I did it anyway because I can’t keep my mouth shut when I’m bothered by something. But I started talking about abortion to begin with, and it was in 2020, I think it was in 20, 20 19, I had a sweatshirt that I was releasing and all the proceeds were going to go to some pro-life organization. And so I was in 2019 and it ruffled some feathers, but it was okay. I mean, I got a lot of orders and I mean it was very successful and I didn’t had a few haters, but it wasn’t terrible. But then I started pressing into that and in 2020 I made a post that really got me into trouble. And by that time I had a pretty big following. So people, and it was the year, I mean it was 2020, it was the year of covid it, of the riots and the BLM stuff. And people were just really amped up and people were angry and people wanted vengeance. And I made a post about abortion pro-life issues, and that’s when I was first canceled, officially canceled. And I had so much hate coming at me and I lost thousands of followers and I had people sending me wishing death on me.

(36:27)
I mean, just horrible. But I don’t know, it ended up being great because at that point I was like, all right, I’m not going to all out. I’m not going to hold back anymore. I’m going to come out as a full on conservative Christian and that’s going to be part of my brand. Because until then, it was something that I occasionally talked about, but it wasn’t like the forefront because I was still working. I mean, I was working with all kinds of people in the book realm. I was working with subscription boxes, I was working with other businesses, and it just wasn’t, I knew this, if I came out as a conservative Christian and made that part of my brand, I would lose all of that. So until then, I’d kind of held back. But then when I made that post, everything exploded. And I was, at the time, I was working with a subscription box, I was making art for them, and it was a big one.

(37:32)
It was a big box that had over a hundred thousand followers. And they messaged me and was like, Hey, we can’t work. This is over. We can’t work with you anymore. And I was like, oh, okay, that’s fine. I don’t have to make your art. But then they went onto their page on Instagram and called me a racist publicly in front of all their followers. So they just added to the fire. And I mean, it was a mess for a long time, but I ended up gaining a ton of followers who were Christians and who were conservatives. Allie Stuckey shared my post or whatever. So it brought all kinds of new people to me. And at that point, so all the people who wanted to leave left. And I gained a lot of people who were like, yeah, we’re with you. We’re on the same page here.

(38:26)
And it ended up being so good because I finally, I felt like I could finally make my art and talk about what I wanted to talk about without being afraid of these people because they’d already come for me. They’d already attacked me and I had to go through all of it. And I ended up mean it was fine. I got through it and it wasn’t the end of everything. So now we’re two year, three years almost from when that happened. And there have been many, many occasions where I’ve incurred the wrath of those people, but it’s fine. I’m not fazed by it. They can say be mean. I’m never mean about when they send me their death wishes, whatever. I’m always just like, okay, that’s fine. You can feel the way you want to feel. Like I just don’t let it bother me.

Johnny Sanders (39:27):

This is a topic that I’m pretty interested in, I’m pretty passionate about as well. In my field, being a licensed counselor and being open of being a Christian and conservative worldview, it is not very well liked either. Most things that I do, there’s pronouns and all that stuff that I just, I’m not going to do. And I’ve had a very miniature version, a very localized small version of what you have. Not nearly as intense, but that’s a lot when your character’s attacked there, there’s threats, screenshots, all that stuff that that’s scary and there’s no reason to act like that’s fun. But what you see on the other side is that freedom. I don’t have to play by the rules anymore. I can be open, I can share my values. And not only that, this is not the reason to speak up, but there can be some legitimate, even financial and just business opportunities of people that like, Hey, no, I want to be with that.

(40:44)
I’m pretty sure that post you’re talking about from Ali Beth Stuckey, I’m pretty sure that’s how my wife found you. And we wouldn’t have known had there not been that controversy. So on that line of thinking, whether someone’s an artist or they’re a counselor like me or whatever they’re doing that it’s not a, oh, it’s 50 50, it’s like a hundred percent I know I can’t do this anymore. I know I have to stand up. And they’re struggling because they know there’s going to be a backlash. What advice would you give to somebody in that situation to get that courage to go ahead and stand up?

Haleigh DeRocher (41:27):

I don’t know. I mean, you kind of just have to do it. Just have to click post. I mean, you’re going to have that. You’re going to make the post, and then you’re going to be like, I don’t know if I just actually post this. But you just got to do it. You got to know. And it, it’s true. It is not fun when it is happening. It’s not fun to have people come and attack you. And I’ve had every name, bad name thrown at me in the book. It’s not fun. It’s really, and it’s stressful. And especially when it happened to me the first time, it was so scary at first because I didn’t know if my business was going to recover from that. I did not expect that kind of backlash because the post that I made was, it was not, to me it seemed pretty innocuous.

(42:20)
I basically just said, this is something that you should research. This is an important topic, maybe don’t like, and that’s all it was really. But people, I, people were mad. And then because it was shared so much and it generated so much, I know people were so angry about it, and it was shared by so many people, book box and all this, I mean, was very, at first, the first day I was horrible. But if you trust God and that you’re doing what you feel that you need to talk, I mean, that’s obviously the Holy Spirit prompting you to speak up about something. And as Christians, we need to be bold in our faith. We need to, this mean, the culture that we’re living in is so dark and it’s so lost. And the only way that Christians can have an impact is if more people stand up and speak the word of Christ. We have it have to do that. And if you’re scared and you’re worried about the backlash, you have to trust God. I mean, I know it’s such a Christian Bible answer or whatever, but it’s so true. You just have to do it. Have I? It’s one of the cross that we have to carry. It is one of the burdens of living as a Christian and a postmodern culture where people reject God and hate God. You’re going to get hate for it, but you have to do it anyway. It’s just how it’s,

Johnny Sanders (43:57):

No, I think that’s a very simple answer, but it’s a truthful one. And I think that does take a little bit of the guesswork out of the picture. There’s actually a couple concepts here that I’ve heard recently. One, just on the purely psychological side of things, there’s something called behavioral activation, which basically means if you’re feeling depressed, go take a walk it. It’s really stuff like that. And you don’t wait until you want to take the walk. You take the walk. And there’s really no other way to say it other than that. You got to go. And the idea of it is once physically you get up moving, it doesn’t magically make depression go away, but you start feeling better when you’re moving. That’s just the way that our bodies were made. Similar concept on a spiritual side. Martin Lower Jones has great quote of talking about spiritual depression, and he says, we need to talk to ourselves instead of listen to ourselves.

(45:00)
And really what that means is, like you’re saying, what does scripture say to me? Jesus said, the world hates you because it hated me first. That’s pretty clear. So tell that to yourself. Let that word sink into you instead of listening of, oh my goodness, they’re going to come after me. They came after Haley once, and that was scary. Oh, I can’t do that. There’s no way. That’s just giving in to that fear, into that anxiety. And that’s not only good as just a human, and with secular psychology, definitely as a Christian called to be bold. And maybe you need to get some help. Maybe you talk with a pastor at your church or with your spouse or friends to help you get some of that courage. But nobody’s going to press that button for you. It, it’s got to be you and you need to know what those costs are.

(45:55)
Something else I would add is if you’re not in that situation yet, maybe your job’s going fairly well. Don’t live in fear, but prepare, because odds are something’s going to happen at some level. So how can you prepare to put yourself in a position to where I don’t have to give in to lies. Part of why I made my own counseling practice, as I see that happening very, very quickly, and I don’t want to wait until I lose a job to not have anything to back up on. Let me be proactive. I can’t guarantee it’s going to go great, but let me be proactive instead of just waiting for disaster to happen. So some other things to think about for the audience. If you’re sitting there and you’re like, Hey, I need to say something, we need to know who our trust is in. It’s not in our job. It’s, and all these nice things is not in your car. All of that stuff it, it’s in Christ. And I think you did a really good job of just reminding us that we don’t need to overcomplicate it. Just send and trust that God is there and we’re going to make it through it.

Haleigh DeRocher (47:07):

Yeah, and I think another thing that people don’t realize, if you’ve never spoken up about your Christian faith before, especially on social media, it feels like you’re the only one. It feels like you’re the only one out of all these people. And it can have a really weird effect on your brain when you feel like you’re the only one who believes something, you start to doubt yourself. But once you do speak out about your beliefs and are bold people, there will people, there will be people who come to support you, even if you think that you’re the only one. There are other people who are there, who are ready to come and stand by you. And that, I mean, that should encourage you because you will find a community that is loyal and will always have your back. And another thing, if you are really nervous about speaking out, but you to can find, talk about it with your friends some, find some friends who will support you because even if, I mean who, tell them what you want to do, and they can be your support system.

(48:43)
They are already to help you in the moment. Because I didn’t necessarily have that at the time. I mean, there were people who I knew would have my back, but even in real life, maybe my husband supported me, obviously, but I didn’t plan it out. So I kind of just did it on the spur of the moment. And then I was like, oh my gosh. And it was very overwhelming. But I feel like if you really want to speak out on social media in your job or whatever, having real life friends who know what you’re going to do and who are there to support you when everything starts happening, I think that’s big.

Johnny Sanders (49:21):

Yeah. Well, and that just kind of goes into the importance of community. And that’s something through Covid especially that was really reintroduced to me. I’ve always known that’s important. But we found our current church during the middle of Covid stuff, and it had been a while since I’ve been close to people singing and everything and Wow. Yeah, this is why we’re supposed to have community. So yeah, don’t be a lone ranger. That’s not the way we’re supposed to do it. Have your community. For sure. Well, Hailey, I think there’s been wonderful things that we’ve gotten into. I think kind of just wrapping up here, one, homeschooling is great. Don’t be overwhelmed. Find community there too. There are groups galore of homeschoolers about guarantee you in your town and surrounding areas. So go and find those communities if you have questions. Two, if you’re a Christian especially, do some art.

(50:23)
Don’t just consume art. Make art, be creative. Tap into that because our creator is the creator for a reason and we’re made in his image, so we need to create as well. And lastly, just be bold, called to be bold. And the world’s not going to love us. They’re, they’re going to do some things that are awful and they’re going to hate us for saying that. So be bold and have that community around you to help you out. Any other lasting thoughts or things that you wanted to share with the audience before we head out today?

Haleigh DeRocher (50:58):

I don’t think so.

Johnny Sanders (50:59):

Okay. Well, where can they find you at?

Haleigh DeRocher (51:03):

My website is sweet sequels.com. That’s where you can buy all of my literary inspired art and products and books. I sell used books too, so if you love books. And then I also am on Instagram at sweetss sequels. Yeah.

Johnny Sanders (51:22):

All right. Well, yeah, I’ll put all that down below. Definitely go check her out, support her stuff, not just because she’s on the show legitimately her. She’s got some really cool stuff out there. It’s very, very unique and kind of on that creation part, it’s like, oh, that was unique. I don’t see art like that all the time. So yeah, that definitely go check that out. Haleigh, thanks again for being on and sharing your story and just for being bold. I think we need to see more and more of that and online in person all over the place. So I really appreciate you being on and sharing your story.

Haleigh DeRocher (51:56):

Thanks for having me.

Johnny Sanders (51:58):

All right. Well, everyone, thanks for listening to another episode of Faithfully Engaged and we’ll catch you at the next one.