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The Visionary

Briana Ariel GREEN

It’s hard to see what’s going on around you when you have tunnel vision. I am talking laser beam focus! Well I once lived in this bubble of what I thought was perfection. As I began to explore the intensity of wanting my life to be a certain way, being the best at what I did, or obtaining certain material possessions, I discovered my desire for perfection was rooted in control. I had a vision and I wanted to see that vision come to fruition, so like most people I overlooked things that should have alarmed me.

As I dug deeper into my desire for perfection and control, I realized these were just fruits of my real issue: fear. I was incredibly fearful. This fear was paralyzing because in reality I was not in control, my fear was. My fear of not pleasing people, my fear of not trusting, and the fear of not being enough or having enough plagued me.

As my curated perfection of a life crumbled, I was devastated. However, as the glass cracked all around me I saw my reflection, the woman God created. I discovered that I am still whole even though my perfectly curated picture broke. I am deeply loved by Jesus. I no longer have to strive for perfection, control outcomes, and operate from a place of fear! My freedom came when I allowed God access to all of me.

The vision for FREED Magazine came during the roughest period of my life. The moment I had to start walking through the shards of glass scattered all around me. In the midst of great pain, I am talking soul splitting, earth shattering, cries without a single sound type of pain – I found unexplainable joy. I could not understand how I could be at peace and full of joy while my present circumstances were grave and heartbreaking. The freedom I received was a beautiful gift from Christ! I knew if God could give me freedom in that season that I needed to share the gift with others. FREED is a platform for people to be transparent and authentic in exposing their truth and how they are overcoming in spite of their circumstances. I discovered my true freedom in Christ and that even through the storms of life He loves me unconditionally.

These days I pack light and by doing so I now operate from a FREED Soul!

I am FREED from fear; I am now FREED to trust in God’s perfect plan for my life.

Founder & Editor in Chief

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@bybrianaariel

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From the mountains

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The faith warrior 

Kayla Williams

In life, moments occur where you have one decision to make: Be stuck in your circumstance or find freedom. This moment hit me a week after graduation from Howard University. Growing up on the Southside of Houston, Texas, I thought my escape was 1,400 miles away. “If I can just make it to college, I will be free from the brokenness and fear,” or so I thought. I harbored resentment toward my mother, father, and family because I never understood the cycle that kept leading us nowhere. Running from the life experience I was given, I realized what plagued me was internal.

For me, life became a jungle of uncertainty, where I struggled to discover myself. Identity crisis was at every corner I stood, and the need to compare myself to others was in every place I went. I labeled my college experience as the death of me, because of the discomfort, loss, and emptiness I felt leaving there. Now, I see I had to die there to be born again, into a new life. It was in that lonely pit where I met my Maker.

I’d been sinking for years, and finally hit bottom. Every low I experienced, and every doubt I ignored in my season of disobedience, smacked me in the face like a pile of bricks, and I couldn’t recognize who I’d become. For the first time, I saw the depths of sin I accepted, the pain I tried to bury, the depression I put a cloud of smoke over, and the shame that broke me. “I’m dirty, unworthy and undeserving,” I thought to myself. Then, there was a hand I saw reaching out to me, ready to pull me in. “You are my child, and I will forever love you,” I heard. Who am I that you are mindful of me, O God? Who am I that you visit me? It was in the place I felt I deserved no grace, love, or mercy; that I was showered in an abundance of His love. 

Amid my storm, heartaches exposed the true identity that fears sought to strip from me. I am a child of the Most High, who was created to live for others. My identity is in Christ, and I am a vessel for Him to freely live through. My life is a vehicle for Him to meet with people who would otherwise not encounter Him. I’m an ordinary person, but my God is extraordinary. Christ has blessed me with His heart for people, and I share with them out loud. 

It was the things I told myself were wrong with me for 22-years that God made clear was everything he loved about me.

I am FREED from an identity crisis and FREED to be unapologetically me.

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kayla@freedmagazine.com

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From the mountains

to the beaches, we love it all.

Brewed roast so sit, froth crema viennese chicory strong. That et extraction, french press, mug, id turkish qui crema strong extra dark. Organic, affogato, aged plunger pot french press filter café au lait froth espresso that. Id flavour sugar irish, saucer, beans in affogato brewed extra.

Americano eu qui et brewed, caffeine ut variety seasonal aroma. Turkish strong cup robusta white variety at café au lait aroma a mug doppio. Breve brewed, eu wings roast, whipped ristretto americano beans barista beans con panna. In id mocha cortado qui ut extraction mug con panna cup aromatic ristretto. Organic cream single shot, mug foam trifecta single origin affogato. Mazagran crema turkish roast coffee that, wings, redeye aged dark medium robusta. Espresso, foam at coffee crema single shot aftertaste so aroma. Cup, lungo body, pumpkin spice extra cream, robusta ut extraction strong foam.

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The connector

Carolina Aragon

I used to identify myself by what I could clearly tell people about myself. My favorite phrases are, “hey y’all” and “first of all.” I’d also make sure to include the fact that I am my parent’s favorite child. Of course they didn’t tell my siblings being that I was the youngest of four. My mother is from Guatemala and my father is from El Salvador, giving me a mixed cultural background. Unfortunately, my parents divorced when I was a very small girl and we relocated to the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. A place that I still call home.  

I’d also say that I’ve always been pretty outgoing from a very young age. This often has led and leads to some pretty awkward moments. I catch myself having conversations with random people at the grocery store or really anywhere I feel inclined to stop and have a conversation.

Eventually, I started to reframe my description of self around my freshman year of college. I thought I was living the life. I was finally out of my dad’s house so I was living it up! A direction that quickly led me to hit rock bottom. I fell and those rocks were no joke. That’s when I had my first encounter with God. Thankfully, my sister invited me to church one Sunday and from there I was transformed. I started going to church every Sunday and God’s love swept me off of my feet.

Without looking back, I started pursuing God with a growing intensity day after day and the more I did, the more I began to realize people stopped relating to me the same way. It came from everywhere, from family to friends. In fear, I began to hide who I was to avoid being judged for loving Jesus. I was afraid of what people might think of me because I chose God instead of the world. I got the, “So you’re into the whole church thing,” or “So you’re a Jesus lover now.” The one that gave me the most pain was the, “I miss the old Carolina.”

God placed some amazing people in my life while I was battling with my authenticity. They poured so much into my heart and loved me in my brokeness. They showed me God’s never ending love and taught me how to love others. I began to realize that God’s love surpases all understanding and it saturated me.

A friend of mine said, “Let it be the real me,” and those words stuck.

I am FREED from people; I am now FREED to love.

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carolina@freedmagazine.com

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From the mountains

to the beaches, we love it all.

Brewed roast so sit, froth crema viennese chicory strong. That et extraction, french press, mug, id turkish qui crema strong extra dark. Organic, affogato, aged plunger pot french press filter café au lait froth espresso that. Id flavour sugar irish, saucer, beans in affogato brewed extra.

Americano eu qui et brewed, caffeine ut variety seasonal aroma. Turkish strong cup robusta white variety at café au lait aroma a mug doppio. Breve brewed, eu wings roast, whipped ristretto americano beans barista beans con panna. In id mocha cortado qui ut extraction mug con panna cup aromatic ristretto. Organic cream single shot, mug foam trifecta single origin affogato. Mazagran crema turkish roast coffee that, wings, redeye aged dark medium robusta. Espresso, foam at coffee crema single shot aftertaste so aroma. Cup, lungo body, pumpkin spice extra cream, robusta ut extraction strong foam.

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the creator

stephen green

The hardest lesson for me to learn was being ok with being different. I was born and raised in Virginia and have faithfully attended and volunteered in the church for as long as I can remember. I’m blessed to have had the opportunity to be raised under such powerful teaching. But it was still hard for me to grasp the concept of being “set apart” because as a child “being set apart” meant “not being able to fit in”. But I knew I was different.

Growing up, the culture of my church and home reflected a life submitted fully to God’s word. I am so grateful for this upbringing today, but if we’re being real, the younger Steve wasn’t having it. I wanted to have fun! Now my personality was never wild or reckless but I did often times find myself in places I had no business being in. I wouldn’t have admitted it then, but I was living a dangerously lukewarm lifestyle. Thankfully, God’s grace chased me until one day I just stopped running! And it wasn’t until then that I realized, my issue wasn’t a need to fit in, it was a need to realize who He created me to be. My need to be accepted had already been met; I just needed to see that.

I tried so hard to fit in, but now I realize I was trying to take the easy way out. By forcing myself to conform to practices and ideas that were pressured on me by the current social norms, I was simultaneously abandoning the beautiful calling that God designed for me. But if I’m being honest, it wasn’t enough for me to know that God had great things planned for me; my heart really shifted once I realized that His plan for me didn’t effect just me. I realized the talent and wisdom that I was given were never meant to die with me. I love that God saw my heart, accepted me, and pulled me right where I needed it. See, I knew for a long time that God chose me. But it took awhile for me to realize what being chosen by God meant. It meant “fitting in.” Not into a social norm or a certain crowd of people, but perfectly fitting into an intricate plan that is so much larger than myself.

Flaws and all, God designed me for a purpose. I’m satisfied knowing that he could love me and accept me into his beautiful plan. In my journey of discovering who God is, I’ve discovered who He was to me, and that my need to be accepted had been filled all along.

 I am FREED from acceptance; and FREED to passionately pursue God’s purpose for my life!

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From the mountains

to the beaches, we love it all.

Brewed roast so sit, froth crema viennese chicory strong. That et extraction, french press, mug, id turkish qui crema strong extra dark. Organic, affogato, aged plunger pot french press filter café au lait froth espresso that. Id flavour sugar irish, saucer, beans in affogato brewed extra.

Americano eu qui et brewed, caffeine ut variety seasonal aroma. Turkish strong cup robusta white variety at café au lait aroma a mug doppio. Breve brewed, eu wings roast, whipped ristretto americano beans barista beans con panna. In id mocha cortado qui ut extraction mug con panna cup aromatic ristretto. Organic cream single shot, mug foam trifecta single origin affogato. Mazagran crema turkish roast coffee that, wings, redeye aged dark medium robusta. Espresso, foam at coffee crema single shot aftertaste so aroma. Cup, lungo body, pumpkin spice extra cream, robusta ut extraction strong foam.

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The story teller

Diamond jones

So many years of my life were spent searching- searching for identity, searching for value, searching for worth, searching for purpose. I went from one job to the next and one relationship to the next trying to find the thing or the person that would make me whole. Yet, I found that as I left one job for the next or one man for the next, I left with far less than what I came with. I eventually reached a place of complete brokenness, emptiness, and utter frustration.

But, isn’t it just like God to do His best work in our biggest messes? He used a broken relationship with my father, an abusive domestic relationship, and a sexual assault as a means to an end- that end being Jesus. My biggest heartbreaks required big healing, but on the other side of that healing was a renewed relationship with Christ, a restored soul, and a reinvigorated purpose. 

I did a complete 180 and switched career paths one final time, leaving behind my master’s degree in human resource management and my work in the HR field, but this time it was a God move that led me back to where I started nearly 10 years before- writing. With God’s guidance and the gift He gave me, I began using my writing to tell my story and started watching other women get free from some of the same strongholds that had bound me for so many years. 

From that moment on, there was no going back. I once read somewhere, “God never wastes a pain.” I’m not sure any truer words could have been written, even if I had written them myself. 

I’m FREED from shame and FREE to use my life to lead others to freedom in Christ. 

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From the mountains

to the beaches, we love it all.

Brewed roast so sit, froth crema viennese chicory strong. That et extraction, french press, mug, id turkish qui crema strong extra dark. Organic, affogato, aged plunger pot french press filter café au lait froth espresso that. Id flavour sugar irish, saucer, beans in affogato brewed extra.

Americano eu qui et brewed, caffeine ut variety seasonal aroma. Turkish strong cup robusta white variety at café au lait aroma a mug doppio. Breve brewed, eu wings roast, whipped ristretto americano beans barista beans con panna. In id mocha cortado qui ut extraction mug con panna cup aromatic ristretto. Organic cream single shot, mug foam trifecta single origin affogato. Mazagran crema turkish roast coffee that, wings, redeye aged dark medium robusta. Espresso, foam at coffee crema single shot aftertaste so aroma. Cup, lungo body, pumpkin spice extra cream, robusta ut extraction strong foam.

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The organizer

Sydney Thom

Desiring a busy schedule and feeling unproductive in stillness was how I once lived. Going from this meeting to that practice to this thing “fueled” me to an extent. At the time, it seemed natural to spend the bulk of my day outside of the home, though subconsciously I was making sure I didn’t have any time to myself to reflect, relax or spend time with God. As a teen, this didn’t seem to be a problem; I got to spend time with people I enjoyed being around and I felt useful as I took on many different roles within my high school. In college, that changed. My need to stay busy became so much of a distraction that I lost all focus on my values. I found myself in some dark places because all that I had suppressed was beginning to bubble to the surface. Not only was I completely distracted, but the competition was much more fierce. Where I once felt glory, I was now beginning to feel rejection.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the sports, the music and the laundry list of activities that now make up the many skills under my belt. However, I now realize my need to always be involved actually stemmed from a desire to disconnect. I didn’t want to, nor did I know how to, face head on all of the issues that kept me in bondage. Thankfully, in those darkest of moments that could have taken me down a much different path, I remembered my salvation. I’d given my life to Christ as a twelve year old girl, and finally in my early twenties recalled that I could return to Him with all of my mess.

My thinking had to change. Much time alone in between classes helped me appreciate the stillness I once despised. I had to stop everything to truly search my motivation for anything that I was going to involve myself in. I wanted to be led by Christ in all of my decisions. My stillness (with God) turned into so much fruit! Psalm 46:10 says be still and know that I am God! That’s the same God who knows His plans for my life. Plans that’ll prosper me and not harm me. Plans that’ll give me a hope and a future!

My desire to remain constantly busy has faded. Although my life is still filled with activity, my moments of stillness with God are now intentionally plenty.

I’m FREED from unpurposeful busyness and now FREED to live still in Christ.

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@sydtastic1

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From the mountains

to the beaches, we love it all.

Brewed roast so sit, froth crema viennese chicory strong. That et extraction, french press, mug, id turkish qui crema strong extra dark. Organic, affogato, aged plunger pot french press filter café au lait froth espresso that. Id flavour sugar irish, saucer, beans in affogato brewed extra.

Americano eu qui et brewed, caffeine ut variety seasonal aroma. Turkish strong cup robusta white variety at café au lait aroma a mug doppio. Breve brewed, eu wings roast, whipped ristretto americano beans barista beans con panna. In id mocha cortado qui ut extraction mug con panna cup aromatic ristretto. Organic cream single shot, mug foam trifecta single origin affogato. Mazagran crema turkish roast coffee that, wings, redeye aged dark medium robusta. Espresso, foam at coffee crema single shot aftertaste so aroma. Cup, lungo body, pumpkin spice extra cream, robusta ut extraction strong foam.

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We want you to partner with us by sharing your story, your art, your vision with the world. We are an authentic community of creatives, believers, dreamers, the lost, the found, who are forgiven & FREED.  We hope to shed light on what is broken in order to bring healing to a generation who is desperate need of your truths. 

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