Serenity Studios and Siracha the Beta Fish w/Donna Layfield

Donna Layfield is the managing owner of Serenity Studios in the Heights of Houston. Kari met Donna through their mutual sister-friend of the heart Vanessa Vance and we feel it both right and fitting that we opened our time together in prayer. Donna and Kari talk about creative processes, their mutual love for the beauty in imperfect things and for quiete spaces to experience something new.

Instagram: @serenety_studios_tx

Twitter: @serenetystudio3

Facebook: @serenetyartstudios

Drink: Earl Grey Tea (sometimes with a little lemon)

Product: essential oils from doTerra (which you can get right there at Serenety Studios!)

Listening to/Reading: Tools for Mindful Living by Maria Nappoli

Hashtagable Quotes: #theputtputtpuppy #sirachathebetafish #thebeautyofimperfection #embracingimperfection #ramonaquimby #alooserepresentationofthatobject #integratedhealthcare #yousmelllikeamediteraniansalad

A Little Piecrust, a lot of Grace and 3 Topo Chicos w/Tara Royer Steele

Tara Royer Steele invited Kari into her home for today's interview. Sitting at her farmstyle table in old wooden tent revival folding chairs, these two sister-friends sit and dish about Tara's early days at Royer's Pie Cafe, her passion for connecting folks with their truest calling (beloved children of GOD) and her newest venture, a 52 piece devotional/recipe collection #EatPieLove (don't you worry... we'll keep you in the know when the ding dang book comes out!)

You will want your very own Topo Chico by the end of their time together - and you will want a slice of "Junk Berry Pie" to go with it. Because as our friend Tara says, "There's so much grace in pie!"

Instagram: @graceupongracegirl @royerspiehaven

Facebook: Tara Royer Steele (she decided!)

Drink: Iced Tea (not a sweet tea girl - but likes TWO Sweet-n-Low)

Product: Young Living oils, make-up and haircare products (especially Inner Defense)

Listening to/Reading: Using her actual bible (rather than her phone) Remember God (by Annie F. Downs - and for the record, I asked Annie F. Downs to be on You Brew You, Tara. I think her people will eventually get back to @auntspazie - maybe it's time to change it to KariAnn Lessner #bless) (Camp Haven & Brave Girls Club & Soul Restoration)

Hashtagable Quotes:#heyguysitsjustapie #theressomuchgraceinmakingpie #graceupongracegirl #eatpielove #stopsayingifandjust #usedtoloveaDrPepper

Back to life... again w/Kari's momma Joyce Loy

Joyce Loy, is a retired dental assistant, former stay at home at home mom, and mother of Kari (yours truly). Joyce is realizing her retirement dreams of raising four "precocious" chickens, home grown garlic and soaking up life's simple joys with her husband, Ran.

Pull up a chair for this incredible visit between mother and daughter that leads them back down a hard road - but one where both of them learned so much each other, the rollercoaster of healing and God's great love for all of us.

Instagram: @loy9691

Facebook: Joyce Youmans Loy

Drink: A glass of red wine - 6 oz is good for her heart! But a fresh brewed cup of Twinings English Breakfast tea.

Product: A new rose gold and diamond wedding band.

Listening to/Reading: Pandora's Simon & Garfunkel AND she can get SO MUCH DONE if she puts on this awesome podcast that she loves called You Brew You (*wink*)

Hashtagable Quotes: #iamwillingtobeusedofGod #healingisalotlikebrainbending #arollercoasterofjoy #youcangetsomuchdonelisteningtoYOUBREWYOU #YOUBREWYOUcleaningtimeaccessory

Getting Creative with Genie Thompson Mack

Genie Thompson Mack is one of those people you LOVE to tell folks that you know. Her beautiful heart shines out through her eyes, leaks out in her laughter and sparkles in everythign she puts her hand to. The fact that Kari's daughters both grew in their love of art, color and self expression under her teaching - that's just icing on the cake. Genie's creativity bubbles up in this chat between two friends - she shares about her inspiration as a pet portrait artist (her art has graced the walls of animal clinics, Texas Children's hospital AND a line of PIER ONE dishes!), her incredible candle company Genieology (she and her namesake aunt team up to create), and then there is her line of earrings - simply stunning! She's got her eyes on the skies - constantly looking for inspiration from God's creation. You are going to need a cold brew over crunchy ice for this one (too bad we can't all get one of Genie's momma's iced coffees!)

Genie's website:

Instagram: @paintingsbygenie AND @genie_mack

Facebook: genie thompson mack

Drink: Genie's mom's iced coffee (crunchy ice, cold brew) #lookingforaninviteoverhere

Product: Roomba AND her RAM truck

[Pooptastrophe post KAL mentions][1]

Listening to/Reading: You Brew You (the podcast #winkwink); Up And Vanished ( podcast); Homecoming (podcast); Slow Burn ( podcast); STown (podcast); Criminal (podcast)

Hashtagable Quotes: #pethair #thestruggleisreal #hesweetsixteenedme


#SowKind with Alyssa DeLosSantos Episode #35

Alyssa DeLosSantos is the single most hashtagable guest we have had on You Brew You. Her #SowKind movement, birthed in the spring of 2018, is a tale of how her family launched an epic adventure with one letter, slipped under the windshield wipers in a supermarket parking lot. "We all have words and they are free..." Alyssa says, and with "five minutes and the cost of a stamp," she challenges you to move from apathy to encourager. As one of Alyssa's friends reminded her, "#Sowkind isn't new it's NOW!" We are super excited to see how the You Brew You community lives into #Sowkind 

Alyssa's website:

Instagram: @alyssadls

Facebook: Alysssa De Los Santos

Drink: Awake English Breakfast *with room for milk

Product: Hello Fresh (no we don't get a cut for mentioning it - but we are open to it @hellofresh - #justsayin')

Listening to/Reading: Accidental Creative with Todd Henry

Hashtagable Quotes: #weallhavewordsandtheyarefree (*this one comes from Alyssa's daughter) #alowtideneverfollowsalowtide #peoplearentdistractions #peoplearentinterruptions #fiveminutesandthecostofastamp

2018 Advent 3

We are enjoying a third cup this week. This week our episode includes thoughts, quotes, a poem, and meditations to reflect on for a few minutes using the questions found on our website: Example: - What is one area of my life that God would like to be more a part of this Advent/Christmas season? Do I have room in my life for wonder? Do I have a sense of the presence of God throughout my entire day? Why? Why not? Grab a cup and let’s start filling up on the good stuff!

Joyce Loy reading Mother Teresa’s Words to Love By

Kari reading from Reed of God by Caryll Houselander

Charlie Neimeyer reading from Rev. Scott Stoner’s writing for Living Compass on A Generous Soul

Kim reading from Applause of Heaven by Max Lucado

Elizabeth Yale reading her Advent Poem

Kari reading from The Drama of Christmas: Letting Christ into Our Lives by Morton T. Kelsey

Ruth Trout reading from To Bless The Space Between Us by John O'Donohue

Laurel Copeland Brown reading from both Julian of Norwich The Revelations of Divine Love and J.K. Rowling’s Prisoner of Azkaban

Diane Rader reading Words to Ponder by Brother Curtis Almquist

Kari with a third helping of her writing from O Wisdom published by Forward Movement

2018 Advent 2

Brew up a cup of something warm (one of K&K’s favorites is Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice) and then join us for Cup of Wonder this advent season. This week our episode will include thoughts, quotes and meditations to reflect on for a few minutes using the questions found on our website: Example: - How is this cup like my life? - Does the cup’s transparency or cloudiness have something to say to me? - What does this cup have to say about my prayer life?

Kari reading from Dangerous Wonder by Mike Yaconelli

Sarah Condon reading Unmapped: The (Mostly) True Story of How Two Women Lost At Sea Found Their Way Home by Stephanie Phillips and Charlotte Getz

Kim reading Julie Polter’s essay from Sojourners Magazine

Danielle Word Antley reading Melody Beattie’s Language of Letting Go

Michelle Riske reading Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling

Jamie Martin-Currie reading from Monday Matters Advent offering from Jay Sidebotham

Molly Carr reading the Magnificat (the canticle of Mary)

Kate Whaley reading First Coming by Madeleine L'engle

Rachel Jones reading from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Kari reading her devotion offering from O Wisdom by Forward Movement

Preview of our January 29th You Brew You guest Genie Thompson Mack and her incredible candles #genieology, pet portraits and AMAZING earrings! You can find more of her things at her website

2018 Advent 1

We invite you to participate in Cup of Wonder with us at You Brew You this advent season. Each week on Tuesday, our episode will include thoughts, quotes and meditations to reflect on for a few minutes using the questions below. Every day in between, we will post quotes on Facebook and Instagram. We hope you’ll journey through advent with us.

Sarah Condon reading “Are You Anybody?: A Memoir” by Jeffrey Tambor

Christy Orman reading an excerpt from Bishop Michael Curry’s royal wedding sermon

Kim Thompson reading Jim Burns with HomeWard

Kari Lessner’s writing from “O Wisdom” by Forward Movement

Veta reading from C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe”

Kari’s reading a meditation from “A Conversation with Cary Grant”

Preview of January 22nd’s You Brew You guest Alyssa De Los Santos and her #SowKind movement!

Find us on Facebook (You Brew You) to see the Questions for Reflection. So excited to share this journey with you!

We wish you a holy Advent, friends.

❤️ Kari & Kim

Episode 34: Third Coast Charm with Tori McClure

When today’s guest comes to mind, a thousand memories flood Kari’s senses - the sounds of worship and laughter, the smells of Dolce & Gabbana and sunscreen, the taste of salty tears from a good cry with a sister-friend and amazing food at the Los Lessner table (thank you Ron!), the sights of her daughters snuggled up close to her side and the feel of hands held together during prayer. Tori McClure is a real live Rock Star in our opinion, and not just because she writes, plays AND sings music that you can actually listen to on iTunes. But because she is authentic and genuine and sold out for Jesus. We love her on You Brew You - and chance are you already do too! I mean - she DID write our music. Y’all, scoot over and make room at the table for our favorite musician, Tori. (Incidentally, she is tiny but she likes to sit criss-cross applesauce which makes us love her even more!)

Tori’s Website:
Tori’s Instagram:
Apple Cider Drink 
Shampoo: Marc Anthony  
Ben Rector Music
If You Only Knew by Jamie Ivey  
Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin  
Inspired by Marty Cagan 
Remember God by Annie F Downs 

Episode 33: Run with the big girls!

When Kari first met this week's guest they were both trying to find ways to link up with a whole slew of new "sister-friends" - and sweet Julie Shreve had a camera in her hands. That camera was her connector. Julie is an AMAZING aunt, a worship leader, a realtor, a two time half marathon runner and a connector of friends. Julie's blog is one of the things God is workin' on in her - but there is PLENTY on the horizion. Kari calls her the girl from the mid-west with a heart as big as Texas. Y'all scooch over and make room at the table for Julie Shreve.

Julie's blog:

Episode 32: Veteran's Day

In honor of Veteran's Day we are pleased to share a new opening (a blog post that Kari wrote after the death of her cousin James Bradsher, III - who served several tours with the Army in Afghanistan) and a the re-airing of the You Brew You Episode 14 of her cousins Katie Draheim-Youmans Eichler and Kenzie (that first aired in July) about the life and service of Sgt Joshua Youmans (Kari's cousin.) We at You Brew You want to thank the men and women who serve in our armed forces both here and abroad. Thank you for your service.

Episode 31: You Brew You and Rock the Vote!

Thank God this is a podcast and not a videocast - Kari was touching up her roots while she recorded this. We want to encourage all our listeners to head out today and vote! This episode comes with an ask, a challenge and a song. THE ASK: Please exercise your VOTE today. 

THE CHALLENGE: between now and Christmas, let’s start a wave of encouragement. Send three encouraging texts, per day, to those who are in your contact list. We are talking six minutes - and like Kari says, “If you don’t have six minutes to send out some positivity in your world, you are too busy sister!” THE SONG: Finally, Kari wanted us to encourage you to listen to Nicole Nordiman’s Sound of Surviving which has been such an anthem for her during a difficult year

The story behind the Sound of Surviving Every Moment Holy by Douglas McKelvey (the liturgy shared in this episode)

P.S. How many times does Kari say “encouragement” in this episode? #SOmanytimes

Episode 30: What is an Enneagram and Why do I Need it in my Life? with Danielle Fanfair

This week, Kari sits down in the home of her new friend Danielle Fanfair, who teaches those who are interested in having a deeper compassion for themselves. Danielle and her husband are raising a beautiful daughter and one gill-baby, Icthus. Her ultimate goal is to show others how valuable they really are and the Enneagram is one of her favorite tools. Through her work with this ancient tool she helps folks find new ways to understand themselves and those they live and work with. Get ready to join her for #40DaysOfSuperpower beginning November 1st - because this is a gift that you can give both yourself and those you love.

Connect with Danielle:

40 Days of Superpower Planner:
Go From Confusion to Clarity: The Inner Work: 
Enneagram Text (free): 
Favorite Drink: “Liquid Gold” Jinka 
Favorite Product: My Butter Bar
Favorite Book: Laura Vanderkam 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think:

Episode 29: Opening These Gifts One at a Time with Leslie Martone

Hitting the reset button is how today’s guest describes her summer (how is it possibly almost November!?!) Kari interviews her friend Leslie Martone, wife to Mike, mother to Nate the Great, Jacob (the incredibly awesome), and President of the Cy-Fair Houston Chamber of Commerce, in Houston, Texas.

In their time together Kari and Leslie talk about the importance of family first, knowing when to tap out and staying curious. Though they wander off topic and suffer from what they both call “camp flashbacks”, their friendship and sisterhood shine through. Leslie unpacks the gifts of faith, autism, blindness, and Multiple Sclerosis.

The Little Free Library 
My Quotable Kid: A Parents’ Journal of Unforgettable Quotes 
Mom, Share Your Life With Me Heirloom Edition

Episode 28: Sacred Ground and Sticky Floors with Jami Amerine

Jami Amerine is the author of the popular book and blog Sacred Ground, Sticky Floors, where she posts about Jesus, parenting, marriage, and the general chaos of life. She holds a master’s degree in Education, Counseling, and Human Development. Jami and her husband, Justin, have six kids and are active in foster care.

Kari and Jami visit in the car (because coffee shops are loud, yo!) about how she unintentionally became a Christian writer/blogger. Her writing went viral with An Open Letter To My Children, You’re Not That Great and then shot forward with the release of her book Stolen Jesus.

Connect with Jamie on Social Media:


Buy the Book and Visit The Blog

Episode 27: Makeshift Farms & Editing with Rachel Jones

Rachel Jones is Kari and Kim’s nutty-sweet friend Rachel is the Associate Editor for Forward Movement, a publishing ministry in the Episcopal Church, the parent company of Forward Day By Day. She works in Cincinnati and lives in rural northern Kentucky on a 90 acre farm (Makeshift Farms) that she and her husband, D.W., found on Craigslist. They have a dog, some cats, chickens, rabbits and a prolific jalapeno garden. Some of the harsh realities of farming lend themselves to food for thought as well as food for the belly. The way Rachel shares the duality of farming and editing has had Kari journaling since their chat.

Some things referenced in this episode:
Holderness “Our Biggest Fight: The Battle of the Bra” 
Irish Acres Gallery
The Glitz

Follow Rachel:
Facebook: Rachel Jones

Amazon Prime is her fav!
Kari is featured in one of Rachel’s projects this year:
O Wisdom, Advent Devotions on the Names of Jesus

Episode 26: Finding Rest on the Buen Camino

It’s an amazing thing to find something you really want to put on your bucket list. It’s even MORE amazing to find yourself planning, preparing and walking that dream into fruition. Our precious friend Kate Whaley shares her experience on one of Kari’s bucket list items - walking the Santiago de Compostela - in English the Way of St. James; an ancient pilgrimage that ends at the alleged burial site of the Biblical apostle St. James in the Spanish province of Coruna. With the sounds of Ron and the girls in the background, Kate and Kari spent some time poolside this summer, reliving Kate adventures on the “Camino”. “Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies, and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16 You are going to want to brew a cuppa, and settle in for this beautiful episode chalked full of faith, determination and beauty. Kari hasn’t booked her flight yet. Until then, “Buen Camino” to you, friend.

Savoy Coconut Milk
Mary Kay lip Gloss 
Beneath a Scarlet Sky: A Novel

Episode 25: We found a lost episode!

We found a lost episode! Somewhere in the hub-bub of finishing up summer camp and heading out on vacation, it totally slipped Kari’s mind that she had this interview “in the can” (as we say in the biz.) A HUGE thank you to Sweet Linda Porter (mother of today’s You Brew You guest) for asking when it was going to air! And so it is with great pride and deepest pleasure that we’d like to introduce you to our guest, Jenna Barbee. When we spoke in June, on a bench beside the blob at beautiful Camp Allen, Jenna was a nine days from walking down the aisle to become Mrs. Alan Barbee. Kari and Jenna talk proposal, weddings, all that unsolicited bride advice one gets, as well as hopes for the couple’s future. Serving as a 2nd grade teacher in one of San Antonio’s most economically challenged areas, God is using Jenna to profoundly impact the lives of her students. We’ve made plans to interview her again in the summer of 2019 - and see what kind of difference a year of marriage makes. Congratulations to Alan & Jenna Barbee - a blessing on your heads, hearts and homes from all of us on the #YouBrewYouCrew


Jodi Picolt Small Great Things

Bora Bora #howdoesBoraBorasound #sexysexy

Episode 24: No Coconuts Were Cracked in the Making of this Podcast with Jillian Morales

No coconuts were cracked in the making of this podcast today - you’ll have to listen to understand those shenanigans. But there was a copious amount of laughter (and a few snorts) from both Kari our guest Jillian Morales, the Queen of Positive Self-Talk. This includes (but is certainly not limited to) Fish Whispering, Master Juggler of all the Things, Professional Freelance Makeup Artist Encourager, Dietary Nutritionist and Motivational Mommy Mentor. Kari had a blast spending time with Jillian outside a coffee shop/juice bar, in her car in the middle of a thunderstorm. Jillian talks candidly about her daily choice to make time for the things that are important to her — family, friends, beauty and health.

Follow Jilliam on Instagram:
@jillian_mor (for beauty & lifestyle) and @fitsperation_withjillian (for healthy eating tips)

Quotes by Jillian Morales:
Her personal mantra: I am awesome, the universe is awesome and we are one.
When you take on too much you end up losing yourself.
We are all beautifully different.

Products discussed:
Urban Decay 
Maybelline Clear Mascara 
2 Faced Melted Matt Liquid Lipstick 
Sheet Masks 
Terri Savelle Foy (podcast) 
You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero

Episode 23: You Have Our Votes for "Public Servants of the Year" with Gabe and Kim Duran

Gabe and Kim Duran (our first couple - and the first guy on You Brew You!) are two of the world’s most fabulous people, and our pick for “Public Servants of the Year!” Kim is the assistant EMS Manager at Texas A&M EMS while Gabe works as a police officer, the city of Bryan. They share a calling as first responders, though in totally different capacities, and give us a glimpse into the life of those who serve and protect. They make ONE INCREDIBLE announcement - this is one episode of You Brew You, you don’t want to miss. Thank you, Kim & Gabe for all you and your co-workers do. We honor you today!

Mr. Yuk (a.k.a. Poison Control) 1.800.222.1222
Travel Coffee Grinder: 
AeroPress Coffee Maker: 
Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs : 
Rosalums: A Camp Allen Alumni Community on facebook