Created to Create:
by Kelly Portnoy
Header image by Foster and Asher
Kathleen Ostrom: Owner of Leen Jean Studios and TGS Ambassador
Photo by Tim Gosnell
We believe God has gifted every individual on the earth in a unique way to bring Him glory and further His kingdom. Since the inception of The Good Story our desire was to gather an army of individuals who show proficiency in the creative arts and technology coupled with a passion to advance the name of Jesus globally. This happens through supporting cross cultural missions with visually excellent materials and communication training. We call them our Ambassadors. Because of their self-less giving we have been able to equip and train over 100 missionaries in the last 12 months! Co-founder, Kelly Portnoy, sat down with one of our Ambassadors, Kathleen Ostrom, to hear her story and learn why she chose to apply to become an Ambassador.
Kelly: Tell us a little bit about who you are, what do you do for a living and how you got started in that industry.
Kathleen: My name is Kathleen Ostrom. My husband Andrew and I moved to the Denver, Colorado area over a year ago and we absolutely love being in the mountains and closer to our family in Nebraska.
I knew from a very young age that I loved creating and wanted that to be incorporated into my entire life. That has evolved and looked different throughout the years, but a major point is that it led me to earn a graphic design degree. Before that, I loved studio arts but knew very little about the computer software available, let alone how to use it. It was in college that this whole new world opened up for me, and I was able to bring my studio skills into a digital world and merge the two, creating new art in its own right. My love for graphic design has only grown since then.
I’ve worked in both the ad agency and corporate world as a graphic designer. My greatest creative adventure to date was starting my own stationery and calligraphy company, LeenJean. It used to be on the side but now that is what I do full-time. I think my gifts on paper and on screen have allowed me the amazing opportunity to do such a wide array of projects, and I find that each project is unique and interesting.
Custom letterpress cards by LeenJean
Photo courtesy of Kathleen Ostrom
Kathleen in her booth at the National Stationery Show in New York.
Photo courtesy of Kathleen Ostrom
Kelly: Did you ever experience a tension in what you did full time and your desire to serve God in the Kingdom? Did you naturally connect the dots that your talents were usable in The Great Commission or was there a general longing in your heart to do more with these gifts?
Kathleen: As an artist and specifically a graphic designer, I think there is such an amazing opportunity to help others communicate well. It may not seem like a “special” skill, because, for example, we are not medical teams coming in and diagnosing illnesses, helping people in such a tangible way. However, I find it amazing that by doing my job, I can help that same medical team do their job better and more efficiently by allowing them to communicate information in an appealing, professional and helpful way. Great design leads to credibility in most instances.
I have always known that my gifts as an artist come from my Creator, and for me, it has never been a question that I am serving Him in all that I do in my day-to-day job. I love working with such a variety of people on a variety of projects, serving, loving and encouraging them. In my day job with my stationery company, that is even something as simple as creating greeting cards that my customers fill with words for a loved one. I find such great fulfillment in knowing that the creativity flowing from my heart ends up in homes all over the world, reminding people that they are loved and remembered. I think that is important work and very much part of why I was put on this earth.
“…I had never put it together that other people serving the Lord in their own way may need help from someone like me. It sounded so utterly obvious that I was amazed I never saw the need before!”
Kelly: How did you hear about The Good Story and what made you want to get involved with equipping missionaries to be effective communicators?
Kathleen: I have no doubt that meeting the Portnoys was a divine appointment on so many levels both personally and professionally. Their creativity, love for the Lord, and their passion inspire me so much. When Kelly first shared with me about The Good Story, in some ways it was like all the stars aligned for me. I think because I have always viewed my job as serving others while also serving the Lord, I had never put it together that other people serving the Lord in their own way may need help from someone like me. It sounded so utterly obvious that I was amazed I never saw the need before! I have been on board from that moment and I think what The Good Story has already done is just the beginning of the amazing and beautiful example for what it looks like to come together as the complete body of Christ and help each other carry on the message of the Gospel.
I should not be surprised by this, but being an Ambassador for The Good Story has filled me in a way I didn’t even know I needed. I know everything I do is serving the Lord, but to be able to serve missionaries who have dedicated their lives solely to spreading the Good News in that way—the ability to encourage them and remind them that we are all in this together and that they are supported. It’s crazy that my ability to provide them with quality communication pieces could potentially increase their connectivity to their supporters which should yield an increase in both prayer and giving. That’s an awesome and amazing opportunity I have been given because of The Good Story.
Kelly: What projects have you been involved with for The Good Story since becoming an Ambassador? Was it difficult or draining to work on these projects in the margin of your life? What did you enjoy most about the process?
Kathleen: I have done a few smaller projects for The Good Story, including designing prayer card templates, laying out prayer cards for missionaries, designing brochures and helping with a logo project. It was not draining in any way. Ryan and Kelly and also the “clients” have always been so wonderful to work with. As I mentioned before, I have found the projects I have done with The Good Story to be so fulfilling that working a little extra at night or whenever it is to get the project done is more than worth it. It is energizing to my spirit.
Kelly: Working together in Ambassador teams is a big part of how projects get completed. How was it working cooperatively with other creatives across the U.S.?
Kathleen: I actually have yet to have had the honor of working on a large team project, but I have been a part of various prep work and behind-the-scenes projects that involve the whole team communicating and brainstorming. I love that so many talented creatives from all over the country are committed to and excited about being an Ambassador with The Good Story. Responses from other creatives are always upbeat, encouraging and helpful. Technology and the ability to collaborate on a digital platform is such a great thing! I look forward to tackling a more involved project with my fellow Ambassadors.
Kelly: How do you see engaging the visual arts and technology for undergirding and supporting missions as vital to fulfilling the Great Commission?
Kathleen: Real-life stories are what points everything back to Jesus. I went to school and have a passion for art, but also for creating designs that allow a story to be heard. THAT is the point of any good design. A good design can help make a story clear, easily read, easily spread, and understood. That can truly be a game changer for someone trying to share with others not only what God is doing in their lives, but also what they need in order to continue to do that work in their area of the world. Great communication also edifies the Body which we so desperately need to counterbalance what we hear on the news. God is moving in beautiful, miraculous ways around the world, these stories need to be heard!
Kelly: What would you say to other full-time creatives that are wrestling with finding eternal significance in what they do on a daily basis but feel like their plates are already “full” with work?
Kathleen: I really do believe that even the most mundane of jobs can be used to glorify the Lord. I also know what it feels like to work on projects that are quite literally helping to advance the Kingdom. I would say to those who feel like their plates are already full a couple of things:
1) Evaluate what it is in your life that’s making it “full.” If you are wrestling with finding eternal significance in the things you do, there is a chance that some of things filling your schedule–even good things–are not right for you. (I am speaking from experience here!)
2) I would also say take the next step! Apply to be an Ambassador. You will be on a team unlike any other team you’ve ever been on. I truly cannot even describe how much I have loved getting to work with The Good Story.
Projects may come in during a season when your plate really is full, and you know what? You are allowed to say “no” if it’s not something you cannot commit to at the time. But when you do get to work on a project, I promise you will not regret that you carved out the space to do it! This is a mutually beneficial ministry. The missionaries are not the only ones who walk away encouraged!
This is the very heartbeat of The Good Story: catalyzing creatives to breath life into the stories that reveal God’s character and invite others into the miracles He is working around the world. These are the stories the world desperately needs to hear . . . the stories that missionaries worldwide must be equipped to share in our generation of technology.
Help The Good Story continue the work of equipping and training missionaries to be storytellers and effective communicators so the least of these will always have a voice that is heard…one story at a time.
***The Good Story is a 501(c)3 nonprofit. All donations are tax deductible
Have These Skills and Passions?
We are looking for people who have a heart for The Kingdom and the visual skills to help missionaries tell their stories. Is that you? Do you desire to do more with your gifts?
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