Sis. Karla Shoulders
When I began to decide who I wanted to interview for this series over Strong Women, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to interview Karla Shoulders. Karla Shoulders was born and raised in Tennessee and still calls Nashville home. She and her husband, Dee Jay, pastor the First Apostolic Church in Nashville, TN. They have been married for 29 years and have two boys, Preston and Peyton. The Shoulders have been family friends of ours for the past 20 years. Sis. Karla is the President of the Women’s Ministry in the ABofC, which is our church association. She is a true picture and example of a Godly woman. I was very excited to be able to pick her brain, and I hope that you are inspired through our discussion.
What is a piece of advice that has affected your life?
My dad, and my mom too really, both lived by the unsaid motto of “Can’t Never Could”. In my house growing up, you just did it. You didn’t go find someone who could do it, you did it. If you didn’t know how, you just figured it out. This helped me develop a will to try things, whether I know how to do them or not.
What is a great piece of advice you were given as a mother?
This is simple and basic, but it has worked. I don’t know if it’s good or bad but... don’t let your kids be picky. I would see kids who were so picky and who demanded to have their way, whether it was about food or clothing. I just decided from day one that I was not going to let my kids control like that and call the shots. We didn’t feed into the brand name thing and whatever I cooked for dinner they ate, or they did without.
Is there a boundary in your life that is non-negotiable?
Nobody can change me on my faith and my personal boundaries. I settled a long time ago that I am who I am in the Lord. The boundaries that I set for myself may not be other people’s boundaries, but they are mine and no one can change me on them.
What scripture have you stood on in your life or has meant the most to you?
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
That is my favorite, always. It took me a longer than it should have to figure out who I was in life. However, when I did figure it out and became settled in the Lord’s plan for my life, that scripture jumped out at me because it talks about being persuaded. I became persuaded and knew that nothing was going to separate me from Him.
Where do you pray? What are your study habits?
I have tried different places to pray, you know like the War Room thing. But for the most part, I like to pray on my couch where I can open the blinds and see nature outside. It’s nothing fancy or profound, but it works best for me. As far as study habits, I am so not a methodical person. I’m one to jump from thing to thing. I’ve done some Bible studies and they are great, but if something is dropped in my spirit, I will go study that. I am not so structured that I can’t jump around.
What do you think makes a strong woman, and is there a woman who embodies that quality to you?
A strong woman knows who she is and is settled in God’s plan for her life. She never waits for another person to determine who she will be. As far as a strong woman, one jumps out to me, Elizabeth Tolman. She was on the top of my mentor list. Obviously, I was not with her 24/7, but I would email her and talk to her on the phone. She really poured into me and gave me so many pieces of good advice. Her sensitivity to the Holy Ghost and to hearing God’s voice was amazing to me. It’s a quality that I want to have. I want to know how to hear the voice of the Lord and be settled in my spirit like she was. She never feared, worried, or was concerned with where she was going because she totally trusted the Lord, 110% for every step she took. Elizabeth Tolman was one in a million, a true model to pursue. One thing she told me that stuck with me was when we visited them for their 50th wedding anniversary. We were talking about what they were going to do to celebrate, and I asked her if they were going to renew their vows. She just looked at me and said, “We never broke them.” That stuck with me. We shouldn’t have to renew something that is not broken. If we keep cultivating it, pursing it, and building on it, then it will stick. You don’t have to renew something that isn’t dead.
Do you make free time for yourself? If you have free time what do you do?
I do. I am a very simple person. I love to play games.
Oh yeah, I do. I am a very simple person and I love games. They are my outlet. I get the Wii out, I get the Nintendo 64 out, I play some games. I also like to do puzzles... anything to keep my mind busy.
Besides Christianity and marriage, what was the best decision you ever made?
When I was a senior in high school, the day after I graduated my parents split up. From that day on and up until about 15 years ago, I was constantly praying Lord, let me parents get back together. Which isn’t a bad prayer, but it consumed me. I was so distracted by the “What ifs” and “Could be’s.” I found myself eventually not praying that prayer. It suddenly wasn’t at the front of my mind anymore. It just kind of settled in my spirit that it wasn’t going to happen, and I needed to move on. About 5 or 6 years ago, my mom started to struggle with her memory. Around that time, she and my dad began to have a relationship again. It was like when I quit praying that prayer, God fixed it all. Once I gave it to the Lord and stopped dwelling on it all the time, He took care of it. You can pray about something, but if you are constantly letting it bother you or consume you, you haven’t given it to the Lord. Once I gave it to Him, He took care of it.
Was there a season in your life that contributed to your strength?
I guess this would kind of answer that question. I have a really good husband, a godly husband. I know every woman thinks that about their man, but I really do. He affirms me all the time. I am not a needy person, quite the opposite actually. Yet he affirms me all the time without my need for that. It really gives a woman confidence when she knows that her husband totally loves her and supports her. He has been a major help in my life and in every season.
Strong women are fully persuaded.
As I mentioned earlier, Sis. Karla is a true picture and example of a Godly woman. I have always admired the way she just does things. Now knowing the advice she has held to throughout her life, it makes sense. I remember being very impressed when I discovered that she had redone the back splash in her own kitchen by herself. That is definitely a project many of us would have said, “I can’t do that.” Not Sis. Karla. She loves a good challenge. As a pastor’s kid, when I attend other churches, I’m always looking for things that they do that my church could do too. My visits at FAC Nashville are no different. As I walk through their campus, I often ask the origins of certain pieces of decoration. The answer most often is, “Oh, Sis Karla made that.” To which I am amazed. From a giant silhouette of the Nashville skyline to the stage decorations at events, she really can do it all. Maybe we could too if we adopted the quote, “Can’t never could.” It was a true honor to interview this celebrity. As many of you know, Sis. Karla recently had some screen time on the show “The Price is Right.” She is using her fame for the greater good and has recently started her own Facebook Live series, “The Shoulders Trivia Night.”
It has been said the second greatest decision in your life (with Jesus being the greatest) is who you marry. Sis. Karla didn’t speak about a season in her that contributed to her strength. She did, however, speak of a constant in each season, her husband. She said Bro Dee Jay always affirms her even without her asking. What a great quality to look for in a husband. It’s not all about the seasons we go through, it’s about who we go through them with. Surround yourself with people who affirm the call of God on your life. People who cheer you on, support you, and never let you forget who you are. A strong woman realizes that she did not get to where she is alone.