(Photos courtesy of Jonathan Pitts)
Remembering the Life and Legacy of Wynter Pitts
Q&A: Jonathan Pitts (For Girls Like You)
By Sarah Komisky
People ask the following all the time: If you could meet anyone, who would it be? For me, the question is best answered with a list of individuals. Consider this. The most recent added to my list being, Wynter Pitts. A wife and mommy of four, yet a savvy entrepreneur. An average female, yet niece of Dr. Tony Evans and mother of actress Alena Pitts. A woman who did most of her work from home herself, yet a pioneer of a brand. Someone who saw a need, but also someone who did something about it. In her 38 years, Pitts accomplished much. This included launching a tween magazine (For Girls Like You) on a borrowed laptop and trial of Adobe InDesign while also releasing 10 books in just four years! Monumental for anyone, let alone a mom of four! Seemingly, the ever-present dichotomy of normal and unique actually became a synergy in her life – the real girl doing big things for God. And after wrestling with the idea of leaving the professional world to embrace life as a full-time mommy, she surrendered to God’s plan. With her husband Jonathan and daughters by her side, she saw the impossible become possible. Although Pitts’ departure to heaven this past July was unexpected and sudden, her legacy continues to live on through her spouse, daughters, and magazine that her family still produces. Celebrating her life and career, I talked with Jonathan Pitts, who shared his side of the story about a beautiful woman who lived life to the fullest.
Sarah: I thought we could get started just by sharing a little bit about Wynter and what this magazine is all about for readers that don’t know.
Jonathan: Sure. Wynter was an amazing woman. She grew up in a single-parent household with her mom and her grandma. Her dad was a drug addict in the inner city of Baltimore. She always wanted to write. I remember when we were 21-years-old, and we were in college at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She told me, “I want to write a book.” I asked her, ‘Well, write a book about what?’ She replied, ‘Well, I don’t know.’ I was like, ‘You might want to figure that out.’ And, at that point, I was thinking I was this guy trying to help her. She was a grant writer straight out of college and learned technical––but that wasn’t her passion. We got married and would have four girls (Alena, Kaitlyn, Camryn, and Olivia). When we had our second daughter, Wynter was just feeling called by God to prioritize our home. It was kinda scary because we were cutting our income in half at that point, and we were just trusting that God would just provide – and provide He did. It was really at home through the frustrations of motherhood, which most moms experience, that God did a work. One day, she went into her closet and wrote down Psalm 37:4, ‘Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.’ She had a seven-year-old at this point, a five-year-old, and twins that were two-and-a-half. She put that scripture on her closet wall, internalized it, and began to invest in the things that God put in front of her––which were our four girls. And it would be shortly after that she kind of realized that there were resources lacking for tween girls, and she just decided that she was going to create something. It wasn’t supposed to be a magazine. She was just creating fun little help tools for our girls.
Anyway, that worked itself out to be the magazine. She did a kick-start campaign with twenty people that gave and got a free copy of this resource. It went to 100, and then a couple hundred. It’s been a magazine that’s floated with 500-700 subscribers and, really, we decided to brand it and re-brand it last February 2018. We brought on an editor-in-chief, a woman named Roberta, who would work with Wynter on three issues, learning her writing style, passions, and her heart.
What she didn’t realize as a kid is that God cared about every aspect of her life. As she grew in the Lord, and what He was calling her to be as a woman, she would realize that God cared about every aspect. She wanted her girls to know that God cared about every aspect of her life. And what’s been beautiful is that in her passing, her subscriber base has more than tripled; God just continues to flourish it. We’re able to continue to produce it because He put all the pieces in place, and it’s been a beautiful story to watch. Wynter also wrote a book ,which is still to come out in September: ‘I Am Yours,’ a prayer book for girls.
Sarah: Wow. That’s amazing. I love hearing that, just how God was in every part of it and where you are today. It seemed like Wynter was just a very genuine, very real person. So, share a little bit about how being real was important to her personhood and to her work.
Jonathan: Wynter called herself a ‘Yes Girl.’ So, how that worked out was Wynter was able to remain a regular girl that didn’t overdo anything, because she was okay with not having to do everything. So, when God asked her to create this resource for our daughter, she was like, ‘Okay let me figure out what that looks like.’ It wasn’t like, let me go create a strategy or let me create a business plan. She literally downloaded the software and started designing and writing and laying out. She was a regular girl, on her couch, in her house that just knew that she was supposed to create something and figured that if God gave her the passion to do it and asked her to do it, He would give her everything else she needed, too. She was a beautiful woman that God gave big dreams and big ideas to. At the same time, she was a girl who watched Netflix and took naps. People couldn’t understand how she could accomplish so much. And it came down to her keeping things simple and saying no to the things that weren’t hers.
Sarah: As I was researching, and I was watching her speak, I wish that I would’ve been able to meet her. She seemed like such an incredible person. Maybe we can talk a little about your role in the magazine. What did you initially think when you saw her just creating this thing? What were your thoughts?
Jonathan: Well, sadly, as I was doing an interview and they asked me if I had any regrets in marriage, I said, ‘Well I don’t have any regrets in marriage, but the one regret I do have is not believing in my wife sooner and not believing in the big ideas that God gave her.’ I just thought in my mind that, at that time, she was just stir crazy in the house and trying to figure something else to do. I didn’t necessarily believe in her from the beginning, but she believed in herself and she began to do it. What’s funny is I thought that God would give me the plan and she would support me, but God gave her the plan for me to support her. So, my greatest joy in life to date, besides having four girls with her, is supporting all the rest of the girls that God would give her through her ministry.
And, from the beginning, she was thinking, ‘how we would fund this,’ because we didn’t have any money. I think it was my idea to do the kick starter campaign. So, I began to support her because I have a background in sales and marketing. I was able to come alongside her and use my gifts and talents with all the back-end stuff. I mean everything from accounting to being her copy editor. I got her quotes – all the stuff she didn’t have interest in. Wynter was a creator.
Sarah: Right, I love that and one of the things that I appreciated about her was that she knew her identity. It was interesting that you’re sharing her story growing up with fatherlessness and being raised in poverty, yet, she beat the odds and she was really passionate about just equipping young girls and their parents to be world changers in the world we live in. This article is going to be going in an issue that will be talking about church issues that people are dealing with, and I thought she was just a perfect person to showcase. I think the church is having a hard time addressing these issues that young girls are dealing with, yet, we have culture that’s dictating all this stuff. So, why do you think that Wynter wanted to break the silence when it came to talking about these relevant issues?
Jonathan: Well, I mean for Wynter, everything she wrote came from a passion that she had for her own girls. Both of us had this deep desire for our girls to know truth in a world where truth is kind of like a loosey-goosey kind of a thing. For her, she wanted our girls to deal with reality and in reality, there’s truth, and there’s lies. And she wanted the girls to know the truth and avoid the lies. So she spoke very frankly to them and she wasn’t afraid to speak on any topic. She didn’t want our girls to ever feel like victims, and she wanted them to operate from a place of being a victor in Christ. She obviously was real about the fact that there are issues that people face, even her own. Coming from a fatherless home, there were realities that she faced that made it more difficult for her. But in her last talk, she quoted 1 John 4:10, ‘There’s no fear in love but perfect love casts out fear.’ This reality of knowing God’s love; it casts out any fear in your path that could stop you from doing whatever God’s called you to do. She had this steady, quiet boldness about her that was not frustrated when the magazine wasn’t growing or when something didn’t happen. She just kept going after what God called her to do, and just trusted what God started, He would finish. So, I’m really proud of her for that. I learned a lot from her.
Sarah: When I was watching one of these interviews, there was a quote that she said. She was talking about parenting with you and she said, ‘We choose to raise the ones that will have the impact and not just be impacted.’ And sometimes in church, there’s a lot of fear about raising kids in the culture that we live in today. As Christians, we can actually isolate, and want to remove our kids from that. But you guys taught your kids how to have a strong faith and actually infiltrate the world. So, why was that so important to both of you to be able to do that?
Jonathan: I don’t think we would’ve used the word importance as much as reality. We both grew up in the Northeast. I grew up in New Jersey, she grew up in Baltimore City, and the reality was in those towns there was just kind of a post-modernism that was already there. If you were in the church, you were meant to be in church. You either are a Christian or you’re not. So for us, we were thrust into reality as kids and we wanted our girls to be in reality and to face reality with truth and full confidence that God can bring. I do think it was more the nature of our childhoods and kind of what we saw in life.
Sarah: Both of you didn’t try to just put out answers––you were very authentic sharing about parenting and not having all the answers figured out. I think that was what was so great about what you would share when it comes to parenting.
Jonathan: Yeah, that’s not to abdicate responsibility, but it is the reality. Like, even our book, ‘She’s Yours,’ we’re trusting God as we raise the girls He gave us. There is this reality that you’re a steward. You can do all the planting, you can do all the different things you’re supposed to do, but if it doesn’t rain, then you’re outta luck. It’s the same thing I think with parenting. God’s gotta show up. And so for us, it was dependence on God and prayer as we were stewarding our girls and doing the best we could to steward. And when we messed up, it’s not trying to take more ownership of something that we don’t really control.
Sarah: That’s powerful. I want to talk a little about Wynter being a visionary as you said, and in another interview that I saw on YouTube. You said that she really tried to change the landscape of what people are doing in ministry as far as putting out quality creative content that really balances truth and just fun stuff. Share a little about that legacy as her being a visionary and why expressing creativity in the church is so needed.
Jonathan: I think beauty is a really important thing and, as a church, I think what we’ve done over years, and I think that for a lot of good reasons, it’s stripped away beauty for practicality, for discipleship, for all with good intent, it stripped away the things that actually make the world really beautiful. And when you think about this color and beauty of this world, it’s like, it’s not a bad thing. It can be corrupted, but God gave it in the first place. So, Wynter’s goal was always just to be biblical, but also to be beautiful, like biblical and beautiful at the same time, and you can have both. We make things sacred and things secular and the things that aren’t sacred if they’re secular. And her [Wynter’s] view, everything was sacred. Everything starts with God, so maybe we’re having to reclaim things that have been taken from God in a sense. That was always her goal, and I think she did that. Like, in terms of the magazine, she found a way to create a magazine that goes to girls and gets in their homes without putting any filth in it at all. And so, it’s a beautiful thing. I think that’s the first time I’ve articulated that the balance of biblical and beautiful which is what she kind of embodied.
Sarah: That’s so true. I looked at all of her content in the back issues and was really inspired by the truth of the Word of God, but also how it had all this fun stuff in it. And so just talking about if Wynter could encourage women today, what do you think she would say to other up-and-coming women in regards to entrepreneurship and dreaming?
Jonathan: One, I think she would say, ‘‘Keep it simple,’ don’t overthink and just begin doing what you think God called you to do, don’t wait.’’ Just putting one foot in front of the other. It’s not like having the whole thing figured out. Wynter was designing the magazine, so she just started with what she had and God would bless and honor it. What God created, God can sustain. So it’s just kinda fun to watch Him right now do it because in a lot of ways, I feel powerless to continue with what she was doing and watching God help us continue to do it.
Sarah: Your kind of carrying on that legacy with the work, with your girls. How do you want to continue to create and vision-cast as you journey forward?
Jonathan: When she passed, I knew I wanted to keep the magazine going, and God would really bring me clarity that it was supposed to happen. That day that she died, the magazine just started growing, like her passing was probably one of the greatest platforms for her work ever. The Enemy would think it would be a win and a loss for this world; God’s further grown her work. Anyway, we set the magazine into a non-profit ministry. The first thing we will do is continue to publish the magazine and publish other resources for girls and their parents. The second would be events. Wynter always had a heart to do events with girls that are doing big things for God, but are regular girls just like them in order to see them up close and personal. And the third thing is missions’ trips. Wynter always had this heart to put into action whether it be across the ocean or just across the street – projects for girls to get involved and do kingdom work. We’re gonna just trust in God to tell us exactly what that looks like.
For more on Wynter and For Girls Like You, visit forgirlslikeyou.com