Issue 7


In our current talk series, “The Bible + Sexuality," our aim is to invite you into a personal conversation on the topic of sexuality.  We want each person to think about and make choices about how you view sexuality and interact with the people around you.  Our position going in is that:

The scriptures invite us to fully affirm and embrace our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.  This is a healthy and important approach to our spirituality and life.

The topic of sexuality is huge. People have spent their lives studying it and at a level far deeper than we can go. We’ve worked hard to organize the talks to cover as much as possible. So, please listen, and if you think we've missed an angle, let us know. We’d love to talk with you about it.

You can listen in at

CMYK Community Picnic


Picnics combine some of our favorite things – friends, family, food, and an al fresco setting.  So we’re setting aside a few hours this summer for CMYK picnics.  We’re keeping it simple, just making time and space to connect and relax with some of our favorite people.  

Pioneer Park, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.: Bring food for you and something to share. You might want to bring a lawn chair or two, or maybe a blanket. CMYK will provide drinks, plates/bowls and utensils. The picnic is open to all, so bring along anybody you’d like.

We’ll send any updates to the usual places – CMYK website, Facebook, Instagram and the online magazine.  

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Jeel Al Amal


CMYK is currently giving 45% of what we receive to organizations doing great work in the community and world around us.  This is one of places where we’ve given recently:  Jeel al Amal Boys School and Home in Bethany, East Jerusalem


Our tour group turned a corner to find a young girl huddled on the stone steps. A woman in a black headscarf and robe crouched near her, speaking gently. Our guide, Najwa, paused briefly while she and the woman spoke to one another in quiet tones. She then motioned us on. I was near the front of the group and Najwa explained softly that the child had been brought to them after a traumatic experience with her family. The little girl had been there two days, but was still unwilling or unable to speak. “She needs time. We will care for her.”

We were touring the Jeel al Amal School and Boys Home in Bethany. We’d been welcomed by a roomful of boisterous, bouncing boys and a loosely choreographed routine of jumping and shouting and wide grins. We’d already seen the brightly colored kitchens and spacious lunchroom and were on our way to the dormitory area when we had come upon the scene on the stairway. The boys' rooms were spacious and neat with comic book heroes adorning doors and beds. The outdoor playground had murals and bright colors. The vibrant interior was a stark contrast to the crumbling village outside the school walls.

Bethany — home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus — is in East Jerusalem, within walking distance of the Mount of Olives.  Bethany is the backdrop for countless sermons centered on Jesus’ teachings. Groups of Christian women study those few verses about Mary and Martha, scrutinizing and weighing their own hearts and behavior. Children in Sunday school make delightedly disgusted faces as they imagine the smell of Lazarus’ decaying body. Our focus is always on what happened there, rather than where the story is set.  But Bethany is a real place. Today it’s behind the Separation Security Wall and is struggling economically. The streets are full of burned cars and rubble. The boys in the Jeel al Amal school are from the Palestinian Territories, often orphans or children who have experienced terrible domestic problems.  

The school started in 1972 when Alice and Basil Sahhars rented a building and moved in bunkbeds and old school desks. A teacher, Basil had a vision of children growing to become free and independent thinkers. His social worker wife, Alice, worked with refugees and dreamed of a world where children would no longer cry from fear, hunger or thirst. The Christian couple named the school Jeel al Amal:  "Generation of Hope” in Arabic. Now 45 years on, there is a specially designed building housing a coed primary school with more than 400 hundred students and a dormitory for 150 orphaned boys.  

What draws me in is Jeel al Amal’s focus on the children and their desire to create a loving, safe and supportive place for the children without concern over different beliefs. The school demonstrates peaceful and joyful co-existence of different faith and cultural narratives. Girls and boys learn side-by-side, creating a sense of equality. Christians and Muslims work and learn side-by-side. The local Christian and Muslim communities work alongside global partners to raise funds for the school, which is entirely donation-dependent.  

There is an equal focus on providing a good education. Jeel al Amal is accredited by Palestinian, Israeli and Jordanian education authorities, and there is a frequent need for funds to send students on to college.  A few years ago, Jeel al Amal added special training in children’s rights, conflict resolution and negotiating to the curriculum.  In the face of the cultural and political realities of Palestine and the Middle East, teaching children to resolve conflict is visionary.

Jeel al Amal Alice and Basil’s daughter, Najwa, runs the school now, carrying on the vision of her parents:

  • The children of the poor deserve to get the same education that affluent children receive.

  • They deserve to grow into self-confident, responsible people.

  • They are the Generation of Hope: Jeel al Amal.

  • They dream that Arabs, Muslims, Christian and Jews will again live together as neighbors in peace.

At Jeel al Amal, they are living the CMYK value of “Everyone matters and is on the same level, independent of place, history, race, sexuality, gender or belief.”  I am in awe of what Jeel al Amal has accomplished and how they continue to succeed. I love that the CMYK Community can stand beside them and with them in their vision of hope.  

You can learn more about Jeel al Amal at or through this video  

Kris is a member of the CMYK Community and a fifth-generation Montanan.  She is working on coming out of the evangelical closet, while simultaneously loving everyone – both in the closet and out.  Kris is also on staff at CMYK, working on all those things Matt doesn’t want or like to do. 


Magic City Blues will feature familiar faces from CMYK this year. Kaleb Barkac and Kerry Sherman play monthly at CMYK Sunday Gatherings, and Marcus Barkac is a Sunday evening regular.


The dream of brothers Kaleb and Marcus Barkac and third member, Jake Goldberg, is to make Alder Lights a full-time gig. They got a taste of touring last summer, playing until the wee hours most weekends until finally crashing around 4 a.m. after teardown. The roads are long in Montana. Kaleb says the trick was sunflower seeds. There’s something about the chewing and the spitting that kept them awake during the long hours of driving. Though also working full-time jobs, they loved every minute of touring, and it affirmed their dream of performing full-time.

In March, they released a new single, Creatures, adding one more song to their collection of originals. They’re working on expanding their repertoire, but they prefer a smaller set of songs that are “really polished and well put together.” Alder Lights holds a new song close to the chest until it’s the best it can be, leaning on the brutal honesty of their producer, Matt Blakeslee, to get a song right. “It can be really difficult to have something you’ve worked hard on get cut,” says Kaleb, but the music comes first, ahead of our individual goals. 

They’re in the concept phase of a new record, feeling their way toward the most authentic style for right now. They’re shifting more into rock, but aren’t locked into a particular genre. Instead, they’re looking to make the best music possible, creating a very cool tension between three individuals with different musical ideas and each with a different focus in life. They come together and create music they love, and somehow it works. Kaleb finds that, “It helps that the band has created an environment where it’s easy, beneficial even to be honest with one another.” They’re in tune about the direction they want to go with Alder Lights, so can funnel all their energy into being a band and just enjoying it.

Although tempting to dream of the day when they’ll be headlining across the country, they’re working to stay present and focused on what they need to do as a band to reach their goals.  

Be present.  

This is one of CMYK's values. Kaleb often mentions it when describing his song choices on a Sunday.  Although he and Marcus emphasized Alder Lights doesn’t have political, faith-based or other messages to send, CMYK values — being present, honest and open — surfaced regularly throughout our conversation. “Being part of CMYK and its community of likeminded creatives has encouraged me to explore different musical directions and to be open to outside-the-box ideas,” Kaleb said. 

The invitation for Alder Lights to perform on the main stage at Magic City Blues came as a surprise. Promoter Tim Goodridge sent a Facebook message while the band was celebrating Kaleb’s birthday at a local brewery. Marcus said, “Just got offered the blues fest. Clear your schedule. Drop what you’re doing, this is a big deal.” Marcus handles marketing and strategy, carefully shaping the band’s reputation and profile. He’d heard Goodridge wanted to involve local bands in MCB, and that he wanted someone well-established and marketable. In getting tapped for MCB, their work appears to have paid off.  Sharing the stage with Phillip Phillips and AJR, it seems a good bet Alder Lights will be getting exposure to a whole new audience.

Alder Lights is scheduled to play the Budweiser Stage at Magic City Blues Fest at 6:15 on Saturday, August 4th.  You can follow Alder Lights on Facebook or at Their first album, “Here’s To Fate,” is available in the usual places.


Kerry Sherman is passionate about his band, Dead Presleys, and about the local music scene. The groove rock band consists of Kerry (vocals/guitar), his cousin Colton Gabel (drums), and college friends Zach Reiter (bass) and Tyler Cook (lead guitar). Kerry is a relative newcomer to Billings, but he’s got some connections in town. Despite a nomadic family life due to his father’s white-collar railroad job, Billings is home to his wider family, and Sean Lynch recorded his first band when Kerry was 16. His parents eventually returned to their hometown of Billings, and a few years ago Kerry wanted to follow.   

Kerry hit up Sean while looking for potential jobs in the area. It turned out the Pub Station needed a marketing coordinator. It was a great fit for Kerry, with his marketing degree, minor in entertainment management and love for music.  “My job is to put butts in seats,” he said. But it’s more than a job.  As he describes the position, he grows thoughtful; he wants to stick with Pub Station and help it grow. He’s in it for the long haul.

Kerry also handles Pub Station bookings for local musicians. This gives him a natural connection to the local music scene and an opportunity to help shape it. "A vibrant music and arts community is essential to a growing and diverse community," he said. Kerry is passionate about supporting and encouraging the arts in Billings. But he also loves making music. “I want to create music I love and play awesome shows and travel around the area.” 

Creating beauty is a key tenet for CMYK. It inspired our name, and we make a point of feeding into and nurturing creative expression. Kerry aims to foster more cohesion and cooperation within the creative community in Billings. “There is enough opportunity to go around,” says Kerry.  

Those opportunities could be no more evident than in downtown Billings in summertime. Motorists are regularly stymied by barricades protecting open stages, live music and crowds of people enjoying music and conversation. Magic City Blues takes it all up a notch. Per Kerry, only been a few local bands have played the festival. Goodridge looks for the best he can get. Tim’s invitation to play the MCB stage (read by Kerry before dawn one day in March ) triggered an impromptu dance party of one. Tim’s invite endorsed the quality of Dead Presley’s music.   

Kerry’s musical development has been heavily influenced by Gaslight Anthem and Bruce Springsteen.  When asked to choose the one song everyone needs to hear, he tagged Springsteen’s “Jungleland.”  “It becomes really impactful when you listen to it within the context of the 'Born To Run' record because that entire record is a story, with Jungleland being the finale.” Kerry’s affinity to story shows in his choice of songs for CMYK Gatherings, whether it’s one of his own creations or a cover. Playing at CMYK has triggered a change in his acoustic songwriting, Kerry says. Feedback from Matt Blakeslee on differences between his band and his acoustic writing has given him confidence to explore more and take creative liberties. “Spirituality, faith and the wrestling match with that has always been really present in my music before I got involved with CMYK,” Kerry said. “I don’t go too deep into it, because I don’t want to speak for the other band members, but it’s there. I get a lot of lyrical content ideas from CMYK because it really makes me think and explore on a deeper level. It puts me in an inquisitive headspace.”

Dead Presleys are scheduled to play the Stillwater Stage at the Magic City Blues Fest at 5 p.m. on Saturday, August 4. You can follow Dead Presleys on Facebook. Their first album, “Muses” is available in the usual places.

Hear Dead Presleys play "Sirens" here.



Goats or cooking?  These were the two options Clark Hodges and co-host Reily Wagenhals considered while planning a new podcast.  They were retiring their ‘Into The Echo’ music podcast after a couple years but wanted to continue collaborating.  Conversations on goats and cooking bookended every ‘Into The Echo’ recording session.  The goats lost and ‘Me Cook Pretty’ launched in March.  

Each episode of ‘Me Cook Pretty’ revolves around a new cooking challenge, — a seasonal or esoteric ingredient that is hard to cook with.  In the podcast, they share their successes and failures — the burnt ends — of the challenge. Clark says they’ve both made a lot of food so they’ve made more mistakes than most. Their goal isn’t to stop making mistakes, but to throw a bunch of things at the wall, from ingredients to techniques, and see what sticks without going broke.

They want to connect with people who are in the discovery phase when it comes to cooking — those who have their own kitchen for the first time, or those who might enjoy cooking but are afraid to take risks with it. The typical married couple with three kids is maybe not the right audience, because “they’re not going to buy a dragonfruit and try to figure out how to get it in their kid’s lunch.” 

They’ve found more and more people, particularly in the 20-40 age range, are getting into plant-based food.  Reily went vegan six months ago and Clark has found he’s cooking a lot cleaner and with more plant-based products since starting the podcast. “It’s weird," Clark said. "People don’t ask for a biscuits and gravy recipe. They ask, ‘How did you make this salad?’” Vegan is clearly a thing a lot of their listeners want.  

Clark was a bit sheepish confessing he’s changed his cooking style in response to Me Cook Pretty listeners. But it reflects his desire to serve their audience. Clark grows enthusiastic when describing the food community and its openness, curiosity and willingness to collaborate. The YouTube community reflects this especially, as when favorites Alex ‘French Guy’ Cooking, Jun’s Kitchen and Brad and Claire from Bon Appetit are super excited to see each other. “Everybody is a fan of each other. It’s a really healthy, strong community of everyone really appreciating each other.” He wants to become part of the community, giving back to those who’ve helped build them up.

Clark explains how easy it is to get buried by focusing on what you don’t have, whether with a media channel or cooking or whatever.  He wants to keep his head in the right space of “Hey, we’re here to serve people and love people. Stop worrying about getting more.” The CMYK gatherings reinforce that philosophy, like a weekly pep talk from his brain at its most healthy. “We’re going to work hard to create something beautiful with what we’ve been given. Hey, there’s rhubarb in my parents' back yard. Let’s figure out what we can do with it.”

If you want to ask Clark about goats, look for him at the Sunday evening gathering.



How many of us would like to experience our favorite movie or book again for the very first time?  That’s exactly what Alyssa Small is doing in the podcast, Wordstruck. Alyssa and her co-host, Clark Hodges, are reading the Harry Potter series together a few chapters at a time. The twist is that Clark has never read the books or seen any of the movies. 

Harry Potter introduced a young Alyssa to the world of books, drawing her in so thoroughly she went on to a creative writing degree and a career in journalism. As a professional in the writing world she longed to take a closer look at the quality of writing in Harry Potter and to do it with someone brand new to Hogwarts and the wizarding world.

Cue Clark Hodges. Fellow journalism students, Clark and Alyssa studied and graduated together from the University of Montana, but weren't great at staying in touch after leaving school. As Alyssa started her hunt for a podcast partner, Clark came to mind. The radio emphasis in his journalism degree was an added perk for the techie part of the podcast. It took a bit of convincing, but they launched Wordstruck in March 2016 and are now in book four, just about halfway through the Harry Potter series.  

So why not just have a book club? “It's vital to us as humans to have a thing we just have fun making.” Alyssa explained, using Brené Brown’s theory on the importance of creative play, “It’s vital to us as humans to have a thing we just have fun making. It doesn’t have a deadline, isn’t monetized, and isn’t linked to our work.”  Despite the periodic frustrations, the podcast is a big part of her creative play outlet.  

One of those frustrations is the slow pace of a couple chapters every few weeks. The series is a place of comfort for Alyssa. Familiarity means she can put the book down at any point, knowing exactly what happens next. But Clark suffers when he encounters a cliffhanger ending and has to wait weeks for the resolution. Alyssa is hoping they can turn the tables at some point, giving Clark a chance to put her on the hot seat of uncertainty with a book she’s never read.

As Alyssa takes a harder look at the Harry Potter series, she acknowledges the shine has tarnished slightly. But, “I don’t think it discounts how much I loved it and how ardently I just owned that world as a kid. It’s just finding a new way to love it.” The book is still a roller coaster ride, but “the roller coaster is different now” and it’s affiliated with her journey with Clark. Their interaction is exactly what drew Alyssa to entertainment podcasts. “It's people spending time with people they care about. As a listener, I get to enjoy the two people enjoying each other.” And that’s just fun — for the two co-hosts and their listeners.


By Jenny Barkac

All behavior is a form of communication. We see this easily with a crying infant. Crying communicates a need, and as we help babies soothe their inner state by meeting their need, the crying turns to engagement. The challenge is holding onto this truth as the child matures. With older children our perception shifts to seeing disobedience, disrespect or defiance rather than need.  As we shift our perception we also shift our intent, instead of discerning the communication behind the behavior, our goal becomes stopping it. When we focus on stopping behaviors, we ignore children’s unmet needs and missing skills.

The book “Conscious Discipline: Building Resilient Classrooms” by Dr. Becky Bailey describes the three different brain states that drive behavior for children and adults.  Before trying to teach new skills, we must respond to the child’s current brain state effectively by following these four core objectives:  

  1. To remain in a relaxed, alert state while interacting with children.

  2. To identify the internal brain state the child is experiencing so we know which response is more likely to help.

  3. To assist the child in achieving a relaxed, alert state of learning before attempting to teach a new skill or deliver a consequence.

  4. To address the behavior by teaching an effective new skill.

Brain states drive adult behavior as well as children’s behavior.  Oftentimes adults are triggered by a child‘s actions and aren’t aware of how their own brain downshifts in response.  Downshifting means your brain goes from the higher center where you are calm to the lower centers where you take things personally or feel threatened. Anytime you are triggered by a behavior your brain will downshift to a lower brain state. When downshifted you don’t have access to the reasoning part of your brain and you are unable to see the unwanted behavior as a call for help. Knowing this happens and choosing to calm yourself down before responding to the child or others can dramatically change the outcome of the interaction.

Calming yourself first before interacting with the child or another adult will help to prevent power struggles and increase cooperation. Here are the steps to calm yourself before interacting with others:

Step 1: Take 3 deep breaths. This adds a pause and allows your brain the opportunity to calm down.

Step 2: Talk kindly to yourself by saying, “I have got this, I am safe, keep breathing, I can handle this.” 

Step 3: Wishing the child or adult well (sending out positive energy and knowing that they can handle this also) and continuing to breathe.  

Remain calm and remind yourself they are asking for help and are missing skills.  Stop taking the behavior personally.  Recognize what brain state they might be in and determine what you can do to help soothe that state.  Then they can get back to the higher centers where you can teach them what to do next time.

You cannot teach missing skills while you or the child is operating from the lower brain states. These lower brain states are the Survival and Emotional states. We traditionally discipline and teach the behavior we want when in these lower states, but unfortunately in the Survival and Emotional states the brain isn’t able to retain information. The Executive state is needed.  This is the highest brain state and is where all the executive skills are housed. These are skills such as impulse control, emotional regulation, prioritizing, working memory, time management, organization, attention, empathy, meta-cognition, task initiation and goal achievement. These are the skills we all need, and they can be accessed only when a person, whether child or adult, is in the Executive state of the brain.  

If we don’t allow the brain to calm down before teaching what to do next time, we are not helping the child to organize their brain so that they can meet our expectations next time.  Remaining calm while a child is upset helps them find the way back to calm. Adults can coach a child through upset by validating the emotion and empathizing with how hard it can be to do something you don’t want to do. That doesn’t change the behavior expectation; it just helps the child better handle what is being asked of them. Managing your own upset before handling a conflict will also model self-regulation for a child.

To achieve permanent behavior change, adults must manage their own inner brain state first so that they can respond calmly to others. Internal state dictates behavior, so focusing on internal state first and behavior second is imperative. Understanding how the brain operates in times of stress will help the adult to check in with themselves, to breathe and to wish well before approaching a conflict or an upset child. This puts a pause before the reaction so the brain has an opportunity to get to the higher centers to solve the problem. This will help to see the behavior as a call for help rather than as intentional misbehavior. Then assessing the non-verbal cues of the child will help you to know which brain state might need to be soothed before solving a problem. The lower centers of the brain need predictability and the higher center of the brain needs novelty and challenge.

Try thinking: “How can I help to soothe the brain?” instead of “How can I stop the behavior?”

Jenny Barkac is our CMYK Kids Leader.  During the week, she works with schools and parents around the United States as a Conscious Discipline Certified Instructor.  She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the CMYK Community.




Both available on Netflix

Stand-up comedy may be a well-worn art form, but every once in a while a voice emerges with something so poignant to say it transcends a moment of laughter into a moment that could change everything.

Both Mike and Hannah have been at the top of their game in the comic world for years , but their latest respective specials take things to a new level. Laughter comes with tears and contemplation. Hidden within the jokes are stories and thoughts that cut right to the heart of life and our humanity. As either special is only an hour long you would be silly to not drop whatever "Law & Order" re-run you may be watching for a night to experience something truly special.



Lisa Gungor of the musical collective Gungor has expanded her art from songwriting to memoir.  She is raw, vulnerable and honest as she unfolds events that changed her perspective on life and faith.  Early in her story, Lisa and husband Michael Gungor were an acclaimed Christian musical duo, filling concert halls around the world.  Their lives centered on God and church and music until Michael’s unexpected loss of belief in God started things unraveling.  As Lisa looks back at how the continuing challenges shook her world, she uncovers a different and more joyous worldview.  It could be a life-changing book, and once you read it a Gungor song will never sound the same again.


SLOAN IS THE WORD | By Daron Faught

This Canadian rock band formed in 1991 and has continued to evolve ever since. Still with all its original members, Sloan became a minor chart success in 1992 with their debut album "Smeared" and its hit single "Underwhelmed." The song reached #25 on the US Modern Rock Chart but that has been their only charting song in the U.S. They've had five Top 40 singles in Canada, won a Juno Award (the Canadian Grammys), and garnered eight other nominations. Each member has written and sung at least one song on every album they've released.

Their first two albums were released in the U.S. on Geffen Records. The company was impressed with the band's distorted grungy sound that was all the rage at the time.  However, when they released their 2nd album, "Twice Removed," in 1994 they became more of a melodic power-pop band.  The label was unhappy about the change in tone and did little to promote the record.  This album has since been voted the best Canadian rock album of all time in several different polls.

Since then, the band started their own label, Murderecords, and has released 10 more great albums and the newest one, logically called "12" was just released this spring. It's difficult to compare them to other bands because their brand of alternative rock contains more upbeat and fewer 'woe is me' lyrics.  The closest contemporary band I can think of would be Foo Fighters, but I would heartily recommend streaming some of their songs or watching some of their videos on YouTube with all members contributing and singing different songs. If you don't like the first one, try a different one. You'll probably end up loving it.