The War Within on Amazon Prime


With an Amazon Prime membership, you can now watch our latest movie The War Within for FREE!!! Please help us out and support by watching on Amazon Instant Video. If you have seen it, it’s a great movie to watch over and over to soak in the biblical truth! If you haven’t seen it, here is your chance to watch it for free.  Leave a review and share it with your friends. Help us get the word out and continue to see God move in the hearts of those who watch the film.

WATCH IT NOW by clicking here:


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Thank You, Jesus, for my Crohn’s Disease – Part 4


I mentioned in Part 3 that my initial response to my Crohn’s disease was that it was a curse. I was afraid that my life would be focused on managing this chronic disease and its effects, like histoplasmosis.  However, God quickly showed me I was wrong. And as I continued to trust Him, His blessings started pouring in.

To start, I continue to praise the Lord that I contracted histoplasmosis.  Why? Because I am unable to take most medications to treat Crohn’s disease – any immunosuppressant drugs.  Why would I be happy about this?  Because I would most likely be taking these medications and receiving Remicade treatments to this day, 7 years later, to keep flair-ups at bay.  And here I am in remission without medications, by the grace and mercy of God.   Obviously this has saved us hundreds of thousands of dollars. One Remicade treatment cost about $8000-$10,000 without insurance, and that was the price about 10 years ago.

I received these treatments every 8-10 weeks.  You do the math.  Better yet, I’ll save you the time:

$10,000 X 5/year = $50,000  X  7 years  =  $350,000  Plus the cost of oral medications.

(Yes, most hospitals and doctors give a pay out of pocket or pay at service discount rate. In my experience a 30% discount is common at some Indianapolis hospitals. But even if it was a 50% discount, it would still cost $175,000, money we didn’t have just hiding under our mattress. 😛 )

You are now thinking, what about health insurance?  Well, that brings me to the next “curse” in my initial viewpoint.

Crohn’s disease = pre-existing condition = denied insurance.

After Brett and I married, I was receiving full health benefits through my employer Health and Nutrition Technology.  Once I delivered Kherington, our first born, I became a stay-at-home-mom and only worked about 8 hours/week. Consequently, I lost my health benefits.  This was late 2011, and Brett had only been working for his non-profit film company, House of Grace Films, for a year and was receiving health insurance through a private company.  Insurance companies cannot deny pre-existing conditions through group employee insurance, but when I tried to apply for health benefits through Brett’s private insurance, I was instantly denied.    Never mind the fact that I was in remission and not taking any medication, nor was I even seeing my GI doctor.  Once the company sees Crohn’s disease and some random fungus disease that I was hospitalized for, I received a polite “sorry.”

I applied for Cobra for a few months after delivering Kherington, but it was over $600/month and was not going to fit in our budget.  I found the government assisted program for people with pre-existing conditions, however, you weren’t eligible to apply until you were uninsured for 6 months.  I had no other option. So I took a risk and put my trust in God instead.  Again, by God’s grace, I did not have any doctor visits in the 6 month period.  The 6 month time frame was coming up. I had one week to go until I was officially uninsured for 6 months….and the government declared that they would not be taking any new applicants.

I was ticked.  Devastated.  My first thought? I guess Brett and I will not be having any more children for awhile.  Of course, this closure of new applicants was only the beginning of setting the stage for Obamacare.  It was mid-to late 2012 at this point.

Now what, God?  I continued several more months without insurance. I literally was out of options.  Until a friend gave me a copy of a Thriving Family magazine with an ad for a Christian health care sharing ministry called Samaritan Ministries.   I went to the their website and requested free information.

And what I read was too good to be true.  Samaritan Ministries “is a Biblical approach to paying for health care, based on passages such as Galatians 6. Verse two says, ‘Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.’ That law is the royal law of loving one another.

Here’s how the need sharing process works in a nutshell:

Each member commits to sending a set “Share” amount each month. These “Shares” are sent directly through the mail from one household to another, to the members with “Needs”. Samaritan Ministries uses a database that randomly matches Shares to Needs, so that the Sharing is coordinated and Shares go to the appropriate members with Needs.”

Wow!  After getting over the initial reaction of “this sounds too good to be true,” I was almost convinced that this is what the Lord wanted me to do and was excited to be living out first century Christianity.

2 years later I have been so blessed by this ministry.  As of today, Brett, Kherinton, and Damon have been added as well.  My fear of not having children for awhile was gone. A few months after joining Samaritan Ministries, I became pregnant with Damon, and all my prenatal, labor, and delivery costs were paid for by other Christians throughout the country. Not only was I getting personal checks but personal cards and notes. Tears were streaming down my face the first card and check I opened. Everyday for a couple weeks the cards would come. I was the little kid looking out the window waiting and listening for the mailman to come down my street.

IMG_0788Here is a snapshot of most the cards and notes. Yep, even got a Batman Valentine’s card!

Meanwhile, every month I am thrilled to get out my checkbook and send our monthly “share.” This isn’t just another “bill” we have to pay. Or look at our pay stubs frustrated to see how much money is being taken out. (If Brett and the kids had stayed on private insurance with the Affordable Care Act being enacted, their premium would be over $600/month).

I send our monthly “share” to a specific person with a specific health condition. For example, we sent our check with a picture Kherington colored to little “Jane” (not her real name) who has leukemia. Or “John” who broke his leg.  Or “Rachel” who is having a baby like myself.   No money is going to an insurance company who is filling their own pockets and who knows what else!

Interested in finding out more about Samaritan?  Download this information packet.

God is using my Crohn’s disease journey to fulfill true Biblical community. He has even given us the opportunity to have our story filmed as a “My Samaritan Story” on their website.

Watch the video below of Brett and me telling our testimony.

Oh, and last year at the Christian Worldview Film Festival (CWVFF), Samaritan Ministries sponsored 3 of the 4 awards that The War Within won.  So this year, Brett and I were part of the Samaritan ad in the CWVFF’s program.


I don’t know if we would have joined Samaritan Ministries if I did not have Crohn’s disease. But I have faith that God does know all things and works out all things for the good of those that love Him. Therefore, I will continue to thank Jesus for this “curse” that is day by day turning into more blessings then I could have imagined.

Brace yourself… my next post will send chills up and down your spine as I share how God used this journey to not only bless me and my family but someone else and their family.

Varvel Christmas Letter 2014


“The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

~Job 1:21

As usual before I sit down to write out the yearly Christmas letter, I read the previous year’s letter. The 2013 year was a very exciting year with the completion and premiere of The War Within. This year would only be better with the release of the DVD.  We were ecstatic with the news of a baby boy to arrive in May. At the beginning of 2014, I never would have imagined what this year would bring forth. It still had unknowns, but it looked like it would be another accomplished year.  However, God had a completely different plan than what we had in mind. He had to take away some things to teach us the cost of following Him. He gives AND he takes away.

We started the 2014 year without a consistent income. Due to insufficient funds, House of Grace Films could no longer support Brett financially. However, Brett’s freelance wedding business, Timeless Pictures, was still thriving by God’s grace. Throughout the year, Brett filmed and edited several weddings and corporate videos to meet our financial needs.  The first half of the year I continued to work for Peru Community Schools as their Wellness Advisor/Nutritionist.  However, they lost their wellness grant for the 2014-15 school year and had to let me go.   The last few months of the year we started to become desperate and pulled money from our 6-month emergency fund that we had saved away when Brett and I were both working full-time before Kherington was born.  The Lord provided this money for us 3 years ago for such a time as this!  Even though the Lord took away Brett’s steady paycheck and my supplemental income, He provided the exact amount of money we needed to live by the end of the year.

The Lord revealed our pride in our comfortable living and dependance on money to sustain us. I hated using the emergency fund because it was our “security blanket.” We were prideful that we had that money saved away, and now that it is almost gone we have learned that money does not provide any security. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; He alone is Jehovah-Jireh! “The Lord will provide!”

Even though Brett was not receiving a paycheck from House of Grace Films, it did not mean he could drop all responsibilities. He juggled working to provide through freelance and to continue the work of The War Within.  Brett and I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Christian Worldview Film Festival in San Antonio.  This was The War Within’s first national appearance, and by the grace of God, we came home with 4 awards: Best Feature Film, Best Trailer, Best Gospel Presentation, and the Audience Choice Award.


Then the day finally came on August 19th: The War Within was released on DVD!  After 5 years, we had a copy in our hands. So many lessons were learned through this process. You can read more on my perspective of a filmmaker’s wife here and here.  We continue to pray that more people will purchase The War Within so that the gospel of Jesus Christ will be spread in a society of unchurched homes.

Shortly after our visit to San Antonio for the film festival, we received the news that Damon had duodenal atresia. When you have a perfectly healthy pregnancy, delivery, and newborn for your first pregnancy, you desire nothing else for all subsequent pregnancies. However, here the Lord took away our sense of control. If you have not already, you can read the rest of Damon’s story here.  May 9th is when the Lord gave us our sweet Damon Emanuel. Even though he had a rough start to life, he is a very happy and healthy baby as if he never had surgery. He is eating solid foods, and of course he decided to learn to crawl while the Christmas tree is up! He has been our reminder this year of Emanuel: “God is with us.”


Kherington turned 3 in October, and has loved being a big sister. Even before we brought Damon home, she was always excited to go to the “hostible,” even though she only saw him once his entire 3 week stay. She plays with him and is constantly making him laugh. Sometimes she loves him a little too much though!  To add to the stressful year, Kherington definitely pulled out all the “terrible-two” toddler tricks!  The Lord has been humbling us as parents; we cannot raise our children as God commanded apart from His grace on a daily basis.  She is a smart and strong-willed little girl, but we are praying that God will someday use her strong-willed personality to stand up for Truth in this immoral world.

Stress can definitely take a toll on marriages. Brett and I had our moments of disagreement, but again, by God’s grace, we have grown stronger in our marriage because of the trials we faced this year. Brett and I celebrated our 6th year anniversary in July.


Now, we look forward to the 2015 year.  I have stopped planning my life, because it usually doesn’t turn out as planned!  But we have hope, because God’s plans are always better than anything we could imagine for our lives.  We are praising the Lord for the recent news that Brett will be back on salary for House of Grace Films on January 1st for at least 6 months.  After much praying and raging his own war within the past few months, Brett knows without a doubt that his calling in life is to use the most powerful medium of this age, movies, to share the most powerful message, the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Recently the Lord reminded Brett of this passage found in Luke 9: As they were going along the road, someone said to Jesus, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head’… Yet another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’ ” 

The Lord had to strip away our pride, sense of control, comfort, and security in the things of the world. We were willing to follow Him, BUT as long as we were comfortable and had a place to lay our heads. However, we cannot truly follow Jesus Christ unless we put everything down, don’t look back, and accept His call for us no matter the cost. And the call is to become missionaries. No, we are not physically going to Africa or China, but staying in America to visually tell the Truth of Christ through films, and praying that these films spread throughout the world.  Pray for us as we endeavor to ask individuals and churches to financially support us to accomplish this mission.

We have faith that the Lord will give and take away as He sees fit in the 2015 year.  We have seen God’s sovereignty on our family this 2014 year and how everything that has happened is setting the stage for a bigger plan.  Whatever happens this year, we will say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord!”

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Brett, Christina, Kherington, and Damon

From the Perspective of a Filmmaker’s Wife – Part 2


If you missed Part 1 of this series, read it here first!

Teamwork: Brett + Christina = Brettina

Brett and I are opposites in most everything. I’m the nerd and he’s the free spirit with our money (according to Dave Ramsey). I use my left brain and he uses his right brain. I’m type A; he’s type B. I’m organized and realistic; he’s random and spontaneous. I cannot relax; he always relaxes. I’m an early bird and he’s a night owl.  My life motto would be, “My calendar is my best friend; his would be, “What’s a calendar?” I think you get my point.

It truly is funny how opposites attract and even more amazing that we can even live in the same house. Oh, we have had quite the arguments over our differences. That’s for sure. Me, being a little A LOT controlling…something God has been teaching me to let go of the past 6 years of our marriage. And we definitely are rubbing off of each other; I’m staying up later to relax and he’s living by OUR calendar. Yet, by God’s grace and plan for putting us together, it’s amazing to see how God has used our differences to work together to further His will.

In relation to the production of The War Within, our talents and abilities were used in quite contrast. Brett was in front of the camera, directing the cast and crew, and calling all the shots. His right brain and “creative juices” were flowing at full blast.  I was no where near the camera, the editing process, or anything creative.  My left brain was on high alert with organizing everything and anything, most particularly the shot order. Brett gave me the shots that needed to be filmed that day, and after assessing the camera angles, equipment needed, and time allotment, I put them in the order that was most time and work efficient.  I loved it. Give me something to organize, and I’ll have that smile and look on my face where my “organizing juices” are flowing freely!  Then on the set, I was always a step ahead of everyone informing the cast and crew what was coming next.


Envy: “the feeling of wanting to have what someone else has”

To be completely honest, I had bouts of envy throughout the production. Everyone admires and praises the people in front of the camera, but what about the people behind the camera? When I would tell people outside the film project what I was doing, specifically that I was a producer, a common statement I received was (as they laughed), “What does a producer do? I’ve always wondered.”  My response was, “What does a producer NOT do?” Ok, maybe that was Emotion’s response, but I was polite in my reply.

I told Brett my struggles and he helped me through it. After all, there would be no “in front of the camera” work if there was no “behind the camera” first. It was definitely one area that Satan was trying to make me feel less superior than Brett. He also was distracting me from the reason why we were making the film. Here I was moping that I was not creative and talented in acting and filmmaking, instead of focusing on the fact that God gave me specific talents that are just as important in order to complete the film.

Hollywood and our culture has put actors, singers, dancers, even inventors and pretty much anything in the arts on a platform, literally. I mean, they don’t have an American Idol for organizers do they?   (Well, maybe they have shows for those people on HGTV or TLC but surely not on prime time ABC).

Another question I received throughout production, and if you didn’t ask me, you most likely were wondering it: what was it like for me to watch Brett acting with another woman as his on-screen wife?  At first I wasn’t bothered at all. I love Rebecca, the actress who plays Brett’s wife. She is so joyful and Christ shines through her. We instantly became very close friends.  I wasn’t around for the touchy/feely/emotional scenes they had together. One, because I had a 9 month old to take care of so I wasn’t on the set 24/7, but also because Brett and I talked about it beforehand and thought it would be best for us both not to have me around so there wouldn’t be any discomfort. Of course I had no fear that they would become one of those acting couples like happens in Hollywood. After all, there were about 30-50 people on set making them accountable! Ha!  What happened though is that I became envious of Rebecca because deep down I wanted to be her. I desired to be able to act so well that I fit the part of Amy and play Brett’s wife. I desired the admiration and praises. Again, Satan knew my weaknesses and was aiming his fiery darts perfectly. I had to resist the devil so he would flee from me. The Lord had to humble me throughout the process. He has given each person unique talents and abilities to complete His will and further the gospel.  He’ll only use those who are humble but not proud.

As we close this chapter of filmmaking, we look forward to the next chapter. (Brett and his dad are currently writing the next script!)  We now know that we must be obedient always, no matter the cost. We will continue to have faith as He leads us once again into the unknown.  And if we don’t use our talents, then God will take them away, or we might be swallowed by a fish.  So if that means that my name and face will always be behind the camera while Brett is in front, then Lord let it be done. After all, Brett and I work the best as a team; two opposites coming together to complete what God has called us to do.

I can’t wait for the next film production! Well…maybe I can wait a little longer…


From the Perspective of a Filmmaker’s Wife – Part 1


Brett barged through our apartment door slightly out of breath. “I had a vision,” he tells me.

Hmmm. Like Paul had a vision of Jesus on his way to Damascus? I thought.  Brett was coming back from dropping off a Redbox DVD at Walmart before 9pm, which was located next to our apartment complex.

I guess Jesus can reveal himself to us anywhere.

“Ok.” I said instead of revealing my thoughts.  When Brett has his “creative juices” flowing, as he likes to call them, it’s better for me to sit back and listen.

“When I was running to Walmart, I had a vision of Heart running down a hallway.  And then Emotion levitating in the air!”

“Ok.”   Brett has that slight smile and look on his face when I know his right brain is racing a million miles a second. His eyes are wide and he looks at me aching for approval for his creative idea.

He had just recently finished editing The Board, and he was on to the next idea.

I let his “creative juices” flow freely, and now over 5 years later, I’m sitting in front of the TV watching the character Memory, instead of Heart, running down the hallway of the soul, opening the door of Mind’s Theater, and lo and behold, Emotion levitating in the air screaming.

For those who do not know what I’m talking about (although I’m pretty sure you do if you have been paying any attention to our lives the past few years), this is a scene from The War Within.  And now (finally) it’s finished and you can purchase your copy here!

For those who have been paying attention to the production of The War Within, you may be asking, “What took so long?”  Yeah, I know.  Why did it take so long to get here?  Well, for all the reasons it’s taken 4 years from the first draft of the script to the final copy of the DVD in our hands, it sure has been a learning experience.  This was our first endeavor creating a feature film, and the Lord wanted to not only teach us about faith, but also all the do’s and dont’s of starting a non-profit film company, House of Grace Films, and producing a film.

Brett could probably list a thousand lessons that he has learned as Executive Director of HG Films and being the writer, director, producer, editor, AND actor of The War Within, but I thought I’d sit down and write some lessons from my perspective. You know…the WIFE of an Executive Director and director, producer….etc…

Obedience: “O-B-E-D-I-E-N-C-E…Obedience is the very best way to know that you believe! “

It was only a couple weeks before we were married when Brett got a job. He applied for several jobs: a TV station in Illinois? Door closed. A video editing company in Fishers, Indiana? Door closed. A biblical church in Jacksonville, Florida? Door closed. A mega church in Texas? Door closed. The Indianapolis Star as a photo editor?  Door open – at least part way, since it was only a part-time position.  Brett had all this talent as a filmmaker, yet he was working part-time editing pictures.  Why Lord? And of course to widen the blow to his ego, his wife, me of course, was the main provider. Not the way we had in mind starting our marriage.   And THEN, after about six months he was let go because they couldn’t afford the part-time employees.  Again, why Lord?

Well, because God then opened the door so wide that in the next 20 months he was able to start House of Grace Films. During that time, Brett and his dad started the writing process of The War Within.  If we were in Jacksonville, Florida (which was a high possibility) or in Illinois, or if he had a full-time position somewhere, anywhere, HG Films may not exist and The War Within may not have happened by now.

From the moment Brett finished The Board, he knew his mission in this life: to preach the gospel through filmmaking. During those first couple years, we had more questions than answers. There was no money to start a film company and not a lot of knowledge, but God told Brett this is what His will was for him, so he obeyed.  Brett could have fervently looked for a job anywhere in the country after he was let go from The Indianapolis Star, but he didn’t. He actually started his personal business, Timeless Pictures, filming weddings to make some money. But other than that, we had peace that God had us right were he wanted us. Even if that meant I was the main provider, and we didn’t have a lot of money to buy big toys, big houses, big cars, big adventures like our American culture says we must have to be happy. (In fact, we paid off all our debt – $18,000 from my school loans – by the time Brett started House of Grace Films. I believe this was possible by God’s grace and because we were obedient to God).

Brett was obedient to God’s calling and as a result lives are changing by the power of the Gospel through his films.  Are you being obedient to the mission God has called you to do on this earth?

Faith:  “Mind, where is your faith?”

This is a line that Heart asks Mind in the film. And it’s a question our own hearts should be asking.  Where’s your faith? What’s your faith in?  government? a president? our military? money? a great career? your spouse? your obedient kids? None of these things would have helped us get to where we are today.  All of those things are like a vapor. Here and then gone.  But God is eternal. He’s the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  He’s the one who helped us raise over half a million dollars to make this film. He is who Brett and I had to get on our knees and cry out to when we had no idea what we were doing.

I’ve heard Brett and his dad talking recently about how if someone told them at the very beginning all that would have happened to get the film completed, they probably would have given up from the start. There was no way they could raise $500,000…get all the hundreds of people to volunteer…work all those hours upon hours…

This is why God doesn’t tell us everything we are going to go through ahead of time when He asks us to do something. Many of us would say, “No way, God.” Like Jonah did when God asked him to preach repentance to the city of Ninevah. And you probably know the story… Jonah got swallowed up by a fish and was spat out 3 days later.  No, thank you. Maybe it is best we don’t know and we immediately obey God’s calling.

As I said above, Brett has been called to preach the gospel through filmmaking. He had no idea what he was doing at first, and that’s why we had to have faith that God would work everything out for His good and His glory. And 4 years later, we are starting to see the fruit of our faith and obedience to God.

BandC PremiereIMG_1423


Stay strong…


This is Brett Varvel and it’s my first time writing on the Varvelicious Blog. I cannot compare to the INCREDIBLE writing talent of my wife, but I wanted to share my perspective about the recent news of our son’s condition. If you haven’t read my wife’s recent post about this you should start there, Your Baby has a 1-in-3 chance of having Down’s Syndrome so you can get a background for this post.

Christina and I sat quietly waiting for the Genetic Counselor after we just received the truck load of what-ifs from the OB specialist. “Duodenal Atresia, Down’s Syndrome, Stay strong… Heart Disease, additional Intestinal problems, Stay strong.” Those two words continued to repeat in my head. I felt numb. I felt confused. However, I didn’t want Christina to see that. I felt that I had to be strong for her.

The next two days were the hardest. I felt pain and was stricken with guilt for feeling that way. I know God is Sovereign. I know He is in control. I know that He loves my son more than I ever could and that however He created Damon was perfect. However, I couldn’t shake the fear. I couldn’t resist the urge to research (even though we were advised not to do so). I wanted answers and as a father I wanted to fix the problems. The thought of my newborn son being cut open to fix a defective portion of his intestines was so overwhelming that I couldn’t handle it. At the moment when my emotions were so great and I thought the floodgates of my soul were going to be opened, I would quiet myself and hold it in. “Stay strong!” However, fear is stubborn and wouldn’t go away. I began to worry about finances, the hospital bills, fathering our two year old daughter, being there for Christina, and staying close to the Lord.

As the days passed, I was working from home a lot trying to finish a freelance project and my daughter, Kherington, was testing me and Christina to a whole new level. It seemed as if she was prompted by Satan to behave at her worst during this trying time. Again those words came back… “Stay strong!” I tried to keep calm and discipline in a Godly manner. The harder I tried to win the battles with Kher, the more I felt like I was losing. One night at my parents house, Kher threw the biggest temper tantrum I have ever seen from her. I felt lost, confused, and scared. We got her calmed down enough to get her in the car, but the battle continued when we got home. I began to wonder if spanking was doing anything at all. I was searching for a glimmer of repentance before I gave up. Finally, I saw something that resembled repentance and knew it was time for bed. We put her in bed and I crawled into bed with her. Christina and I performed the nightly routine (singing songs and praying), Christina kissed her goodnight, but I stayed in the bed with her. Christina closed the door and I held my daughter to my chest. I prayed for my daughter’s salvation, for strength, for peace, for His will to be done and for the fear to be taken away. Tears began to form in my eyes and I heard those words again… “Stay strong!” Only this time I heard something else, “Let me be strong for you.” I knew that the Lord was speaking to me. He was telling me that He is in control, that He is strong in my weakness, and that He will be glorified through this. I began to lay all of my fears and worries at the feet of Jesus, but didn’t feel free from the circumstance. I kissed Kher on the forehead and she placed her hand on my cheek. I told her that I loved her and she nodded her head, Yes.

I went into my bedroom and sat on the bed. I realized that I didn’t feel free because I had not let go of one final fear. This fear had been lingering since the day we first heard that Damon would be having surgery… I was afraid my son was going to die. Christina came up and placed her hands on my shoulders and asked me if I was OK. I grabbed her belly and began to weep. I couldn’t stay strong anymore. Through my sobbing I begged God to protect my son, and I asked him to free me of this fear. I praised the Lord for giving this incredible GIFT (Damon) to us because it was a gift that we don’t deserve. I realized that no matter what the outcome that God would be glorified through this situation. It was in that moment of weakness where I finally felt strong.

As Christina mentioned in her post, we began feeling the prayers of the saints. It’s really hard to put into words, but I knew our loved ones were crying out to Jesus on our behalf. The peace of our Lord began to wash over me, and I realized that I was being given an opportunity to point others to Christ through this trial.

In my most recent film “The War Within,” we challenge the audience to believe that God is Enough. That in the best moments and the darkest moments of life, He is Sovereign and Loving. In this trial of uncertainty I was given the opportunity to live out the very message I was trying to share with the world. However, it’s easy to tell others what they need to do in these moments and it’s entirely different to live it out. We always want to see a miracle. We always want to see God at work… That is until the situation happens to us. In that moment of brokenness I gained a better perspective on our situation. That is, I gained a revived eternal perspective. God is Enough. He is all I need and He knows what is best for me and my family.

Finally, after the longest two weeks ever, we learned that our son is at low-risk for Down’s Syndrome and Heart Disease. Aside from the surgery he will have, he appears to be a perfectly healthy baby boy. I Praise GOD for this answer to prayer! I have been able to reflect and meditate on why God let this happen. While I don’t have all the answers yet, I do know that in these past two weeks I have grown closer to the Lord then I have been in years. I Love Him more. I am more thankful for the little things in life and I have a deeper compassion for those with Special Needs. They are a beautiful creation and gift from our Creator. I also have grown deeper in love with my wife and children. I am a very blessed man and don’t deserve them. However God, in his infinite grace and mercy has blessed me with my family.

Last week we met with the pediatric surgeon and visited the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where we will be spending a few weeks with our son. At this point all signs point to a normal delivery. Praise God! Once he is born he will be cleaned up and prepped in his NICU bed. They will do tests to confirm his duodenal atresia diagnosis. Our family will get some brief time with him before his surgery, which will take place sometime between 24-48 hours after birth.  After his surgery, it is pretty much going to be a waiting game. The time it will take for him to heal and be able to eat is not set in stone and will depend on when the intestine starts to work again. Christina and I are so blessed to be able to have such a great medical team surround us and help us through this period in our lives.

My life verse is Proverbs 16:9: “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Was this my plan? Absolutely not. Now all I can do is continue to rest in the Lord and wait patiently on His timing. I can’t wait to hold my son and tell him that I love him. Christina and I continue to covet your prayers.




Spring Break in San Antonio


Brett and I were able to get away for a long weekend in San Antonio, Texas in March.  Brett has been once, but I had never been to the city. San Antonio is beautiful! We got some Texas warmth and a break from the Indiana freezing winter.

Before I get to the main reason we went to San Antonio, here are some pics of us visiting the Alamo. It was a good review in history, and I must confess it made me want to go brush up on some American history!

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Since I’ve been craving meat this entire pregnancy…We had a date night at

Fogo de Chao.


We went to San Antonio to attend the Christian Worldview Film Festival.  It was the first year of this particular film festival, and The War Within was selected as one of the feature films.  The film was shown 3 times. Here is Brett answering questions at one of the showings.


After each of the showings, Brett probably answered questions for at least 10-15 minutes, and then people came up to us afterwards to continue asking more questions and complimenting the film.

Brett had the great opportunity to meet our Sales Agent for the War Within: Rich Christiano. He’s a very successful Christian filmmaker who shares our passion: reaching people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are very blessed to have him a part of this project.

IMG_3263Here we are right before the awards ceremony. IMG_2944

We were eligible for 4 awards at this film festival.  Brett kept telling me not to get my hopes up so I wouldn’t be disappointed if we didn’t win anything. However as I sat there before the ceremony started, I thought and prayed, “Surely, Lord, we will win at least 1?!”

There were a total of 13 awards presented. The Best Trailer award was the third award handed out. And sure enough, The War Within won it!  If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, see it here.

Then we sat off to the side as the rest of the awards were handed out.  The last 3 awards were Best Feature Film, Best Gospel Presentation, and Audience Choice Award.  And yes, as you may already know, The War Within won all three.

CWFF 2 CWFFWe were humbled by all 4 awards.  In our opinion, the best award we received was the Gospel Presentation award. That means that the gospel was clear, and that was our goal when making the film.  I must say, we were a little embarrassed to have received all 4 awards, especially the last 3 in a row. Yet, when we walked to the platform for the 4th time for the Audience Choice Award, the audience gave us a standing ovation.  But all praise and glory goes to God!!!  They were standing for Him and what He has done through our willingness to follow and obey His leading.


The entire trip was overwhelming, to say the least. The response was so positive and encouraging; we walked away speechless and in awe of God’s goodness and confirmation that we are following His will.  We were also thankful to have met so many people. What moved us the most was those who asked us to pray with them because the film touched them in some way.  One teenager wanted to pray with Brett because he felt like he was Michael in the film; his relationship with Christ was more of the Mind rather the Heart.  A woman came to me in tears asking me to pray for her husband who after 20 years of pastoring, has walked away from Jesus and her family.

This is why Brett and I are involved in this ministry of Christian filmmaking: to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to change hearts towards Him.  And this is only the beginning!  We continue to pray and wait on the Lord’s timing as we begin the process of marketing and distribution. If you haven’t already, “Like” our page on Facebook: The War Within Movie or follow us on Twitter: @TWWmovie.          You will receive updates on distribution, how you can get a screening at your church this Summer, and when and where you can buy the movie when it is released (probably Fall 2014)!

Pray with us please.  And if you feel led to give to the project financially, go to the House of Grace Films website for more information.

Oh, and we had to purchase a bag to fit all our awards for the plane trip back!


A kid was so excited about the film that he went home and made Lego men out of the 6 soul members in the film!


(Conscience, Heart, Will, Memory, Mind, Emotion)

To see what my friend Megan’s up to this Spring, check her blog out at Meg’s Five.

Emanuel ~ “God with Us”


{Since Brett and I have been married, it has been tradition to send a Christmas picture card with a letter updating our family and friends on the blessing and trials that occurred that year. However, this year we decided to use our blog to inform our loved ones due to the fact that we will be sending out birth announcements in May!}

Immanuel : Emmanuel : Emanuel ~ “God with us”

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” ~ Isaiah 7:14

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” ~ Matthew 1:23

Another year has come and gone. We have become a year older; Kherington has grown physically, mentally, emotionally; we’ve said goodbye to our beautiful dog, Faith; an addition to the Varvel family is on its way; we’ve finished a feature film; ran a half-marathon; faced financial uncertainty; laughed; loved; fought; cried; prayed.  And through it all, one thing has and always will remain: “God with us!”

While the production of The War Within occurred throughout 2012, post-production has been the focus of 2013. Brett has spent thousands of hours editing, applying visual effects (which include rotoscoping, 3D animation, visual effects composition, 3D title work, and special effects), and working with the talented artists at Aire Born Studios for the music, sound effects, and dialogue of The War Within. Brett and his brother, Drew, did what hundreds of people do to complete a film.  On June 8th, we premiered the film to all cast, crew, and donors at the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s Tobias Theater.


Then on June 26th, we presented the movie to the rest of our church body, encouraging them to invite family and friends. About 800 people attended. After premiering the film twice, The War Within has proven to have a deep impact on those who have seen it. God is at work with this film! We know of at least 5 people who have accepted Christ as their personal Savior, and so many Christians whose lives have been changed by viewing this film. Praise God!


Since then, Brett has been fine-tuning the film to its final release state.  He has had the privilege of working with elite musicians to record the film’s score. He also had the exciting opportunity to work with Visual Effects Artists in North Carolina and GREECE! We are close to signing with domestic and foreign distribution companies to release the film on DVD. We are praying that churches across the country will have exhibitions of the film to help spread the message in the movie “God is all you need.” Please pray with us that the Lord will lead us to the right production company to distribute the film with the same mission as House of Grace Films: to further spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, nationally and internationally. Watch the trailer here.


After the June 8th premiere, Brett and I escaped to a romantic cabin in the Smoky Mountains of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee for a few days. (The location was a complete surprise to me until we pulled up to the cabin!) It had been a rough few months leading up to the premiere as Brett had been locked in his office working long hours while I played the role of “single mom” at home. Needless to say, we immensely enjoyed the peace away from the stress and demands at home.


In July, we loaded up the van and headed to Outer Banks, SC for the Osenni Family Reunion. Grandma and Grandpa Osenni celebrated their 80th birthdays and 60th wedding anniversary. All 23 adults and 7 children stayed in a massive beach house. It has been several years since the entire family was together! What a blessing to celebrate my grandparents’ lives and marriage because of their unconditional love to another. Not only does our family share an earthly heritage but also a spiritual one because of my grandparents’ faith and perseverance in Jesus Christ.

MasterFamilyCompI have continued to enjoy the title of SAHM (stay-at-home-mom), while working very part time as the Nutritionist/Wellness Advisor for Peru Community Schools in Peru, Indiana. I had the privilege this semester to teach over 700 3rd-6th grade students the importance of eating healthy.  I have learned that I cannot be Super Woman and juggle all my responsibilities, so after 5 years of working at Health and Nutrition Technology I decided to step down from my Health Educator position, although sub as needed.  A goal I have always had is to run a half-marathon. The timing of my life seemed right, so after many miles and hours of training (and developing an Osgood-Schlatter on my knee), I finished the Geist Half-Marathon in May.  It truly was a great feeling, even hobbling across the finish line in pain and rain!

geistKherington has grown significantly this past year, not only physically but mentally. By the time she turned 2 years old in October, she is able to recite and recognize on paper her ABC’s and sound each letter out.  We might have a reader on our hands like her Mommy. Her vocabulary has exploded and some of her favorite phrases are: “O my goodness.”; “What IS that?; “Oh, come on!”; “Mommy, let’s go!”; “Awesome!”  She makes funny faces like her Daddy, and her laugh brings so much joy to our home. We love her more and more each day. We are cherishing every moment with her before our lives soon change…


In May, Lord willing, we will be bringing our second child into the world. We found out the week before Christmas that we are having a boy.  Deep down we had hoped for a boy, but either gender would have been a blessing. All I ask is that he better look like his Mommy!!! 🙂

GenderReveal5x7And his name shall be called, Damon Emanuel Varvel. Emanuel: God with us. Emanuel is my Dad’s and Grandpa Osenni’s middle name. Emanuel with one “m” is the Italian spelling. Either way, Emanuel: God with us.

As I close this Christmas Letter (Blog), may I ask, is God with you?  Our prayer is that if you have not chosen to accept Emanuel, Jesus Christ, as your Lord and Savior, that this 2014 year will be when God is with you now and for all eternity.

All our love,

Brett, Christina, Kherington Mae, and Damon Emanuel (in the womb)


To read what the Lord has done with my friend, Megan, and her beautiful family this past year, check out her blog, Meg’s Five.