When life hands you lemons… Make Grape Juice!

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Now before anyone gets any ideas this post isn’t going to be about making any kind of juice! I just feel that, that was the perfect title for this awesome woman I’m going to be introducing y’all to today!  I’m so excited to introduce my beautiful friend to you today that I can barely slow down my typing right now, so excuse any and all typos now! This girl is full of life, sass, and all that good stuff; her name is Dani, and seriously she’s just awesome. So I’m not even going to bother condensing her awesomeness into one paragraph and then elaborating, I’m just gonna spill it all!

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I had the blessing of meeting Dani back in April when my summer project team met for our Briefing weekend. Dani had a really calm, and chill vibe about her that I loved. I find that I really gravitate towards people like that, maybe because I’m anything but that! Dani was pretty new to the world of our organization and really just submerged herself into all of it. That’s something that I love about her, with anything, she just dives in. I really admire that about her and I know it’ll take her far in her walk!

From the beginning I knew I would have a special bond with Dani. She just has this light about her that thrives for more, more knowledge, more grace, more truth, more EVERYTHING! Dani was always asking questions, and wanting… more! It wasn’t something I had ever experienced before, and I loved it. Dani and I were very similar in our love for others. She and I have experienced similar things, but in very different ways. It’s one of the main ways we bonded, and got to know and love one another. However our first real bonding experience came from something I wrote about last week, you got it, Les Miserables! Dani sat with me that night and we watched the entire movie. At the end of it I was in tears and Dani just laughed at me in shock as to how I reacted. It was the first time that she and I had time to really get to know each other. And it was awesome!

Now in accordance to the title, Dani totally lives this way and to say I love that would be a sinful understatement! Dani is such a go with the flow person that it just makes me smile. She is so down to just do whatever, even get lost for an hour just to look for a cafe so we can hangout with our Father. It was awesome. Dani was my adventure buddy. We were always down to decode the city, and in many ways get lost while doing it. She is always so willing to just let herself be free and live life. It’s seriously inspiring.

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While we were in Central Asia our team decided to that we wanted to help our Father find at least one new member to join our team. We hoped for it, and met with students and thought hard on all of them. Dani had the beautiful opportunity to meet with a girl all summer. Dani lived life with this girl, and poured into her relentlessly. There were even moments when Dani would come home and be so uncertain as to where this girl stood, but Dani never lost hope, she never lost faith, she wanted more! After six weeks of radical faith on Dani’s part this beautiful girl decided to join our team! I remember seeing the look on Dani’s face after this beautiful girl decided to join our family, and of course I cried. I grabbed Dani and just hugged her for a little while. Not only was a life changed that day, but I know Dani was forever changed from that experience!

Dani has a heart like one I don’t know that I’ve ever seen before. She loves people so well, and is willing to be there with them, and be honest with them. Because of Dani’s obedience and love for her Father, we have a new sister! It’s something I hope Dani never forgets!

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Dani is someone who I am beyond thankful to have in my life! She has a heart that is willing to serve and love, and make grape juice when all life can offer her is lemons. She’s searching for truth daily, and longs to know more about her Heavenly Father! It is so beautiful and I can’t wait to be reunited with this beautiful girl. She impacted my life in ways that I can only hope I impacted hers. She taught me about relentless obedience, servitude, loving others, and seeking redemption from the only one who can truly offer it! She is being redeemed everyday and it shows. She is so willing to go wherever she is called, and at any moment. I know for sure that if someone offered her a plane ticket to wherever in the world right now, she’d be packed and ready to go in half an hour (maybe less). This girls got it, and I can’t wait to see where she goes in her life. I just hope that I get to be with her through a lot of it! Maybe not in person but at least in spirit!

If you don’t love this girl by now you’re just plain crazy! Because she’s the best!

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Dani, I love you, and I can’t thank our Father enough for bringing you on our team, and loving me like you did! You taught me so much and I can’t wait to learn more. I of course wish you the best in whatever you’re called too. I pray our paths cross again, and maybe we’ll get to go back to Central Asia again some day (fingers crossed)! But regardless know I’m thinking of you always and until we meet again I love you to the moon and back. You’re awesome and our Fathers even more awesome for putting you in my life! I love you, and am forever changed because I got to know you and love you!

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Where Chains will Never Bind You

Well hello readers! I am so excited, and overjoyed to share with you today. This will be the first installment of my recapping of my time in Central Asia, and it will be a potential tear jerker; So, grab the tissues. Alright then, let’s begin!!

So for some of you musical nerds you may have noticed that the title of this post comes from a beautiful film, and broadway classic, Les Miserables. I had the beautiful pleasure of getting to watch this beautiful movie while I was on project. One night my beautiful housemate Dani offered to watch it with me since I had never seen it. It was nearly 10:30pm but we committed! So Dani and I ventured to our living room, and camped out for the long haul. For those of you who don’t know this movie is almost two and a half hours long. But we didn’t care, we were dedicated.

From the beginning I was absolutely captivated by the film. The acting, music, plot line, and just everything! It was phenomenal! Watching it I was constantly in awe, and disbelief that a film could be this good. The lyrics to every song reigned with beautiful truth, and grace. I can’t count how many times I saw the gospel beautifully and clearly displayed in the course of those two and a half hours. Seriously, it was perfect!

Now many of you are probably wondering what the heck does this movie have to do with my time in Central Asia, well I’ll tell you. Les Miserables is set to take place during the time of the of the French Revolution. People felt oppressed, lost, and in chains. There was no freedom, there was no way for them to live, except in chains! That is on Earth any ways!

THIS IS MY SPOILER ALERT! DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU!

In the end on this movie we see the death of the main character. This man saw a life that in the beginning was over run with guilt, and despair. He needed saving! So he takes a huge leap of faith and trust God, and allows Him to work in his life. In this trust his life is radically altered, in ways that only The Lord’s redemptive love could do so. Before the main characters death we see many who have fallen before him. Many died heroically, and  some even died saving another! (Once again, THE GOSPEL) So after the main character passes away we are directed to a scene on a huge barricade that represented heaven. People were restored, and brought back to oneness with their Heavenly Father. They sang shouts of praise, redemption, freedom, and restoration!

My absolute favorite line of the entire movie is the title to this blog! “Come with me, where chains will never bind you!” Jesus, our savior, redeemer, and lover of our souls does this daily for us. He calls to us to fall at His feet and go with Him! For when we go with Him we will find life, love, and happiness. The Lord promises this daily! All we have to do is accept it!

While in Central Asia I heard story after story of how peoples lives had been changed by the works of Christ. I heard stories of complete captivity, where the person telling it had been persecuted and even dismembered from their families, all because they chose to follow Jesus! These students told us these stories knowing that it was because of stories like theirs was why we were there! We wanted to see these students set free through the love of God!

One student that I will never forget was a beautiful girl whose life had been epically changed because of the Gospel. This student comes from a traditional Muslim family, and the slightest mention of Christianity in her house would bring backlash. Her father was 100% against defying the norm, and seeking truth. Because of this my beautiful friend couldn’t dare share that she had been attending a bible study. So she kept it a secret, and told no one. She would sneak out whenever she could to go to bible study, and learn more. She finally felt life, and redemption; and that was all she longed for. She longed to feel loved, and restored to her Heavenly Father. And she got that, she accepted Jesus as her personal Lord and savior, and began to allow The Lord to shape her life, and allow Him to make the changes He saw necessary.

After sometime her father found out about his daughter going to bible study, and he rebuked her because of it. He kicked her out of the house, and cut all ties with her. He would not support her in anyway. At this point she had no one, except Jesus. This girl clung to the love of Jesus, and allowed Him to be her comfort, and redeemer! After sometime her father allowed her to come back, but he wouldn’t support her in anyway. When it came time for her to attend University she had gotten all the money, and simply needed a ride to pay the deposit. So she asked her father, and he agreed to do so. On their way to the University the two got into a horrible accident. My sweet friend walked away with not a scratch. She got out of the car, and was fine. The same could not be said for her father. Upon impact of the accident, her father died. My friend tried to pull hr father out and help him but it was too late.

This event rocked my friends faith and wasn’t something she saw coming. She had to sort out many thoughts and feelings. She stumbled for some time, and she fell back into horrible addictions. She explained it as putting her own chains back on, and allowing herself to be enchained again. Eventually my friend came back to her faith. She said that in that time she felt that her Heavenly Father revealed to her His plan in many ways. A part of that plan was needing my friend to fully trust Him, and rely on Him. In that she said that she heard Him say, “I will take away anything that holds you back from knowing me.”

Hearing this ripped my heart into pieces. This girl had nothing, she was a new believer, and had just lost her father, now God is telling her it was in His plan!? What!? This took time for her to process, but in that time she found His ways are true and right. God calls us daily to lay anything and everything at His feet, my friend had to do that. She had to surrender, and allow God to do His work. I see her diligence, and I applaud her. This girl is one of many amazing women that helped to mold my heart for Central Asia. Her story was one of strength, and boldness, and she embraced it. She is now a national believer in Central Asia and is helping to lead others to know The Lord. It’s so beautiful to see, and be apart of.

I love that God placed this beautiful woman in my life this summer. She is seriously amazing, and her Heart for God is amazing. I wish I could show you her picture, and give you her name, but for safety and security I cannot. However I ask that you pray for this beautiful woman anyways. She has a beautiful soul, and she longs for freedom.

This woman has freedom, and is being redeemed, and restored to her Heavenly Father daily. Just like those in Les Miserables! They were redeemed, and restored! We are all being redeemed and restored, to our creator. I am overjoyed that The Lord used my team and I to do that for six weeks in Central Asia. We shared Jesus with people who wouldn’t have a chance to hear His name otherwise. I am forever changed because of this great nation.

I cannot wait to share more of my time in Central Asia with you, but for now I must continue to rest, and recuperate after a long week of kids camp, and a long day of travel! Please be praying for my beautiful friend, and the other students that we met with in Central Asia. So many of them are so close to knowing Jesus, and I could not be happier. I pray that one day if God allows me to go back that maybe some of the students I met with this summer will be full fledged believers by the time I go back! I cannot thank y’all enough for reading this blog, and supporting this ministry! Until next time 🙂

Altered State

WOW!! Hi friends, I’ve missed y’all a lot and am ecstatic to share about my incredible summer with you. It was most definitely a life changing experience, and one that I pray brought glory to the words of the gospel in ways that only the Holy Spirit could orchestrate. Central Asia has changed my heart forevermore and I can only praise my Heavenly Father for all He did over there through my team, and I. He got us there, He kept us safe, He shared His truth through us, and may all the praise be directed to Him. I am forever changed from having this amazing opportunity to love this amazing nation, and be radically changed by the love I experienced while I was there.

I will definitely not be able to share it all in one post, let’s be serious, y’all would never read it! So I’m giving myself 5 post to tell you my favorite and most intimate stories from this amazing experience. I will be telling you about the people I met, the relationships I had with people on my team, and of course I’ll be telling you of how God used me, and changed me this summer. I can’t wait to share them with you, and allow you to see how thankful I was for your prayers and your support. Without them I couldn’t have gone to this incredible nation and done what my Heavenly Father has orchestrated for me to do with my life. So don’t fret friends, I will have the first post up in just a few days. I’m still processing my life, and figuring out what stories God wants me to tell, and which ones He wants to save, but now worries this is gonna be awesome.

My prayer in sharing these stories is to bring glory to my Heavenly Father, and to share what He did. I pray that through them y’all are encouraged, and that you see the beauty in the gospel, and the power it brings. I can’t wait for y’all to hear these stories, and for you to hear about how my life has been changed forevermore. So until I bring you the stories enjoy some Instagrams to help you make it through today!

So naturally we’ll begin with an amazing sunrise!
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And then I must end with a sunset!

I cannot wait to share the rest of everything with y’all, but for now I must continue to rest, and process. I love y’all and am so blessed to have friends and loved ones like you to support me, and be on my team to complete God’s mission!