Summer Project 2017

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Diligent

“Patience and diligence, like faith, move mountains.”

2 Peter 1:10 – Therefore, brethren be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble.

Ashley has such a bright personality. From her beautiful smile to her sparkling eyes and giggly demeanor, it is not hard to believe that she is a kindergarten teacher. Teaching children brings her joy. She loves guiding, caring, and instructing young minds just on the cusp of this journey called life. It’s not a stretch to understand that she loves her role as a wife, and young mother, so much more. There is a gentleness within her soul that leans gracefully into these roles.But even though it is very rare to catch Ashley without a smile, there was a period in her life that was plagued with doubt, hurt, confusion, and dejection.

zeVYWlaTSQ6oRc3rLm0J3w_thumb_aebGrowing up in a Christian home, Ashley knew the Lord. Attending Catholic high school she was exposed to an expansive amount of the Word, but it wasn’t until she was an adult that she began to walk with the Lord intimately. It was during that time the Lord showed Ashley how to pray with intentionality and diligence for the hopes and desires that He had put within her. She did so for her future husband and the two met soon afterward. However, this lesson was tested the most during her trials with infertility.

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Ashley went to years without knowing what was wrong with her body and it wasn’t until she went to an OB-GYN that a friend recommended that she was able to finally have a diagnosis. He told her she suffered from PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and while having the peace of mind that comes with knowing what’s wrong, it didn’t cure her difficulty with getting pregnant. But it wasn’t until Ashley became so spiritually and emotionally desperate that the Lord answered her prayers in a miraculous way.

Ashley was determined to hang on to her promise. Her answer didn’t come without heartbroken tears and disappointment felt so keenly that it hurt physically. Her trial did not come without isolation and it did not come without shame. But, Ashley still held onto the faithfulness of the Lord, on His gentleness and concern for her. She chose to firmly grasp His promise until it became real. Her diligence was rewarded. She is now a mother to a beautiful, healthy baby girl.

Ashley is a mother. Ashley is a nurturer. And just as she has been diligent with other’s children, she will be so with her own. Teaching, guiding, caring; just as her Father has done for her.

 

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Lilly

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Tenacious

“It does not matter as slowly you go as long as you don’t stop.”

“It does not matter as slowly you go as long as you don’t stop.”

Romans 12:12 – Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Lily has this magnetic quality surrounding her. She draws people in with a sweet smile and her eyes carry the weight of understanding. She loves deeply, she loves fiercely. And she chooses her words with care. It’s not because English is her second language, but because she wants every statement to make an impact and plant truth.

Lily never truly knew her father. She was raised by women – specifically her grandmother. She had no experience – no understanding – of what a kind and loving father was supposed to look like. Photo Sep 02, 9 47 00 AMIt wasn’t until her twenties that Lily initially began her relationship with the Lord. She was living the life of partying on Saturday and going to church on Sunday when suddenly she felt convicted. The Lord wanted her to choose and she chose to stay with Him. However, that didn’t take away the years of mistrust towards father-figures, and Lily was having trouble trusting God with the depth of her heart. But because God knows us all so well, He showed Lily what she needed to be able to place her heart fully into His hands. Since that moment, her relationship with the Lord has never been the same. Her trust now springs easily from her soul where once a desert had been.

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She has always been a fighter, though. “Quit” exists nowhere in her vocabulary, Spanish or English. Now, as a mom, she fights for her children and those that she loves on her knees. Through prayer, she places them repeatedly into His hands. Her life is a testimony of trust. Currently, Lily is afflicted with chronic pain that some days completely zaps her of her strength, but she carries on – the fire of God burning within her soul. She knows pain but chooses trust time and time and time again. She clings tightly to the knowledge that what she is enduring right now is something that God has planned. She has seen him turn the wreckage of hurt into a beautiful landscape. She knows He will do it again.

Photo Sep 02, 11 08 23 AMThis causes her to spread the love of Jesus, easily, with everyone she meets. God brought her in and took care of all her needs through the most difficult years of her life. This spurs her to help in whatever way she can when someone comes to her with a need. She does so with love and with joy. Lily wants to share the wonderfulness of God with whoever will listen.

 

 


Lauren

Graceful

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“Grace in women has more effect than beauty.”

Ephesians 4:7 – But to each of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.

Lauren’s demeanor is as gentle as the breeze. Her voice is sweet and her words carry light and encouragement. She chooses to never say negative things and kindness is her natural deferment. Artistic and creative, as only artists can be, she uses her talents to speak for her, to carry her message beyond human ears and into the hearts and souls of all that come in contact with her work. Because Lauren is so soft-spoken, she dealt with finding her footing as a teenager.

Lauren stands apart, marked by her gentle spirit, and this was difficult yUfVWXXlSyW8AuC4GL%omA_thumb_bdbespecially during high school and young adulthood when to make an impact you had to look and behave a certain way. It was difficult to be pushed to the sidelines and ignored because she didn’t shout the loudest. But in her time of social withdrawal, the Lord drew her close and showed her the beauty of His character.

Though it was tempting, Lauren never cowed to the social expectations. She learned to embrace who she is, fully; understanding that God was making a path for her. She discovered that there is joy and deep purpose in following your own drumbeat. And she saw she needed to extend her kindness to those on the outskirts – the people that are friendless, nameless, voiceless to the crowd. She befriended the ones that many would just ignore. And her inclusiveness to those unseen made a world of difference.

7wCBJ3VDQKqBnZUyrlY%jA_thumb_be9Her time set apart hasn’t lessened the calling on her life to be a leader. Determined now, more than ever, Lauren is pushing past her fears to become the woman of boldness the Lord has deemed her. Though it may seem impossible, Lauren is concretely resolved to stand for her God, her beliefs, and the people God sends her way. His plan is so intricate, God is using every piece of Lauren’s personality to reach those that are constantly forgotten or erased from the minds of busy people; she stands in the gap for the rejected. And this is an awe-inspiring role. Lauren is allowing herself to be the paintbrush in her Father’s hand.

Smile bright, Lauren’s beauty takes your breath away. For those that take the time to listen to what she has to say, you will find that the wisdom, kindness, and gentleness of God run deep within her. Graceful she is and graceful she will ever be.

 

 


Madison

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Resilient

“When I peeled back the layers I found a beautiful resilience inside. This is how I know I’ll always thrive.”

Isaiah 33:6 – And he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure.

 

Madison is absolutely the cutest person you may ever meet. With a smile that reaches from ear to ear, she greets everyone with a genuine compliment. Encouragement is a pillar of her character and she leaves people feeling better about themselves after she leaves.

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Madison is a nurturer – she longs to take care of people and heal the broken things inside of them. This has manifested outwardly in her choice of profession. Currently, in nursing school, she is making great strides towards becoming a flight nurse. This is a specific field wherein nurses are a part of the teams of first-responders sent out in helicopters. She hopes one day to take her skills on the mission field.

However, her road has been a very tough one. Feeling deeply the betrayals of close friends and family as a teenager, she found solace in the party scene. These partying days damaged her body and left doctors puzzled as to the diagnosis.

 

She was invited to a youth retreat and went, simply just to go. But the Lord had bigger plans that she could ever imagine. One of the speakers there called her out – not knowing anything about her- and Madison encountered the Holy Spirit for the first time in her entire life. Not only that, she was completely healed from that moment on and her life has never been the same.

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Yet, the road has still been bumpy for Madison. People she trusted and relied on proved themselves to be untrustworthy. Then one night, not too long ago, she has decided she had had enough. Madison sat in her car, pouring her heart out to the Lord. She was determined to hear from Him and so waited and waited to hear from Him.

But, the Lord didn’t answer her. Heartbroken and feeling utterly abandoned she drove to the hospital to begin her clinical shift. But when her phone connected to the hospital’s wifi, the Lord has something waiting on her.

God has this amazing love for Madison where He shows up in these very real and tangible ways. Beautiful and full of conviction, Madison lives her life in the pursuit of Him. Her lifetime goals show how His love pours through her. Her future is bright. She is honest and brave and while her past held some tough battles there seems to be nothing she can’t overcome, with the Lord’s help. Also, Madison is quite the jokester!

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Sherie

zC3hzaYeQN2klXahj+4wIw_thumb_a65Grateful

“It is not happy people that are thankful. It’s thankful people that are happy.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 – In every thing give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

When Sherie walks into a room it is with a softly cradled grace. She is a woman who understands her life is not her own. She greets everyone with a smile and with genuine happiness that she is alive. Children are drawn to her and her soft words help understand difficult lessons that may be hard to learn. She dreams one day of opening a daycare where she can instruct her students not only in academic excellence but also in the knowledge of who God is and what He calls them to be.

UNADJUSTEDRAW_thumb_a26However, Sherie did not always know the Father as she knows Him now. As a young woman, she entered into relationships trying to find the thing she did not know was lacking from her life. But none of her love interests seemed to truly work out and the break-ups left her devastated and broken hearted.

One particular week, the heartbreak was so depleting, Sherie had to force herself get out of bed and get ready for work. She hurt so deeply that she kept telling herself she would go out to her car on her lunch break and cry. But, when it came time for her break, a co-worker kept her from her goal. Happy about life he simply kept talking to her. Unbeknownst to him, he was drawing her out of her depression; keeping her from wallowing. When she finally made it outside the weather was perfect with the sun shining brightly. And Sherie noticed then that the Lord was beckoning her. He wanted her away from the heartache and was speaking to her in ways she would most notice.

0WwFvsN%Sx+A2OFrl3zoyQ_thumb_a5cSince that time, Sherie’s life has looked very different. It hasn’t been without trials and difficulty, but she now knows it is all for a purpose. Thankfulness flows from Sherie like a babbling brook and she is hyper-aware of the goodness of God upon her life. She is a wonderful, expressive story-teller and when you get a chance to sit down and listen to the entirety of her life story, the largest thing you take away from her is her genuine, deeply rooted love for her Heavenly Father. Sherie carries a vibrant thankfulness of the grace given to her bursting from the knowledge of how the Lord intervened in her life and made her into a new creation. Gratitude graces her lips continually. Sherie inadvertently charges her listeners to do the same.

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