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Crowned for Legacy

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The greatest legacy leaver of all time, Jesus, gave us a great commission to go into all the world and make disciples of every nation (Matthew 28:19). He passed that charge and that baton on to each of us. In all the hats we wear and in all the lanes we run in, we share this common purpose.

We are ambassadors of Christ; love carriers to share the good news of the greatest gift to all mankind.

One of the most impactful passages by Jesus, as he spoke of the future to come as he handed off the baton to us to continue what he started, was this word which alluded to us doing even more than he was able to do in his time on the earth. He said in John 14:12-14,

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

Jesus’ goal was for us to do greater things than he had been doing. He spoke more over us than even what we saw him do in the Bible. What a beautiful, selfless legacy to desire that those who followed would walk in more.

Two other examples of great Biblical leaders who set their successors up to walk in greater things, was Elijah and the apostle Paul. Elijah took time to groom and train us Elisha. He mentored him and allowed him to experience the fullness of his ministry while he walked in his role as prophet. He didn’t just place his cloak on Elisha and send him on his way. He groomed him. He taught him what he knew. And in the end, when Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah’s anointing, God honored that request. I can only imagine God granted it, because he knew Elisha’s character was developed enough and he had the experience under his belt to walk in it wisely. Paul groomed many Christians, but his last letter was written to his son in the faith, Timothy. There he poured out all he knew and all the wisdom imparted to him on his journey of following God, and Timothy continued on in his mission to carry the good news of Jesus to the Gentiles, those outside of the Jewish faith. For both of these great leaders, it was critically important to raise up leaders who would follow in their footsteps and continue their work.

Jesus, Elijah, and Paul all recognized their role in leaving a legacy. They passed the crown to those following them to continue what they began.

Let’s take a closer look at how you too are crowned for legacy:

1.         Who in your life served as a Paul or Elijah and how did their influence help shape who you are today?

2.         Who has God placed around you for you to raise up to do greater things?

3.         How are you intentionally walking that out day to day?

For further reflection:

Take some time this week to write out a letter to someone who has influenced you. Share with them how their time invested in your helped you become the person you are today. If you feel lead, share also how you are continuing their legacy by intentionally passing on some of these same values and principles to those God has placed around you in your world.

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It Happened Again

It happened again... that instant heart to heart connection with our Polish friends of over 10 years, as we arrived in my motherland. I was trying to figure out why I experienced an immediate feeling of, “Ahhh, I’m with family”. In that moment I couldn’t explain it; it was just there.

Why? How could this happen with people who live half way across the earth from one another, who don’t speak the same language, and don’t communicate or see each other very often? I don’t know, but it did. It never takes long for me and Asia, to pick up where we left off, talk (unfortunately through an interpreter whom you pray is interpreting correctly) about everything from kids, to hormones, to church life and crazy husband stories.

We laugh. We cry. We understand.

Right then, I recognized that I am a part of a much bigger space in time... a part of the divine... I am part of a very holy encounter. Tears fill my eyes, “God, please help me encourage your beloved daughters to press onward in your strength. Join our hearts in such a way that your plan is accomplished.

Use me Jesus.

Speak through Rob as he trains these pastors. Give us sweet moments together each day. Let your kingdom come in this land so desperate for your revolutionary grace. Help our friends know they are a part of history in the making... of your heavenly descent upon Poland.”

My heart was yearning to know what this thing that happened again is.

While we were there, Shoreline Poland fiercely served their nation with two conferences in two days that would make your head spin, with the amount of time, energy and excellence they sacrificially gave to see them come to pass.

The pastors’ conference was incomparable. I have never seen my husband so on point... speaking words, like apples of gold in settings of silver... like an arrow hitting a bulls eye. His authenticity and wisdom was a deep nourishing meal to the leadership soul of these brave pioneers in their land. I could see light bulbs going off in their minds, hope filling their hearts, ideas stirring within. These pastors were cheering each other on like never before. I knew Poland would never be the same.

SHINE – well it was simply drenched with beauty from beginning to end... fantastic worship, teaching and preaching... elements of humor, surprise, and gifts... yummy food, photo ops, shopping, parties and of course confetti. Girls are so much fun!!

And God...

who can grasp his ways? He once again opened the eyes of his daughters to understand how valuable and powerful they are. We reached out to him with unfiltered devotion. Girls were hugging, giggling, weeping, celebrating and enjoying each other. The day was pure wonder.

Then came Sunday and there it was again – that same glorious connection with these wonderful people. We may as well have been in Austin, in our church building. There was a commonality, a comfortability. We lifted our voices in adoration to God together. I applauded them for all they are doing to plow forward in the midst of a nation that is blind to true relationship with Jesus. I expressed the joy we feel just getting to be with them. And again Rob shared with passion and clarity a message of grace, hope and change. Lives were touched, healed & saved. Afterwards, we talked strategy and enjoyed a sweet time of food and fellowship. Then it was time to pack up & say our goodbyes...

I didn’t want to go.

Back at the hotel the tears fell once again... for a good while.

What is it – this thing that keeps happening again and again?

What is this feeling of family... of deep connection... of the divine?

It could only be one thing.

It was love.

Love happened again.

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I'll Save Your Seat

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In our world today it’s amazing how much we can run from a seated position. With our phones in hand we can run teams, manage bank accounts, turn on the air conditioning at home, and track our kids to make sure they are where they are supposed to be. With remotes we can record shows, turn fans off and on, and change light and music settings. We can order dinner, groceries and shop for every good or service our hearts desire with the touch of a key on the keyboard. It feels like we can pretty much run the world from our comfy couches, our office chairs or from the kitchen table. I personally love it that we can do so much from a seated position, everything we need literally right at our fingertips!

When it comes to operating in Christ, we have the same ability to rule and reign and take dominion from a seated position with him.

Ephesians 2:4-6 says, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus…”

Imagine that with me for a moment.

You and I are seated with Christ in heavenly realms. We have comfy, royal looking chairs at his table with our names on them, a table that resides in the very throne room of God where Jesus himself is positioned at God’s right hand.

Our enemy would love nothing more than to knock us off kilter and get us in a frenzy such that we forget where we are positioned. He seeks to install fear in our hearts such that we topple our chairs and run fast and furious in an effort to take care of every fiery storm and trial he sends our way, in our own strength. He’d love if we would try to meet our needs in our own ways apart from Christ. That’s because he knows if he can get us up and running our worlds on our own from an upright self-navigating position, he can cause us great harm and heartache. He doesn’t want us to stay anchored in the Beloved.

Yet in this place of being positioned in Christ, seated with him at the table, we have everything we need to stand firm against the enemy’s tactics. This means the things around us can no longer define how we stand, because we’re actually standing firm from a position of being seated with Christ. From these seats, we can counter the enemy’s schemes and fight the good fight of faith. The best thing we can do when we are tempted to topple chairs and run or stand in our own strength is take a deep breath, plant ourselves there in God’s presence, and allow him to take over. And there we can rest in him as he works in us to glorify his name across the earth!

Let’s take a look at what it means to operate from a place of being seated with Christ:

1. Have you ever been to an event or a dinner where you had a place card waiting at the table or seat with your name on it? How did it make you feel to know someone had taken the time to designate your seat and mark it in a special way? In the same way God has a special seat marked for you that only you can fill. Your name is on it. Your place card clearly set. Describe what it means to you to have a seat at the table that only you can fill. 

2. If God would give his son to ensure you have a seat at his table, there’s nothing else he wouldn’t offer. Every spiritual blessing available in Christ is yours through him who loves you so much. Describe how your world would look different if you operated in every area of your life from the place of being seated with Christ, positioned in him? How would that affect your family, your workplace peers, and your world?

One more thought... 

When we live our lives with the awareness that we are seated with Christ, we are operating from a place of victory. A place of remembering we are the head and not the tail, we are above only and not beneath (Deuteronomy 28:13). A place of knowing the battles we face have already been won and every tough thing we’ve ever encountered will be redeemed and turned around for our good.

Where in your life are you struggling to believe you will see victory today? How does remembering your position help you to hope again?

If you are struggling today to believe you can overcome what you are going through, may I encourage you with these verses? Read them by inserting your name in them every day this week as a daily declaration. Allow them to soak in to your heart.

  • Ephesians 1:11, “In him I (insert name) was also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,”

  • Ephesians 2:13, “But now in Christ Jesus I (insert name) who was once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

  • Colossians 3:1, “Since, then, I (insert name) have been raised with Christ, I set my heart on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”

  • Ephesians 2:6, “And God raised me (insert name) up with Christ and seated me with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”

  • 1 Peter 1:4-5, “… and into an inheritance that can never be perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for me, (insert name), who through faith am shielded by God’s power...”

 

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Beloved.

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Every girl I know needs a revelation of how valuable she is. When we understand how valued we are it changes everything: the way we think, the way we act, even our very destiny.

Recently the word “Beloved” has been all up in my heart.

Beloved means adored, cherished, darling, dearest, endeared, favorite, highly valued, precious, prized, treasured, loved.  

Beloved is such a sweet word! When God put that word in my heart, I had no idea all the rich meaning behind it. But I’m a pretty simple girl, so I felt like he said, “Simply cut it into 2 words”: Be. Loved. We don't need to complicate the matter, all we really need to do is allow ourselves to BE loved by God. May I boldly remind you that you are a human BEING, not a human doing. Allow yourself to BE - to spend time in God’s presence. Being LOVED by Him.

The morning I was going to share the vision this value message with some of our team, I had a precious moment with God, in my literal closet, focusing on the word BELOVED... I hadn’t slept well, yet had a full day ahead of me, the team was coming to my home in a few hours. I still needed to tackle all of my morning routine, but I know by now that my time with God sets the tone for my day, it’s the priority, so I was deeply drinking in every ounce of this moment. I desperately needed Heaven’s touch. I was basking in God's love, thinking about how my entire life he has been in constant pursuit of me. I remembered back to when I was 13 years old and had asked Jesus into my heart. At that young and tender age I was beginning to understand my real value and worth… That I was the daughter of a King! There were many days I rushed home from school, so I could read my Bible and spend intimate time with him. I often pictured Jesus and me dancing in a ballroom, as he gazed into my eyes with love so pure and kind, it just made my heart melt. From that time forward I knew my heart was forever and fiercely his. In that sacred closet moment, I once again envisioned the dance. O how I wished time could have stood still... in that moment, all fear and anxiety was gone, all was well with my soul, and I felt nothing could ever shake me from God’s relentless love. Boy, was I enjoying that time with him. Actually I might have been getting a little bit of a big head thinking how I was his special beloved girl... when I suddenly heard his sweet but very clear whisper to may heart say, “You do know why you are my beloved don’t you?” I responded, “Why?” He continued, “Because my son was the BELOVED first - everything always starts in him.” He reminded of when John baptized Jesus, and God spoke and said, “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” There I was thinking it was all about me, but it’s never about us – it’s always about HIM!

We are the beloved because HE is the beloved! God is well pleased with us because he was well pleased with Jesus. We are accepted in him. We are found in him. In him we live and move and have our being. Everything good in our lives starts and ends in HIM! If we could just keep that order straight, God then us, we would live such steady, satisfied, BELOVED lives!

Isaiah 49:16 - NLT – “See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.”

Isaiah 44:5 – “Some will say, ‘I belong to the Lord.’ Others will write on their hands, ‘I am the Lord’s’”

He has engraved us upon his hands and his name is engraved upon ours!

I love what Ann Voscamp says: “Maybe we all find it easier, safer, to feel like broken misfits then to face the fact that we are the BELOVED. That we belong. Self lies are the destroyer of the soul because they drown out the sacred voice that can never stop whispering your name: BELOVED! Living as one truly loved and cherished by God is the crossbeam that supports an abundant life in Christ. BELOVEDNESS is the center of being, the only real identity, God’s only name for you, the only identity he gives you.”

If you do not see yourself as the beloved – as God’s loved beyond measure daughter, you need to ask him to give you this revelation! Because our individual value revelation will become a global value revolution! As women, we will begin to rise up, take our place and bring help strength & solution to shower the earth with God’s love!

YOU are God’s beloved daughter - he believes in you – he loves you – you are one of a kind – your story matters – your life is important – you are an answer to the problems that your family, your church, your job, your community, and this world has... you are a princess – YOU ARE VALUABLE!

-Laura

 

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The Art of Validation

Have you read the news lately OR had a recent conversation with your family or friends.... or the person standing behind you at the grocery store? It seems everyone is fighting with everyone about everything. There are always the hot topics like politics, sexuality, climate, race, & religion. You name it, there’s a squabble going on. I’m actually amazed we haven’t blown each other off the planet by now.

However, on a much less dramatic plane, the way we relate to one another on an everyday basis is equally... interesting. The people I chat with, or overhear having conversations, seem to struggle a little with their finances, health and a few other non - human issues. But for the most part they are frustrated or having a difficult time navigating...

Relationships.

That’s what life is made up of for the most part. PEOPLE. More than ever, we, as a human species are wrestling with the ability to live in harmony with one another.

Why is that?

Taking an inventory of my own life, I’d say, for the most part, it’s because I want to be heard, understood, and valued regardless of what I’m feeling, I’ve said, or am experiencing in any given moment... but surprisingly all those people I thought were so amazing, quickly become the enemy when I find myself ‘dis-regulated.

We all want to be heard, understood, and accepted...

In another word: VALIDATED.

Validation is a relatively new term for our family, but this ONE SKILL alone has made the biggest impact in resolving conflict in our home over the last several years!

What is validation?

Validation is the art of affirming another person by actively listening & accepting the person as they are, in the moment, and communicating that acceptance to them.

It’s the ability and willingness to enter fully into the experience of another person. Validation honestly, is love in action. It requires that you reflect back what the other person is feeling even if you don’t feel the same way – or do not agree with what they are feeling. Validation is purely observing the other person in a nonjudgmental manner that communicates clearly that you are really interested in what they are thinking and feeling. There is no right or wrong to feelings – because what a person feels is simply what a person feels. Validation is all about describing what you observed in an unbiased, empathetic way. After the person has shared their thoughts or heart, it’s saying things like:

“I can only imagine how frustrating this must be for you.”

“Wow, I can see how painful it must’ve felt for you to experience what you experienced.”

You’re simply reflecting back to them with nonjudgmental tones. It’s also very helpful to share what you share with the same intensity they shared their concerns. For example, if the person you are listening to communicates with strong emotion – mimic their emotion with a strong emotional validating response. This let’s them know you understand how upset they are.

It’s also not about understanding the other person – you don’t need to know ‘why’ they feel how they feel – it’s not about logic. It’s simply about the other person feeling valued and loved. In fact, you can truly love someone their whole life without validating them – but if you do not validate them they will not feel loved. When you validate someone – all of the emotion and toxicity of the moment is released – then you can move to understanding and logic.

The crazy thing is that validation works even when you know someone is doing it. It’s like magic.

I remember one day a few years ago – our church was hosting a city wide women’s event with Beth Moore, and I was suppose to MC that night – our daughter Danielle was in a rough spot on her journey and coming to visit from out of town – our son Luke was moving out of our house into an apartment after a year of living with us – and our son Caleb’s birthday was coming up. Needless to say my emotions were all over the place & I was feeling completely overwhelmed. I had cried all day long, prayed and talked to a few friends, but honestly I could not get ahold of myself. I felt like I was losing it, and had no idea how I could host this huge event. Then Rob came home, I told him what was going on – and even though I knew what he was doing, he grabbed me, held me in his arms and tenderly said, “Laura, you are an amazing woman, you are a fantastic leader, you love your kids so deeply, and you are missing your son. It’s 100% understandable that you feel the way you feel. I am a father and I love our kids, but I can only begin to imagine how you must feel, as a mom, to have all of our kids leaving the nest when you’ve nurtured them and had them in our home all these years. I am so sorry for the pain you are experiencing in this moment. It’s okay to cry, it’s okay to feel sad. Can I pray for you? And Laura, you are going to do a fantastic job tonight hosting these women, because you are so great at loving others.”

All I have to say is - it worked. The tears stopped, peace came, and off I went to one of the most memorable evenings ever!

Believe me, validation takes some practice and it’s easy to drift back into judgment, shame, defensiveness, anger, and all those other ‘not so kind’ responses we’re use to engaging in... But if you learn and practice the art of validation, you will be astounded at how wonderful your relationships become.

You might even discover all those PEOPLE are a lot like you...

AMAZING!

-Laura

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Where ya gunna go?

Today is our son Caleb’s 8 year anniversary of being in Heaven.

O how the pain is still so real. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him, drive by the crash site, see his picture, or whisper a prayer of gratitude to God that Heaven is real and one day we will all get to be together again. In those moments, tears come easily and my heart aches for my boy.

When I’m overwhelmed on these or special days like his birthday or anniversary, family reunions, holidays... I often feel like running away from it all. Then I think, “Laura, where ya gunna go?”

Psalm 139:1-8 – You have searched me, Lord, and know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out, and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

God is all knowing, all powerful and everywhere. There is absolutely no escape mechanism or place we can go to get away from his constant pursuit of us!

So, the only logical, helpful, and joy filled place to run and hide is into the safe haven of God’s perfect comfort and love! And every time I do... it is well.

If for any reason at all you are in a tough spot and thinking you need to ‘get away from it all’ – may I gently ask you, ‘Where YOU gunna go?’ Instead may I boldly invite you to join me in running right smack dab into the center of the caring grace & presence of your heavenly Father!

WHATCHA GUNNA DO?

Grief is horrible on every level. However, one of the most life transforming and perspective changing things I’ve done since Caleb relocated to heaven, is to give my life away in service for others. DOing something for others, who are also walking through difficult life circumstances, always takes my focus off of my own pain and sorrow, and brings a ton of joy to my soul.

Over the past 7 years, as a family, we have participated in the CALEB Run, which is a Caleb Foundation 5K race we put together to galvanize our church family, to raise resources for at - risk youth in our community. It was a fabulous and rewarding 7 years.

This year, our family decided to shift the 5K run into a city - wide outreach week we’re calling Beyond The Shore. Our goal is to get outside the 4 walls of Shoreline and love Austin and the surrounding areas in ways they’ve never been loved before. The week kicked off with a golf tournament in which we raised over $22,000, for 6 charities, who care for under-resourced youth in our community and in Haiti, and victims of sex trafficking around the US. There are over 30 serving opportunities, ranging from stuffing 1100 backpacks with school supplies for a Title 1 middle school, to partnering with Habitat For Humanity, Central Texas Food Back, cleaning up parks in the city, Austin Life Care, Side By Side Kids and much more...

The response has been overwhelming! The number of people who signed up and showed up all week long is mind blowing! If you were to ask any one of them how they felt after they spent just a few hours caring for people, hammering some nails, smiling, buying someone’s coffee or groceries, opening someone’s door, mowing their lawn... on top of volunteering countless hours serving their fellow man in all the ways we reached out... you would hear comments like:

“So thankful to be a part of a church that has a heart for the middle school students. 1100 students will get backpacks FULL of supplies to start the new year! It was such a joy to serve today!”

“So as this guy started out thru the green light I saw his load start sliding off of his truck. I stopped, I honked and prayed everyone would stop behind me. They did right away. I had a choice to stop and block the lane for them or drive around them and get to my doctor’s appointment on time. I decided to stop and make a difference in a stranger’s life!”

“This is my first time ever doing anything outreach based and I thought to myself ok I am going to go do something for someone else and as I sat there writing a little love note to hurting people and I just thought this is going to go to someone and it is going to help them know that they are worthy and they are important. I am so thankful to have the chance to have my eyes open and a perspective change. I encourage everyone to go out and volunteer in some kind of way”

I guess what I’m trying to say is that giving your life away to serve and bless others is one of the quickest ways to fill your heart with joy and make a difference for good in the world.

Luke 6:38 MSG - Give away your life; you'll find your life given back, but not merely given back – given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.

So, if you’re bumming out about something small, or truly grieving over a deeply painful loss of anything, let me ask you, “Whatcha gunna do?”

Live for a CAUSE bigger than you are – give your life away – DO something for someone else... and chase those blues away!

-Laura

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4 Quick Tips for Sizzlin’ Summer Garb

Warm weather is here and there are lots of fun trends to enjoy! One of my favorite is rompers! (You only have to pick 1 piece to wear and they cover all the bases.) Of course the typical rule of thumb for the summer months is lighter and brighter. Less clingy clothes keep you cooler, and brighter colors mimic nature’s display of grandeur.

Here are a few quick tips that will add to your 2017 fair season duds.

  1. Shoulders – In almost every store there are off the shoulder - one shoulder – strappy shoulder items: tops, dresses, rompers, vest, jackets… O so sassy! Don’t be afraid to show some shoulder girls!
  2. Slides – They’re everywhere! Closed toe shoes or slip on sandals... this years trend creates ease for your feet. On and off again for effortless sashaying through your day and night.
  3. Sheer – I love the easy breezy look of these tops. Most of them don appliques or other cheery features that create a celebratory feel for the warmer months!! (Layering them over long slips/body cons and camis are the key to keeping it clean.)
  4. Simple – Less is more. When it comes to accessories - no need to layer lots of bracelets or wear chunky necklaces – allow the slower pace of summer to even seep into your wardrobe. A simple hoop, small necklace and one ring will do.

Praying you have a lovely – light hearted – wonder filled summer... all while looking really cute!

-Laura

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Addicted to Haiti

I have an addictive personality. In different seasons of my life this has been a disadvantage. Recently I found a new fix… one that has wiped me off my feet.

Hi my name is Danielle and I am addicted to Haiti.

For the last seven years our church has partnered with an organization in Ouanaminthe, Haiti called Danita’s Children. Their mission is to raise up orphaned children in the ways of the Lord and empower them to change their nation. Through the generosity of our church family, the Caleb Foundation has supplied them with buildings, where many young people are currently living. They have sincerely kept Caleb’s story and legacy alive.

Although there are some undeniable facts about the conditions of Haiti, it is absolutely a diamond in the rough. Every time I go there, I see less poverty and more diamond. Every nation has its own set of issues, but every nation also has things that make it beautiful. So let’s switch things up.

Today we are going to chat about what is right with Haiti.

One thing that Haiti does really well is community. I have learned how to love people better through watching how they love. As a youth leader I interact with students who often deal with depression and negative thoughts. Suicide is an epidemic in our nation. I was asking one of my Haitian friends if this is an issue they deal with and he said no. That sparked my interest. He began to explain that although high rates of sickness and disease lead to death in Haiti, suicide hardly exists because everyone feels like they belong. Community is a part of their culture. It is just simply how they do life…..

Community saves lives.  

My favorite thing to do there is to people watch. I sit back, relax and just observe. Haitians are a beautiful people. They are hard workers. They look after one another. It doesn’t matter if you are a stranger, you are family. You are accepted simply because you are breathing. Wouldn’t that be nice? To be known and loved just for being alive…. Like I said I have learned a lot. I am challenged to see things differently.

To fix my eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen.

I want to challenge you to look deeper. There is beauty in everything. Take your blinders off and take a look around. Don’t miss out on what is right in front of you.

The unseen always has a way of transforming what you actually see.

-Danielle Koke

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