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OUR STORY (full version)

Updated: Feb 26, 2023

Living Love Collective is an outpouring of a dream and vision the Lord had rooted in my heart and soul for many years. I had a realization that love, creativity, and the freedom in Christ comes from discovering our gifts and talents. The journey that brought me here with these talented and beautiful families has been incredible and life-changing. The Lord made it clear that He is in control of everything, and He is working for our good and glory. The story began in my youth as I knew there was something more worth living for in this life a purpose far more significant than myself.

As I grew up in this world's brokenness, I experienced pain and confusion that rapidly led me into a state of complete darkness. I longed to know God. I felt His presence. I knew He was real, but somehow I felt distant from Him. My mother tried her hardest to impart God's importance in my life, but the ever-present emptiness was still rooted in my heart. At the age of 15, I had to leave my home to embark on whatever the world had to offer. My mother and my two sisters also left home at a young age. Vulnerable and unprotected as a young teenage girl, I felt like the world was devouring me. I experienced many traumatizing events. As I continued my journey, I felt dead inside and often hoped for death to escape my existence. I never really lived until I found that missing piece my heart was longing for since I was a little girl.

It was the year 2001 when I finally understood that Jesus was the savior I had been waiting for my entire life. I believed in Him, and this was the beginning of my radical transformation. During this time, through support, encouragement, and mentoring, the Brinkley family displayed merciful and grace-filled agape love for me. They showed me proper reverence for God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. They were set apart from the world by their faithfulness and Godly influence. They impacted my entire future and ignited overwhelming passion and desire to homeschool my children, have a God-fearing family, and help equip others in their journey. They taught me to find my value in Jesus and rely on God's Word, which laid the foundation for the unwavering faith I have today.

Shortly after my friendship developed with April Brinkley, I met my husband, Derek. After inviting him to attend church and bible studies with the Brinkley's, Derek started to become acquainted with God's Word, we even got baptized together!. Based on my life experiences, I could not love or trust any man, following the detriment men had brought to my life. But I was armed with a deep sense of faith, trust, hope, and truth in Jesus. The Lord gave me the ability to trust Derek and we were married in 2003. The Lord gave me my hero and best friend. The man who would love me through all my dysfunction and pain-manifested behaviors. He would support me through all my needs for recovery and rehabilitation. He remains loyal to me and provides security for my family, which the Lord knew I desperately needed. Derek was a gift from God. He helped me discover my purpose and guided me through it by allowing me the freedom to live and grow in the Lord's time. He showed me that real love is more than a feeling. It is an action. We have walked a hard life together. Not any of it has been easy. Nor is it easy today because we still struggle daily, but the foundation and faithfulness of the Lord alone, holds us firmly together like a strong tower.

In 2011 I had my first child. My love for Bella and my desire to teach her about the Lord ignited a new mission. I wanted to teach her about Jesus and the beauty of our world. Bursting with creativity, I learned new skills, which later became my talents. The Lord planted a desire and a passion for photography, graphic design, writing, crafting, event planning, entrepreneurship, and ministry. Learning to function with my once crippling depression, fear, and anxiety remained a challenge. The Lord continued to help me grow through serving the church in small areas, attending women's ministry, and serving in the children's ministry. These were my introduction to understanding the spiritual need of being a part of a Gospel-centered community. Being part of God's church made me feel something special and far more significant than myself. I began to notice that we are all broken and that being in a Christ-centered community was a safe place for me.

My life was turned upside down after giving birth to my second child, Oliver. We found out he was surprisingly born with congenital heart disease. I had experienced enough hard times for a lifetime, but this was the test of time. After three intense months, God called Oliver home. This journey rocked my world, and it changed me forever. This trial in my life was devastating but fortunate, terrifying but beautiful, crushing yet freeing. Because of the comfort of the Lord, I felt peace beyond all understanding. When Oliver physically died, I felt as if I was floating on a cloud, smiling, wrapped in the arms of My Maker. Those months in the cardiac unit with my beautiful son were full of breaking down and building up, weeping and laughing, mourning and dancing. There were sparkles of joy and happiness as he came in and out of death to life. The Lord was reconstructing my soul as miracles and assurances from Him were in every moment.

This time was the beginning of my release from constant spiritual depression and the deceiving reliance on myself. It was the letting go of so much baggage, which held me back from freedom in Christ. It was the realization that God kept me in the palm of His hand and that all his words are tangible, valid, and authentic. It was when my belief in the Word of God was not only read and internalized, but physically acted out in word and deed. Throughout the next seven years, the Lord gave me the courage to act upon a new ministry vision. This vision was to live out the rest of my life using my gifts and talents to be the hands and feet of Jesus. As I creatively started planning to make this new calling happen, I suffered many heartbreaks and even shrunk back into isolation for a time. Many failures and triumphs came along my way again. During this time, I also fostered my niece, endured my sister's death, and adopted her son after her passing. My husband and I both faced severe health scares and found a new passion for wellness. I matured considerably, and each trial strengthened my faith more. The Lord never failed me.

I am thankful for the spiritual growth that has come through the adversity the Lord has allowed in my life. The tapestry of his mercy and grace is evident for the world to see, and through this visible truth, I know He alone turns our ashes into beauty for our good and His glory.

As I quietly homeschooled my children. I was using the Charlotte Mason method. Over time, I found myself and my children blossoming. Not from anything I did, personally, but because of the beautiful material that was feeding our heart, soul, and minds. For the first time since I was a young child, I genuinely started living and feeling in a childlike manner again. I understood how the simple intricacies of life in God's creation would lead us directly to Him. I, then, began to see life in full vivid color instead of black and white. This philosophy of a living education is rooted and grounded in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. A living education imparts knowledge, wisdom, and understanding to people of all ages. This self-education discipline doesn't stop at high school but continues your entire life. Therefore, its value is beyond measure because it benefits the children and the homeschool parents. After discovering this hidden treasure with great eternal significance, I knew I had to share it with others. Learning to find pleasure in God's creation is key to finding joy in the everyday.

From this point, the Lord paved the ministry path He had placed in my heart many years ago, and the core of it all was a life-giving Christ-centered community. After this, Living Love Collective organically formed through the astounding provision of the Lord. This ministry's heartbeat would be for families whose primary focus is Christ and those who wish to use their gifts and talents to share the Gospel. The Lord slowly and intricately provided every direction, resource, and inspiration. He chose to equip our talented leaders with spiritual giftings and a passion for serving others for this mission to succeed. We are so thankful for what the Lord has done, is doing, and will do - in and through this community as we continue to grow.

We will continue following the Lord's calling by putting His will and way before our own. We will repent when we make mistakes, pray for every provision, and wait when He calls us. We are wildly passionate about walking in the freedom of Christ and making disciples. We will love you and fellowship with you. We will help point to you the absolute security and promise that is Jesus! We will be in a caring community together. This reality is the Gospel way to live alongside one another. To not be afraid of brokenness but live authentically and equipped with wholeness through following Christ. Understanding this truth and teaching this through living education and an inspiring creative community is what sets us apart.

As our journey connects, we hope this community will serve you in your homeschooling journey. We pray you to discover your God-given gifts and talents to help you spread the Gospel by providing opportunities for growth and joining our missional-driven, creative learning community.

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