A Brilliant Exchange.

((from Natalie))

My home is aglow, sparkling like a diamond with the twinkle of Christmas lights. A pile of gifts has amassed. They have taken over the top shelf of my pantry as they await wrapping, ribbons, and bows. The calendar hanging on the front of the pantry door is jam-packed with travel and tradition, and LOVE.

The spirit and wonder and generosity of the season brings me so much JOY, but the light of the season also brings attention to places of need.  The call on my heart is to share the overflow of Christmas-joy into darker places.

So hopers, as we anticipate and celebrate this Christmas, we also make room to notice. This year, my heart is feeling particular JOY around the word freedom.  I am free to buy and gift and celebrate and worship.  As the year comes to a close, I think about unlocked freedom. I find myself reflecting on the progress made in the US this year in our country. I celebrate the empowering of once silenced voices; I cheer the lifting of women’s lives. Ladies, we are making strides and taking ground, and it’s time to give it away.

Today, I’m lending my voice to shine a light on the work of a mighty woman named Julie.  Julie is someone who aches fiercely for the broken, hurting, and captive lives of others across our globe. One day, a simple glance at her hand caused a swelling of gratitude and then grief.  She thought: “I have a $2000 diamond on my finger while so many families don’t have clean water”.

It could have just been a passing thought, but instead it became a world-changing idea. Julie allowed her thoughts to collaborate with Creator God, and a big vision was born. It was A Brilliant Exchange.

It was 6 years ago that Julie decided to sell the diamond from her engagement ring.  She took the proceeds and donated them to an organization that works to rescue girls from sex slavery.  Today, her idea is an organization of it’s own with a BIG VISION.  She and her husband have created a non-profit empowering other women to give their diamonds towards the bold hopes of ending human trafficking, spreading access to clean water, and providing care for orphans.

It’s beautiful, redemptive work; a brilliant echo of the Christmas-idea God made to redeem the world.  Hope is Hard, so it hasn’t been an easy process for her and her husband to give their whole lives over to the idea.  In anticipation of sharing about A Brilliant Exchange, I asked Julie a few questions:

What is your guiding hope for a Brilliant Exchange?

“Our guiding hope is that God would accomplish whatever it is He wants to do through us and through this vision He’s put in our hearts.  We hope to be an organization that can facilitate the funneling of millions of dollars to other organizations that are freeing slaves, digging wells and caring for precious orphans.”

Are there any Bible verses in particular that inspire you and the mission of a Brilliant Exchange?

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zechariah 4:10)

What has been the biggest/hurdle struggle to maintaining hope as you’ve launched the project? How do you stay hopeful?

“I think the biggest hurdle has been having to be really flexible with how this whole thing gets accomplished. It’s also going to take a lot more time than we had originally thought, which can feel pretty discouraging at times.

How do you see the Lord at work in your organization?

“I see the Lord placing in us a real determination to follow through on what it is He’s asked us to do. So even when we want to give up and throw our hands in air and say, “Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea!’, we remember that this is actually God’s dream… and so we re-commit ourselves to working as hard as we can, for all our days, no matter how we feel.  Every small thing that happens in someone’s heart that brings them to a place of being willing to part with something precious, on someone else’s behalf, is a huge deal.  A heart of sacrifice and love for others is what the Lord desires – so it’s amazing to hear the stories of our donors.”

And the stories are pretty great.  She could tell you redemptive ones like Laura’s:

 “The rings once brought me so much joy and then my life was shattered and I could barely look at them or the mark that is still left on my hand. Now when I look down and see the indention I can think that those rings were used to help save a life.”

Or the humble ones like Megan’s:

“You can donate your diamonds, but save your ring. I still wear my ring with cubic zirconia in it and no one is the wiser except me and my husband. I feel like it’s a win-win situation: I still have my beautiful engagement ring that holds sentimental value to me and the diamonds with real money value are going to a very worthy cause.”

One of my favorite things about Julie (as I’ve been able to observe while getting to know her), is how she freely allows God to take her thoughts captive.  When emotion swells, she shows it.  And as she processes, she gives God room to work through her.

Hopers, let’s do the same.
God likely doesn’t expect every single reader to give up all of their diamonds today. (His love is lavish, it’s okay to have/carry around a symbol of lavish love.)  But maybe Great-Grandma’s ring is sitting in a drawer, unused. Maybe you lost the pair to that earring. Maybe you have a friend experiencing the grief of divorce this Christmas, and you could share this post to shine light into her dark place.  Or perhaps, you just want to stand in mission with A Brilliant Exchange and promote the cause by toting one of their beautiful coffee mugs or giving a cash donation.

Hopers, as we celebrate the brilliant twinkle of Christmas, let’s freely give thanks for the exchange God made for our lives!

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