Learning to Lean on God Together with America's Got Talent Show Winner, Dustin and Kari Tavella
Today I get to introduce you to my friends, Dustin and Kari Tavella. Y'all they, they really love the Lord, and they represent the Lord in so many beautiful ways from skid row ministry in LA to halfway houses, to experiences of just literally having no money to their name or winning America's Got Talent.
Their family just literally leans on the Lord in so many beautiful ways. They lean on the visions that the Lord gives them way in advance - years in advance. Kari knew that this was going to happen, and to see it come to life has been amazing.
They're living a totally different season right now, especially in the midst of marriage and have adopted two brothers. We're going to get into the backstories of how they've become, who they become, and the fact that they're still surrendered and becoming.
You will love this conversation and fall in love with them, too! They are amazing!
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About Dustin and Kari:
Dustin Tavella is a magician who aims to inspire audiences by using magic to connect with people from all different walks of life.
Tavella resides in Las Vegas, Nevada, with his wife, Kari, and their adopted sons, while being part of the America's Got Talent show there.
The couple have been involved in homeless ministry and a crisis pregnancy ministry, and look forward to serving the Lord even more in the future.
Where to Find Dustin and Kari:
Where to Find Tamra:
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Show Notes: Leaning on God Together
So I'm super partial to these people. These humans that I love so much, I call them brother and sister. I call them friends. I call them inspirations. I am so grateful for who they are and to they're still becoming, and that is Dustin and carry to them. If you've never heard me talk about them, then maybe you've been hiding in a hole or you're new to the fitness podcast, which I'm also super grateful for.
And I hope that you follow along in the journey. Literally click the little plus button now that they have subscribe, follow is now follow and put a review. We would so appreciate to hear your feedback from today's show or any show or excuse. Through Fitbit media or myself. Okay. It's not about me. Let's go back.
Carrie and Dustin are super humans. Y'all they, they really love the Lord. They love the Lord and they represent the Lord in so many beautiful ways from skid row ministry in LA to halfway houses, to experiences of just literally having no money. Their name and gifting sushi in the process because, Hey, why not?
Right? Or winning AGBT. But Carrie, knowing that Dustin was going to win ADT. Yeah. That's America's got talent. Yes. Dustin apparently had the Las Vegas show. It's pretty rad. Uh, and their family just literally leans on the Lord and so many beautiful ways. They lean on the visions that love the Lord gives them way in advance.
Years in advance. Carrie knew that this was going to happen. And to see it come to life, they're living a total different season right now, especially in the midst of marriage and two adopted brothers. And so we're going to get into the backstories of how they've become, who they become and the fact that they're still surrendered and becoming so love.
You guys love them. Follow them along on their journey. Carrie is an incredible missionary. Um, so you want to follow up. The storytelling that she gives you, the, the shame that she literally breaks every single time that she speaks is totally a God thing. So I know that I could just keep going. And then the show would just be me talking about that, which I do at the end, it so much, they're going to be like, stop it, but this is how much I love them.
I love when God brings people in my life that I can't help, but just glorify him and that's who they are. So Dustin carry it to Vela. No further ado. You guys.
Welcome to the fit and faith podcast. It is an acronym representing founders, innovators, and trailblazers who are looking to live a life wholly, fully, authentically, and truly fit a space for us to connect on the raw real stories of mind, body, and soul alignment of entrepreneurs in kingdom life. I'm your host, Tamra and dress.
And this podcast, isn't like the cookie cutter interview experience. I've been coined the entrepreneurial rabbi. And so we do go there unscripted, no matter how far wide, deep or high there is. My desire is to see people rise from the inside, out, into their greatest calling, by sharing their truest stories, talents and tips as a purpose activator and brand builder.
I believe our successes and failures are derived from who and whose we are not what we do, but strategy and vision are equally as important to the mission. So let's cut to the chase together and get fit in faith.
Morgan gave you guys some extra love and that intro video, I was like, oh man, you guys are amazing. And it's so awesome to be able to share you with the community and this way, as I know that they've already been shared as we've been alongside each other live in life for the last year or so. And it's just been such a gift.
And so it's incredible to share with you guys, if you're not here live and you're listening to the podcast, you did not get to see all about who Dustin and Carrie are individually and collectively right before we came on. I'm like, we really need to have you guys on your separate cause their backstories are bananas, but it's just cool how God brings us all together.
I wish Gary was sitting next to me so we could all follow. I just be coupled up, but he's here in spirit. So thank you guys. Dustin, Carrie it's, it's such a gift to know. Yeah, likewise. Absolutely. So we can dive into so many different places, cause you're all testimonies really are, um, full from, from birth to now.
Right. And so I would love to just go from a couples perspective since we will have you on probably individually too. And talk about what the journey has been like since you guys have been together and what that just evolution has looked like.
Yeah. Well, I mean, so, so when we met, I was leading a worship at a church in Hollywood. Um, we were kind of like from very two different backgrounds, two very different places in life, but also like met in a very similar place where I think we had both just had our little run in the industry and the entertainment industry.
Kind of just like, man, I just want, like, it was, I felt it was like, you know, you have your phone, like something's new and it's great. And I was doing new stuff for a while, but I was a missionary before being a musician. And so, um, I was just kind of at this place where I was like, man, I just, uh, I don't know.
It's kind of like over it. I just wanted to do something where I felt like I was connecting with people again. And, um, not that you can't do that through music, but I feel like I had just become so like, so. Business career focused that I've forgotten that people focus. And, um, she was kind of in a similar place with her, like modeling and acting stuff.
And we didn't know this about each other, but, and I'd also just left. Um, I was engaged to someone, um, and then, you know, my life hit rock bottom and I started going to church and just changing everything about my life. And so I was in a similar place of like, wanting to do it different this time, because all my previous relationships was always physical first.
It was always like opposite of what God has designed for us and like laid out for us. And so, um, when I met him, I actually, uh, I had just like gone out of disengagement and I met him a week later. He was leading worship at our church. And, um, I actually, you know, yeah, yeah. I'd have to go to the end, but I definitely like have my guard up and I.
He's got the swaggy hat and his ears pierced and like a credible musician. I'm like this. Guy's definitely a ladies man. And so, I mean, I w I wanted to just take it really slow when I met him, but it was amazing. Like, as I got to know him, like, you know, it was just months of hanging out in groups, going to Bible studies, just doing it very different than I'd done it before.
And, uh, he broke every stereotype I made about him. Like he had told me how he never did any drugs or drank and how he was a missionary for like seven years. And he was waiting till marriage to have sex. And I'm just like, wow. I had never heard of,
I just never heard a guy say that.
Yeah. Well, I think when I think through that part, even like, there's such a testimony, like we can be done with the podcast and just talk about that picture story, right. Because how many times are people either looking in the wrong places or is there a wrong place to look? And then the association of like somebody else's past traumas connected to that moment or past heroic, you know, triumphs.
Right. And I think we are already comparing testimonies and our own sense of shame and what we carry into our relationship. And so it's like immediately bringing two worlds, colliding two different worlds into one space. And it doesn't matter if you had the same back history or not, it's still two worlds colliding because it's both of your parental influences and generational influences as well.
Yeah. I think for me too, like, um, Like when I said, you know, we had the excitement at the beginnings of a career or something. I think that sometimes, like the things of this world actually are appealing and can be very fun in the beginning. But when you let that be your priority, eventually that stuff just wears off and it's empty.
And like once the excitement has gone, you realize that you haven't built anything with depth. And, you know, for me, for a long time, I feel like, cause I was doing music stuff. I was surrounded by all kinds of other industry people. And I was like proud of that. And people that I talked to or excited about, you know, the celebrity that might've met or been hanging out with or whatever.
And, um, and I didn't realize how much of my identity had been put into that. And so once I kinda got to this place where I was like, Man. I like the excitement wore off. It became just normal. It was just my life. Um, it was like, man, I, I actually want something deeper. And I think because of my walk, you know, being a missionary before that, I knew that deeper was available where I think sometimes, um, when people don't know that they just dive deeper into the world thing and maybe they just haven't accomplished enough yet or enough yet.
And so, um, it was weird because rather than like pressing the go forward, I almost started like, I was desperate to go back and to, to experience what I had before and to just kind of strip everything down in my life and kind of do things more simply. And so it was cool was there was a guy at our church who was homeless and kind of just going through some stuff.
And then Carrie had both kind of the friend him separately. And that was really kind of how we got close because it was like this organic thing of, we had been reaching out to the same person. And to me that was just really refreshing because the whole basis of our relationship was kind of rooted in.
Something meaningful, something that we weren't like documenting or recording or filming. It was like there was a human being that needed something and we were just kind of meeting misfit and we both have such hard for the mitzvahs. We hate feeling included. Yeah. And so it's kind of like, I think that's kind of become the foundation now of everything that we want to build.
It, it has to have, it needs to be Jesus center, not because of some churchy religious thing to do, but like, but, but really us as humans, we are looking for depth. And when we don't know it comes from Jesus, we dive into other things thinking it's going to satisfy. And when it doesn't, it's like rather than be like, oh, that didn't satisfy me where like, oh, I should go deeper.
Then maybe it'll satisfy me. Right. Right. And like the deeper you go, the more starved you become, you know? And I, as part of my testimony too, and I just think it's, it's so sad that it's been, um, broadcasted and manipulated to be glamorized, right. Like it really does look like that's the best way. That's the, sometimes the only way to live.
And, and that's both in success-driven marriages where you see like famous couples together. And they're actually like all of a sudden, it's like, you know, Brittany and Jen or Britney and Justin and they they're broken up or Ben and Jen they're gone and Brad in Jenner and it's like, wait, what? I thought they were the, they were the idols right in their marriage, became the idol even.
And so how important it is for us, even in our marriages to have God as the first priority, which is where you all were when you met, like you were seeking after him not seeking for. The, the flesh at that point, right? Yeah. And I think too, like for me, I think it was kind of realized one of the areas where the.
I don't want to say the church where we as the church have almost failed is like, I think sometimes we become so desperate for people to know Jesus that we're like, we'll kill you. You want to you'll hate yourself. You'll hate your life. Right? And like, we don't acknowledge that actually. Sometimes the reason that the appearing is because sometimes it does feel good, right?
Success feel good, feels good. Having money is, is great. Like all of these things, they have their benefits. And so, um, I think what happens is like for some people who grew up in the church, they're just told how evil and terrible this stuff is. And then they experienced a little bit of a tension where they experienced some success or they experienced getting drunk or being high.
And they're like, wait, this actually feels great. This is actually good. And like the thing is, is those things a don't really care. It, the longevity of the satisfaction we're supposed to experience. And also some of the stuff that is maybe good is not a bad thing, right? Success is not bad. Money is not bad.
It's just, we have something better. And I think sometimes we're not confident in how much better God is. So we have to label everything else. So terrible. And I think the reality is we just have to realize the things of this world, they are appealing. And some of the things that even the Bible says, not all things are bad, but not all things are beneficial.
I think when you just keep Jesus at the top of your pursuit, the top of your ministry, the top of your priorities, then even if that stuff gets shipped away, your security and your identity now does not lie in that stuff. That's as Christians. The biggest thing that we're called to do is like, no matter, no matter how much we accomplish or how much we fail, like when our identity is in Christ, it doesn't matter.
Right. The walls around us, the numbers attached to our bank account. None of it, none of it matters really. It's not, it's not our identity and I've experienced both. So one the counterfeit, like it's counterfeit joy, right? To like go out and get drunk and like, it's fun for a moment. And then depression comes right after.
But like, I, I think for me it was so powerful because I'd only had counterfeit joy, counterfeit sex, even like, it was like not the best design. And so, um, the, a huge moment in our relationship was when, so when I first moved to LA, my first I moved there October 29th and on October 31st, I went to the Playboy mansion and it was like, Great.
The craziest thing I've ever seen. Like, I would definitely compromise even the way I dress everything was just so inappropriate about it. And, um, of course I got wasted there, blacked out drunk. That's just what I did. And then like seven years later, I'm with Dustin on Halloween and I'm wearing like nurse scrubs, like real nurse scrubs to like a sexy nurse, real nurse scrubs that I had on like this short black haired wig that his mom gave us.
She works at the cancer center and they have all these wigs that nobody wants. So anyway, it's just, I remember like going through the drive-through at like taco bell or something with a group of his friends and he had on his sister, Jean shorts, he was dressed up as Joe Eddy climb through the drive-through window and was just so free and just yelling at everyone.
And it was like, in that moment, it was, it hit me. I'm like, oh my God, I'm having fun and I'm sober and this is the most fun I've ever had. I'm like with someone who's totally free, fully alive in Christ, like people don't even know what to do with him. Like, cause it's just such a different path than I took.
And that stuff just rubs you. Right. It robs you of the joy and the intimacy that God wants for us. I don't know, it's just been cool, like really seeing the difference in both like, and why God has guidelines. Yeah. And it gives you such a vocal piece to be able to share and connect with people in such an amazing way.
Because of that transformation, I saw this incredible visual that a pastor was doing this past weekend and it was like a mannequin up on stage. And it had had all these labels attached all over it. Um, whether it was people that they had been with, um, intimately or even friendships, or even, um, people who are in our family.
And then it was also false labels of society over top of them. And the pastor was like ripping them off label by label. Right. And I of course knew where that was going, but I think the most important part is like this individual experience that happens because when we rip a label, there's still residue.
And that residue was one of the hardest places that we can send. Stay and sit in and beneath, and yet Jesus comes and he literally gives you a whole new robe. He lives with gives you a whole new sense of identity that you're, that washed white concept or that, that TISM where you come up and you're completely whole and new, but there's still that transference of mind that has to occur because while he doesn't see us like that, we still carry and sometimes can hold on to those past identities.
And so talk through like the evolution in your relationship. How has, has those previous notions? Oh, hello, Christian Millers. How have those previous notions like fed into whether it be hardships in your marriage or healing as you've grown together? Um, I think like, I don't know that with me, like. The more that God has like taken me through, like, um, even just praying.
So I remember one night just going through like every soul tie I had with someone, every sexual encounter. Cause I had a pass, like in a really scanned was passed. And so he like took me. I was just weeping for hours and just like breaking that off of me and like, um, even asking God to like erase the memories of that, because it was so twisted and tainted and everything.
I mean, every guy I ever dated had porn addictions. So I started watching porn. I mean, it was just like all, um, I had such a misconception of what intimacy was. It was very selfish. It was very self-focused and like, and I always just felt like, I don't know, just like an object like that I had to perform.
And I don't know. So then when I married Dustin, it's taken years to get over, you know what I mean? That stuff. And to really like, um, I am. I'm still healing in that, like just not feeling like gross or feeling like, um, I have to look a certain way or being in my head because of all these images and things from my past, but I don't know if that makes sense.
And I think like for me, and like, literally those were parts of the book that I incorporated because. It's something that is always becoming. And because we're constantly faced with like these different ideas of, of how we can live out our life. And yet the past is kind of feels like that haunting newness it's like that God covers a multitude of sentence and he covers all of the conversations that even happened in our head when we're willing to like wave our white flag and D actually show up in a full state of surrender and to help other people through that.
I think if he was to completely extracted as much as we crave. That we would not have the same empathetic lens towards the people that were actually called to heal and help heal by connecting them to the one who healed us. And so I know you guys now, um, fast forward have not only a bigger legacy in your mission when it comes to who you're called to and how your marriage showcases his greater love, but also to the legacy of your children.
So let's talk through like it changing in what looks like, like this life that was, you know, free and missions and even a component of finances. I'd love you guys to talk through that and how that's changed as your family dynamic has grown. Yeah. So, so, so one thing I think that like, um, I think sometimes the way we define ministry is, um, is really interesting.
I know it's maybe seems like I'm not answering your question, but.
I think sometimes when we think of ministry, we think of our missionaries. We think of the people up on the stage talking about, you know, how much money you raised for tacos to feed the homeless people and currency. And that stuff is like really great. But like when you look at ministry, the way that Jesus did it, it was, it was so inconsistent of the way of like, sometimes he was just with four people and was with one person sometimes with thousands of people.
Sometimes he was avoiding the, the multitudes, just hanging out with the same people over and over and over again. And so when you look at the effectiveness of ministry, I don't, I think sometimes we try and model it, especially now where we have so much to compare to, right? Like all of these big churches and big ministries and stuff.
Um, and it's easy to feel like maybe the things that we do in light of that is insignificant and. Um, what it means to be fully present and involved in specific seasons of our life. And so, so what I'm getting at is like, you know, there, there was, um, where we were leading it. We started a homeless ministry in LA and then, um, you know, we were both doing stuff in the entertainment industry.
And, um, and then, you know, we, we became missionaries again and we moved to Texas. We were working in, we're working with, uh, a ministry to help women in crisis pregnancies, which is where we adopted our voice from know, and then we become parents, right. And so it obviously limits our ability to go out and to travel and to stay up late and to just be out on the street late at night in the street, homeless people in super dangerous neighborhoods.
Um, but the thing that's cool is I feel like what God has been showing us is just maintaining this sense of being invested in every season with the people that are close to you. Um, and with the people even. With the people that you are being able to evangelize you, right. The people that are in our neighborhood, but maybe we just can't do that as much.
And that's okay. I mean, Jesus, wasn't the parent. So unfortunately we didn't get to see what would it look like? What does ministry look like when now you have kids and you can't be out. And so, and so I think that the thing is when Jesus was here is he has a human with a specific personality type, a specific calling, a specific ministry.
And, um, you know, the, the, the Bible refers to us as the body. And so we're all different parts of the body. And I feel like sometimes we're like, well, what part of the body am I, maybe I'm a hand or whatever. I was like, different seasons. I'm a different body part, right? Like there's some seasons where I'm a way less significant body part because like, we're just doing the simple things that are necessary, but on a scene, right?
Like your hands get credit for everything. But like there's certain veins and stuff. Maybe we don't see anyone's whatever, let's not pick this. It's a great analogy. And honestly, I've never thought about it from the perspective of like changing a position within the body. I have always associated to like, I'm the same body part all the time.
I think it's an identity thing. Like we cling to the one thing, you're the hands and the feet, and that's an easy thing to be, and it's a righteous thing to be. And so when we have to shift positions, our pride comes into play. Our ego comes into play and God's like, actually in this season, I'm going to teach you something different and that's been hard.
So just to even change my mind towards, I don't have to now be the hand. That's like sat on top of, on the chair. And like, it can't move. It's actually somebody else comes into visitation at that point in our lives. And so I think there's actually a whole freedom factor just to that. Yeah. Yeah. And I think so.
So that's kind of the point that I'm getting at is like, cause I mean you for you, right? Like. You have two kids, but yours are much older than ours. Not much older, but yeah, but it's crazy how just a couple of years. Yeah. And so, and so like your availability to maybe your community was different when they were toddlers versus when you were single and that's going to be different when they're 16 and when they're 18.
And so I think that like, if we're trying to measure. The depth of our relationship with Jesus and our purpose by just how many people are patting us on the back and seeing what we're doing, we're gonna be very unsatisfied in life because like we go through seasons where we're going to have to do a lot of stuff that no one's ever been to see or notice.
And so I think that when our joy and our purpose and our. Our, um, the way that we measure our missional living, right as just being present with what we have in this season. In this moment, we get to live full of joy, not comparing, um, not, not feeling like our pride is hit because at one season I was on stage and another season I wasn't on stage.
Now we're in a season of being on stage again, right? Like I don't ever know where we're going to go, but like the depth of my relationship with Jesus comes from knowing Jesus, that's it, it is not driven by my circumstances. And when all of a sudden you can have a marriage and a family where Jesus is at the center.
Now those relationships get to experience that same joy. And I think that's why so many times in the Bible, it talks about becoming like a child and having that mindset of being able to play and take joy where you're at, because a kid doesn't walk onto a playground and be like, well, I wonder how much this jungle gym costs or thing to climb or rocks and just, they just play.
You know what I mean? It's not, they're not, they're not thinking of all the things that we think about as adults. Um, that's kind of the approach that we want to take in life is we just want to feel like we're playing and every season, if there's, there's a lot of kids at the playground, if there's one kid at the playground, if there's a jungle gym, or if there's not like we're just here to, to show up to play and to take joy in what God has kind of given us in this.
Yeah. And honestly, if I think about you two together, I have always thought of you guys as so placed playful because you take what little you have or what much you have and you turn it into a good time. And I think that that's such a powerful thing to have, and even taking the same analogy and thinking through like, as a child, when you learn something new, a new part of your body, right?
It becomes the coolest part of your body at that point. Like when a kid first learns about their tongue and they're like spitting and like sticking their tongue out all the time, all the way to when they discover their hands and now they're eating them all the time. Like if we could become so adventurous with our own role in the body at that point, then when we go to the playground and there's only one person like our children.
That becomes their best friend versus, oh, there's not a lot of people here. And I think that's where success versus missions can kind of come into play is like, oh, I don't have that many followers or I don't have that much impact, but really it's the one person that now will never forget you because you guys are best friends and played tag for an hour.
Yeah. You guys are good at, I think personally, I feel like whenever I'm with you, you're fully with me and there's not, you're not thinking about the magnitude of impact that you have on a consistent basis and could have tomorrow night when you're on stage with, you know, thousands of people in front of you.
And he's really good at that. He's like a joy bomb. So I like to join in on the phone. I don't always think of the fun participate. But I think I want to add to that for it just being different seasons of life, I've realized more than ever that I can't do anything apart from God, like nothing. And this has been probably the hardest season.
I mean, it's, it's getting better. We're getting into a really good flow, but for like three months there, when he was on ADT, when we were in LA, when we were living in a hotel for two months, we just adopted our son's older brother. It's not the natural order. He was beating up, you know, they under it, it was just very chaotic and crazy.
You know, I was like on guard all the time. Cause it's like, I can't, I can't look away for a second cause that there might be a pillow over my head. Like it was just very intense and, you know, um, I, I really like have been sharing more than ever just, um, God has me on such a short leash and I feel like every time I start to get off track and I'm like leaving him out of the equation, he's like, come back, come back over.
You can't do this without me. You're going to need me and man, the last, like three, four months, you know, before we moved here, It was intense. And I felt like I was trying to even old coping mechanisms. I mean, we've talked about this. I was, you know, turning to even like CBD, right? Like did it to like calm myself to like fix me because it was such a highly stressful situation.
And I didn't want to be in that season. I'm like, I can't do this. This is too much. I can't do this as a single mom because he was working so much. I can't like I can't do this by myself. And God is constantly like, yes, you can. And bring me back to this place. Like you need nothing, none of that, nothing else, except for me.
And that's the only way you're gonna be able to do this and not wish my way out of that process. You know what I mean? He's doing stuff in me. He's teaching me how to love unconditionally and to choose outside of what I feel and to not react to everything. And, you know, anyways, so it's just been like, uh, this has been one of the hardest seasons ever, but also the most.
Growing challenging and fruitful to like, to just see even now where the boys are. Yeah. Loving each other. And I didn't tell him challenging, not in the way of like, oh, this is so hard, but more, it's more of like of the things we're having to learn. Right. There's not, I think that's the thing that's sometimes is weird and scary and stressful is like, everything we're doing right now is 100% different from, and we have no, one's really talked about it.
Cause I don't know anyone that's adopted an older sibling and also like. I would have, I would rather have in that season, just been going and speaking, but God was like, this is your mission field. This is your ministry and path like read, you know, remind myself that this is my ministry. Like, and to think through all of the ministry that you guys have done up into this point, like you've impacted so many already where, you know, some people are in their fifties and their kids are out of the nest.
And now they're just now coming to that and not in a comparison mode, but just like the lives that you've already impacted now. And now being able to pour that into psilocin and Zander, I mean, it's amazing to witness and to know, even in the midst of that, the people who you've become sources of light and love from God through you, they're speaking your name and places that you're not hanging.
That's like crazy right. To think through. And so it's just, it's a testimony to the fact that when we're called into that shortly Lee's experience, you know, a lot, there's so much provision in that short leash. And it's literally bringing me my, our dog littlest one Dayla um, she has been wandering into people's garages lately.
We got 14 nips. Awesome. Until the short leash experience didn't happen last night. And she went into the neighbor's yard and got attacked by a dog and got sent, had immediately go to emergency vet has a tube out of her now with a ton of stitches. And so, as you're saying shortly leash, I'm thinking God's protecting.
Because good. Make the choice to have somebody come in and watch the kids and go and do ministry and leave all the time. And you guys be living separate paths as you go to pursue what we think is missions. But Ted him keeping you on that short leash is actually just protecting you and saying home is where the heart is.
Right. And I want you in this space. And so it's just a perfect visual analogy. That's happening in my brain as you're sharing this. Yeah. And for me, I think that like we got a foremost, like God's desire for us is that we would be satisfied in life and satisfied by knowing him. Right. Because he is where the truest sense of wholeness and joy comes from.
And I think that sometimes, like, I think sometimes at the church, we're kind of like tricked into thinking we're doing something different, but we're actually. Doing the same as the world. It's just, we just stand for something different. And so for me, it's like if our sole purpose is to enjoy God and we're trying to help other people do the same, but we're not enjoying God and we're trying to help other people enjoy God.
I think it becomes so see-through. And I always think of it as like, like six flags theme park. If I get a job at six flags and they're like, Hey, Dustin, your job is to go out and to promote this place and like tell people how great it is. I could a just go out and start telling me why six flags, right. Or I could take a couple of days and just actually ride the rides and actually fall in love with the place.
And then when I go out and I'm like, dude, this place, like, I'm actually gonna mean it. If someone asks me, well, how tall is this roller coaster? And how long has it been rough? I don't need to know all the answers to convince someone that I freaking love this place. Right. And I think sometimes we do the opposite.
We start studying, we start thinking, why need to be smarter than everybody I need, I need to be able to answer the questions correctly. And we don't ever think maybe I should actually experience the presence of God and then talk from that place. And so I think that the thing that's actually so fun and so free is actually that we get to exist.
We get to live this kind of lifestyle where God's like, Hey, if you want to experience freedom, here's boundaries. First of all, I think is weird. And I think that's where people, the reality is is that boundaries create freedom because when we go outside of those boundaries and we become injured or become hurt, like with your dog, we're able to actually do far less.
And so our freedom actually becomes hindered when we start deteriorating, who we are. And so I think that when we become okay with living within the boundaries of Christ, we acknowledged the freedom that's there. And then when we start living with true freedom in a world, that's looking for freedom and all the wrong places.
People genuinely noticed it. Right? Like, and when, so when people start wanting to come into our space, and this is what I think evangelism is, it's, it's inviting people into a space that we live in. We create freedom for ourselves and we get to invite people into that. We don't go out and say, Hey, you should come to church on Sunday and hear someone else talk about the Bible.
Right? Like, not that that's bad, but it's not as empowering as realizing that we get to be people's space of freedom because we experienced that. And so, um, it's the hardest thing to realize sometimes when we're, when we take a step back and I'm like, now I feel like we should be doing more. Yeah. Maybe we should.
And maybe we should start with stepping away from everything and just knowing God again and getting excited about who he is and what he's done in our lives. Because when, when that's on the forefront of our mind, I don't go into conversations. Well, how can I bring up Jesus? How can I guide us towards Jesus?
When people ask what's happened, I'm like, dude, the things God has been doing has been praising God. And then we're telling just real stories of what's happening in our lives. Having to conjure up some conversation to, to manipulate the conversation, to go toward the gospel, we're just living in it. And so when we have conversations, it's just what happens.
It's what comes up naturally. And I think you guys have always, well, I say always like we're always becoming, but I have so many times because I'm investigator anyway, and I have questions out the wazoo, but you guys are so forthtelling in it. And I think that's a space of conviction on my end that you guys are willing to share the highs and the lows, the struggle points.
And then also the glory points where God comes in, provide. Right. And it's abnormal, even in this conversation thus far, you all sharing things that are like friction points and like not always easy to say and speak out loud about
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One area that I've always loved. Your all surrender in is your financial surrender and how you have just, you know, bare minimum, been able to make life happen. Abundantly and not ever starved quote unquote. And I say that lightheartedly, knowing, you know, things that are in other countries, they don't have access to, but it's such a, it's such a conversation point that I think so many people need to hear more often because it is constantly being tainted as the fruit that everyone needs in order to have money, you have to, that's where it resides.
Right. And so talk to us through like how you all have maintained that sense of humility and also that sense of trust and faith like that mustard seed faith in times. It's been really trying. Yeah. I love talking about this.
Well, actually, so Dustin just taught me so much. Like he was the one discipling me when I met him and even being a missionary, like he obviously learns how to live on a little, you know, and be really frugal. I didn't really have that kind of background. Like we just never, it wasn't like that for our family, but, um, like we would always joke that he gave away two cars, but he never bought a car.
Like God just always provided for him what he needed in that time. And then he was so radically obedient, even when it didn't make sense, you know? And, um, so when we were, were we married yet? When we were praying, God, just, we were praying. It was either right before we got married or after that was it, we were just praying, God, give us whatever you say.
We need to spread your truth from here to there. Like whatever you say. And I was like, within a week, we probably were like $10,000 worth of studio equipment, just given to us. Brand new mix computers. Someone gave us, his friend bought us a speaker, like, um, just crazy, but we made the hallway. We it's so fun.
We had to look back at these pictures. We made the hallway into a recording booth and our landlord in the hallway and he cut back probably.
Well, we all started.
a bunch of holes in the wall and the door.
Right. He cut a square in the door of the hallway, plexiglass for the reporting, but my thought was the other apartments didn't even have that door in the hallway. So I was like, when we leave here, I'll just throw the door away. And then they won't even know that it's missing because you don't even have a door
because thinking back I'm like, why? Anyways, it was crazy though. We had everything we needed. All we needed left was foam for the walls, right. To cover the wall. And we were driving down to skid row where we were doing ministry full-time to say hi to the guys, as we were driving to another area to buy foam.
Well, as we're passing through skid row, we run into a friend of ours, this Asian guy who would like drive around skid row five days a week and does handout like dollar bills, just so sweet. And he just handles a lot of cash out of the blue and it ended up being like the exact amount we needed for the phone.
Like, we didn't even actually have money to go buy the phone. We're just going to go look at it. Like everything like that was step-by-step just like God leading us. And, um, and it was wild because even in those times of just, you know, not having a lot, I mean, I remember I had $2 and 14 cents in my bank account.
He had $4 and we were praying, you know, cause God was, we were doing full time homeless ministry. And so we were praying like, God, should we get jobs? Because we feel like we're supposed to do full-time ministry, but this is scary. You know, I never had such little amount. And through that whole process, he was challenging us to be open-handed BJ.
No matter what, like, nothing is ours. And so, um, we were on our knees praying that night after we still $6. So we have like wondering how we're going to get gas or eat that week. And we go to church and the pastor gives us an envelope with a card in it, and it has a a hundred dollars gift card. And it just said it was anonymous.
It said, keep doing what you do. You're doing you guys. So once we got that card, the next morning I was having a quiet time and our friend just hit one year being sober from meth. He was blind. He had a crazy testimony. We wanted to take him to this all, you can eat sushi spot. And we were like, we want to treat you like you're hitting one year.
This is so cool. And, um, anyways, he offered to drive. He's like, no, he's like, you guys all pay. If you drive. And we're like, we're obviously going to drive your blinds.
We ended up, I felt like we were supposed to use that a hundred dollars for the sushi. I'm like, God, that's crazy. That means we're going to have like $10 left. That's so irresponsible. That was like the most God asked us to give with the least amount we'd ever had. And then he told me like an hour later, like, yeah, I feel like we're supposed to use that gift card for sushi.
Yeah. God called me to say Jesus. So it was so cool because we, um, Took him to sushi. And the very next morning, a family friend called us and was like, Hey guys, I've been supporting this ministry for like two years. I give them $1,300 a month. Um, but they're doing well. And I felt like the Lord told me to start giving you $1,300 a month.
So you can just keep doing full-time ministry and keep running. And she's like, I'm also going to give you $10,000 gifts on top of that, not knowing what she was even seeding into, like that 10 grand helped him build a whole magic stage show. It helped us move to Texas when we became missionaries that helped us bring her, but like all these things.
like, we, he has asked us, it's just like obedience, that doesn't make sense to anyone. And people think it's really irresponsible a lot of times, you know, if I ever shows like, no, no, don't do that. That's crazy. But. In the midst of that, like, we didn't have a lot, but we learned to live on such a little amount and we had everything we needed, always.
And, um, but there were times that were very, um, tempting that, you know, it was, it would be easy to compromise. Like, um, E entertainment was doing a show about Christians living in LA. They loved Dustin. They really wanted him to be on it. They wanted me to be on it. They wanted my brother to be on it because they wanted me on it's there's that tie.
And we were praying and felt like God said no. And you know, you never know what they could twist or make you feel it could hurt our witness. It can make us look bad. You just never know the intentions. And so, um, you know, even my brother was really upset with me. Like, I can't believe you're not taking this.
You're crazy. Like, and we just felt like God said no, so we didn't do it, but they're offering like 10 grand each per episode, something wild. And we didn't have any money at the time. And we still said no. And then there was. You know, just other times like that, where we really had to pray and stay sensitive and we just didn't take it just because it was an offer.
And, um, it even just seeing how that's led us to, uh, I have to share the adoption story really quick because when we moved to Texas and we were adopting our first son Zander, we, again, we were full-time missionaries. We had nothing, we were living totally on support. This woman was still giving us $1,300 a month and we just made it work with that.
And we were in the process of adopting. We were going home to see our family. Um, right before we went to see our families, for them to meet Zandra, we gave friends of ours, $400. We felt like God said, give them $400. They both have full-time jobs. They do really well. They lived in Dallas and we're like, why?
we don't know why. And so we did it. And then the next day we get hit with a $2,800 bill from the attorney saying we needed it the next day for Sanders adoption fees and all this stuff for the attorneys. So we ask our friends was the first time in four years that we ever borrowed money. Like God always provided every single month, right on time and wild stories.
So we borrowed money from our friends. They're like, sure, no problem. I'm like, we'll pay you back in the next two months. We'll be able to pay you. And so. They write the check for us. And then we were talking like, okay, we're going home to see our families. Do we go to a church? Do we do like a love offering?
Does he do a magic show? Like, should we raise money? Like fundraising, because we got to pay that. So, I mean, I would like to not have to wait two months to pay them. So we're trying to purchase a kid here, just give us some cash. So God was clearly being the both of us know, just go home, be with your families, let them meet the vendor, let them enjoy them.
Don't raise money. And so we went to Ohio, then we went to Pennsylvania and we went to lunch with some family, friends in Pennsylvania. Um, we didn't talk about money at all. No adoption fees, nothing about they just met Zander. That was it. And so at the end of the lunch, the wife was praying, God, I pray you would just provide everything the family needs for Zander and adoption.
And, um, after she finished praying for us, the husband was like, as my wife was praying, um, I th I re I was reminded in my quiet time this morning that God told me, um, take care of my children. That's what he spoke to me. I was just now reminded as she was praying that we just sold a property and we haven't fully tied on that property yet.
And so I want to write you a check for that for the rest of the rest of the 10%. And it was $3,000. He wrote a free set and we just paid 2,800. So not only did he give us, God provided every penny, he gave us a little extra overflow, like it's so good. And you're listening to this and you're like being mind blown over and over again.
And like, again, we could sit here all day and have these stories come out of this couple. And it's amazing. We haven't even really touched base on the fact that ADT has come to fruition, the way that it has and the sacrifice that it took to get to that place. Right. You know, a lot of people just like overnight success Dustin's about right.
And you're like, oh, it didn't work like that. Yeah, there's been all this transition, all of the, you know, changes and the mindset shifts that have happened in the midst of all of that too. So the glitz and glamor that might be on stage every night, it's like coming home and working through change and working through evolution and working through not having, you know, your best friends next to you or your family close by, and it's blessings in the midst of that journey.
Right. Every single day. And I just think that there's, I can't wait to actually to be a friend and watch everything unfold in the process and, you know, continue to pray for you guys in it. Um, but what as like take home things for somebody listening to this podcast, knowing that there's a thousand other stories that we're going to have to get you on separately for like, w where is your heart right now?
Like where are you being led in evolution and the becoming and sanctification of your relationships with God and that knowing season, what do you teaching you.
It's really building community have people that were doing life with that. Again, we're able to just play with really, you know what I mean? Like people that were able to kind of have fun and have great conversations and then also people that we can be encouraging and discipling as well. Even when you ask that, I was just thinking of, I think sometimes that could seem hard because it's like, man, where are my people?
But I think when, when your pursuit is finding a life, finding the wholeness of who God is and how we experienced that wholeness, you find yourself relating with people who maybe you wouldn't think you would relate with, or, or you just get to connect on the things that matter. And it's not about people being in the same season of life.
It's not about any of these things. You know, you find yourself sometimes surrounded by people that you just thoroughly enjoy because you get to experience wholeness. And I even think of like, you know, when you got, and it was so amazing getting to become friends with you guys in the beginning of. We were kind of broke and we're like, Hey, we want to get to know you want to buy us dinner so we can all hang out.
But like, it was great. It's like, we just all have become such close friends and we've become family with you guys. And it's like, Jesus has just been the center of this thing the whole time. And it's just, we've just been in this space of so valuing that. And it's funny, the things as adults that we probably should be spending our money on and buying, but.
I just like toys and things to be doing life with people with to be able to invite you and $30 couches.
But only because I feel like the things that God is so broad to a place of valuing is like being outside, doing things that, um, you're able to invite people into to share. Right. So, so, so anything that we invest into, anything that we put our time or money into it's things that we can share, things that are going to encourage community and, um, which has been fun.
His, he has two nights off Mondays and Tuesdays, and we've been just having like lots of friends that he's been making it work over. Like a lot of the ushers people that work on the staff there, my neighbors been coming over with her kids and just it's been so fun. Oh. Which reminds me too of, I think one of the things, one of the takeaways that I hope that people are listening, that.
If you want to see your life be one where, where ministry is the center and just do the things that God has you doing now and leaving the fullness of that. Cause you know, when, when carries them out before, when, when the lady and said, Hey, I want to give you guys $1,300 and $10,000 on top of that, we felt like we were supposed to be just fully like not having jobs, doing the homeless thing there everyday with these guys.
And, um, and that like, cause we were thinking, man, we were praying, I was supposed to go and work. I was supposed to get jobs, but we thought we weren't supposed to. And um, and sometimes no seasons seems to be like water. One needs to quit their jobs and new ministry. Right. But, but now I do have a job every night I go in, I clock in, I clocked out and most of the ministry and all that, that happens from my work.
Right. And so you have one season of our life where everything was wrapped around, going out, meeting people on the streets, ministering to the homeless, to now ministering. The people that I work with, some of them are also very successful. Some of them are not successful, but that doesn't matter. Right.
It's like, God just hasn't been present in the space that we're in and the chapter we're in. So as we were talking, just kind of full circle on our back of our conversation of the body part that you might be playing in this season, like it's going to change. Don't let comparison, Robin, that it's easy to look at things through the Christian box of what ministry is supposed to look like.
But if you're in a season of working at McDonald's, if you're a doctor, if you're working late nights, if you're working early mornings, if you're a parent, if you're single. Just be the fullest version of you in the season that you're in and know that God is going to use that, but that has nothing to do with the fact that you're not a pastor on a stage on Sunday, unless I'm that God's not going to use me with where you are right now.
And he wants you to have fun doing it. And the only way, you know, how to do that is by drawing here. Like we just have to make space and like spend time with him. And that's where for me too, like learning that he's put people always in each season, right in front of me. And a lot of times I miss it, something about the next thing or like something bigger.
Right. Cause I have big dreams I have. And so I miss like, you know, the people he literally puts next door to me who, um, need loved on and need encouragement. And so just making more space for that, um, has been awesome. And even, but also not being afraid of. Like yesterday. I was really excited. I finally did like my first video, like you helped me shoot it.
And I just want to make a fun video about all of them, like Goodwill, thrift store marketplace.
You can do that. I don't know. I was totally thinking of you this past weekend. It wasn't a thrift store. Fine, but my girl ends up boutique here locally and she was having $5 racks and this jacket I got, I was like,
cool. I'm like,
it's thrilling because I get to where it's new to me. And at the same time I'm saving money. So I love it. I recently had a friend yell at me because I mean, there's still, I mean, it's just like, there's still. Yeah, I mean this stuff and like furniture on a trash, I put stuff together and like, we need to crates for something.
There's some lady throwing stuff. I was like, yo, you throwing those away. But my friend y'all need other days. When are you going to stop doing poor people?
I to stop
this lady now, I just gotta cook. They have a conversation with this lady throwing on her trash that wouldn't have happened
visit. They're like, bro, why am I helping you carry a couch out of Goodwill? If you just want Americans back out, what are you doing? It's fun. Then having extra money to invest in the people. Why do I want to buy.
Oh, there was a pen.
We all need to be taking financial notes right now. We talked talking about success and business. No, to talk about marriage and parenthood. I mean, this conversation has been so plentiful and I think ultimately it goes back to something I'm even learning right now is like, as we get to know, God, we can even go back to the playful parables of our childhood.
The thing that you've probably heard a thousand times, like this is something that was a revelation to me last week about Jesus feeding 5,000 and as an playing a new part, a new body part. I was receiving that old traditional parable in an entirely new way, because. Standing in the parable with different eyes, instead of looking to the miracle of Jesus, because I'm in a space where I feel like I'm in a blessing season, right.
And I am playing a different role that I was actually looking to the lens and through the lens of the disciples and how self-righteous they were, how whiny they were, how much they doubted, how much they kept, like trying to protect Jesus. And Jesus is like, I've got this girl, like leave me alone. You're tired and cranky.
And I've got work to do so move over. And it made me recognize that like, that's a part of the exploration that we get to go with. Childlike faith towards the word, the same word that you read when you were 12 in CCD confirmation class or the same word that you've never even been exposed to, but you know what.
Just because you know about it, um, to just seek and find like from a different lens in this season, how he could train you up through those areas and really leaning into the knowing side of who he is, because I've now been able to teach that specific scripture in such a different way, because I rode the rollercoaster differently.
Right. Like I actually rode with a nuisance station. And so I love that analogy. And I just love you guys and how you, I feel do this all the time for me, even without knowing.
Yeah. Such an example to us too, of just like. Um, just blessing friends who like, maybe don't make a lot of money. We all go out right. For meals and stuff together. And just like you all to just pick up the Gary, never literally as ever not happening. It's been fun being on that end now. Right. Being able to do that for people has been really, really fun.
Yes, I am. No, that it's just the beginning, honestly. And, and everything that we've walked through to get to this is, is a part of where this is going even just in our friendship and like, it's God just showing different parts of his character in the process. And that's the part that I am most eager for is like, God, who else are you that I've yet to be revealed to?
And, um, it's, it's amazing. And so. What people need more than anything is more so the intimacy in the conversations like this and why I love this podcast so much is because we can get raw and real and vulnerable and, you know, celebrate the highs and talk about the lows. And, um, I'm just grateful for your all's transparency today.
And I can't wait to have you back on the show. Well, thank you so much. We will be in the same place instead of I'll be in LA next week. And honestly, just to share with you guys since we're live, why not? You guys can get to the back end conversations of our friendship. I was thinking about the fact that you guys aren't going to be there.
And when you were talking about like the ministry that you did in the streets this past weekend, God revealed a revelation in regards to our going to LA. And I've been kind of like, why am I doing this? Is this really like moving the needle towards our mission, me getting on stage and talking about.
Podcast, video creation. And I have had no stress, no concern about what I'm going to say. I haven't prepped anything. I haven't had to necessarily open the word to prepare that. And so I, I told Gary on Saturday, I was like, it feels so freeing to like, I don't feel like there's as much weight to what I'm gonna say on stage.
Right? Like this is, is so cool. It's so lighthearted. Then Sunday morning at church, totally convicted by the holy spirit. And he said, actually, this is the heaviest hardest work you've ever done. And you need to be prepared because you're going into the secular space that I've given you grace to show up as be the light, be everything that you are.
It shouldn't be hard, but don't, don't put your light under a basket when you're on that stage. And so it was just like, ah, like people want to go to the nations. Right. And they want to think that the place that we testify as in Africa or in Ukraine right now, but it's. It could be in LA. It could be in your backyard.
It could be in your home, in that moment. And so I was just thinking of you all in conjunction with that and to be like how much you all were able to transform in that city, by being who you were on a basket. Thank
I love you. I love you. I love you. I love the God within you. How about that?
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