hope

Hope

“The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day He created Spring.”
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thankfulness brings breakthrough

Joe's

“The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live….” – Albert Schweitzer, Reverence for Life
Today I drove out to Leiper’s Fork, TN  to go to this adorable cafe,  Joe Naturals. Every time I drive out this way I’m reminded of the beauty of Tennessee that I often forget. Rolling hills, dreamy farm houses and beautiful horses. The leaf-less branches are lovely, even though I can’t wait to see life bloom from them. While I ate my healthy vegetarian fix (the  amazing veggie is just that…amazing) I thought about life revelations I’ve had. I collect them like picking flowers in a field: you reap what you sow, forgiveness brings life, live for others and then there’s one I’ve been mulling over these past few weeks: thankfulness brings breakthrough.
When I am thankful, focusing on what is instead of what isn’t, I am happier. Thankfulness only begets more thankfulness. This “life principal” of living daily saturated in thankfulness is more than being thankful for everything, covering it all with one big blanket labeled “thanks.” No, it’s deeper and richer than that. This rich, consuming, passionate thankfulness sees the small, seemingly insignificant gems that we so often brush past.
Once a speaker suggested we speak out what we are thankful for until we run out of words. You’d be surprised at how quickly this can happen. Give it two, maybe even three minutes. After you’ve thanked God for your spouse, your house, food, shelter, your children, your dog, transportation, community, essentially the basics, you start slowing down. At least, this is what happened to me.
But I pushed through—
finances…
your grace & love
the flowers in full bloom
the clouds at sunset….
(pause)
(think)
puppy cuddles
lazy sundays on fridays
kindness from strangers
the man who opened the door for me
my socks
toilets and toilet paper
the smell of new books
(weep)
Yep, I wept. I wept right after (out loud) I thanked God for toilet paper. It was breakthrough. You see, previous to this exercise I was frustrated, dare I say angry, at God. I can’t even remember what about, but something wasn’t going the way I thought it should and I was entitled to more. (Note to self: anytime you begin feeling entitled — time to take action — it’s a problem!). During the exercise I saw my selfishness, I saw my fear, my heart was exposed only to show the ugly places I harbored ingratitude. Here’s another truth: ingratitude, frustration, and overall discontentment– when dwelled upon == only begets more ingratitude, frustration and discontentment. And worse, it begins to birth bitterness which is an evil that will suck the life out of you quicker than anything. This I know to be true, proof: my nickname for a period of my life was “Bitter Betty.” The simple act of speaking out what I was thankful for, brought on a deep revelation that thankfulness brings breakthrough. That revelation, paired with intention, changed my life.
…..
What are you thankful for?

“You were not designed to sit around and look at your belly button. You were designed to be interested and compelled by something outside yourself. This is why the feeling of love is so pleasant, because it finally frees us from thinking about ourselves all the time.”

-Donald Miller, Storyline

sleepless nights and restless days

Ever since we let our little puppy, Míka, into our hearts and home we’ve come up against a challenge: house training. For some of you that brings up memories of pee on your favorite sweater, chewing up that expensive shoe or sentimental leather journal or the worst: the foul smell of puppy poo. To keep most of these things from happening and to train her well she stays in her kennel through the night. Then, every two and a half hours we take turns, groggy-eyed, taking her outside to do her puppy business. This severely messed up our sleeping patterns at first, but now we’ve kind of gotten used to it.

#worthit

#worthit

Normally after my shift I find it hard to fall back to sleep right away, so I’ll get on my smart phone and surf Pinterest or see what the latest photos are on Instagram until my eyes hurt so bad from the contrast of the dark room and back-lit screen I can’t help but shut them and fall back to sleep. Recently though, I decided I would fill my mind with more than recipes, DIY’s, and photos of other people’s food. I moved all my social media apps to the last page, and moved all the blogs of friends who were doing missions to my front page. Two nights ago I couldn’t fall asleep for the first time since I made this decision. And we’ll see how this worked out…

 
A friend of mine, Joanna Branson (who I mentioned in my last post), is on a six-month journey doing research on safe houses that provide rehabilitation to women rescued from sex-trafficking. She’s a spunky little five-foot-one, so-tiny-you-could-fit-her-in-your-pocket sort of girl with immense amounts of courage. Just catching up on her blog (which I said I would read but haven’t yet, sorry Joanna!) stoked embers in me that hadn’t been aflame since I left Kenya in 2011. It’s eerily easy to forget the injustice happening in the world–maybe not forget completely, that wouldn’t be possible, but forget the urgency. As I read her post in which she shared the rage she felt I too felt it. I felt the confusion of how God’s love covers both sides, I felt the helplessness she felt, but mostly I wanted to get up out of bed, pack my bags, wake up Tyler and say “we’re going!” Here’s a quote from that post:
 

“…I’m mad because a village here encourages their daughters to save their virginity in order to sell it to a foreigner. When they do, they go for $2000 USD and the village throws a celebration that honors the parents using the money. I’m disgusted that I’m mad at them more than I am the perverted foreigners….I’m really the most angry because there are internet blogs that rate the red light districts right next to me. They rate the women with explicit details and give creative ideas on how to trick them into lowering their prices. They gave maps with detailed instructions. I filtered through this and made a map of where all the trafficked women are, which street corner, which doorway, what times. From Russian to African to whatever you’re looking for. And the blog writers know they are trafficked. I’m so mad that I read those things and made that map because now I’m sitting up at night looking at the clock knowing exactly where the Russian girls stand and where the Russian embassy is and I’m still completely useless. I’m so mad at how easy it was to find out those things. I don’t know where to go from here.  I talk to God and I am awestruck at how faithful His love is. He loves the women, their parents, the men, the ladyboys, the men who beat up the ladyboys, and He moves and He rescues and He recklessly pursues all of them.  But right now all I can feel is boiling furious rage. I don’t want to go home yet, but I would right now- I want to go to a place where I can speak the language and scream and tell people where this is happening and what time they should go pick these women and men up and help them get home. But even then, would that change anything?…”

 
Alas, I didn’t buy plane tickets, I didn’t pack our bags, and I didn’t wake up Tyler. I fell back asleep only to wake up, make breakfast, snuggle with my man and enjoy our morning. I don’t think this is wrong, but it scares me how easily I put what I had felt so passionately at the back of my mind. It didn’t stay there long though, because later in the day I began to feel this restlessness rise up in me. I couldn’t shake it. The problem was I wanted a fun day. I wanted to be cute and married and silly, getting coffee at Fido’s, doing our grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s, and I was mostly excited to get some Mast Brother’s chocolate from Barista Parlor (nom nom nom nom). Still, I couldn’t shake this heaviness, this weight. 
 
Please don’t misread my heart, these are things I am super passionate about, I think I just find myself internally conflicted. Like I said to Tyler– “On the same device I can read about the horrors of sex trafficking and also find a DIY craft for that chair I never sit in.” Which is not bad. I started to feel even more restless, I couldn’t enjoy our day. Instead of trying to push and root for the carefree day I had expected, I yielded to the emotions and passion welling up in me. I outwardly processed with Tyler what I was feeling inside and then we prayed. We prayed for about a half and hour blessing those on the front lines, calling down favor, and mostly asking how to pray. The weight lifted, and our day was still a blast, and wasn’t “ruined” by the seriousness but it brought fulfillment to recognize. So until I feel the freedom to pack our bags, buy a plane ticket and go to the front lines. I will pray fervently. I will help bring information to the uninformed and I will stay informed. 
 
God is so good and so gracious and He wants us to enjoy the blessing we have. There is a way to bring them together. Social media, our blessings of clean water and food shouldn’t make us feel shame, but thankfulness. There’s a balance, as with everything in the Kingdom of Heaven. A “fun” day can include a DIY for that chair I never sit in AND praying for that girl being sold into sex slavery–all in the same day. 
 
Ignorance is not bliss.

 

Icelandic Cold

Image

As the days get somewhat colder here in Nashville I’m reminded of our recent trip to Iceland. By somewhat I mean 40 degrees here which isn’t much compared to Reykjavik’s “feels like 15 degrees” weather. But still, the cold reminds me of time spent there. Shivering to the bone as I would walk to meet a friend at a coffeehouse. You have to dress in layers though because as soon as you walk into any shop or home it’s about 80 degrees or warmer with the fireplaces going and sipping on heitt sukkulaði (hot chocolate).

This was especially true on this last trip we took at the end of October. It was during Iceland Airwaves–we didn’t get tickets, but we planned on attending many off-venue shows. Which meant we’d walk to a venue a few blocks away, wait to get in, freeze, then be in the venue pressed up to someone you don’t know as your craning your head around to see the artist and be burning up in your winter parka. It’s a blast, really!

I’ve yet to post about this adventure, it was so beautiful to be back where Tyler and I met. Back in the crisp air, remembering the first days we felt sparks, wondering if the other was thinking the same. Not to mention reuniting with old friends we hadn’t seen in a year or so. God spoke so clearly and favorably over us and we came home feeling completely refreshed.

Please enjoy some of the photos I took while listening to  Ólafur Arnalds , an Icelandic artist I saw three times. Yeah, I kinda like him…Image

The Reykjavik Harbour.

Image2012-11-05 23.46.512012-10-31 07.44.28Spending time with good friends.
2012-10-31 07.44.472012-11-03 10.45.222012-11-01 14.08.16Olafur performing at The Rex

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This year has been one for the books. Looking forward to 2013. Hope you had a merry christmas and have a happy new year!!

Bless,

Felicia Marie

Father Heart Sharing

 

daniellexrenee:

Team Canada day 7: @feliciaplease sharing the Father heart message with the healing room volunteers! #soslcanada (Taken with instagram)