Mikinzi + Vance

This past week I was able to do a fun photo-shoot with these two. I currently work with Vance and I had met his girlfriend, Mikinzi a few months ago. Ever since I met her I’ve been dreaming of doing a shoot (I think it was the blue hair) — so we finally made it happen. I had a blast hangin’ with them, very laid back and fun! So, enjoy some of the shots!
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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?

living for others

TeaI’ve been thinking a lot lately about living for others. I know that’s what we are taught in Sunday School, this sweet “share your toy” sort of living for others, but I’m realizing that it (obviously) looks much different. It’s a ferocious kind of lifestyle that fights for others, a generous sacrificial one that gives all he has, an intentional one that listens well and so much more. This isn’t a new concept for me but I think it’s becoming more true in me. I journeyed into YWAM (youth with a mission) to do missions a few years ago, but looking back– in a lot of ways it was more for me. More so I could see Iceland, or have an experience. Which none of that is wrong necessarily, but when that becomes our sole motivation it’s a bit dangerous — but more on that maybe another time.

So what does it look like to lead a lifestyle dedicated to loving those around us? “Simply put: love does.” says Bob Goff. This implies action. Love is moving, fluid, with arms outstretched.

I’ve been inspired to take action. I don’t only want live this sort of lifestyle, but  to take note and display those around who already are. I have a friend who works for an organization that gives free psychiatric care  to veterans suffering from PTSD. I have another friend who has recently sold everything and moved to a tiny village in Uganda to serve at an orphanage. And another who recently set out to visit safe homes harboring women rescued from sex trafficking in six or so different countries. I could go on and on. These aren’t just people I’ve heard of from others, but people I know.

Now, in order to display love or “live for others” (although incredible and necessary) I don’t believe you must move over seas to an under-developed country and help the destitute. I was having dinner with my friend who works for the non-profit helping veterans, Keri, and we were mulling this topic over. So often “doing good for others” creates this category of people in desperate need, those suffering from starvation, needing clothes, shelter, water, etc. These are basic needs that absolutely need to met. But do you ever wonder, just like in any system, the people in-between? Someone may not be dying of starvation, but they could be suffering from the emotional trauma of never being accepted, or maybe a child has food, water and shelter but needs a bike. They may not need a bike for survival but something of the sort to restore to them their childhood. This is still something I’m still mulling over, but I do believe it’s an area that needs attention.

This thought process is much too long for a simple blog post which is why I wanted to kickstart a journey to tell others stories and inspire people to live for others.

Until then, I (double dog) dare you to love on one person today. Not just your spouse, friend or family, but a stranger. Compliment someone, help someone carry their drinks to their table at Frothy, buy the person behind you in line’s meal/drink–heck, buy their groceries!

Icelandic Cold

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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

Rhythm

“There is a rhythm, a movement back and forth in the way He created the world and its systems. The ocean swells and undulates, we inhale and exhale. An infant requires rhythm of attention (stimulation) and rest. Our spiritual lives are much the same. We as individuals and communities must move in rhythms of inward experience (winter, fall) to outward expression (spring, summer)——from intimacy to changing the world around us, or from hidden to known. Lately the change undergoing Grace Center and church bodies elsewhere seems to be this transition from inward focus on healing & intimacy to outward —- outreach & empowerment. In order to sustain this move we must keep the healing while moving. I feel God speaking that the transition we (Felicia & I) are undergoing is of the same kind.” -Tyler wrote this just before we left for Iceland and it left such and impression and I’ve been pondering over it throughout this trip to Iceland. I think that’s what Papa showed us both through refreshment, rest and releasing—-that it’s a new season of “exhaling” for us. Beautiful.