Thursday, May 29, 2014

play it right || sylvan esso

today's song of the day

listening to this band until my ears fall off - so good.
They play it right.

stay brave.

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of seeing a great friend in another state.
We talked about a lot of things, caught up with one another, had fun.
It all started a feeling.
On the way to Jacksonville, I thought to myself: "I am no longer planning to go to Jacksonville; I am going to Jacksonville."  Once I got there and got out of the car, I had the same surreal feeling of, "wow, I'm not just planning it anymore, I am actually here!"  It was a pretty empowering feeling.
I thought through at random what else I have been planning for.  I am a super planner, and I love making plans.  If it was asked of me, I would find great joy in planning everyone else's lives, nonetheless, plan their days for them.  I get a thrill out of planning.  However, only about 5-10% of my plans actually follow through...  How many other times could I have felt this way, feeling like I'm actually doing something with my life, and knowing that I'm not just standing still?  Maybe to some people, this sounds like common sense, but to a lot of us in this world, we talk about all the places we want to go and all the things we want to try and things we want to do in the short time we are walking on the earth.  But most of us never really do anything more than just talk.  I have had quite a few times to leave the country, but each time, I have had some excuse - money, time, fear, etc. - that has prevented me from going out into the world and seeing it.  I have never left the United States.  {Thankfully I have a mind enough to know that America is not all there is, and America is not the best at everything}.  I have never experienced life outside of my own and it's made me even more fearful to go places far away.  I know that Jacksonville is a four short hours away from here, but it had a impact on my perspective of plans.  Why am I standing still? Why do I keep making these grand plans if I'm never going to follow through with them?  One of the goals I made for myself this year is to go out more and explore.  I think I'm off to an alright start, but I need to get out more, stopping making excuses, let God provide for me, and enjoy the world that's out there.  Money is no excuse; the car is no excuse; time is no excuse; I have the ability to do these things now, and while times may be tight, it should not stop me from experiencing what is here.  There are ways to have fun and not spend money; there are different ways to travel; there is a practice of "going with the flow" that I can learn to adapt.
Stop planning. Stay brave, and actually go.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

stay brave.

So I am not one who uses hashtags.  Or pound signs. Or sharp symbols.  Whatever you choose to call them.
But I think this can be one to excuse as acceptable, in my book.
Last weekend, I spent some good time with my good friend.
We went to the beach, went shopping, ate at the Cheesecake factory, talked a lot, sat in the sun, got some funky piercings, had tons of opportunities to laugh...
And among all that, we developed this little hashtag: stay brave.
We were actually on the beach talking about tattoos and what tattoos we had thought about getting.  The one that I was explaining to her involved a lot of thought and a lot of meaning.  One of the pieces of my [maybe someday] tattoos represents the deep meaning to me of the story of Jesus walking on water. The narrative reminds me that I am not in control of the waves; Jesus gives me that courage.  The water reminds me to stay brave and look to Jesus. AnnĂ©lise stopped me and said that she really liked that; prior to our time on the beach she said to me over and over that I was so brave to drive to Florida without a GPS, and that I was so brave to do other things I was explaining to her.  She said that 'stay brave' could be my slogan, and I can make t-shirts: "Stay Brave." And we could have a hashtag for it: #staybrave. It was only fitting for each of our lives right now; a reminder to stay brave in the big and little things.  
Throughout the rest of our time, we joked and encouraged each other with our new phrase: stay brave.
And so I bravely drove back to Cola the next day.
Miles apart, I miss her already, but we had such a great time, and we now have a few new inside jokes and memories together, including the encouragement of staying brave.

So stay brave, friends!!
What did you do with your Memorial Day Weekend?

Friday, May 23, 2014

she is the one || kopecky family band

today's song of the day

This is just the song that started off my morning.
Good background music to sunny, hot, blue skies.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

shoot christians say || tripp and tyler

So true.  Please stop it.
It makes me laugh.
So don't stop.

the sleeping dog

"...and when you both notice the sleeping dog, it may be tempting to awaken it.  It will be easy to awaken.  But creep quietly around the sleeping dog, lest you wake it.  Just leave it alone..."
-Words of a professor 
freshman year of college
And as I've gotten older, those words have grown more real and helpful.

I want to speak to young married people, specifically, but this can be intended for everyone.
All of us have different temptations and struggles, personally and maritally.
Often times you have been worried to share these temptations and struggles with your spouse, much less with others.  But you don't know what to do about it.  It's a burden, and the longer you conceal that burden, the heavier it becomes and it begins to infiltrate your thoughts and dreams, and you awake from a dream feeling guilty, or a fleeting thought crosses your mind from out of nowhere and you're wondering if anyone around you can knew what that thought was.  It is hard. It is heavy.
The situation my professor was referring to came out of a passage in the Old Testament.  I wish I could remember which passage it was, but I do remember it was Old Testament.  He was talking about attraction after marriage.  He shared that this has happened to him since he has been married, and he had been married for some time at that point.  He said to us something to the effect of, "You may think that attraction to another person goes away once you're married.  But it doesn't.  It's just as hard, if not harder.  And sometimes you notice that the person you find attractive also seems to notice you.  You might have a desire to know if your suspicion is true, and you may want to betray your own infatuation.  It will be hard to resist.  And when this happens, treat it like the sleeping dog.  When you both notice the sleeping dog, it may be tempting to awaken it.  It will be easy to awaken.  But creep quietly around the sleeping dog, lest you wake it.  Just leave it alone. Once you've awoken it, it won't go back to sleep..."
I remember listening to him and thinking a few things, 1) will this ever be the case for me? 2) why is he sharing this with us?  But as I've gotten older, I've become grateful to him for sharing. Why?  Because he was right.  Someone we look to for guidance, and whom we respect as a person and professor admitted that this has been a problem even for him; no one is subject to temptation.  Everyone is prone to this temptation.  And we, too, may experience this.  He prepared me for the truth.  And probably prepared a few others for the truth.  Now that I have struggles of my own, I at least know that I am not alone, and that the dog can stay asleep, even if it's tempting to wake it.
Why do I share this?
I want to encourage you in knowing the same truths: temptation is real; you are not alone; confess it to eachother, even if to no one else; and pray for strength to keep the dog asleep.  Don't be ashamed for struggling; don't be ashamed to have temptation; don't be ashamed to admit to it; be ashamed when you awaken it.  
It can stay asleep.  And it better stay asleep.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

africa || toto

the song of the day for May 18-May 31

Why? Because I miss Frank right now more than Toto misses the rains down in Africa.
10 more days.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Dear Summer Movies,

Dear X-Men: Days of Future Past,
You have always been my favorite group of superheroes. You come out this Friday.  Fortunately I will not be in town on Friday, otherwise I would go without Frank to see you.  You better be glad I wouldn't leave my homeboy hanging.  I am definitely looking forward to seeing you again Xavier, it has been a sad while.  Thanks for not dying after all.
Dear Million Ways to Die in the West,
I love laughing, and I think you will make me laugh.  I hear you're tight with Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Sarah Silverman, AND Liam Neeson... I think you and I are going to get along just fine. Besides, what better type of movie is there than humor + the wild west?
Dear The Fault In Our Stars,
Typically I wouldn't want to see someone like you.  I'm not much of one to see a sappy, sad, emotional movie like you appear to be.  But there is something sweet and mysterious about your roots and reasons that makes me think you would be one worth crying over.  Don't make me cry too much, or I'll get mad.
Dear Transformers: Age of Extinction,
I remember watching you as a small child and I loved playing with Optimus Prime figures when I went over to friend's houses.  When you first started showing on the Big Screen, I saw you every time, liking the general idea of the story, not so much the love story.  As I told the last guy, I'm not one for sappy, romance stuff.  This time, you have lost some of that weight and are shaping up to what I was hoping you'd be in the first place.  And you added Mark Wahlberg which is a huge "uh-huh" from me.
Dear Wish I Was Here,
You know, I am actually peacefully excited to see you.  Just your preview reminds me of the Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and I kinda like that.  Probably because you'll be a bit more realistic, admitting that you have error as being human, but you come to a point of realization that you are worth more than your dreams.  I think I will enjoy you as well.

You guys will be keeping me busy this summer.  Counting down.

Monday, May 19, 2014

thankful for...

Tonight,I am thankful for goonies who never say die, nutella by the keg, and a living room that received a very pretty face lift.  I'm missing hubby quite a bit, but I am thankful for friends who check on me throughout the day.  12.5 more days!

Earliest memory of seeing the Goonies?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

| dear frank |

To my dear husband Frank, who is also known as Panky:
I call you Panky because we bonded over the Little Rascals, and I loved the kid who called Spanky, Panky. So I pinned that name to you.  How do I love you? Let me count the ways... You are my best bud because we laugh - together - we play - together - we cry - together - we love - together.  You are so smart; your ability to understand new concepts and to absorb information to recall years later is incredible.  I am impressed.  What's more impressive is that you still think that I am smarter than you!  I'm flattered.  You encourage me to strive for my full potential, and you encourage me to keep going with life even when all I want to do is roll over in the grass and go to sleep.  You have hard times when you doubt yourself and feel that you are not worth anything, but honey, you are worth more than symbolic words can describe, and I love you more than the stars in the sky.  No one can replace the meaning of your life in mine.  I love watching you grow in your understanding of the world, in your relationship with God, and in the confidence you are daily finding within yourself.  Despite your doubts, you are so creative! I love seeing your miniatures which you are so proud of! I love listening to all of your ideas for the house that we want to build someday. I love seeing your face light at the mention of our someday-kids, our someday-pets, the events of the coming summer, the days of our retirement way in the future, the joy of having grandkids someday, the pleasure you find in reading a new book, when you reminisce about your childhood and memories of days spent with your Gramma.  You bring me so much joy, and so much happiness.  We have our tough days where we are fighting each other over a problem, and our tough days when we are fighting the problem together.  But in the midst of it all, no matter what is happening, I love you.  I love you more than anything.  You are so special to me, a precious gem in a pit of coal.  You are my darling, and I cherish you as my best friend, my husband, my confidante, and my love.  Today, I want to say this: I am so proud of you.  I am so proud of how hard you have worked to earn your degree in Humanities.  I've seen how hard you've worked, and how frustrated you could get sometimes.  And I've seen the days when you have truly enjoyed what you are learning, when you didn't want it to end; and I've seen the days when you just wanted to quit.  Now you are at the end of this little chapter, I look back with fond memories of how this diploma you will be receiving not only represents work well done and bravery to have done so, but also the beginnings of us and all that we have walked through together.  You have done so well and worked so hard to earn this degree, and I. am. so. proud. You are amazing, loving, and brilliant, and I'm so excited to see what God leads you (and us) to next! :) Congratulations my dear, with God's help, you did it.

Love, Jess (aka Bunny, because you know I love bunnies)

Friday, May 16, 2014

dare || gorillaz

today's song of the day in honor of Frank's upcoming graduation (tomorrow)

Weird video, but that's Gorillaz for you.
"It's coming up... it's coming up... it's coming up... it's dare!"
This is for you!
T-minus 23 hours and 13 minutes until you're done!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

| frank's last huah |

                           This is Frank..................................................this is where Frank has Gen Psych.

And this is Frank entering Gen Psych for the last time - to take his LAST EXAM in his LAST CLASS OF UNDERGRAD!!!!!!!!!  I'm cookin' tonight ;)

Anybody else share that feeling?

Monday, May 12, 2014

{Still, My Soul Be Still || Keith and Kristyn Getty}

song of unity today...

On Saturday night, a boy I had classes with was found deceased in his dorm room by another friend.  He took his own life.  When we gathered in chapel today to find out what happened, the person leading worship reminded us that our tears and grief are not separate from the Lord.  And together we grieved for our different reasons.  And together we stood singing this song, declaring our faith in God's love for us, especially in this time.

"Still, my soul, be still and do not fear though winds of change may rage tomorrow. God is at your side; no longer dread the fires of unexpected sorrow. God You are my God! And I will trust in You and not be shaken! Lord of peace renew a steadfast spirit within me to rest in You alone."

Saturday, May 10, 2014

| forgive and forget |

How often growing up did you hear a parent, family member, friend, or church leader say these words?
"forgive and forget - that's what we're supposed to do."  How many times have you thought,"that's just not fair; sure I can work on forgiving, but how can I ever be expected to forget about what's been done?"  You've been mad at your transgressors because of what they've done to you; you've been mad at God because you think He expects you to forget; you've been mad at yourself because you just can't forget about the pain you've gone through.  There's something you need to know: "Forgive and forget" is not Biblical.  Nope. It's not Biblically sound. Here's why:

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him shall not die, but have eternal life." - John 3:16

God forgives the wrongs we've done, but He doesn't forget about them. That's why it was necessary for Him to send Jesus, His Son, to die for us so that God can forget what we've done.  God is ever present throughout time and space; this means that God is present with you right now as He is still present at the cross as Jesus is dying, feeling all the weight of the wrong things we've done and will do.  When we do something that is wrong and goes against God, Jesus is paying for it at the same time. God sees Jesus' sacrifice at the cross always and chooses to see the price Jesus paid for us than to see the things we've done that are wrong.  If God "forgave and forgot" our wrong-doings, there would be no point for Jesus.
What is Biblical: Forgive.  I will put it this way:

"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." - Matthew 6:14-15
"Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." - Colossians 3:13
"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." - Ephesians 4:31-32
"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? “Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”" - Matthew 18:21-22
"If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him." - 2 Corinthians 2:5-8
"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” - Matthew 5:23-24
"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." - Luke 6:37

All throughout Scripture, there are times where Jesus, the Disciples, and Paul have said to forgive.  The way to know that you have truly forgiven someone is because you no longer dwell on the pain of what they've done.  Certainly, you may still feel the pain, but you don't dwell on it (see Ephesians 4:31-32 above).  Yes, there are people who do something to you time and time again! You get so fed up with it that you don't think it's worth it to forgive them anymore.  Well, see Matthew 18:21-22 above.  We are encouraged: if you have a problem with someone and you haven't forgiven them, then your fellowship with God is half-hearted.  Before coming to God to ask Him to forgive you, actually work on your forgiveness of another, see Matthew 5:23-24 above.  Nowhere in Scripture does it say to forget.  Forgiving does not mean the action does not go without consequence.  If we are designed in God's image, and God does not forget our sins without Jesus to cover them, we cannot be expected to forget about the past and any hurt fastened to it from other people.  However, we can find comfort in knowing that who we are is not harnessed to the pain we have once felt.  We may not be able to forget it, but we can forgive it.  Forgiveness takes time; it doesn't happen overnight.  It is not Biblical to forgive and forget.  It is Biblical to forgive.

© Jessica Brazell 2014

Thursday, May 8, 2014

| i heart my spouse banquet |

Last Saturday night, we celebrated what? Our spouses.  That's right, peeps.  Frank (and the others who are graduating) got to stand up in front of a bunch of people (like the cool cats you see above) and talk about how much he loves me, and how I have supported him through all four years of college.  Another week and 2 days, you guys, and I get to see my hot babe walk down the aisle to receive his diploma saying that he worked his butt off for his double major in Bible and Humanities ;)
I am so thankful for these people here and the smiling difference they make to our community, as well as the sweet friendship they share with us.  Another week and we're done!

College is tough, and it gets a bit tougher when you're married.
Thank God for our wonderful spouses to keep us going, am I right?
Any shout-outs to your wife or hubby?
{Comments box below!}

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

i am mountain || gungor

today's song of the day

I am mountain, I am dust...
God formed me in my mother's womb, and now I have Him to rejoice in for my life!

Have a great Wednesday, redeemed ones!
Who's ready for the weekend?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


e = extravert
s = sensing
t = thinker
j = judger

characteristics of estj:
Likes being around people; assumes responsibility; natural leader; nicknamed "the supervisor" or "the guardian"; likes hard facts; black and white; organized; planner; practical; realistic; take-charge and self-motivated; adheres to the rules and expects everyone else to do the same; openly opinionated; firm on personal beliefs; good work ethic; applies more logic and reason to situations than feelings and emotion (even when the latter is to be applied); straight-forward and honest; has tendency to be blunt; overly detail-oriented; holds tradition very seriously; pessimistic tendency; tends to be boisterous at family and community events; very social; can be rigid; works thoroughly at any responsibility given; little patience for slow workers and slackers; finds humor in mistakes people make by word or action; craves security and stability.

Regardless of a man-made description, I was fearfully and wonderfully made by my Creator who loves me and knew me before I was ever formed in my mother's womb (Psalm 139:14).  I was intended to be perfect, but am instead a fallen human; God is still molding my imperfections into what I was intended to be.  He is changing me from glory to glory to be more in His image (2 Corinthians 3:18) and I am becoming more of what I already am: a new Creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).  With my flaws of rigid tendencies and observational humor, and with my positive traits of responsibility and organization: the Lord is weaving my being into the intended final product of beauty He has for eternity.

"You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain...
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you..."
- Psalm 139:1-6; 13-18 -

Monday, May 5, 2014

{That's What She Said || Beauty and Body Image}

For the ladies:
Comparison is a thief of joy.

YOU have a beautiful body.
Psalm 139:1-6 and 13-18 ~

{Concrete Wall || Zee Avi}

Today's Song of the Day

'Been listening to this, this morning.
Just an interesting sound for the morning :)
What sounds are ringing through your morning?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

{Brazell Interviews} Return of the Jedi...

So it's been a while...

PS. To any Canadians who watch: we really do love you guys, no hard feelings ;)

Questions for the audience:
1.  Favorite childhood movie?
2.  Favorite animal?
3.  Favorite Olympic event?


I love flowers. They make me feel a bit of happiness when they are in my environment.  I have especially been falling in love with a few things lately: the light pale color of pink, and blue hydrangeas.  Maybe I'm just becoming a bit more feminine; maybe I'm growing prematurely into an old lady.  Blue hydrangeas, white lilies, pale pink carnations, baby's breath, white roses, pale pink roses: these are a few of my favorite things.

Favorite flower? Go.