GRACE - CREATIVE - PHEONIX
Like so many of the others beauties featured in this series, Marissa and I first met in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa in the January of 2014. Marissa was a student of ours in the VGY Media Academy. She was part of the first in take in the new school we had launched. Although she came to me as a student, what God has actually given us in her and her husband Soly, were kindred spirits and dear friends. Our year together was full of wonder, deep heart to hearts, fun advents and A LOT of really good food. Marissa is intense in the best way, intense about love, life and Jesus, intense about having solid, authentic relationships and she puts her money where her mouth is when it comes to walking those things out.
Not only was Marissa a faithful friend, but she pulled vulnerability out of me in an incredible way. How? She was vulnerable with me and asked me hard questions from the story of my life. But in doing so, she placed a high value on my journey and what had been formed in my life - things I wasn't even aware of.
I've introduced you to Marissa as 'Grace', because she is full of it and she has been her life captured by the Grace of Jesus. 'Creative', because she has more creativity in her little finger than most people do in their entire body; and 'Pheonix" because as I have watched Marissa run her race is has been like watching a Pheonix rise from the ashes and absolutely soar in beautiful technicolour.
I hope that this glimpse into her story will cause you to rise above anything that may have tried to burn you.
1. What is your definition of bravery? How have you seen this embodied or tested in your life?
Bravery for me is to jump into the calling of God upon your life, to respond to His voice, and to fearlessly pursue the things of the Kingdom without excuse, compromise or apathy. Since Father introduced me to my husband in 2013, this is the journey of testing He has had me on. It's been a journey of dying to myself and my own selfish desires. It's been one of deciding to respond to that call on my life. It started by us getting married in November 2013, packing up our bags in January 2014, leaving family and friends and spending our first year of marriage at the ends of the earth to get equipped for the calling He has on our lives.
2. What or who has been a source of courage and inspiration to you?
I've had the incredible privilege to walk my life out over the last 6 years with my spiritual mother, Teresa. She's gone before me in the journey and moved to the ends of earth and left everyone she's known. She always speaks the truth in love to me and champion's me on in this race called life. She's uncompromising in her values and relentlessly pursues after Father. It's been through walking life with her I have found a safe place where I can gain courage again and again in life's challenges and continue pursuing after the things God has called me to.
4. What has been the most significant shift that has taken place in your life in the last 18 months?
After returning to Canada from our first year of marriage, it's been a season of adjustment in every area of life. After our year at VGY in South Africa, I returned to Canada immediately with much vision, clarity and momentum. But soon I was faced with other realities. Even after adjusting to a foreign culture for 1 year, the adjustment back in Canada was something I didn't expect. The last 18 months or so has been a time of building up again, forming relationships as a married couple, adjusting to life from living as a student with 30 others in one house to just the two of us. It's felt like our first year of marriage all over again. In all these things, it's been a season of building deep trust in my Heavenly Father and that's a shift that has been incredibly rewarding to live out even though it doesn't always feel nice. I know I can believe Him for much more than I used to for my life, for provision, timing and ultimately to do the things that seem impossible in the natural.
5. Tell me a little about your life journey? Highs, lows, victories, testimonies...
My life for many of my years was a very lonely place, one of feeling orphaned from a very young age and always trying to find my sense and place of belonging. I grew up in the church but was never really "in" or so it seemed in my own world. I was a bench warmer, sat in on Sunday services but never felt involved in the church nor did I feel I knew how to be at a young age. I came from quite a religious background, never fully understanding the full power of the Holy Spirit. I had the salvation message preached at me more times than I can count but I always knew there was more beyond that door. Recently, God has reminded me of a dream and prayer I would pray every night when I was a young teenage girl. That prayer was this, "God, I just want to belong to the church, I want to be in ministry for the rest of my life. I don't know how I will get there but that's what I want!" And sitting here now after 29 years of life, I am in that exact place. I belong to the most incredible church family, I absolutely get to do what I love every day and I get to be a part of raising up the next generation so they can find that sense of belonging and identity. And ultimately, I know I am a daughter of the King, I belong and I am planted. That's been my life story to sum it up and my biggest testimony.
6. What are you currently working on? How did this come about?
I am currently working on a number of creative projects. One, establishing a photography
business and website. Two, my husband and I started a rustic furniture woodworking business in
which I am working on a second website and building that business as well. Third, I am working on building a community of believers around me that share my common interest for media collectively. Most of this has really come about through my love for photography, my love for interior design and my love to see God's Kingdom display boldness through media. After my year in South Africa, there has been a spark and vision birthed in me through collaborating with others and seeing Kingdom business first hand. When we returned to Canada, the woodworking really just fell into our hands and started as a hobby. Since we didn't have any furniture, my husband decided to work with a few tools and build some for us and out of that came our business Out of the Woodwork. Photography has been a passion I've been pursuing for many years but in the last year I've seen it take off into something more than just a passion.
7. Any words of wisdom, passion or advice that you want to share with the world?
I've heard this preached a few times, "Godly vision for your life will always involve more than just yourself". There's no greater thing you can do in life than to get God's vision and walk
that out. I'm incredibly grateful to have that vision for my life and even though it's not easy it's far greater than any short-term fix I've ever experienced. When I leave this earth, I want
to be able to say that I've laid it all down for the Kingdom, I've seen many people experience His love and freedom and I've left an inheritance that is far greater than any earthly thing.
8. Who would you nominate to be listed among The Beautiful Brave?
I nominate Suzan Mastebroek, Courtney Gardiner and Cherie-Lynn Halvorson