Behind The Scenes At FLC: The Preview

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On the usual video announcement Thursday I am sure to be well rested for the hair and make up team to arrive. I have a well balanced breakfast as the team does their job and presents me with outfit options for the shoot, and then our transportation comes to head toward the shooting location while I view the script and sip cranberry juice.

That's me inside there.....ummmm... do you believe me????

*[this is the part where it sounds like a record screeches]

juuussttt kiddinggggg.

The only thing true about that is that video announcements are usually shot on Thursdays.

I get a text (or tweet from @lindellaustin) sometime before then about location ideas or time, and wake up accordingly.

Sometimes it’s an awesome place and i get to shoot at the beach or downtown, and sometimes it’s just by a column or cool plant that Lindell has searched out. For those who actually pay attention to the background, he usually finds some pretty cool places to shoot.

The morning of the shoot I take forever to pick out an outfit and hopefully am not scrambling out the door, putting make up on during the drive over rushing to put make-up on before I leave. Whatever the case, Lindell always knows I’m close to location because every natural and otherwise distraction becomes fully amplified – all birds have very deep conversations/arguments (we don’t know which but it gets intense), the train leaves the station and travels for 12 years right by use, the light never turns red, the homeless man starts performing his one man band – you name it, it’s picking up on that mic. Tonight, they were blasting Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and friends over the intercom for the skaters (“skapers” as said by Laylah Sierra) to enjoy. No problem, I knew I am the girl who always gets “shhh-ed” for a reason.

When I arrive to location I read over all the happenings of Free Life Chapel and mic myself up while Lindel sets up his camera (or he just tells me what I’m gonna say while he sets up if there is no script) and then I see a little red dot, he counts down and points (trying to be official), and I usually bust out laughing. I have to get it out of my system.

Just once.

Or more.

Sorry, Lindell.

Putting the mic on my belt.

It usually only takes about one run through, unless I get the giggles and keep promising Lindell that this really is the last take, and the product is what all sees as, “The Preview”.

Who is that weird man who keeps skating behind me and distracting my shot?!

I know you were all hoping for something more exciting, but thats just how we roll at FLC.. kicking butt and taking names.

So, for the night, I’m Hope and you have been reading about, The Preview.

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Tell a Beautiful Story.

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Anyone who reads my blog knows that I worship in a house that is simply re-defining “church” as we know it. It’s called Free Life Chapel and if you haven’t heard of it… well, let’s just say you will shortly. Interning with them has taught me so much just by sitting in a lot of meetings and watching a lot of people do what they do.

I didn’t realize just how relevant we are, however, until I took a new job and had a meeting out of town to discuss what my role would be and how the company could utilize my abilities.

Throughout every conversation I continued to catch myself saying, “… well at Free Life we do it like this…”, and it made me so proud that I was continuously using the house of God to influence the culture and execution of a company – not faith based – on best practices.

Then I  began to further question – is that not something that should be occurring on a daily basis? Should it be a shock that the church is the leading influence in our community and our businesses and our ideas?

Many people questioned my taking an internship at a “church” when I am so interested in things like journalism, event PR and politics.

None of which relate directly with typical churches in our society.

Whatsoever.

(Note that I said typical. So if you happen to attend a rather snazzy church yourself, don’t be offended, there are many across the nation that are doing huge things and making waves and kicking butt and taking names. Who am I to try and define what ‘typical’ looks like anyways? And if you are offended then you’re missing the point. Keep reading.)

However, if you do worship in a house that causes you to wonder why someone interested in things that pertain to no part of church, then all i can say in return is

you just haven’t found the right house to worship in.

As soon as church steps BACK INTO culture and becomes relevant again, that is when the church will be telling a story so beautiful that the world has no choice but to stop and listen.

Good Tuesday, folks.

 

The Water Boy

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I have been an intern for Free Life Chapel since January and have had the honor of walking with this team from it’s inception.

So many people enjoy the fabulousness that is know as the Free Life Chapel worship experience, but what many do not see is everything that there is to be done Monday through Saturday in order to make Sunday appear so fabulous. SO many faithful volunteers and leaders dedicate their time to execute the vision in different areas of ministry, and SO many staff members work effortlessly 25 hours a day.

My job is kind of lost somewhere in the middle.

 I am like the “whatever you need” girl.

You know like, “Hey Hope, could you help me with this?” and my reply is usually, “O sure, whatever you need.”

Or, “O you need help on that project? Ya, ask Hope, she can work on whatever you need.”

If that were a job title, it would be mine. Actually I am just gonna claim it as mine anyways.

Hope Dodson- Director of “Whatever You Need”

Nice to meet you.

So, my life as an intern is always changing. I answer to a few different people, depending on the job that day, but usually it’s these folks:

Dan Snider: He kind of gets things done, so Sunday Mornings are usually my day working under Mr. Dan (and his gorgeous wife, Alma).

Lindell Austin: Lindell is in charge of all videos, etc.. so on video announcement days (also known as Thursday) I work with Lindell.

Jon Sierra: Jon does all graphics and logos and website stuff (and like a million other things) for FLC and usually calls on me to research on behalf of his creative mind. So, just calling or googling, or laying out options.. you know, the things that I am best at.

Marisol: I pretty much do everything else with Marisol. Some of my favorite intern days have been spent working along side her. She is like all amazing with her 13 subject spiral notebook (maybe not 13, because I have never counted, but I bet it’s close). From ladies events to counting inventory, Marisol and I work hand in hand, very often.

 

Cindy Thomas: I am ultimately always working under Pastor Cindy, because, well, all the other people answer to her too.

 Each day I never know what it will look like, just wait for the text or call – I may be researching product information one day, driving to McDonald’s at 5 am the next day, sitting in front of a computer entering database for 9 hours one night (not even joking – good times), and then waking up to drive a jet ski to film Summer Slam the next day(not even joking again. swear.), and sitting in on meetings to plan upcoming events that night.

I have learned so much, just by watching a group of people do their thing, each in their own element, and interacting together. I realized that it’s not about finding “that career” that will make me happy forever, but more about finding that place of passion, that awakens my spirit and allows my heart to dream, and even challenges my potential.

It is in that place that I feel whole and available to change and flex. I have seen projects flourish and those that fall flat (falling flat at the spur of the moment is never good – note taken). I have realized what I love and what I don’t care for so much while getting my feet wet in a little bit of all of it.

And am looking back on my time thus far with such a respect for those who do what they do, and how they do it – all of it, juggling at once – with style.

let’s just say, if the Free Life Chapel staff was a football team, as an intern, I am the water boy.

He’s the guy with the best job anyways. Completely insignificant, but gets to be right in the action. No one watches the water boy to make sure he is wearing the right outfit while he works, but he is as close as they get to the heartbeat of the team. He gets to facilitate the needs of the players, can hear the plays and is part of the huddle.

There are even those cool guys who get to stand on the sidelines at the games, looking all official and snazzy. They may appear important or as if they are a really big part of the action, because after all, they are on the field. But just because they appear to be close to the team doesn’t mean that they attend practice, doesn’t mean that they are loyal to the coach or the team or that they even care about the game. They could have just gotten a free pass or enjoy the view.

That is exactly where my prayer has been to be. Not in the spotlight, but that significantly insignificant water boy, who feels honored to work along side just a few of those who make Free Life Chapel go ‘round, in the background, filling in gaps, and as close to the heartbeat of the house as I can reach.

Just, ya know, doing “whatever they need”.

And loving every minute of it!

Attention – We’re Gettin’ Spicey!

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O ladies, O ladies!

Public Service Announcement: Free Life Chapel is amazing.

 Just in case I have never said it before.

And I don’t say that lightly. Like, I moved out of the state in order to be in the guts of what they are about.

They’re THAT cool.

Cindy Thomas, lead pastor of Free Life Chapel, and her team of fabulous ladies (ahem, me) have done it once again – prepared and delivered a delicious feast before the FLC ladies… literally, it was a dessert party.

The young girls were invited as well and I loved seeing that engagement between generations, many of them even coming early to help set-up and serve all the way through. *big shout out to my youth girls, Valeria and Laurie!*

 

The event started with a game where each lady had a card with an animal on it and they had to find all the other women in their “herd” according to the noise that their animal made.

I had no idea that animals made so many different versions of their sound.

 

Pastor Cindy delivered a beyond amazing, hilarious, timely message about character and the purpose of the women of Free Life, to be spicey and to add flavor to our world. And to sometimes get together and eat lots of dessert.

I love that she made the point that it isn’t our job to condemn the world, but to just be “salty”, to make our culture thirsty, to see what we have and want it.

To just be the best version of ourselves.

And that’s it. Not that deep.

Each table had four bowls of different types of spices that resembled different characterisitcs

and each woman had a little bag to combine their own combo of spices that met their personality.

It was a great way to introduce the new ladies ministry of Free Life Chapel – “Spice!”

I couldn’t help but sing Spice Girls, “Spice Up Your Life”, like the whole time.

So excited for all that is to come and the next Lisa Bevere that is on the rise! Just saying.

 P.S. Shout out to the men of Free Life Chapel who so humbly served the ladies as greeters. It set such a great atmosphere of servanthood.

Epic Love: Shine Conference 2011

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The Top 10 Things That I Loved About Shine

(of the MANY things that I loved… how did I EVER narrow it down, right?)

The Free Life Chapel staff ladies are seriously the most taken care of women that I know of right now – and NOT ONLY because we got to take a road trip to Jacksonville for the Shine conference at Celebration church.

BUT, we did get just get to take a road trip to Jacksonville for the Shine conference at Celebration church.

Pastor Kerri Weems and her fabulous team hosted an A-MA-ZING week of guests, speakers, creativity and attention to detail

(there was definitely a creative team who were meeting many times to pull this week off).

There were many times where we were so taken back, and in the mists of soaking in all of the excitement, would look at each other and say, “ok, see how they pulled that off.. we so need to remember that.. they were flawless there.. we are pretty good at that part..”

and were absolutely inspired and encouraged about everything that we learned, as well as everything that is taking place and developing at Free Life Chapel and in our own personal lives as women.

For my own sanity I had to gain some sort of focus and vision (..or else his people perish..just saying.:) )
for this post because mymind was all over the place with

all of my opinions and loves.

Thus, I have come up with my top 10 list – DEFINITELY not in order of importance because O, man… – of fabulous things from my time at Shine 2011.

1. THEME: Epic Love – The idea alone of this emense love that overtakes our world and identifies us as the main character in a love story that is greater than ourselves. It’s a thought that  overwhelms my heart and excites everything about my future! Whenever we walked through the enterence I immediately loved the energy that the Celebration team engulfed us in, walking in on the carpet, past the calm of the fairies and into the charged atmosphere of volunteers and women who have labored in work and prayer over the execution of these next few days. I felt immediately special and warm and welcomed and I turned to my pastor (Cindy Thomas, for those of you who don’t know her.. she’s kind of a big deal, check out my “My People” page to meet her) and said, “Ok, wow! We have to cheer like this at our ladies event, because I am feeling so fabulous right now!” I was so serious. Like I needed to flip my hair or something or wave. The energy was initially set for the entire weekend by this line of women who engaged every woman who entered.

The entire essence of the fairytale garden was perfectly captured without crossing into cheesy. Which is very easy to do.

2. MEN GOING CRAZY WHEN GIRLS GET MAD: There is nothing more courageous than the heroic men who stepped up to the plate to serve the 2000 women of Shine 2011. I have not been amongst that much estrogen in maybe all my life. Not only did these men add a charming and playful atmosphere to the golf carts and greeters and security, they also took on the challenge of soothing about 1500 of those women who sat outside in a line that wrapped around the building for hours in order to declare their favorite spot (no seriously, I’ve never seen anything like it. People would skip lunch to post up out front until the doors opened). And whenever the seats quickly filled up and majority of those 1500 didn’t get what they were after, those men, with smiles on their faces, and probably a bit of fear in their tender little hearts, were working hard to promote all the back row action – and smile along the way.

I’m telling you, ladies in conference mode can be fierce and spicy!

And a little scary.

Don’t mess with their saved seats.

3. SPEAKERS – I was so in awe of the speakers that Pastor Kerri truly outdid herself with by having them in for Shine (including herself). I have never heard any of them speak and I was so captured by what I got out of each. I connected withPastor Kerri’s “writer’s voice” as I call it. You know where someone can speak with so much passion and description, but you know that they are saying it exactly how they would write it. Like she is reading it all off the pages of her heart, bringing the emotions of a truly epic love story that we have with Christ and painting it into a vibrant and living masterpiece. Well… Pastor Kerri had that. A great “writer’s voice”.

Lisa Bevere – Lisa Bevere. O my. What to say about Lisa Bevere. Go find her on iTunes and download EVERYTHING she has. Brilliant. Not to mention, this woman really could be a stand up comedian. She had our entire group crying laughing within the first 20 minutes and Pastor Cindy repeatedly telling us, “Didn’t I tell you that I love her? I told you she is awesome, right?” I kept trying to tell the story after the conference, uncontrolably laughing just trying to repeat it, like “O my goodness, she was shaking her iPhone 4… O, it was funny… Steve Job’s wife?… O, geez… They didn’t know who she was… O, gosh I’m crying… But she was like, ‘That is not an option for me.’” (Those of you who were are Shine and are reading this are laughing right now, aren’t you? And you’re hearing it in Lisa’s voice.)

The amazing part, however, is that while I was laughing she was confronting the greatest struggles that I have directly encountered in my young life. While continually attempting to overcome the controlling part of my personality and lack of vulnerability (and discovering where that comes from), Lisa had a way of speaking to who I will be and not to who I am. Not to my fear but to my promise, and allowed me to identify with that place of adventure that burns inside of my heart while still appreciating the men in my life and who they are or are not in my story.

4. A21 – I was so drawn to the initiatives that Shine 2011 took on. A21 was moving and raw and encouraging and there was so much information. People are so eager to help and provide, if they just know how. I loved that instead of creating a buzz for their gain, Shine created awareness and fool proof opportunity for those who want to but just “don’t know how”.

5. HUGE DRESS – Ok, seriously. Can we talk about the huge dress for a minute? So the opener hits at 7PM the first night and there is a choir of little fairies with a huge fairytale tower on the right side and a huge panoramic screen above the choir. While the girls are singing the scene has a video of a woman singing a song and a drumline of about 6 guys pounding together an intense rythym.

Alllll of the sudden, the tower  spins around and inside of it is the woman from the video on the screen in a dress that is like 85 feet tall (Ok, so you know how I am with exaggerations, but wow, it was like the tallest dress I’ve ever seen, no joke. True story.) Every woman in that room (again, that number may be off slightly) wanted to be standing in that dress.

Or maybe just me. Whichever.

Either way check it out in that video above.

6. WORSHIP – I loved that they switched the worship teams up and that each singer was a worship leader. There were no back up leaders, or head leaders. It was just a stage full of worship, all consumed, and all amped. Not to mention Kari Jobe. But ok, let’s mention Kari Jobe. I am still at a loss for words for and completely obsessed with “You are For Me” and listen to it at least 10 times a day (no exageration there, so legit.)

7. DETAIL – Something that I really enjoy in all arenas of life is attention to detail. I am an administrative  intern at Free Life Chapel and I am also on our creative team so I am stuck between the two worlds of creativity and details.

It’s like cretails.

Or detivity.

But in noticing all the little tiny creative details I was so much more grateful that the team at Celebration church took the time (small shout out to the team at Celebration) to change the decor of the bathroom, down to the light fixtures and the wall hangings, all the way to the graphics and elegance. They pulled off the tiny details of logos, down to the glitteries – and with class all the way, didn’t go cheesy at all. Which would have been so easy to go disney cartoon or the other extreme to spooky-ness and make believe.

8. SERVANTHOOD – I have to share about one worship leader, Lindsey I think her name was, who sang on the first night. Lindsey has an amazing voice and a pure heart for worship, which is easily portrayed in her singing. The second morning whenever we arrived to the Starbucks in Celebration’s Annex building, Lindsey was a barista behind the counter making our coffee before service started. I love her heart for serving, which is so imperative within the heartbeat of Free Life Chapel. We love to serve, in any and every capacity. No matter who I am on Sunday (I never know what my job will be) or any other day, doing whatever it takes to grow the kingdom of Christ, and I was so impressed by Lindsey who’s humble heart was so apparent and who was serving her purpose just by living her life with God in front of others. Kudos to you, Lindsey. (Countless others I’m sure, but Lindsey is just the one I happen to have a conversation with. Georgie too – the video announcements girl – who showed me to the restroom a million times. Thank you, Georgie.)

9. SHINE BOUTIQUE – I loved just walking through the Shine Boutique, just to walk through it (reference number 7), because of how detailed the decor was to the Epic Love theme. I was obsessed with learning how to make the huge flowers on the wall and in love with the diamonds and glitter and festives everywhere. There was not one spot that did not shine (no pun intended. Ok, maybe a slight pun intended, but for real, it was super fabulous in there.)

10. THE AFTER PARTY – The after party was a blast (even for a white girl) and I loved that there were dancers there to purely engage the crowd. I also loved about the dancers, that their make-up and hair was almost theatrical in order to stand out and ease the crowd. It was the perfect way to end such a great few days together.

The greatest part of all – ABOVE ANY TOP 10 LIST – was being able to enjoy time with the other women that I work with everyday, enjoying hilarious dinners together, and even more hilarious conversations (that we will never repeat) and the most random moments that only happen when 6 women are away from their husbands for longer than 24 hours.

I have officially returned home as the shiny lead role of the epic love story, called my life.

“If you are going to be a hero, you are going to have to let God have your words.” – Lisa Bevere, Shine 2011.

Behind the Scenes: FLC Creative Team Meeting

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Welcome to a glimpse into the watering hole!

In the jungle also known as Free Life Chapel there are animals of all sorts and walks of life, each Sunday morning is like a safari ride – everyone is in the same house, but each department is kind of their own species. The greeters are the monkeys – carefree and friendly, while the security team are the kung fu pandas – that’s all I’m gonna say about that (don’t test them). We each have our own characteristics and traits that make Sunday go ‘round, and no Sunday would be made possible without the mix of them all.

Some more aggressive than others, and some goofy, while others quiet and observant – but there are a few who gather each week around a watering hole, to bring perspectives of the like and execute tasks according to his make-up of talents. Without the differences and never ending debate, we would never end a meeting or produce a service on a one accord.

From there, the single plan is delivered to departments and executed with passion, creating what we all know as the Free Life Chapel worship experience.

It’s a rare sighting when the mix of movers and shakers gather together, and I will never forget the first time I witnessed a creative team meeting at Free Life Chapel, which kind of resembled– or was an exact remake of something I must have flipped through recently. You know, the Discover Channel documentaries about Lion herds and how the “head honcho” kills their prey and brings it back for the herd to feast on. Feeling like a safari guide sneeking up on a rare glimpse into this society of a group of people who are all different, trying to come to one idea. I don’t think I spoke too much, because all I could think was how amazed I was at the process that was unfolding around this ‘watering hole’ of thoughts. Like I had just flipped channels and couldn’t peel my eyes from the action.

Yep, pretty much a swamp of creative juices.

It kind of goes something like this.

There is a list of topics – holidays, projects, series, ideas, new elements, etc..

There is a group of people.

There may or may not be food.

There are always lots of rabbit trails.

There are hilarious ideas being subtly shot down.

And other ideas being simultaneously praised and developed.

But at the end of it, there are at least three weeks worth of projects taking place in tandem, spread between about 15 people (definitely not evenly – shout out to Jon, Lindell and team) and my job consists of exactly four things: 1. take notes, 2. sit in amazement, 3. comment when/if I feel necessary (which is pretty much never) and 4. not get distracted and fall behind on my notes because I’m sitting in amazement.

It really is a fascinating sight for an administrative girl such as my self, in a room full of fully 100% creative minds – with no concept of price, time or agenda (figure all of those things out along the way) – and amazingly, it works that way. Go as far creative as possible, give the pieces to be researched to an administrative person, and then begin to cut, chop and rebuild.

I continually remind myself of the concept of the “CREATIVE meeting”. All of those things that I was dying to do (list and call and plan and map) take place after the meeting is over, so I have to consistently remind myself that this administrative girl is not on my turf, but in a herd full of creative thinkers, so I tread lightly, and wait for the tasks to be delivered for execution.

The process begins when Scott Thomas (senior pastor of Free Life Chapel) or someone else who has observed something in the world that should be pulled off as our own, throws out an idea, and it lays there, lifeless and void; and I kid you not, those around the watering hole begin to pace (in their heads, but I know it’s happening because I can see it as their eyes begin to shift and they fidget) I’m telling you, right out of the documentary:

At first, it’s subtle and everyone is questioning what the plan of attack is, or if the idea is ready for attack at all. Then one brave soul will begin to slowly circle the idea, observing the thought, and then throw a test comment out. Once that comment is received or rejected, everyone gets a feel for where the idea lies and all begin to pounce. Before you know it, words are flying, agree, disagree, debate, like-it-but-add-something, hate it, love it, check into that, never gonna happen, and then eventually once the group has let the last piece go, a simple idea is developed into one of two things: it has either been torn into shreds and lies just as lifeless as it was delivered – a carcus in pieces – or it is torn into shreds and underneath the initial form lies a distinguished masterpiece; probably more developed than it had ever been intended.

That first day I was like the scared animal watching from the back behind a tree, some other days I still find myself staring in amazement, and rarely I’m that first brave soul to take a test shot at the idea that could potentially be a revolution; but every Tuesday, assuredly, I can be found around the watering hole, taking my notes, trying to follow rule number four, and just waiting to be delivered my portion.

Rough Life

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I really have to rough it sometimes as an intern at Free Life Chapel.

Today we filmed for our upcoming summer series.

I mean, I had to drive around a jet ski all over Tampa Bay with our camera man turned around backward on the seat behind me getting shots of the pastors on the other ski. We didn’t laugh at all, not even at the mess ups. It was very serious.

Then I had to drive super fast for the last shot, THEN I was forced to have lunch at Bahamas Breeze before we headed back to Lakeland.

I truly don’t know how I made it.

*I would just like to note that if you did not pick up on the sarcasm in the above statements, then I’m sorry. Actually I’m not sorry, because I felt it was pretty obvious, but maybe that will make you feel better and/or put us all on the same page. Good Day!