Isn’t She Lovely?

I feel like I haven’t written a post in this style for a long time now, but something has been on my thoughts and floating around my heart lately that I thought I might share.

I’ve been thinking about Brides… 

**First I feel like I need to make an authors note to my parents and anyone who thinks they have the gift of reading between the lines to clarify that I am currently NOT betrothed. I didn’t elope. I’m not secretly planning some ceremony and picking out dresses.

Y’all chill.

I just have a LOT of friends in the old Facebook feed who are either having children, or on the path to make that happen (engaged/married). I wish I could fully understand what it is about bridal pictures that have everyone secretly creeping through the shots. We as a culture tend find beauty at its purest form when our friends get dressed in white and commit the rest of their lives to their loves.

I personally think that the reason brides are so stunning is the time they put into the wedding day. They carefully planned every detail, from trim and the flowers, to making sure crazy Aunt Sally wasn’t sitting next to anyone she could get into trouble with at the reception.

Brides spend hours picking out their dress, how they will wear their hair, what shoes they want and testing out what makeup style is most flattering. Finally, it all comes together in the moments sweetly exchanged between families, now forever united.

The result?

“You are the most stunning bride!”

“Simply gorgeous!”

 “The most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen!”

I have a feeling that what sets apart the brides from everyone else that day is the preparation. I think brides are beautiful because they are prepared.

 “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:25-27

Scripture shows us some beautiful imagery of Christ and the Church being His Bride. I feel like maybe we also have a role to play in being prepared, and in that readiness I think we carry an attractiveness that the world wants. I think G-d shows up in the everyday things and I very much see Him in the holy commitment of matrimony. Brides have to prepare themselves, but we as the church have the blessing of trusting the bridegroom to be a big part of our preparation.

 “And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more.  And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy.  I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.

Hosea 2:16-20

 

I hope I’m preparing the Church to be ready – I hope I’m adding to the attractiveness of knowing Jesus AND that I’m trusting Him when He says that HE is the perfector, He is the one keeping me in commitment and in preparedness.

There is so much of His story that I want all over mine and I guess that’s why I’ve decided to commit to this all these years. I know that if I join with the creator in a sweet exchange to be united forever that I will carry His name.

I will be His and He will be mine.

// I like the idea of belonging.

 

Happy Birthday

Hillsong College has been booming with end of semester presentations and performances lately, which has been great fun mixed with a little nervous excitement. The first year songwriters had their performance this week and as I sat at the packed out café and listened to their beautifully composed songs I began comparing (as you do). But it wasn’t a negative comparison or even a “me against them”. It was more reflective of my first year songwriting self – I began to wonder if there was a difference between my time before college, last year and this last weeks performances and the caliber of songs that I was producing. I think this was Jesus – because I am not this clever – but I felt in my heart that it wasn’t a measure of “are my songs better” but:

“Am I better? Am I better at being a songwriter?”

I got stuck on the thought that if I haven’t improved in my discipline of songwriting, then, I haven’t improved. I feel the same can be said of my character and life. I question a lot if I’ve changed much year to year being at a Christian Leadership college and spending most every day at the church. We are invested into almost hourly and are exhausted by the second week of school. It’s beautiful here and it is hard. This has been the most demanding semester I’ve been a part of and I have felt stretched and sometimes broken. I didn’t address my infrequency of writing this semester in my previous blog because I didn’t want to.

But just so you know, I KNOW.

In my questioning if I have changed, if I’m the same, if I’m different but revert quickly back to the worst of me, I again felt that drop of a discipline thought – If I haven’t improved in my discipline, I haven’t improved. I can’t actually gauge how I’m doing by how I feel because that changes every time I change my diet. If I don’t see my journals filled, if I have more books to read than books that I’ve read, If I have more abandoned coffee dates than friends then I am no better.

But tomorrow, I get to start a new journal, I get to start reading Joshua, I have a coffee date with a good friend and I get to choose to believe that He who began a good work in me will carry it out unto completion. I’ve learned more this semester than ever about getting into the Word of God and APPLYING it to my life. Technically there is a model to look at them, us, me – but that’s more of an in person conversation and it’s my blog so naturally I’m talking about me.

The Word of God is active and is most useful when it is USED. Of all my disciplines I pray this increases the most.

My life isn’t about the caliber of my accomplishments but the consistency of my growth – and I pray that yours never becomes about what you produce but the daily producing of fruit and great things to build your community and to grow you closer to Christ.

I love you all, Happy Birthday.

– Ignorance Is Bliss –

Let me rant a little bit, in the most loving way…
Ignorance is NOT bliss, it is a disservice to the community that you’re involved with. There is such a thing as a stupid question and I believe the demand to understand should be placed on us if we claim to be followers of Christ. I don’t sugar coat many things other than baked goods so please, if I haven’t offended you yet, follow me until the end with this one.

We are often told to be faithful with what is in our hands and to use what we are given, the weight that carries is outstanding – but the mantle should weigh heavy with us, we live in a generation with information at our fingertips and access to a lot of work that someone else had to labor over. We are blessed and FLOODED with facts, information and ‘life hacks’, but what are we contributing to those that we do life with?

We see generations filling up universities to seek understanding on theologies, science, law, public service, and many other topics that they willingly spend days and nights to absorb. WE as the body of Christ should be adding to ourselves because WE AS THE BODY of Christ are called to give of ourselves. How can we give useful, powerful and relevant thoughts if we are hiding safely behind, “oh, I didn’t know”.

I’m not saying you need to know everything in the world but turning up to your community with something to give and something to help grow others is a great place to start.

“For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes,
His eternal power and divine nature,
have been clearly seen,
being understood through His workmanship
[all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made],
so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him]
are without excuse and without defense.

For even though they knew God [as the Creator],
they did not honor Him as God or give thanks [for His wondrous creation].
On the contrary, they became worthless in their thinking
[godless, with pointless reasonings, and silly speculations],
and their foolish heart was darkened.
Claiming to be wise, they became fools,
and exchanged the glory and majesty and excellence of the immortal God
for an image [worthless idols] in the shape of mortal man
and birds and four-footed animals and reptiles…
because [by choice] they exchanged the truth of God for a lie,
and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator,
who is blessed forever! Amen.”
Romans 1:20-23; 25 (AMP)

I reckon, if a secular and broken generation can turn up and form an educated opinion about refugees, the election, war, trafficking, child soldiers, and come prepared for conversations in lectures and small group settings – we should all the more hold tightly to being an informed, dynamic, powerball of information and be a little more true to living life without excuse of unknowing. I don’t think we should be allowed that luxury.

“Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on listening, but do not understand;
Keep on looking, but do not comprehend.’
“Make the heart of this people insensitive,
Their ears dull,
And their eyes dim,
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
Understand with their hearts,
And return and be healed.
Isaiah 6:9-10 (AMP)

I wish I could say this sweeter but hopefully you know my heart.

Make educated decisions and share that education – not to persuade others to decide with you but to allow them a little more information to chew on and to change the environment you live in. A passionate generation is a dangerous generation if the change they are seeking is based on feelings and “well this is how we’ve always done it.” Change things for the better but know what is worse and why it is worse.
Learn to converse without judgements and learn to listen with grace.

Pray that I do the same.

Just Cause

Amos 5:21-24
(NIV, emphasis mine)
“I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

One of my classes this last week focused on Worship and Justice. We looked at what these two have to do with another and what expectations have changed since scripture was written up. I was shocked to discover the call in the Old and New Testaments to the leaders and governments to keep justice in the courts – be fair to the widow, orphan and poor. We have to assume these warnings were written to 1) keep them on track and 2) clean out what was already bleeding through the culture of oppressing those who couldn’t support or even defend themselves.

We as students were given different portions of scripture to look at: what it meant to the people it was addressed to, what it means for us as a collective body of Christ and what it means to us individually. My group looked at Exodus 23. I’ll summarise it for you…

  • Don’t lie about people
  • Don’t pervert justice and lie in court
  • Be fair to poor people in court
  • Be kind to your enemies property
    • Not JUST to them but even their stuff
  • Don’t take from the poor just because they are poor
  • Don’t oppress a sojourner (don’t beat down, put down, dishearten, suppress a visitor, companion, inmate, visitor, lodger, different nationalities, different religions, refugees)

When we as a group looked at what it might have meant for the Israelites we assumed maybe they had corruption in the courts and were probably exposing heaps of poor people because they thought they could get away with it. We assumed there were crooked people who were so wrapped up in the culture of slavery that they had just been delivered from that they were treating others as slaves. Granted, that’s what they knew to do but it still wasn’t just or fair. We assumed they were treating people less than what they would want to be treated like and that they were disregarding taking care of people who didn’t belong to them.

Then we moved to a harder question – What does this text mean to us as the body of Christ?
How do we take on these scriptures in the Church?

 We talked about Public Justice (How society treats and manages others),
and Private Justice (How I treat others and manage myself to benefit others).

So the public justice level around this passage would look more like how many Christians are educating themselves on the elected ‘in-charge’ of our governments and nations. Are they contributing to who is in the courts and even becoming those who are in the judges in courts deciding what is fair for all? Are we as a local church involved and benefiting the community around us? Are we investing in families and defending those trapped in Domestic Violence? Are we doing all we can to find homes, clothes, food, and clean water* for refugees and flood victims alike?

There are many more things the Church COULD be doing but there are loads of things that fall more on the individuals that make up the Church that we should probably be looking at.

Private Justice –
The hardest and most confronting question of all that we addressed is how this all applies to me? How do I treat others?

This was the hardest one to speak out loud.

I grew up in a westernised, bible belt, mostly white’ish people culture. But I also grew up with the news… I knew what areas of Tulsa (and now Sydney) to avoid if I was alone and I rarely ever walk in a park without looking over my shoulder. I grew up with a fear of homeless people because at no point do you know if they’re going to rape you, if they’re mentally unstable, if they’re in a very real sense ‘battling their own demons’ or how they would react to a conversation. But my fear grew out of judgments that began when I didn’t take the time to look them in the eyes as I walk by them on busy Sydney streets. My very judgments dehumanised someone with a story. I wasn’t being fair – I wasn’t being just – I wasn’t being anyone who remotely resembled my Saviour. Jesus, who took the time to look a naked woman in the face and tell her that He held no sins against her. Jesus, who when Himself was oppressed by the government didn’t fight back with entitlement or ‘rights’ but instead STILL SHOWED LOVE to all. I know much this last paragraph makes me seem like an ignorant… dirtyword… but this was my honest heart condition.
My ignorance turned into judgments that disguised itself as fear so that I could neatly sweep it all away as, “I’m just protecting myself”.

Am I saying single girls should stop at every homeless person and strike up conversation? No, that’s not what I’m getting at… But maybe just get involved and start to add humanity back to those around us. Maybe just start to learn the faces and names of those we equate with statistics and numbers.

My thought is that we are already a pretty passionate generation – I think that there are specific desires that are unique to individuals. Where our Private Justice comes in is EDUCATING ourselves on the issues of our hearts and GETTING ACTIVE in those areas.

Some of your hearts are absolutely wrenched for the homeless, some want to take care of the elderly, some have a resolve of adopting, some are desperate to help stop domestic violence, some of you can’t sleep at night because you’re broken over those still enslaved in sex-trafficking.

Great, I hope something breaks your heart – I hope you let yourself cry sometimes while praying over these neglecting issues that Christians love to talk about but sometimes never DO anything about.
But, OUR G-D… the one who CREATED JUSTICE calls us also to be just

The Lords desire is more for justice and fairness than for one more ‘Christian’ to write Him one more song, or worship Him one more time for all they have. He wants us to give to and restore those who DON’T have.

So after you forgive me for being a little too honest again, find one of the links throughout this blog and research, get involved, be the just cause… just because.

Winds In The East, Mist Coming In – Something Is Brewing About To Begin

“Like a rushing wind
Jesus breathe within
Lord have Your way
Lord have Your way in me
Like a mighty storm
Stir within my soul
Lord have Your way
Lord have Your way in me”
-Hillsong Music

So, I missed posting last Friday because March in every way kicked my butt. It was a beautiful month full of serving and giving and making sure our church was set up for Colour Conference and Easter Sunday. Now it is time to refresh and breathe a little bit until we vamp up into our Conference for July.

Today in our 2nd Year Chapel we had a beautiful opportunity to worship as a body of students and to sit in G-d’s presence and be refreshed. One of the songs we sang today had the lyrics I listed above (also click here if you want to take a listen for some nice background music whilst you read). Now I’m a good ol’ girl from one of the fifty United States of America – Oklahoma. When you’re from Oklahoma this song means something entirely different to you. I stood there in worship thinking about my Facebook feed recently being bombarded with pictures of a tornado that just hit back home. A few little things I know about storms:

  1. Storms cannot hit an area without changing everything about the area.
    ((Even if it’s just a ‘bad storm’ and not a tornado it still tends to bring an abundance of rain that changes the very look of a town. I’ve never seen the outdoors look as peaceful and vibrant as after the storm; the greens of the earth are richer and the sky reserves a crisp blue for these moments. And in cases of tornados and strong winds you see the very foundations of buildings moved. Things never remain the same after a storm. You’re given an opportunity to rebuild things that may have been unstable in your life and to build better than before.
  2. Pics or it didn’t happen. You can be one of two type of people in Oklahoma, you can be afraid and hide in the closet even though the tornado is in Pryor and you’re in Oklahoma City. Or you can be like the rest of us out on the front porch with your fancy camera phones out taking a picture of you smiling with the storm in the background. People notice when the wind shifts and when change is happening. People stop to take note of G-d I promise you that. When is the last time you stopped to really focus in on what G-d was doing in your life?

Like a mighty storm
Stir within my soul

When I think about what I’m truly praying – Lord STIR within my soul – and I think about what this could actually do to my life as I know it I realize it’s a terrifying prayer to pray. I’m asking G-d to come in and shake the foundations that may need rebuilding in my life and to cause me in that moment to never be the same. I stood in worship pondering what these lyrics truly meant and I realized I didn’t want anything else.

Lord have your way, Lord have your way in me

It’s hard to keep this in focus when you’re human though, I fail probably daily but I also had a subtle reminder that I’m no longer who I was but I am not who I will be. G-d is GRACIOUS and so faithful along the journey and I am so blessed to call Him mine.

G-d move in my life to where people notice and have to sit back and make a memory of who You are and what You’re doing in me. Move my unstable foundations and cause me to have to rebuild with the truth of Your word to something different, stronger and more lasting than what I was holding onto before. Bring the rain and then bring the spring of all the new things you want to do in my life. Lord have your way. I surrender.

Can I Tell You Something?

I hate posing during conferences. Partially because they’re extremely busy and then you add not being able to process all that is happening and it just makes for some crappy posts. 

 But this is not a crappy post. This is a consistent post and a learning post for me. Today, I’ve learnt that a few of the things I want to get better at are holding my tongue when I’m tired, being a better encourager, and releasing and trusting people. Now, I don’t say that because I think I’m bad at those things but rather because I value those things and because I value them I want to be the best at them. 

I had to learn this the long way and I think I’m still on the process of understanding that when I desire to be better or grow in an area it isn’t always because I’m bad at that. I’ve written before and discusses wth close friends what some of my blind spots are, they weren’t all this positive but this is my blog and this is the one I’m going to share: they said I didn’t realize how well I saw people. I notice people and include people. 

Mate I loved that, because it’s one of the things I’m self conscious about how much I can grow in that area. 

Don’t EVER think you’re awful at something but rather, figure out how you really are with outside sources (family, close friends, employees) and find a way to grow. 
So, those are my short thoughts for today. We are in the beginnings of a beautiful Colour Conference and Easter season in the life of college and church and it’s going exhaustingly beautiful. I love my team and the opportunity we have to serve- even in the long hours. We have a freaking blast and I love them. 
And I love you.  

Before The Beginning

I suppose this is a bit of a reflective post. But, I suppose it’s also an update.

I’m not sure what constitutes a reflection vs. sitting and wondering where the heck a year went but it will end up one of those.

We’re almost to the start of another year of school and have three beautiful new students who’ve moved into our home here in Sydney – I think that’s why the realization of, “Wait, no? I JUST got here!”

But alas, I have to act like I know my way around campus now.

One thing I quite enjoy to do is look through old journals, also I don’t mind if I start a journal on a particular date and end up finishing it off exactly a year later. I’ve been scanning through my journal that I’ve kept this last year and recounting all the things that I could only see clearly after the fact. Trials that seemed never-ending that now I am thankful for. Blessings that I couldn’t have counted on from anywhere that gave me exactly the provision that I needed and many, MANY friendships that I never knew could grow so deep. I’ve been so blessed this year and I can only attribute it all to a G-d who’s had my path and story written since before the beginning. He knew me; the G-d of all of heaven and earth and the creator KNEW who I was and my personality and character before my mother knew of my existence AND He loves me.

He had my 2015 mapped out and He knew just how long it would take me to finally arrive in Australia.

He has my 2016 in His hands. I fully expect this year to learn and grow be it painful or fun. I am looking forward to a year of abundance in both memorable experiences and the ability to give even more of myself. I have had a BLESSED year and I hold G-d to His word when we learn that He takes us from glory to glory. He is in the business of having better tomorrows, ones where we look a little more like love and compassion.

In the year of abundance I’ve also been praying about a job, I’m ready to work anywhere I can but also whilst on the job hunt praying that G-d opens the doors He intends. With school (and writing) being the priority that it is this year and the goals I’ve set for myself I think my biggest prayer is for a job that is well paying and flexible for all the opportunities I have to serve here at Hillsong. Pray with me, if you will as I look and pursue opportunities. I’m very ready to be back in the working world all the while praying that G-d grows my capacity to accomplish all the dreams He’s allowed invade my heart.

It’s not a balancing act, it’s a faith act.

  • If you will pray for a flexible job, this upcoming year and the strength to continue and flourish in all the goals I’ve had set.
  • If you can financially support this in between area my gofundme account is still up and running. Any support is appreciated more than words and a huge blessing for school fees and rent… and food… I still eat food.
    • And as always, the fact that anyone reads this means the world to me.

      My gift that I love to give is words in any capacity I can articulate them.