Quality, Quantity: Both and Neither

*Downtown Tulsa – Shades of Brown. Hot and fresh chai tea lattes in hand – you know, the ones that taste like Christmas if Christmas was a marshmallow. The background music is even farther away with the sounds of the kitchen staff yelling through the teatime rush and I am staring out the window trying to collect my thoughts*

Thing 1: “Whats going on Laina?”

Thing 2: “… I think sometimes my standard for myself is too high, or maybe that it’s just high enough and I don’t forgive myself well enough.” 

I’m sure from this point they break out into High School Musical-type song but I’m not songwriting today.

I was reminded again this week of my passion, which is funny enough because I continue to do what I love even when I don’t love it. I made a commitment to write every week (or every day and post once a week) and for the most part I’ve loved what it has taught me. It taught me that I CAN.

I missed two weeks ago and was frustrated with myself until last night. We had a masterclass for the Writers Guild in our creative community where Kylie Beach read to us her Letter To The Poets. Please do take a read, it’s beautiful.

As she read this letter I thought of my daily/weekly commitment and how sometimes I actually miss the mark. Sometimes I write a blog that I hate or feel isn’t my best work and I don’t want to publish it. Sometimes I post on Saturdays even though my goal is Fridays. Sometimes I post at midnight even though my goal is noon. Sometimes (only once in over a year) I actually don’t set the time out to post at all.

Occasionally though, I write a blog that I actually tell my friends in person about (with my real words) because I feel like G-d just might have put His seal of approval over it. But set aside all the good blogs, the bad ones and the ones I haven’t written to be judged yet and I still have a need inside of me to write my heart out.

“Creativity is sacred, and it is not sacred.
What we make matters enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all.
We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits.
We are terrified, and we are brave.
Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege.
Only when we are at our most playful can divinity finally get serious with us. Make space for all these paradoxes to be equally true inside your soul, and I promise—you can make anything.
So please calm down now and get back to work, okay?
The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes.”
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, Elizabeth Gilbert

What we make matters enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all. I could never post again and what G-d wants to accomplish though my writing will still happen if I continue to seek Him. But, I could continue to post every week and grow, learn discipline and correct my sometimes terrible grammar. I can read articles on what makes a great blog, how to edit, study literature and use all the tags on WordPress… But at the end of the day my prayer is that if any of what I write is what you need to read – that it finds you timely. And if anything I need to learn is something that you’re creating, that you’d be brave enough to create, share and discipline yourself in your craft. I promise – you can make anything.

*I’ve never read Big Magic before but this quote was shared last night as well…
I’ve attached a link to the book on Amazon for some birthday ideas, or some random gift ideas, or some
“Happy Friday” ideas. So. That’s that.

Obey: Journey and Heart

I think this one is hitting home for the last #ThinkBackThursday this season. It’s now been a year; 52 posts of old material that G-d used to once again locate me and challenge me. This blog was birthed out of obedience, and while I didn’t want to be THAT Christian-Hillsong girl who writes a blog about my journey… I am. And I LOVE it because it’s what G-d has put on my heart and in my hand to do. So dang it – I’m going to do it well. I’m going to do it out of obedience and trust and I’m going to do it out of self-reflection and self-location because I’m going to want these things written; I’m going to want these stories that I get to live with others retold because I have enough faith to believe that Jesus will turn up in the midst of them.

The biggest THANK YOU to those of who you have read my blog faithfully, inconsistently, never read it but always intended to and to those who’ve stumbled upon it now.

THANK YOU for reading… not because it’s my blog but because I’m honoured that you somehow might believe in my story. Thank you because your time is valuable and spending 5-10 minutes, twice a week to catch up with me means heaps to me. You are so treasured.

I have such love for you all.


5 November 2008-

“G-d, I’m listening, and I don’t know what to do-
I’m doing my best to listen to what you tell me to.
Putting actions with my words has become the hardest thing
When I cannot speak anymore, LORD, you’ve taught me how to sing.”

All I’m hearing lately is “OBEY”; Even though I have NO idea the outcome or the process that He will lead me though. Sunday night G-d surprised me and just told me to obey… it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt (thus far), but I did. I have no idea when He will mend what he’s asked of me or how many days it will last. But, I’m learning that it’s not about me anymore.

G-d has something amazing in store for those who seek them, and He’s leading me beside the still waters so that I can.

I watched “Everything Is Spiritual” by Rob Bell, with our leadership core on Sunday afternoon, and throughout all of it what really stuck out to me is “Sitting on top of the mountain”.

*G-d called Moses to Obey… Exodus 3.11-14 ((EDITED))
(a)
11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go ((Insert G-d’s resolution to a personal problem here))?”
12 And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have ((Fixed your problem the way I TOLD you to)), you will worship God on this mountain.”
13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go ((Oh, I dunno… OBEY, what then should I tell people?)), ‘The God of your fathers has sent me…’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am… ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ”

(Actual Verses Cited below)

Something that I couldn’t get out of my head is the thought that all He’s asked us to do is obey. Just to sit with Him, hear Him out and obey the words He has given to us. Moses was instructed by G-d to go up Mount Sinai and meet Him there.

(b) “The LORD descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain.”

Just to meet Him. Just to spend time with Him. Just to listen to Him.

I attend The University of Tulsa (Community College) ha… Ahem, anyway I have classes every Tuesday and Thursday from 8-9.20am, and then another class at 11am. I was given a book called “Practicing the Presence of God”, so I thought I would read it during break. There is a hallway at TCC that everyone refers to as the ‘breezeway’, because it is a hall of windows, and I suppose seeing the outside is just as good as being there nowadays? I sat in the breezeway staring out until a bench outside caught my eye. It was tucked away underneath two trees no taller than a one-story house and decently shaded, and still allowing enough light to keep whomever was underneath warm. I gave G-d a sarcastic look in my head and thought, “Why do you want me outside? I could just read in here and not have to move.” G-d has a funny way of returning my cheeky favors, so a little more clear and for no particular reason I get a nudge to get off my rear and go outside. I start down the breezeway when I realize that I’ll have to walk through the smoking area to get to my little picnic table that G-d wanted me at, and I begin to think “I don’t want to go through the smoking area, I hate the smell of smoke it’s bad for you.” As I make my way to the Library G-d pulls all the more hard telling me to go to table and reminding me that sometimes he takes you through something you don’t really want in order to get you alone with him.
I sat and read and didn’t really understand why I had to be there. But it’s not about me… G-d just told me to obey and I’m trying my hardest to do so.

(c) “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.”

G-d, do you really think that of me? Am I really a treasured possession of YOURS just because I listen? That’s enough for me – it has to be enough for me.

So I’m stuck, at the top of the mountain waiting on the Lord to come find me. I can’t do this alone because I wasn’t created to be alone, and right now trusting in G-d is all I need to be leaning on.

Just some thoughts of a Follower of Christ trying to find whatever He needs of me.

“And I’ll praise you in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For you are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise you in this storm”

Exodus 3.11-14 (a)
11
But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
12 And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”
13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ”

Exodus 19.20 (b)

Exodus 19.5 (c)

As You Do – Think Back Friday

I sort of shoved #ThinkBackThursday and a new Friday post together… You know, because it’s New Years and I’m cliché.

1 January //

I’ve now lived through 25 of these and probably for the last 13 of them I’ve wondered where on earth time has gone. It seems that time has a preferred method of transportation that it enjoys, and it’s always the one you wish it wasn’t on. It grabs a Delta flight, a free miniature bottle of wine and sticks its feet up for the joyful moments. They go so fast that you hardly remember all of the details even when you’re trying. Without a shadow of a doubt I believe that it grieves with us in the hard times and it too finds it difficult to pull itself out of bed and move when we cry – making our sorrow seem even longer.
Misery loves company.

But, then you look back and realize there was 24 hours in each of those days and 7 days in your weeks and that you just wasted 1-4 hours of your today realizing that you’re still here. You still never know when moments to be remembered are happening and you never know when you will finally heal.

But you have the moments, and you heal.

I’m currently in Oklahoma for the holidays, which brings up loads of memories in the 17 years I spent around this town. It’s impossible not to remember the great, good, bad and regretful. And as odd as it can be to grow up and see that nothing is ever the same year to year, the obscurity of it is shadowed (for me) by remembering a few things:

  • My Good Friends are GOOD – I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for a handful of very, VERY good people in my life. They’ve believed in me, pushed me, prayed for me, let me cry, let me fail and still told me they loved me and that I can make it. Hometowns can sometimes bring a sting along with comfort when thinking about the ‘used to be’ and ‘could have been’ relationships, adventures and journeys; G-d has been in the redeeming business of reminding me that the people I have now are who need to be in my life NOW. He knows all things, He knows my heart and who builds it, He knows what’s coming for me and He has been blessing me more and more with like-minded lovelies who care about me.What and who HE allows in my life is more than enough.
  • He has ALWAYS been faithful – this has been so overwhelmingly in my thoughts this last year or so. I’ve always known it but G-d has connected this knowledge to my heartstrings and veins and has literally flooded my being. The knowing physically weighs on me and can often, easily and frequently bring me to tears. Guys, He cares so much and loves so deeply and IS SO FAITHFUL. And not just for me; this is for you and I’m sure if you take time to let the Saviour and comforter help you look back you’ll see it to.
    ((Please take the time to look back))
  • Discipline is hard, sacrifice is hard, they both suck and they’re both mandatory – reading and writing daily is a choice and no one will tell you to do it once you pass the age of 17. I’m a routine and schedule person and it’s extremely difficult for me to cram a devotional or blog into the end of my. Mornings are my zone and when I don’t allow myself that time I feel like a pretty crappy person. This one is really just a memo to self // Be An Adult.
  • Reading is very important – I am not an educational or approved resource to quote. While I’m overjoyed that you’ve read this blog or any of my other blogs I’m not the end all… heck, I’m not even good at ending blogs real good.

Find a book and learn something.

 

Art above by: Mindi Garland (That’s MY bloodline)
Title: “Jenine Races Down the Path Less Traveled Without Fear of the Future” (That’s my middle name)

What’s It To You?

Lately in college life and in my own thinky-thoughts we’ve gathered around the ‘D’ word;

The Topic of Discipline.

In class with Aran Puddle this last week we broke into the importance of keeping an organized and ordered life (and not using the ‘creative excuse’ of being built a certain way and unable to participate in such nonsense). The uncomfortable facts of growing up and doing ministry is that a portion of those you study ministry with will have nothing to do with Jesus by the time you’re finished learning about Him. At first this was a massive concern for me because I the only thing I could reckon was that this was a random school yard pick of who would make it and who would decide they can and will do whatever comes there way. Then the longer I’m in and around this I’m finding it’s absolutely the opposite; it isn’t a school yard pick of who will stay but rather a choice of nothing but the individual deciding to pick the path that will keep them.

            This comes from the discipline of reading the Word.

There is no magic pill. It is waking up and spending time with G-d, being in His word, and asking the Spirit to reveal what it means to you. I wonder sometimes if we treat our time reading as an afterthought instead of a need. I know for myself, sometimes I wake up and have little desire to get myself quiet and focused but then I realize that in daily time and the little progressions and the getting into the Word even when it may feel like I am learning little to nothing is what is going to ultimately change and keep me. No time with G-d returns void and for that I’m so thankful. I don’t have to work up my emotions or overthink in my Jesus time, I can simply be hanging out with Him and listening or just enjoying the fact that He is there.

I get really frustrated when I spend a few days in the same area of my Bible and realize I’m not catching anything that it’s putting down and then I remember a few things:

1) What I’m doing now is setting me up for the future I want of being an old 75 year old grandma who the entire family knows that I know the Lord.

2) “I can plod. I can persevere in any definite pursuit. To this I owe everything.” – William Carey, I can continue. I can do the little by little so I really need to stop beating myself up for the days I don’t get it. I know that the next day I’ll be there again ready to try.

((I’m not ever trying to be better than you, I’m trying to be better than the day before.))

But, this all makes me wonder, how do I really treat the Word of G-d? Is it negotiable in my life or is it the very lifeblood I’m leaning on to make it through the day? Do I hide it in my heart and meditate on it? Or do I let it sit on the side of the road getting destroyed in the storm?

While walking to the gym the other day I saw just that, a children’s bible, page by colorful page every few yards on the ground as I went along the road. I have a bit of an imaginative brain so I naturally write stories in my head of things and people that I see so I couldn’t help but wonder if the child ever had a chance to read their bible before they misplaced it. I wonder if it was left outside on purpose or if the parent tried to get rid of it? I wonder if it was a gift for someone hoping it would bring them a little closer to the savior. My brain always reels but the simple fact is that the bible I saw despite how it got there was simply not cared for. We see that as Christians and think, ‘huh that’s a shame’ but are we any better with our bibles sitting on the coffee table collecting dust? I don’t want to leave this. I don’t want to be one of the students who graduate and forget all they know about the body of Christ. I want to be solidly following and anchored into this spot. I was reading about anchors in preparation for this, I was reminded of our over quoted verse in Hebrews about hope being the anchor for the soul, but I’m not sure if I understand the context of that scripture and if it even really relates to Bible reading… So I’ll leave that verse there and instead tell you what I learned about anchors.

            Anchors are the connections that boats or watercraft rely on so that they can stay in one spot through wind, current, or storm. Anchors can be temporary or permanent. (oh – that’s awful)

While I’m not sure if that verse is relevant to this I do still agree that our relationship with G-d is absolutely our anchor in the storms of life. The terrifying part, back to the people you know now who love G-d who will slowly lose interest is that there ARE temporary and permanent anchors… Yeah, they might be solid now but they are using the correct anchor. Using Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday chapel as the anchor will only last the week; it’s temporary. Using Sunday services and mid-week services as an anchor will only last temporarily. It won’t hold. Of permanent anchors Wikipedia says – “These are used where the vessel is permanently or semi-permanently sited, for example in the case of light vessels or channel marker buoys. The anchor needs to hold the vessel in all weathers, including the most severe storm, but needs to be lifted only occasionally, at most – for example, only if the vessel is to be towed into port for maintenance. An alternative to using an anchor under these circumstances, especially if the anchor need never be lifted at all, may be to use a pile driver into the seabed.”

What anchor are you chucking out right now? Are you in this for the long haul only to be lifted for repair? And when you do need repair are you letting Jesus handle it? Dig deeper in your relationship with the Father and make yourself immovable you have things to learn and a position you need to stand it.

            So what’s the Bible to you?

Super reliable scholarly articles with information that I used:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anchor
The Bible