Am I Hipster Yet?

My housemate Krysia and I have had coffee dates every semester since school started specifically to discuss what we are expecting for the semester coming. As well as the ‘pre-semester expectations’ that we set up we have follow up meetings to see how those expectations went. I’ve had ‘themes’ and sentences impressed on my heart for the semesters that have tied with different scriptures that have carried me through the very crazy seasons that emerge at Hillsong College.

At the end of last semester as I was thinking about what I wanted for this semester it wasn’t an opportunity or to even grow in a particular area of college or church leadership. I simply want to know G-d more this semester than I have in a while. I want to focus on the Word like I haven’t in a while and spend time learning about the Lord. The songwriting and lectures and learning curves will happen and somehow everything will get done this semester that needs to, but my desire is more Jesus and more of the Word in my heart. 

On a recent trip home for my brothers wedding I inherited my dads Nikon camera. Short of having another ‘Daddy teach me’ blog I will say that trying to figure out how to use it today has made me realise a few things:

  1. Learning new things, and more than that, learning ALL about new things involves more reaching out to people who know more than it does you trying to just guess. 
         By this I mean, I went ham on Youtube tutorials for this specific model of Nikon and watched all the things. I didn’t rely on and can’t rely on myself and my thoughts on how the camera should work in order to take the best pictures but I SHOULD research and see how people have used it and how they’ve best figured out to take those classic hipster shots that get so popular on Instagram (shameless plug). But really, learning is best done in community and I don’t see how that differs to learning about G-d. We should be discussing what passages mean to us and the best that we understand how it applies to whom it was addressed to and to us. We should be reading and researching what the scriptures are actually saying and we should be giving them a chance to say it. 
  2. Learning involves time – but the learning goes quicker if you focus your time. 
    I’m the QUEEN at multitasking… and by multitasking I mean today I did laundry, watched youtube, did make up on half my face, finished my laundry and then washed my face, straightened 1/3 of my hair before I realized I didn’t like the texture of my hair so I washed it then redid the whole thing and blogged. I also took one photo I was proud of but it was with my iPhone. I tend to get bored halfway through whatever I am doing so it sometimes takes me a while.In other, more related words, sometimes getting to know someone or something intimately involves time given up to focus JUST on that thing or person. This is more just a reminder for myself of what is required for my expectations
  3. I would love to have a number 3 because 3 points is good but I’ve really said what I wanted to.

Sometimes I don’t know why I post stuff on my blog that just belongs in my journal.

Thank you if you’ve read this – and if you will just pray that I focus and get what I’m expecting this semester. Love you all.

 

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.

Obsessive Compulsive Details

I recently painted a mug at one of those places where you paint a pottery item and they fire them for you to seal on your artwork. It’s a pretty nice looking mug. I’d show you but it’s also a Christmas present for someone so I can’t exactly post a picture on here because they just might read this.

In which case, they now know they are getting a mug for Christmas.

I used 9 colors for this one mug.

It had a load of details etched into the sides and even the handle, so I took my time and made it look as awesome as the person getting it for Christmas.

When I first started on painting I was excited to get to all the cool ideas I had for each groove on the cup but as 1 ½ hours passed and I was still on the final, very tedious steps to complete the cup I began to lose patience. I wondered if the effort I was putting in would be appreciated or if they’d even realize how difficult it was to keep my hand steady for as long as I did. I began to want the world to understand how careful I was with my process and I wanted recognition.

This all came out in the form of me telling my mom over and over how freaking cool the mug was.

I wonder sometimes if G-d wants us to just notice. I wonder if while He was painting the colors of the trees if He thought, “Maybe if they see how much effort I’m putting into this for them they’ll appreciate me a little bit more”. I don’t think G-d NEEDS our appreciation for all of His works, but I do think He wants to tell us something. I think He might be telling us the story of how it always works out for the good of those who love Him and who are called according to His purposes because HIS purposes have already been established and we get to step into this pre-blessed work of good. I think that in the details He might be reminding us that HE is faithful and doesn’t get impatient in completing a good work that began in you. I feel like in the details, if we notice we might see a beauty about creation that can inspire awe and wonder around the things that He does and the person that He is. I feel like maybe we could learn a thing or two about beauty.

I’m so thankful that the Creator isn’t as sidetracked as I am. I’m thankful that He IS in this for the long haul and never grows weary of the tedious tasks of correcting, comforting, reminding and loving us. He raises the sun everyday and spins the earth into seasons. He forms something out of nothing on the daily and allows the smallest of faiths to move mountains. He is a G-d of the details and I feel like when I focus myself and my mind and sometimes my camera I find Him there.

((He is beautiful and I am paying attention.

Jesus I will trust You / I know You never fail / I will trust You / the only thing I know/ is G-d You’re in control/ in every little detail You are close / I’ll never be alone / here in the unknown / the power of Your presence fills my soul

Scrabit : Go Fish

I can’t believe I hadn’t posted this one yet. When I reflect on all the good things I have in my life I am simply left speechless. Some of those things are material possessions, most of those things are relationships, the most important of these things are family. If you ever have the opportunity in your life to have (birth, or help create) a little girl of your own, do so. I can’t say I’m PLANNING on it at all because I’m missing a few legal and unpublicizable steps to do so; but I sure wouldn’t mind to have one. For some of those who end up reading this it will actually sting more than help because maybe you have no idea what it means to have a father who is good or who gives, or maybe to have one at all. To those I pray that you build, I ask G-d (the GOOD Father of all) to find you where you are and lavish you with strength, wisdom, forgiveness and peace and all that you could need for your tomorrow. Find a good man, be a good man, become amazing parents and demonstrate what only Jesus can do in families. I believe in you even if you don’t know me because I believe my prayers to G-d are heard for you.

As always, please enjoy this #ThinkBackThursday


This one is dedicated to the Daddies and Daughters… But if you’re neither one of those you can read it too.

(Yes, I’m talking about Gracie again… she’s a brain)

////

            I can hear Gracie downstairs this morning asking my dad to play a game with her. Today’s choice: Go Fish. As I’m listening to the game the one thing that really sticks out to me is every time I hear her say, “Daddy, do you have any…?

“…number 3 puffer fish cards”, “…number 7 nemo cards”, “…number 8 starfish”, and so on.

Children remind me of who we’re supposed to be.

When my dad has a card, even though he’s losing one he still seems pleased at Gracie’s reaction of joy.

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7.11

I’ve heard the expression, “you have not because you ask not” but a lot of times I forget just how true it is. I can’t expect someone to know something about me unless I tell them. I can’t expect someone to know what I want unless I ask them. Now, understand that our heavenly father is all-knowing but we have to show the desire to want more. We have to ask.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” Matthew 7.7

What’s great is that G-d has so much more than just a good hand of cards for us. He has plans for our lives and a desire to grant us eternal life.

Daddy, do you have any…

…peace? “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. “ Philippians 4.6-7

…hope? “in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time” Titus 1.2

…strength? “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.“ Isaiah 40.29

…power? “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1.8

…freedom? “I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free” Psalms 119.32

I could go on and on about all the things G-d wants to give us if we just ask Him. But the thing about Him is that when we ask, because He is eternal and all-powerful, He doesn’t tell us to “Go Fish” He will always have everything we need. As amazing as any father could ever be, he can’t match up with all the gifts and love G-d has for every one of us.

My G-d is more than enough
He will supply all my needs
He is my El Shaddai
He always looks out for me
Jehovah Jireh, He is my G-d

Out Of The Context: Christmas

Welcome to my #ThinkBackThursday this week, I wrote it shortly after my 19th birthday around Christmas time (totally on Christmas day). It’s more of just a prayer and not entirely a Jesus sermon, but it is where I’ve found my heart lately, in full surrender and hopeful request that G-d would be G-d and allow me to be me and hopefully use me everyday along the way. It’s all I really know how to do is lay my requests before G-d and wait on Him; and even with that I am terrible. G-d help me even now, 5 years later and a little bit farther into the path with you. Grow my heart towards You and let there be even more of a willingness to serve Your people and fill me to overflowing with grace. I am needy, but You think about me. Thank You.


For what it’s worth, I give you all I have.

I’m sorry it isn’t pretty, or all that much in the long run.

But I’m willing and ready to change if you want or need me to.


I give you a moldable me. I give you who I am in hopes that You’ll make me better. I give you me, praying that You’ll make me more like you. I let go of fears to give honor and awe to you. I let go of distractions so that You might have my full attention, not out of obligation but out of the LEAST I could give you. Starting now and going into the rest of my life I give it to You. May I never take lightly my service to You and help me to see and re-define who I should be for You.

I love you G-d and I know you love me too.

-Laina

Christmas always reminds me how ridiculously, and undeserving-ly blessed I am. I like all the gifts I got today and somehow I usually sit wishing I had more money or saved better so that this year I could give more. I’m always left with a few people to give presents to AFTER Christmas is over. I don’t see much wrong with that, I just wonder sometimes who stopped today to offer what they could to Jesus? It is after all – – About Him.

Blah blah blah… I’m not about to get on a Christmas lecture on how He is the reason we celebrate, if you don’t know that by now then you’ve been driving with your eyes shut and listening without ears for the months that led up to today. But, for what it’s worth, what have you offered to Him? Not because it’s Christmas, but because He deserves it? Daily. Ha <I can’t believe I started a sentence with a laugh. 8APR2015>, honestly take a look at yourself (I’m looking at my life thus far and the future promise I know I can hold onto) what can you legitimately offer to make the space you’ve taken up worth it? Nothing… Yet somehow when we mix who we are with who G-d wants us to be, HE makes us worth something. But He won’t force himself on you or change you without your allowance. You have to GIVE Him the gift of yourself. Which is almost comical when I think of my life ever being a gift I’d want to present to anyone.

((It’s ALMOST embarrassing))

I don’t understand why G-d chose to love me. All I know is that He did.

I don’t understand why I would somehow make an acceptable gift for the Creator. But somehow He sees it in me.

I don’t understand how G-d orchestrates all of our lives into a beautiful array of hope and progress. But oh, He does.

All I can do is be thankful that I live FREE, with a family that loves me, with friends that miss me when I leave, with jobs that are teaching me how to become who I’m supposed to be.
And despite how messy it is, I have a Creator who is constantly changing the image of who I am into who He is and what He wants me to be.

Jesus, I’m not much and I don’t understand what you see in me, but here I am.

My whole heart for You… Happy Birthday (ish)