And a Happy New Blog

Guys, there isn’t a good way to intro my first blog back after a horribly long break.
I missed this. I miss you (probably). More to come (probably).
There is nothing like longevity to back up commitments so I decided to post my first blog back on 2 January instead of the 1st, because that seemed too eager.

In my last blog I announced I’d be starting degree in January – Well life has a way of happening and due to getting a visa sorted and settled I will actually be taking this semester off of studies to work and save and keep my track record of debt free education. I was bummed at first and really didn’t want to admit it to myself that it was a wiser decision to take some time off, but since then have realized just how good this will be for me and the people in my life. So, I’ll begin in July for another 1.5 years of study. It will still be a Bachelors of Theology with a focus of Biblical Studies. With that said, my intention is to publish a blog fortnightly. As always, these are downloads of what I am learning, thoughts, inspirational posts, honestly posts. They are hopefully the cheeky amount of me that you needed for your day and full of all the love I can give – that prayerfully points to something much bigger than myself.

I also announced that I was getting married.
That didn’t change 🙂
Laina Davey at your service.

This semester I hope to figure out how to prioritise being a consistent writer and to trust my content, not because it’s the best in the world, but because you get to read my content with the lens of your life. In my brain that makes the perfect melody of community for you to get the most out of my thoughts. They’re worth more when you add to them. Please feel free to respond to my thoughts, leave a comment, leave a disagreement or a different way to see something. I’m here to learn. For the love, correct my grammar… I know I need it.

I feel like that’s what I’ve learnt most this year is that I just need people. I’m so thankful for my confronting friends that I’m surrounded with, just them living their life makes me work harder at mine. We sat with half of my connect group (small group or family group) and chatted about our “New Years Thoughts”, they’re kind of like resolutions but they’re more lax than “I will run every day” or “I will start going to bed at 9pm”. One of the sweet ones in the group simply said she wanted to love people more.

I was a little bit wrecked. My goals were all about…me. Developing myself while I’m not in school, reading, listening to podcasts, writing, reading more. She just wanted to meet more people and take care of them.

Eeek.

This is why I love connecting with VERY different people.

As if her comment wasn’t enough, our connect is also walking through the 19 Mercies retreat in the back of Brennan Manning’s “The Ragamuffin Gospel” (HIGHLY recommend) and I’m on day 8: The God who is love.

“Do you really believe that God is unchangeably, unalterably loving?”
– 19 Mercies

I’m still sitting with this question – I’d love to jump in and say yes! but sometimes the way I act towards God would admit otherwise. I want to have no separation from an ideal and true belief and what I live out as my beliefs.

1 John 4:7-20 (NIV, Emphasis added) “Dear friends, let us love ONE ANOTHER, for love comes FROM GOD. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another…God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them… There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar.

Eeek.

Do I believe that God is love? Do I believe that He loves me? Is His love seen in me by loving others? If no – Do I REALLY believe that God is love?

I’m committed this year to love people with my strengths – I will love by giving myself and my learning to God and others. I LOVE to give to others, I love hospitality and feel that gift is straight from God because it isn’t natural for my personality to love people 🙂 Jesus sometimes has to remind me. But I am committed to loving people the way I know how. By learning, giving my heart and soul into understanding things and sharing them in conversations and writings. Over tea or sitting by the beach. Or both.

I’m also committed to loving people the way they understand love. Do you need a hug? I’ll get over myself long enough to show you care in the way you receive it. Are gifts your thing? Please allow me to be the thoughtful friend who remembers your birthday – or even remembers that it is a Tuesday and you are alive and deserve to be celebrated. Love unlocks things that are bound and I’m praying that this semester/year I learn what it is to give until I see people changed. NOT because of me… but because I can love because I know what it is to be loved… even with my faults.

 

I do love you much.

I pray blessing over your today, I pray the sunshine reminds you of the faithfulness we see in God. He is SO kind and SO loving and SO in love with you. 

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.

 

Life Update

“We’ll smile at the sound of silence”
Staple, Sound of Silence – Of Truth and Reconciliation ’05
((one of the few bands I cried about when they broke up))

I wish I could link that song for you all but unfortunately you’re only option is to find the full album on YouTube and skip to the song… or listen to the entire album which may do you just fine.

I didn’t mean to carry on posting fortnightly and I can assure you this isn’t the new norm- Last week was the final push to get to and through songwriting performances for this semester. They went well if you ask me. I wrote a song about a prostitute (Gomer – Hosea’s wife… from the Bible) and much enjoyed my typical minor chord fashion.

This week has been wonderful! It’s school break so everyone has been posting pictures of their travels and adventures and I’ve enjoyed minimal going out, minimal make up, and minimal stressing about what is coming next. I got a random road trip to the Blue Mountains —blue.JPGand I purchased a bucket of apples for $10. I found out a few tidbits about myself I think I forgot

  1. Nostalgia is refreshing – The group I went to the mountains with all listened to Underoath in their lives and so we had a good throwback to our teenage years and listened to heaps of screamo songs.
    1. A. Apple sauce smells like fall to me and will always remind me of my family, even when I didn’t actually grow up going with them when they could go apple picking.
  2. Clean laundry and clean hair ALWAYS make me feel better. Nuff said.
  3. Quiet and empty places creep me out and I also love them.

Now, can I change topics and remain pretty honest? I’ve put off writing my book this entire break because I’m a big scaredy cat. I LOVE going alone to cafés and sitting for ages but the thought of sitting alone with my thoughts to work towards my book (which my goal is to have written and ready for editing by July) sounds like an awful experience.

I’m really good at boundaries and I tend to say ‘no’ when I need to for things and social events but I’m stinking at setting a boundary to write every day. Even when and especially when I don’t feel like it or think I have anything to say. But you can’t edit what isn’t there.

Also, I don’t like random blogs or abrupt endings, unless they are done well.

Planned, Prepared and Creative

I was asked how I keep myself and my time organized enough to get everything done. At first I thought that it might have been a joke and then realized I just might have something (useful) to say. I am the sort of person who would have made up an answer that sounded good enough anyway so I had a little think about it and realized: I’m one of the more organized ‘creative’ people that I know.

It weirds me out too.

I’ve had an addiction to day-planners and planning things since the young age of about 10 years old and was always the one to organize going to rock shows. I’d text everyone the information, ticket prices and see who was going. I’d purchase tickets in bulk as well as assigning the ‘under 16s’ to drivers so that we maxed out our environmentally friendly hearts and not-so environmentally friendly cars. This odd obsessive planning didn’t stop with my school and work schedules – I like to write in coffee dates and writing sessions and would get very bothered if someone disrupted my beautiful black ink (screw iPhone calendars).

I’ve gotten over the NEED to write everything down and I’d like to think I’ve grown up and matured in my use of to do lists and agendas but I still find them heaps helpful for getting crap done. A few helpful things I’ve found out about time and scheduling:

  • Time is a resource very similar to finances – I have a conviction of stewarding my money and time well, which involves a budget. I budget money and allocate a percentage to different things so that at the beginning of the week I tell my money where it’s going instead of getting to the end and wondering where it went. My time is the same, I budget in order of non-negotiable like Jesus time and commitments like school and serving. I make sure that I’m thinking through resting and homework alike and moving into coffee dates with intentional relationship I want and need in my life. I like to plan where my time will be valuable to go because heaven forgive if I get to the end of my time and wonder where it went. There is always room for flex and flow in my schedule now that I’m not so obsessive but I’ve actually found heaps of freedom inside of knowing when I need to rest, when I need to be WITH people, and when I need to write or do homework.
  • People these days sort of suck at focusing – I think in an article I read ages ago it said people can only concentrate fully engaged for around 45-minutes and then we begin to shut off. I’m afraid that number has probably gone down with our microwave culture. I’d love to think that I’ve maintained that discipline or hopefully increased it with my schedule. I allocate 45-minute chunks of “WORK ON THIS” time and give myself a 5-10 minute break. I then move on to a different 45-minute chunk of life to work on. I don’t set out with a task to ‘finish the project no matter how long it takes!’ because I KNOW that wont be my best. My best is accomplished when I’m forgiving on myself and give myself a few time slots working on things (like assessments or writing a song).
  • GIVE YOURSELF A BRAIN BREAKDo things you love. Do things you LOVE. DO THINGS YOU LOVE.
    Colour!
    Take a short walk outside!
    Listen to music!
    Eat a snack!
    Read a chapter in a female comedian’s autobiography!
    For the love of everything holy do SOMETHING good for you. This is where the ebb and flow of scheduling comes in – mate if you’re mentally exhausted and you cant study for another minute then MOVE. Do something refreshing for you.
  • Bring it all back to Jesus – I don’t get how He adds to your time but He does. I heard of a preacher being asked the question, “How much time do you spend with G-d?” he replied, “on normal days about 2 hours. On busy days when I don’t really have time to get everything done, I’ll spend 3 hours with Him”. Get your priorities focused and figure out how to keep Jesus at the center and I promise you’ll never regret it. My black ink is always trumped by His.
Huh. I guess I have learned a little something in my time here… teehee. I’m glad I think I’m funny.

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.

I Asked For More

Lately, I have been asking Jesus to help me love people better. I never felt I was very good at it because I’m a task orientated person. I’m a thinker and most of the time I feel (teehee) like emotions are irrelevant to the decision making process. I feel like I walk too quickly sometimes to seem approachable; and I always look busy, when in all facts – I just walk REALLY quickly.

I asked Jesus to help me love people better and He didn’t make my heart any bigger – He just gave me more people to love.

I asked G-d for more creativity and for ideas to be downloaded into my heart and I feel like all I’ve gotten is more weird dreams. Not like, “I have a dream that one day… my future will be like __________” but like, I go to sleep and dream of a giant praying mantis in my bed or a mix of my cousins and people I used to work with in the same building treating porn as if it was a family movie night, or sometimes hiking on a mountain and suddenly I’m in a dentist chair and my teeth are falling out. But you can’t forget the classic Chilismare… you’re in Chili’s working but you’re working with the worst manager ever and none of your co-workers came in that day and the entire restaurant fills up at once and you’re slowly running your head off all while sinking into the floor, which is now quicksand.

I have CRAZY dreams; I asked Jesus for more creativity and now I find myself with more opportunities than ever to input creatively to the groups and people around me.

But what do I have? I have a giant praying mantis in my bed and random people watching porn*.

I have been praying for provision and a job, not like sitting and praying – I apply and chat with people about who is hiring and follow up with calls. So far I’ve gotten an email to tell me they went with someone else and a manager telling me he’ll get back to me. Oh! And I got put on a list of a future interview the next time they do interviews.

I asked for provision and it comes in the most last minute, random moment and in friends who care to make sure I have groceries.

I ask the Lord every time I post that it would find people in a timely manner and that G-d would use my words to encourage, inspire, and point someone to the only answer I know – Jesus. I asked for the Holy Spirit to move into my man-formed sentences and spelling errors and cover my ‘project’ of words with His own.

I asked for people to find my words AS THEY NEEDED. Yet, when I feel like I’m just typing into the internet and no one is getting anything from this… someone comes to tell me that what I’m doing has encouraged, inspired and moved them more towards Jesus.

But in THAT moment the timing is for me. It’s when I want to give up or stop bothering my newsfeed with yet another “Hey read my blog!” that Jesus reminds me this was HIS calling to me, and though it can feel redundant – my calling IS words – my calling is consistency. 

I miss the mark sometimes, but one thing I can tell you is how gracious and faithful G-d has been. He forgives and restores. My Saviour looks out for me and protects me and encourages me.

I find it SO odd how Jesus responds to me. It never feels like an answer when it is happening but very soon after I’ve gotten over myself, I can look back and see the beauty of His language and timing. I’m learning His language and I’m constantly learning to trust His timing but I also don’t feel bad that I still haven’t figured it out.

* I don’t watch porn, there was not ACTUAL porn playing in my brain – but you know how dreams go – you get that sense of what is happening even though none of the dream makes sense.
* (P.S.) I woke up that morning and had some serious Jesus time for those of you who read this and are still dealing with an addiction porn. I pray freedom and renewal for your mind. I pray that the intense bondage that might be over you be broken right now in Jesus name. I ask that every woman or man or child you’ve ever fantasized about would find a home and healing and that G-d world restore worth inside of them as it has been stolen with every thought that anyone has come up with of them. I pray that the people in the industry would realize the love of our GOOD father in heaven and that they would know inside of them that there is more for them. So much more love. I pray that you, as you read this would feel a release from the pull of porn and that you too begin to love people a little better. – Find Help Here

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread (and peanut butter and bananas and honey)

I was very recently asked my opinion on the “10 year plan” which at this point in my life is comical because my plans always change. Always. But they asked me, so now I’ll share my thoughts.

I’ve always been a ‘planner’ type and loved carving out those 5 and 10 year plans when I was younger. I’m sure if I remember correctly my 7th grade year would have looked something like this:

·      I want to be a Junior High Pastor (Grade 6-8)

·      I want to be a Christian Music Artist

·      I want to be an assistant to a youth pastor

·      I want a puppy

·      Be a racecar driver

  ((All Of The THINGS))

Contemporary music artist… this is fun, lets fast forward a bit to my 5-10 year plan at around 17 years old:

·      I want a Bachelors Degree in Business Management

·      I want to write a book

·      I want to be a worship leader/in a band 

·      I want to work at a church

·      Be a racecar driver

 

Now, have any of these ended the way I thought they would?

Absolutely not.

My “Junior High Pastor” experience was formed into 7 years of leading WIRED (The Monday after school fellowship/message/game event for 6, 7 and 8th graders between me being 15-21 years old. My “Christian Music” experience was lived out in writing songs and helping to lead at youth, college ministry and various house churches; and continues here in Aussie. I ended up being Assistant to the Youth Pastor and got a puppy so I did that right!                                                                

((madpropsLaina))

            My “Bachelors in Business Management” was learned at Chili’s in Broken Arrow and Pryor, Oklahoma by actually BEING a manager. My writing and publishing has increased to a consistent weekly process for the last 12ish weeks and I have a goal set to outline my book soon. My racecar driving ended up looking like more speeding tickets than I can count or care to remember. 

            My last 10 year plan started with my management position at Chili’s – I had every intention of working management for 5ish years (between 21-26) then move to Ireland and be able to pay for three years of theology school AND travel a year on top of that (I was going to save a LOT of money in those 5 years). I honestly was never expecting to end up cutting that short by 3 ½ years to move to Australia –

 Like, flip. What?! I live in Australia.

What is incredible is that all these dreams I’ve been given and desires I have had were lived out in such a way that they were all far greater that I could have imagined. They WEREN’T what I was expecting but as I’m living through my planned out days realizing how foolish black ink can really be I see that 5/10 year plans kind of suck.

            I function better in “I like this, I enjoy doing this, I’m going to take the open doors that are in line with this thought and direction” I think it’s good to set achievable goals and things you’d like to accomplish and give timelines and due dates, but to say “I’m going to be living here with this job and this much responsibility on my plate and this much free time and this much income” well, that (for me) isn’t practical.

            It doesn’t make sense. Maybe it works for some people but I pretty much have an agreement with G-d whenever I fill out a week of my planner than whatever He wants and whenever He wants to interrupt with whatever He wants me to do or say or path to take – He has permission to alter my schedule. I’ve just had far too many plans fail because they weren’t big enough.

            You see, I was raised in a culture of abundance and G-d has done entirely too much for me. The potential fall here is to see the abundance and somehow assume it’s deserved. At this point we pervert it and it becomes EXCESS. This has been one of the more difficult mindsets to break in my life if we are being totally honest. I am learning and training myself to realize that I have been given enough for today. My blessings and abilities are there to be used in my waking and before I go to sleep. I have EVERYTHING that I NEED so why would I let ANYTHING that is sitting in my hands to use – just sit.

I was given today my daily bread but what happens when I see the bread and think, “Yeah, naturally there is bread because I need it, I’ve earned this bread… so on top of this bread I think I should have some peanut butter and bananas as well. After all if I could have provided the bread than somehow I can make these delicious toppings happen as well” But you see, this is where we start to view our gifts and talents as excess… we see it as something earned and more than we need. What if we believed that G-d answered our prayers for daily bread and then we looked at our blessings and counted them as that instead of looking at all we have and seeing the ‘cherry on top’ mentality?

Your ice cream is sweet enough.

Recently in a pout-fest with my housemate via texting I was wondering what on earth I was doing here. She graciously reminded me,

“You prayed for this, you paid for this and now you are here. Isn’t that enough? Even if you never know isn’t this answered prayer enough?”

I’ve gotten to do everything I’ve ever wanted to do it just hasn’t always looked the same. I got here by doing well with what I was handed; and it is my daily prayer that I continue to see everything I have as daily bread. As something to be used today because tomorrow I’m going to need more and it might not look the same.

Proverbs 16:9 “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”

So, do what you will… but good luck with that.

I hope I live in a way that sees my blessings as abundance and something to be used, I’ve been given a lot and my heart has had loads of fulfillment in the seasons I’ve walked through. But, it was only there to build upon and not to see as “Oh check out my awesome toast that I bought”. Get over yourself.

but also, I love you all.