“Z Best Is Yet 2 Come”

So, I’ve been reading the Bible lately as previously stated in my last blog. I’ve finished Exodus and started reading all the introductory information on Leviticus (the avoided book) which is extremely helpful in creating expectation on a previously perceived “boring book”.

Exodus has been helpful in opening my eyes to more of the details of our story as Christians. For example, you have ‘The Exodus’ (the exit or leaving) of the children if Israel out of the land of Egypt and of slavery. THE PASSOVER – which I couldn’t write enough about – full of symbolism and justice that makes me cry when I think about it. The Israelites were to take a pure, spotless lamb once a year for their passover feast and slaughter it and place the blood of the lamb over their doorposts to be safe from the judgement of G-d. GUYS. Jesus, our pure and spotless lamb spilled his blood over that tree at Calvary to forever cover the price of our sins so that judgement would be replaced with mercy in our lives.
I cry. I weep. I write blogs about it. 

The Law was given to Moses at Mt. Sinai and then immediately broken (literally and literally) by the people sinning downstairs and when Moses threw the tablets to the ground in a hissy fit of justice-rage. But, Moses was given reminders of the covenant promise of G-d redeeming His people and Moses reminded G-d of His own promises as well. We see redemption over and over in this narrative.

The BEAUTIFUL and precise instructions were given to our main man Moses for the construction of the Tabernacle (The Holy meeting tent that the Lord decided to dwell in so that He could be with the children of Israel and that they could worship Him in). Peoples hearts were overwhelmed with gratitude and generosity and began to give to the building of the temple to where they had far more than they needed. The Lord showed his compassion to this group of people by sending His Spirit (end of chapter 35) to equip His people with SKILL to complete the building of the tabernacle.

I find it reassuring to know that the Lord doesn’t always EQUIP the CALLED but He equips those in the line of His COMMANDS. We find two men here in chapter 36, Bezalel and Oholiab, along with others in ‘whom the Lord put skill and intelligence to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary… in accordance with all that the Lord has commanded’ (v.1 ish). We see no reference to the Lord speaking directly to them and telling them that they are ordained to build this sanctuary… We just see them in the path of a need that the Lord was going to accomplish. By being willing to help with whatever, they were equipped by the Holy Spirit to be useful.

G-d I want to be in line of your commands. I don’t have to be ‘called’ but I do need to be available and I trust that in my availability and being where You are that You’ll equip me for whatever YOU have commanded on the earth.

After all of this is said and done in Exodus it leaves me with such a reassured ease as I try and read Leviticus. You see, I know the end of the story and the completion of the prophecies in the New Testament. I know of the New Covenant and our immediate access to G-d and the lack of all animal sacrifices I’ve ever had to perform in my life. I can look at the Israelites wandering the desert and think, “The best is yet to come! Just hold on and keep believing!”

This all ended up rolling through my head as I made my way downstairs
to see our house sign say “Z Best Is Yet 2 Come”.

I think G-d often smiles at me, I feel it when I’m laughing at myself after ‘ah-ha’ moments come and I realise how blind I am without the guidance and revelation of the Spirit. I was reminded of the expectation I’m bringing to Hillsong Conference. I was reminded of MY story with Him and how much I’ve grown in the last 5 years. I was reminded of all the prayers that I’ve prayed and still pray and the ones I’ve forgotten that I asked for. I think G-d smiled at me and reminded ME that The BEST is YET to come…
I can look at the past all day and mentally help those people in hardship and tell them, “Wait, your story isn’t over” but in looking back and reflecting I can sometimes forget that the Lord is looking at me saying the same thing.

Moving into Hillsong Conference ISN’T same ol’ same ol’. Starting another semester with a whole flock of new students isn’t same ol’ same ol’. Each and every service and chapel isn’t the same… it’s progressively THE BEST.

Pastor Brian Houston coined that phrase for our church but I’m just starting to REALLY GET IT. It doesn’t matter if your last week was crap or the best thing ever. It doesn’t matter if you’re still sitting in emotional slavery waiting on deliverance or you were just given everything you’ve been asking and praying for. THE BEST is still to come.

Hillsong Conference is another opportunity that we as college students have to refresh and serve our hearts out – I pray that our expectation is heightened and that we follow where we feel the Spirit is leading. I pray that we end up in the path of the commands of G-d and even if we don’t feel called that we begin to accept the equipping of the Spirit and move forward knowing we have what it takes to change something. I pray that no matter how difficult it is, or how tired we become that we don’t lose sight of the BEST that is still coming. I pray that no matter how amazing and life-changing it is for us that we realise that there IS STILL more.

Many of those reading this aren’t college students here in Sydney, Australia and to those I pray that your jobs come through – I pray your children come back to Christ or find Him for the first time – I pray that you are set free from emotional bondage of an abusive partner – I pray that you see a little bit more hope in your situation but also that you know that even in the beautiful times, the birth of your children, the promotion at work, the marriage of your best friends… that there is STILL more.

Thank G-d for hindsight and THANK G-D that I don’t know everything.


The Exodus and Leviticus links you find in this blog are from guys called
‘The Bible Project’ – They summarise the books of the bible along with explaining other key topics in a comic sort of way that keeps us creative types entertained.
Check them out.

We GET to Make 45 Fruit Platters

Colour Conference 2016 is more than halfway over for our Australian gatherings and has 5 more conferences to go worldwide. Please pray for the growth, development and empowering of women across the globe as our team continues to minister and carry this cause. Everything about serving the women at these conferences changes some bit of you and also shows you just how much you have to change still.

I think some of the things I’m learning this week have been balancing trusting in the Lord for strength and waiting while you’re working your feet numb.

My schedule the last 8 days consisted of a few 12 hour days of serving, early mornings, having to look fresh 8 days in a row, an overnight film shoot for our Easter production as a college and about 45 fruit platters (I wish I was kidding).

Only about 17% of me telling you that was humble bragging and 25% of that was me reflecting, wondering what the hell was I thinking saying yes to all of that – the rest (58% for those who will be bothered by it not equaling 100%) was a reminder to myself that I prayed for this. I had to remind myself of that today.

I flipped back in my journal to a marked page at the beginning of February that read,
“You asked for this, you prayed for this – REST in the midst of giving your all. I asked to grow and be challenged. I asked to be challenged and to need to rely on my Saviour. I asked YOU to teach me faithfulness and allow me to tarry with You. Lord, I want to spend my time praising You in the waiting.”

I asked G-d at the beginning of this year to have a year that I look at and wonder how I’m going to do it all, and then get to the end of the year knowing I couldn’t have done it all except by G-d’s grace, provision, wisdom and favour.

And let me tell you, He hardly let me finish my sentence before giving me more of a year than I was expecting.

I ASKED for it but I still needed to work on my EXPECTATION.

So, let’s break this down – 17% Humble Brag

I was proud I made it through this haha, there were legitimate moments I was thinking I was going to drop (asleep) and moments where my brain would tell my body to do something and it just wasn’t having it. I grew my capacity beyond what I thought was possible and I firmly believe G-d carried me through a busy week. And I don’t feel bad for being proud that I drank enough water and said ‘no’ to other things so that I didn’t get sick halfway through.

25% reflection –

I pondered if I did the journey well… I wondered if I should have had more moments with Christ (the answer is yes) and if I should have had a better hold of my attitude (the answer is yes). I remember early into coming to Australia, one of the Team nights was led by Autumn Hardman and she spoke about preparing for the season. Her point was taking notice of what was coming and making sure that even if it’s a crazy season, you can make it if you know what’s coming. Thankfully with Colour they gave me dates to serve so I knew what was coming. I knew Easter was RIGHT after and that we’d be cramming to get everything done. I think I prepared ok, but after reflecting I could have done a few more things to ensure I ended better than I started.

(or I suppose I still could because I have three more full on days until breach (break on the beach))

58% – I prayed for this, and now I GET to do this.

I had a beautiful and short conversation with a friend over these last few days about the phrase, “We GET to do this”. It’s helped reform my thoughts on a lot of serving days where the work load doesn’t seem fair, the attitudes are off the wall, and on the days when it all seems a little bit ‘not my thing’.

We GET to do this.

We GET to serve.

I GET to be a part of Sisterhood and Colour Conference and Hillsong Church. I get to learn from people that I respect and love more each and every class I sit in with them. I get to be a part of a college that is literally training some of the future leaders of the world. Who the heck am I and how did I get here? How was I blessed enough to learn about Jesus from a young age and kept close enough to Him that even when life went sour I still heard Him loud enough to want to return?

I used to LOVE Philippians – I thought it was one of the kindest, most encouraging books in the Bible. I just re-read it and pray over my friends, classmates, ministers that I know so that they are covered with longevity and that they walk always with Christ. I love Philippians so much that I straight ignored Colossians. Haha. Dumb. I know.

In Colossians the other day I was wrecked again by what Christ has done for me,

“G-d made you alive in Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, what was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross… Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of G-d. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in G-d. When Christ, who IS YOUR LIFE, appears, then you will also appear with him in glory.”
Colossians 2:13b-14; 3:1-4 (NIV)

GLORY

I GET TO DO THIS

I get to be a part of His plan and share in His glory.

Read Colossians in the Message version… it talks about letting your prayers overflow with thankfulness – which is firmly where I’ve landed at the end of this very busy week. I’m overwhelmed with my schedule and all the more with HIS GRACE.

I’ll end with this, because it’s beautiful and true. You should read this out loud and literally FOR THE LOVE OF G-D don’t skip it just because it’s a large portion of scripture attached to a blog.

((I’ve been there… I’ve done it… No judgments but READ IT))

Photo Credit: Megan Russo
Thougths for the blog credit: Megan Russo

“David’s Praise
 I lift you high in praise, my God, O my King!
and I’ll bless your name into eternity.
I’ll bless you every day,
and keep it up from now to eternity.
God is magnificent; he can never be praised enough.
There are no boundaries to his greatness.
Generation after generation stands in awe of your work;
each one tells stories of your mighty acts.
Your beauty and splendor have everyone talking;
I compose songs on your wonders.
Your marvelous doings are headline news;
I could write a book full of the details of your greatness.
The fame of your goodness spreads across the country;
your righteousness is on everyone’s lips.
God is all mercy and grace—
not quick to anger, is rich in love.
God is good to one and all;
everything he does is suffused with grace.
10-11 Creation and creatures applaud you, God;
your holy people bless you.
They talk about the glories of your rule,
they exclaim over your splendor,
12 Letting the world know of your power for good,
the lavish splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is a kingdom eternal;
you never get voted out of office.
God always does what he says,
and is gracious in everything he does.
14 God gives a hand to those down on their luck,
gives a fresh start to those ready to quit.
15 All eyes are on you, expectant;
you give them their meals on time.
16 Generous to a fault,
you lavish your favor on all creatures.
17 Everything God does is right—
the trademark on all his works is love.
18 God’s there, listening for all who pray,
for all who pray and mean it.
19 He does what’s best for those who fear him—
hears them call out, and saves them.
20 God sticks by all who love him,
but it’s all over for those who don’t.
21 My mouth is filled with God’s praise.
Let everything living bless him,
bless his holy name from now to eternity!”
Psalms 145 (MSG)

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.  

As We Tarry There

((Maybe don’t read this one at work, or maybe grab a tissue.


It’s really hard for me sometimes to say that I miss my grandparents, when I don’t honestly remember that much about them. My grandma (on my mothers side) died when I was about 4 or maybe 5 years old. I remember that she was heavy set and soft. She had white hair and my own mother has the frame of her hands, they’re rounded and not harsh. They are soft and always in need of physical contact to show love. I have those same rounded hands too; my fingers and features are soft. So while I can’t say that I miss her because I don’t remember much about her I do know her. I remember her Bible being filled with so many highlighted and written in words that it was like 17 devotionals in one. This is a part of my heritage. I remember that when she died I cried because I saw my cousin Ricky crying, and I knew that something bad was happening if he (in my eyes at the time a ‘big kid’) was crying. I remember Precious Moments coloring books at the hospital. I remember telling my brother that I was sad and I wanted to see her again, he told me that if I wanted to see her I would need to go to heaven. He brought me to my mom and I got saved that day (so that I could see Mee-Maw again).

So although I don’t remember her well – I know that she knows me and I know that she has molded my life without being in it.

My grandfather died when I was 10, I remember a little more about him. I remember him eating Ritz crackers with peanut butter on them every time I was over at his house. I remember that he would tickle you until you shrieked and then act like he was going to let you get away but as you ran his arms would catch you and pull you close again. I remember his big funny glasses that now remind me of the guy from Up (or a hipster). I remember his skin being terribly thin and me being afraid of hurting him when I hugged him later on in his life. I remember mom waking me up the day after a celebration ceremony I was a part of for having read the entire bible and memorized a zillion scriptures (seriously a zillion) and maybe learnt how to build a fire? It was pretty much girl scouts for Christians. She woke me up to tell me we were off to Georgia because my grandfather had passed away. I remember his favorite song was In The Garden. A few of the cousins, my mom and myself sang it at his funeral and THAT I can never forget – I can never forget this song.

I may have not known much about my grandpa but I do know that he had a heart to be with the Lord, he was good at sitting with Him.

I don’t remember much about my grandparents, but I do know them.

memawThey’ve been apart of molding who I am since way before I was conceived. I’m so thankful for my heritage that has since passed on and I’m thankful for my grandparents who are still with me.

I love my Grandma Cheri (dads side) more that I could ever explain and I hold part of her personality with me always. I know that without her realizing she has an inflection in her voice when she speaks and emphasizes different syllables. And I know that she has already forgotten how to log in to her Facebook. My love of dogs comes from her and I’m fully convinced that as soon as I can, I won’t be able to keep away from having those lovely fur-babies in my home. I do things that she does without even realizing they probably came from her, like mass cooking awesome food and loving to decorate cakes. We enjoy sushi and being feisty and stubborn as.

But, G-d reminded me of this song this week, as I’ve been so focused on what’s coming this year, what is the next thing I have to do I’ve forgotten too quickly how to tarry with G-d.

I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.

Refrain:
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.

To tarry is to stay longer than you intended, or delay leaving a place.

Time spent with G-d cannot come back void and you can never be there ‘too long’. Life happens all around you and all around the world without you, the worries and tasks will be there after the morning and after you’ve sat with the Saviour.

He walks with me. He talks with me. He tells me I am His own.

Lately my prayer has been that G-d would restore to me the joy of salvation. I’m not unhappy, but I want more joy. I want more peace regardless of circumstance and joy that is simply based on what Christ has already done by saving me. No greater joy have I found than to sit and be in His presence and have Him tell me that I AM HIS OWN.

And the JOY we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.

Although I didn’t know my grandparents enough to ‘miss them’ as much as my older family members – I do know my Saviour, and sometimes I just miss tarrying with Him.

Sometimes you need extravagant moments with Jesus. Sometimes you just need to sit and hear Him calling you His own. Sit and listen to the melodies He is singing over you, let it echo through your being. Learn to seek Him and find the characteristics you have learned from Him that you might not realize are in you.

We truly come by them honestly.

Sometimes Our Regulars Pass Away…

((And Other Things You Probably Don’t Realize About Your Servers))


I didn’t really find it entirely appropriate to post this one while I was in Australia, because I have zero experience in food service there and I know everything is different. But I’m back in Oklahoma, USA for a while and around my old stomping grounds and meals so, please enjoy this #ThinkBackThursday and learn a little something about our Good Ol’ American Servers.


  • About 75-80% of the demographic of any given (American) restaurant are mothers. They’re working to support someone else’s dreams. Bless accordingly
  • Some of your servers just suck, they should find new jobs that they love. But you’re still in charge of how many bills they don’t have to stress about.
  • Our regulars pass away. We go through divorces, we have sick kids at home, our dog just got hit by a car, we have a tummy ache. We have BAD days… You do too. Our job just requires we don’t show it or you get ‘bad service’ and servers make less money.
  • Some servers are just awesome. They are people with big hearts and huge smiles. They pay attention to more details as they balance 5-7 tables and 10-30 or even up to 40-something drink refills. Chips. Fries. Crying kids. Deathly allergies. And they carry heavy trays. Show gratitude.
  • You didn’t like your server? They probably didn’t like you as a guest. But your attitude isn’t reviewed and put on a survey after the meal is over. If patience isn’t your strong suit- or even something you know what is please stay home. We don’t like serving you either.
  • We are here to SERVE you. You are a guest in our home… We didn’t sign our names in blood declaring that we are your servant until we have paid back whatever you think we owe. Don’t treat them like dirt. Some of the greatest people I know serve tables.
  • That girl with the black polo and brown hair? Her name is Cecilia. She told you at the beginning of the meal. That other girl with the black polo and brown hair? Her name is Mary Beth. You haven’t met her she was just dropping off your food. They aren’t the same people.
  • Servers are by no means uneducated and stuck in that job because they couldn’t find better. A LOT of servers I know are working their way through high school, college and even masters degrees and still working 25+ hours a week. Some people are literally addicted to bringing you silverware, smiling, and saying, “Welcome to _______! My name is ______ I’ll be doing my best to serve you today. Can I start you off with the most expensive drink on the menu and an appetizer that I won’t have to refill again and again?” (Paraphrased). They are good at what they do and they like it. And they’re smart.

A large portion of you won’t care about this splurb. And that’s ok. I’m really just ranting to my voice text and thinking as I drive my little self to Pryor, OK.

I’m blessed to know all the people that I do. I have been in food 8 1/2 years and this might just be a rant but you didn’t have to read it so get over it. Just thinking about some of these incredible people and some funny things I’ve learned over the years.

Y’all have a good day.

I GET to work now.

Many Thanks! Sincerely, Jane and Michael Banks

People Appreciation Post

Thank you is all I have to give but I feel like it is an unlimited resource (or that it SHOULD be). I’ve seen immense acts of service in my life and the only thing I can do is say thank you.

Thank you to my parents who I wouldn’t be here without. I wouldn’t be WHO I AM without you both and I’m unbelievably blessed and thankful that you are both married to each other. Your marriage and communication skills entertain me (in the best way). Thank you to my brother who shows me constantly what it is to have a friend that will always be there. You protect me often and correct me even more. You’re one of the few I trust to call me out and even when you can’t stand me I know you’ll stand by me and I know that you love me.

Thank you to Gracie who has shown me and continues to show me how big love can really be; who has challenged my view of G-d more times than she will likely realize until she has children of her own.

I know you aren’t my baby.

But you’re my baby.

Get over it.

Thank you to anyone who has financially blessed me in coming and staying in Australia. Truly your gifts have changed the very structure and reception of my heart. You’ve not only let me see G-d’s hand out working but you’ve placed so much more weight into how I view myself.

There are no words to thank the people who believe in you.

It gives you super-powers.

To Katie, I’ve never had someone stick as fiercely or for as long as you. Your opinions and convictions and joy have shaped a large portion of my brain and heart and doing life with you is always painfully funny. Our seasons and locations don’t always align but currently we both live in Australia and that’s pretty cool. I actually have no idea what life will look like with us in the same country again but I’m already too excited to articulate. You deserve a better, wiser, more fashionable friend – but you got me. Thanks for keeping me in check and asking the hard questions.

(Shout out for being my gym buddy again and lookin’ HAWT – you get to be the feature pic today!)

My housemates, I can’t clump you guys together because you are ALL so different but you’ve all shown me so much this last 8 months on how to live with community that you can’t escape. (It’s a good thing). You’ve all shown me how to give and receive when I need. You’ve given me a space to create in and the challenge to do so. You’ve allowed me to cry and dance and encouraged me when I felt like I wasn’t in the right place.

You’ve all taught me the benefits of keeping butter around for impromptu brownie baking so that we might all stand in the kitchen and talk about boys and how much we need to work out. I wouldn’t be the same person without you girls.

And to way too many friends here in tutorial and classes and leaders that I have – I’ve learned (and I’m still learning) to live a little more openly. I’ve been given an opportunity to rely on you all and live without a guard and allow this process to happen. I’ve been trusted with more than I feel I can accomplish and yet also the encouragement that I can.

In the words of Kid President “Things We Should Say More Often”:

THANK YOU!

(ref. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5yCOSHeYn4 )

((I want to meet this kid… #LifeGoals))

I wish you all understand the heart behind what I write and why, I actually ache sometimes to get my point across. I wish you all understand the awe I have over what I’ve been blessed to do and who I’ve been blessed to love. I am so thankful for the beautiful life that I have (even when it isn’t actually all that beautiful) and it wouldn’t be fair to allow you all to read these every week (or every month) ((or once a year)) without telling you all how much it really means to me that you do.

Concluding thoughts… Maybe say ‘thank you’ to someone where it’s overdue or maybe where it is right on time.

www.gofundme.com/storytimewithlaina

If you will pray for me or feel it in your heart to give or maybe you want to pass the link along.
All I have is thanks but I pray that will always be enough.