Celebrate GOOD Times

SO much life has happened.

I have no excuses or apologies but I will say that I absolutely miss writing – I miss updates and thinky thoughts. I miss having time and making time to do what I’m passionate about. This semester of school is full of doing things I need to do, which is fine haha I just miss the other stuff.

It’s so beautiful. I have the MOST beautiful friends here.

I think lately I’ve forgotten to celebrate the things that deserve a celebration. Life feels a whole lot like life lately and not quite like it’s exciting or BIG but honestly it’s freaking huge.

  • I’m engaged.
    Phill asked me to marry him a few weeks ago, or maybe it was a month or two – (Honestly this is my issue, school has been so full and fun this semester that it has been THE HARDEST thing ever to actually keep up with my own life.) So we are getting married at the end of November (just a few days before I graduate Hillsong College) and we begin more life together. He makes life feel like it was always meant to be this way, both very normal and very exceptional at the same time. He makes awesome feel like it is a standard that should have always been tied around my days, weeks, months… That is why I say we will begin MORE life together 🙂

[The Engagement: It was a Saturday and Phill and I were supposed to be spending the evening with a few friends but I text them to confirm and they bailed on us. The reason I didn’t think anything of it was because it had already happened the same way the week before as well haha. So Phill asked me if I wanted to drive in the mountains to go get some spring water (I don’t really think any of his requests are weird anymore although I realise how odd that sounds). So off to the mountains we went – we got some McDonalds on the way because we are really classy. I forgot to tell him I had to pee (this is relevant I promise) so when we pulled off in the middle of no where I told him he had to wait on the other side of the car which gave him the perfect opportunity to sort out the ring in his pocket. I did my business behind some bush and thanked the Lord for our Maccas (McDonalds) napkins. We walked down to this beach thing inside the mountains where we fist EVER hung out together. We weren’t even dating at this point although Phill was totally trying to date.
I saw a random fire set up and told Phill how irresponsible some people are to set a fire and leave it unattended. I didn’t drop this for a while. Phill told me this is where he knew he wanted to date me (no surprise, I’m pretty awesome) and said since this is where he decided he wanted to date me that maybe this is where I wanted to tell him I’d spend the rest of my life with him (awwwwwww). I was in disbelief, I knew the ring would be coming sometime but I thought it was still being built or designed or something, I believe my first response was “Wait you don’t have the ring?!” and then a few more sentences expressing my concern for the people who bailed on the fire pit. It all felt very surreal. I said yes and we sat out on the beach for a little while before decided to get pizza and celebrate with some housemates 🙂

The fire was set up by some of our friends and they even cut down a tree to build a seat.]

  • We had just about the most irritating month ever as soon as we got engaged; things just weren’t going our way (for lack of liberty to share the details).
    But if you can imagine the best soccer player you know was running straight at you but then instead of actually playing soccer he is just kicking you in the gut. It was like that for about a month. But thank the LORD for undeserved favor and stuff is getting back on track.
  •  Which brings me to my next thought: marriage counselling was awesome. We had the most amazing couple to talk us through all the marriage things and we did so well that they thought we cheated.
    ((Another thought: you deserve someone that you’re compatible with – so compatible that the online survey thinks you’ve cheated. I get that some opposites attract and as far as Phill and my personality goes we are quite opposite. But we ARE like-minded, more than I think we realised.)) It was such a relief to walk into conversations with a couple that had been married 35 years and for them to give us their blessing on our lives. I think too many people settle. Heck I’ve done it. We all have. So stop judging. But also stop giving up on the ‘someone out there’ who is perfect for you. I have as many reasons as many other to think otherwise but guys GOD IS GOOD and has stuff under control.
  • Another exciting part of my life is that 8 (EIGHT) of my family members will be here with me in a very short amount of time to celebrate this three-year journey of college and the lifelong journey of marriage. I seriously don’t know how I get to be so blessed. Seriously. I could cry. I feel very loved and honoured and SO EXCITED to show them this place. Australia has been so wonderful to me.

  •  Which brings me to my next point
    – lets be real this blog is an intro back into writing and the form is all over the place –

This one is a little nerve-racking.

I’m staying for a little while.

In January 2018 I will transfer into my Bachelors degree of Theology with a focus on Biblical Studies.

BIG GULPS HUH.

Australia has felt like home since the first few months of being here and although it still sort of throws my head for a spin I’m happy to announce that I’ll be here a bit longer. Phill and I will continue working here in OZ while I work on my degree.

  • FINALLY – PHILL AND I SIGNED A LEASE ON A COTTAGE!

How adorable is that sentence? Phill moves at the beginning of October and I’ll move after we get married. I forget what a miracle life actually is. What is my life that I get to live in Australia in a cottage and marry the man who spoils me with breakfasts on the weekend and support for all things my heart dreams up.

Life should be celebrated and I am thankful.

Thanks for letting me update.

I’m organizing my chaotic life to let me do what I love (actually writing more than once a year). As I said… no excuses, no apologies. It’s just how life has been

(ABSOLUTELY FREAKING CRAZY… and so SO wonderful)

Isn’t She Lovely?

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

I’ve been thinking about Brides… 

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

Y’all chill.

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

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

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

The result?

“You are the most stunning bride!”

“Simply gorgeous!”

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

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

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

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

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

Hosea 2:16-20

 

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

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

I will be His and He will be mine.

// I like the idea of belonging.

 

Happy Birthday

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

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

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

But just so you know, I KNOW.

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

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

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

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

I love you all, Happy Birthday.

– Ignorance Is Bliss –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pray that I do the same.

“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.

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.

Worship – Worth and Response

Could it be that I took the time write a 7 minute spoken word on worship?
Could I construct that much of a presentation and explanation of heavens touch on earth and keep it theological enough to get competent?
Yes I think it’s quite absurd because sometimes spoken word is hard
But when I think of worship and begin to praise it becomes clear that no day will come when I will ever run out of what I could say of His glory. Worship is our story living and breathing inside of His and anything I could ever say will never be enough for what is and that is HIS worth – and my response.

I had to opportunity to present my take on worship for an assessment the other day. I researched and found that one of my beliefs is that: Worship is an awareness of His worth and our response because of that.

Jesus is the author and prefecture of faith; He is the only one worthy to cover the cost of my sins. He was literally the only one whose personhood was worth enough to pay for what I’ve ever done or will do and that alone will always be enough.

So what are the different responses?

Sometimes our response is posture – sometimes it’s turning up to the house of G-d even and raising your hands even when your heart is broken. I remember having to go through a series of nudges from G-d that had everything to do with my posture. I lived through a season that was engulfed in fear, to the point of me being emotionally and spiritually paralyzed. My first calling in that season was to simply move. Move from where I was back into the house of G-d and trust Him and the people in my life. Then I felt like my next response was to jump – arms open in surrender and in a free fall into His goodness and love. Then I finally felt the conviction to learn how to get on my knees. Jesus taught me how to sit with Him as you do with a close friendship or a parent and child in conversation. My worship in that season was posture because that’s all I could give.

The Bible talks about worship and the framework that has been set for our year as worship students here is from Romans 12:1-2.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Our worship and response to G-d includes mindsets.

In the season of being fearful of my past and future, my cries to G-d to stop anxiety was worship. My cries to G-d to stop insecurities is worship. I was allowed to ask G-d to set my mind on things above and not on earthy things and HE accepted that as worship.

Another response is to live inside of community and letting that be your worship

Acts 2:42, 46-47 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer… Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.”

G-d has gifted us with this beautiful response of living inside of a community and allowing our lives inside of that to turn into praise and a life of worship. Do you trust your community and pour enough into it that you can let your meals and coffee dates be worship unto G-d?

My final thought is something I learned from a friend in the states that changed my practice forever.

My friend Taylor makes journals, beautiful journals by hand with the most incredible looking leather and super hipster rope to keep them together. He learned to make these at a retreat and in that as well learned about TRULY treating your craft as your communion with G-d. He allowed his discipline become worship to G-d and set his mind on Christ as he would work. I had heard it before to the point that I was numb to the thought of living your entire life as worship to G-d. Romans 12 explains this beautifully in the Message version:

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.”

Sometimes our response is communion with the Spirit – sometimes this bleeds into our craft, our discipline, our practice and our passions. We have the chance to let our mundane be worship if we let it. 

So, my response to G-d’s worth and what He has done is worship in position, mindsets, community and craft.

Lord, help me everyday to be aware of the opportunity I have to praise you in the middle of my ordinary life.