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.

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.  

//Your Position Is Replaceable, You Are Not\\

I’ve had the wonderful journey of working in the food and service industry for 9 years out of my life. In the time that I worked I can honestly remember calling into work twice when I was really sick, I probably showed up way too many times when I was too sick to be working and any other time I couldn’t work I would get my shift covered. There was a small part of me when I left my first job that wanted the place to fall to the ground (cue Taylor Swift “Bad Blood” in the background). I wanted to think I was the reason that establishment was standing or that maybe they would miss me when I’m gone. I’ve had a lot of moments in my life when I have the humbling realization that I’m not the stuff.

I’m actually just me.

But me can be pretty great.

You see, in food service a lot of us think we are the reason the shift runs smoothly, which is comical now that I’ve been on the scheduling side of things as well. Working in section “B” on a Friday night shift doesn’t mean you’re the best at what you do, it honestly means you are a body and there needs to be a body, somebody, anybody in that section. And if you never came along somebody would be in that spot.

I was recently chatting with someone about leadership here at Hillsong International LEADERSHIP College and what I found was this: Anyone can fill a role. This is awesome. I’m actually so thankful. One of the mornings I was scheduled for serving at Sisterhood I was really sick, like get up and walk around and feel like I was going to lose everything I even thought about eating the day before so I called who I needed to call to let them know their star host wouldn’t be there (if you haven’t figured out my snark yet please understand I don’t think I’m actually the best host there is.

Actually, I still haven’t figured out what I’m doing))

I then slept in my bed for the rest of the afternoon.

While it is a tad inconvenient to not have the people you planned to be there turn up – there is still a fix. You shift people and fill the roles and make it work. I don’t have to turn up to anything; my role is replaceable, however I am not. It isn’t a matter of me doing the task assigned, it’s a matter of my person, my heart, what I’ve walked through, what I have to give that is uniquely mine and if I don’t turn up and rock out my roll then I will never cross paths with the people G-d might be wanting me to speak to or receive something from. He might have someone that needs to be loved the way I understand how to give love, He may need me to give my smile to someone who is having a bad day or my heart to someone who needs whatever it is G-d has placed over me. I might need that message for this season or week. I may be blessed tremendously by serving the wonderful women of Sisterhood (that always happens without fail).

Positions and leadership come and go but my character and heart are the things I’m allowing to fill those rolls. I’ve been challenged over and over by G-d this semester to do well with what is in my hands now. Why is this so important? Because He placed  (Whatever I have the opportunity to do) IN MY HANDS. No one else owns the little hands that I do and they are attached to no one else’s body. Which means no one else’s mind can control the things I play, write, hold, break or build.

What I’ve walked through has formed who I am and G-d has refined that person, and is STILL refining that person. No one else can offer what I can and no one else can offer what YOU can. You have an impact and a light that you carry that is uniquely yours. I don’t know HOW G-d created all the different people that there are or the insane dynamic of characters there are but shoot, He did a great job. I always take a look at my house and the amazing women I live with… we are SO different but all have something to contribute to one another and to the people we surround ourselves with. No one else can add any more or less than what they have. If it wasn’t Krysia or Evelin or Reema living in the rooms that they do then another body would fill that position… but it wouldn’t be THEM.

Whatever role you do or don’t have,

whatever team you lead or serve on,

whoever you are trying to be.

Be you, be there. No one else can.