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.

Scrabit Valentines

Please enjoy this #ThinkBackThursday, it’s long enough 🙂


I had the opportunity of learning how to co-write a song with a 2nd semester student the other day. It was awesome (for lack of a better word, I used all my good ones in the song). One of the lines we came up with being, “The hardest place to be is on an empty page”; which for any artist: If you’re a writer, a painter, a dancer or a songwriter, this is one of the truest statements that there is. Unless you and G-d have some ridiculous thing worked out and you just flow 24/7 in the gifts of creativity. To you I say, I’m way jealousI’m working on that.

All of that to say, I’ve been here for about three weeks and written every day, but sharing has gotten significantly harder. The first week was full of temporary housing, moving, getting settled in, and not having WiFi. So that was legitimately part of it, however, another large part is that G-d is uprooting crap that I don’t WANT to share. If I admit it out loud (or on paper, or at the internet) to you all then it becomes a real issue with real accountability that I have to address. What sucks is that G-d has laid it on my heart to share my story. Be real with people, open up and love people as I accept unconditional love that I used to not allow myself to feel. I’ve been taught in public speaking, and singing, and even conversations to not preface or disclaim things and I try really hard to keep to that. But I clearly didn’t listen this time. Lets add that to the list of things I’m working on.

It’s Valentines Day here in Aussie Land, which in all reality doesn’t matter at all. I plan on finding a beach today and getting golden brown and piddling around the city. The only significance of today is that I just finished a book on Prophecy and a heavy portion of the book spoke on LOVE. So today I woke up and read 1 Corinthians 12-14 as the book suggested doing for every day of the rest of your life and I began to realize just how poorly I love. A large struggle here at Hillsong [so far (for me)] has been my wonderful insecurity and issue of comparison. Hillsong College doesn’t cultivate or feed this insecurity, in fact I think I’ve heard something in every sermon, chapel, lecture, and conversation about how we need to NOT be comparing ourselves.

We are the BODY OF CHRIST and to each of us has been given the ‘manifestation of the Spirit for the common good’.

G-d puts us in the places HE willed us to be in, with the talents HE set in us, and the understanding HE taught us, with the stories HE will use if we let Him. And sometimes all of that sucks (this is a fragment sentence because I have nothing else to say about it). When you lean on your understanding and your view it’s rough to believe you’re a significant person in the kingdom. You might be a finger in the body, but fingers are pretty boring until you attach them to the hand and link them to the heart and the brain, and then through them all working together create a melody on the piano, or a letter to an old friend, or a story that will change someone’s life.

“But in fact G-d has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be.”
1 Corinthians 12:18

– I don’t have to try and convince myself that I’m supposed to be here, now, with the level of talent or anointing I have – G-d has placed me where He willed me to be. I’m not a mistake; I’m not out of place. No one else here can be me. His Word tells me so. Even on the days I don’t believe in myself, I have to believe His Word is true or I really have nothing and no reason to be here.

Hmmm, so love.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails… And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a; 4:13

Can we go real talk without you getting uncomfortable? No? Probably not, that’s fine you don’t have to ‘like’ this post. Do you have any idea how long I’ve avoided and not liked this portion of scripture? My divorce was final August 2012 so… probably about 4 months BEFORE that. I have let there be a hold over my heart and life because I have accepted the ties around portions of scripture and what was promised to me, and broken. G-d didn’t do that. HE didn’t abandon me, He always hoped in me, He ALWAYS persisted after me. He is good, He is G-d, He is Holy. Having said that I realized that through all this mess and all the ties I let hold me I was killing my ability to ACCEPT love… How the heck do I expect to give love if I can’t accept it? I am a BAD lover. I have the biggest issue in the world with rejoicing in truth, I need to work on rejoicing over people who are ahead of me in life. I need to stop being intimidated by them and thinking I will never be like them. Chances are, I WONT BE LIKE THEM BECAUSE G-D CREATED ME TO BE ME.

I have so much room to grow in this area. I have so much I need to start believing about me so that I can in turn pour it out into believing in others. What is terrible is that it’s all grown out of fear, pride and insecurity. Those are ugly, I want to be pretty inside and out. Momma always said I was… I want to believe I am. But dang, I need G-d’s help. Only He knows how stubborn I am and how far down He is going to have to dig to get it all out. And I have been praying since I got here that He would take it all out. G-d, teach me how to love. Show me the moments when I am very wrong. Guide me in what You need me to do and above all – change my heart to beat more in line with Yours. “Get rid of it all G-d, make my heart true. Get rid of it all G-d and make me more like You. Just take it all Lord, bind me to You. With one glance of my heart G-d, I’m falling in love with You.”

I could write a ton more about all this but I’m trying to keep it as short as your attention span. It might not ever be perfect but I DO love you all with all I know how, I am praying that it becomes more pure and closer to what it love really looks like. I am expecting a lot of miracles and heart changes for the women I live with and the people I’m going to school with, and me. I could use prayer. You all are wonderful.

“Write your heart out”… seriously, get the mess that is inside of you out. There is healing, there is encouragement, there is truth to be spoken over you, there is accountability you (I) desperately need. You don’t have to fight thoughts alone.

 Happy Valentines Day

What I Thought I Didn’t Know and What I’ve Known All Along

While being at my parents house I decided to go through my old things and sort out how to consolidate anything I had left before I moved. This is always a challenge for me because while I’m not very sentimental with items I do hold on dearly to words. I began scanning through old cut sheets from Family Group meeting with my girls, old poems and ‘sermons’ (for lack of a better word). I realized that I was just as passionate back then as I am now about my what I do, even though I didn’t realize how much it meant to me at the time.

One thing I’ve noticed while being here is that sometimes in the midst of not realizing – we are doing exactly what we were made to do. I never came to a season full of knowing that I was right where I needed to be, I never fully ‘figured out’ life. But I did have enough to know I should keep going and that has been a large part of my journey with writing. I love what I do so I guess I got that down.

13 October 2010 – #ThinkBackThursday


I kinda thought that eventually I’d have life “figured out” and that if I didn’t there was something wrong with me, or that I wasn’t listening to G-d enough. But “I don’t know” has become an everyday phrase for me and for a while I thought it was acceptable. Lately though G-d’s been working on getting it through my head that His word is full of promises for me to ‘know’ about His faithfulness and my future.

He’s given me something to hold onto – and I’m slowly realizing how selfish my ignorance was. I still have “I don’t know’s” in my life – I might not know everything, but I know Him.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you.” Declares the LORD”
-Jeremiah 29.11-13

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart”
-Jeremiah 1.5

“If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to have favor with you.”
-Exodus 33.13

“Know therefore that the LORD your G-d is G-d; He is faithful G-d. Keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands.”
-Deuteronomy 7.9

“I KNOW my Redeemer lives…”
-Job 19.25

I might not know the answer to all of my life questions – but I know the One who holds me, the One who believes in me and loves me. HE knows my future.

So I guess, (I know) I’ll be alright.

((It’s ok not to know some things as long as you’re learning how to trust.

You’re Doing It Wrong

 

My Puerto Rican J-Lo (Jen Nieves) and I are Pastoral-Creatives. It’s that mix of people who care too much about people to leave them alone but still like to play with finger paints. Or if you want, you can join me in viewing our personalities as hippies. Love music. Love art. Love people.

Always.

At one point or another we (at the very least I) tried to run away from this very odd inner draw to help the A.D.D. Christians still love G-d. But it is who we are and there is no escape.

But G-d couldn’t just leave me alone with the desire to write music, sing and preach and teach… He also allowed my life to become introverted (I need to recharge without people) NOT shy (I’m too full of myself and my insecurities to carry on a conversation)((pride)).

Thanks G.

Oilvia [my sweet as drummer friend (I’m totally name dropping today)] and I were talking yesterday about the conclusion of our first year at Hillsong College. We were discussing what was difficult for us the first year that we still haven’t ‘dealt’ with… What are we still working on?

For me: which I’m assuming you want to know because you are still reading – this was community. I explained my thoughts on how I walked through my first year and how at the end of it, if I’m being as overly honest as I always tend to be, I feel like not that many people know me. Now – the KNOWING ME isn’t the important part, the GIVING MYSELF, my time, my energy, my investments, my open heart, my very unique part of the body of Christ is important. It IS important because I am also shy. I dealt this last year with being so concerned with myself and insecure that I didn’t give all I felt I could have.

Now, I’ve recently written about this so I don’t want to get too much into what I already wrote about… But I will reiterate the importance of being in community. We are better together and we were never meant to do this alone. If I could just encourage, challenge, tell you to, force you to READ the Bible… that would be awesome, but for the sad fact that the majority of you struggle to get a daily time to sit and process with G-d I’ll chop some up here for you.

Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching”

Hebrews 10:SomewhereBetween24-25 (MSG)

Guys and Gals, I have NO idea how to encourage someone that I’m not around. Nor do I know how to encourage if I’m only concerned for how bold I feel that day or how crazy I think my hair is partying that day.

“Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.

Galatians 6:1-3 (NLT)

Ewww… Pride isn’t pretty on ANYONE, especially shy-pride.

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NLT)

 

//Changed and changing still//

Thank G-d I’m not the same that I was and thank G-d that I will not remain the same that I am.

I’m verbally and electronically committed to community – I’m committed to lunches and coffee dates. I’m committed to my housemates and practicum team. I’m committed to showing up, being there and giving me. And if the Lord is willing all of that will be useful.

G-d, as always, you have my permission to make me look more like you and less like myself. You have my permission to make me look more AT you and less AT myself. You have my time, my energy, my investments, my open heart, and my very unique part of Your kingdom. Here’s to all the people time I need next year.


*Random PSA I found online – if you feed the toilet paper to the back of the roll and not the front you’re an ignorant, inconsiderate person and you need to grow up.