Advanced Diploma in Hospitality Ministry

Bless, I never know where to begin. I guess I can say that what I know to be true is that God works ALL things together for the good of those who love Him.

ALL THINGS.

One of the many things on my mind lately has been:
How I can work full time and save money to go back to do degree, while not feeling like, by working full time, that I’ll never get back to my degree.

But it’s probably not as big of a deal as my brain makes it out to be.

Something that comes up after someone finishes studying is what they are going to do after it. I was recently very thankful to get to travel back to the USA and see my family for Mothers Day. Which landed me at my old church among people who’ve known me or known about me through my family for ages. Someone (rightfully so) inquired as to what on earth I was still doing in Australia and if I was done with studies.

First off I married an Australian.

Other than that – I’ve finished my Advanced Diploma in Ministry and I’m saving to go back and get my Bachelors of Theology. But… please don’t ask me what is after that.

So, naturally she asked me what was after and if I was planning on running a church with my studies. This has been such a weird thing for me to balance over the years because I haven’t had a very strong desire to pursue a job within ministry *gasp*. And guys, that’s weird. Why on earth did I move to the other side of the world to learn how to do ministry from some of the best and why have I had an increasing desire to never get a pay-check from a church?

Phill (my husband) and I both have a massive heart to GIVE to the Church and BUILD the Church but maybe not be employed by the church, possibly ever. I told her that one of the biggest things I’ve learned about myself in the years in Australia is that my ministry is very much hospitality – I think even if the only thing I learned in three years was how to be a better person and how to be hospitable then it was all worth it.

I think ministry looks a whole bunch like a house full of people and a meal that maybe you didn’t have all the finances to afford but you tried anyway. Sometimes ministry for me is asking a customer at work one extra question just to see if they need to talk. I think pastoring maybe looks like cinnamon rolls, coffee and a late night couch chat with someone who had the worst week and feels life might not change.

I believe that hospitality and ministry looks a whole lot like showing up to the table, saving a spot for someone and listening.

I actually just switched jobs this week from a café that I’ve been serving at for two years to sales. I needed the challenge of a new environment and something to learn but taking care of people will always be my nature. My last shift was this past Thursday and I decided to come in Friday morning to surprise one of our regulars and have coffee with him. He is around my father’s age and has two sons. We chatted about travel, jobs, learning, and books. Truthfully, I don’t know why I came in to have coffee with him, it sounded like a nice gesture to finish the week and make someone feel special. We talked about doing what you’re passionate about and with reading, writing came up… he asked if I had a book idea already down and I began to share a bit about what I’d love to write out.

I had a BIT of a panic as I realized I couldn’t tell him about what I wanted to write about without God being a part of the picture. Not knowing how he felt about religion, I disclaimed that my story has a lot to do with my faith. I got to talk about Jesus, in the most casual and relational way and I left thanking Jesus that we get to talk about Him. What a wonderful honour.

By the end of the conversation he just thanked me for showing up – I didn’t have to and he wasn’t expecting it and to that point, I wasn’t sure why I did. But G-d works ALL things together for good. Even a coffee with someone I’ve got to serve for a few months. I don’t know what will ever come of that conversation but I hope he knows that Jesus is good. I hope he knows that Jesus thought enough about him to prompt me to just a simple coffee. I hope I always listen to those promptings and understand that ministry should cost me something – even just $4.50 and some time.

I think hospitality ministry is just as valid as a preaching the word, counseling, being and elder or a theologian. I think it’s where I belong and I hope I always steward that well

I hope you understand that being ‘called to the ministry’ is just a phrase, and that everyone to some capacity is called to their ministries. Live inside of yours gracefully and remember that you’re just as potent as a minister as those who end up working for a church. Be the stay-at-home moms and dads that they next generation needs, be the business people who lead with honour, authority and truthfulness. Open your home to anyone and everyone who you love or don’t agree with, at the end of the day everyone needs a meal. Use your words kindly and never be afraid to speak to the stranger with their face down low. Play music in all areas of entertainment with excellence and creativity. Do YOUR thing with G-d and for G-d as worship and let G-d bless it and bring ALL things together for good.

He is SO good.

– 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.

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.

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.

Spoiled Society : Literature

Coming from a book-nerd who is currently sitting in the resource center (bookstore) at church all I can think about as I read this again is how unbelievably blessed we are with the freedom of information we are surrounded with. We have been given much more knowledge and freedom of expression than we realize and it’s a shame that we don’t take more advantage of the literature we have access to. Please enjoy this #ThinkBackThursday


John 14.15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”

And what does He command? Devotion

            “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your G-d.” Micah 6.8

G-d requires daily time spent with Him, in His word, seeking Him with all we are.

I have an NIV bible, I have an app on my iPhone with loads of versions of the Bible, it even plays audio. I can instantly read, listen to, and spend time in the Word of my heavenly father. And, guess what? When I do, no one is there telling me I can’t, no one is telling me I’ll lose my life if I study it. My family doesn’t threaten to abandon me; the government officials aren’t holding a gun to my head. The Bible is currently banned in North Korea and throughout time it has been banned in hundreds of areas and people groups. Americans, the people with arguably the most access to G-d’s Word, probably (collectively) know the least about the Bible. Correct me if I’m wrong – please – but list your 10 closest, most “G-dly” friends and think of how often they spend time studying and weeping over the Scriptures. I’ve been reading a book talking about the underground church in Asia and how pastors and people alike will join, cramming in one room and study for hours at a time. For them, this risks all they have.

But for them G-d’s Word is ENOUGH.

Sometimes I only put enough value in the Word of G-d to read one chapter – and even then I settle without understanding it. My G-d has commanded me to walk humbly with Him. Humility reminds me of lying down yourself and chasing after something that has NOTHING to do with you; with how busy you are, or how tired you are. I show my Savior that I love Him by following His commands, how do I know those unless I spend time reading them?

G-d, forgive me for embracing this spoiled societies view on “getting around to it” when millions of people go hungry for Your Word. Change my heart and grow my desire for Your Word. Give my mind new understanding and my soul steadfastness. G-d break off my “Christian cookie” and show me what it is to follow You.

I pledge allegiance to the Bible

G-d’s HOLY WORD

I will make it a lamp unto my feet

and a light unto my path

I will hide its words in my heart

that I might not sin against G-d

Why I Want To Be A Writer

Writing has always been a way of processing for me, I get to think through whats going on with my life and download it honestly to my paper without too much harsh judgement (though I’m a pretty bad critic when I’m reading my own stuff). But there is a huge difference between writing and being a writer.

I’m still learning how to be a writer (and then the adventure is to be a GOOD WRITER) but some of the reasons I’m even trying is that:

1) I’m 24 – which is pretty much the peak of all wisdom and opinions. You have learned a lot by this age and have the boldness to share what you’ve learnt but lack the stupidity of when you were 18 and just didn’t know the appropriate times to share your wealth of wisdom. In reality though, I am probably the most aware of how much I have to wake up and tell G-d that I need Him because I don’t know what I’m doing without him. But I DO think we have pretty good opinions.

2) I’m going to be old some day – I was riding home on the bus from the city and saw this beautiful old woman in a dark blue coat sitting there. She had a bandage on the back of her hand and was carefully putting on her black leather gloves. She didn’t seem like she could be bothered with anything going on or the traffic that we were sitting in and all I could think about is if she was a writer. If she was some classy old woman who had loads of stories that she was just dying to share or if she didn’t think too often about leaving her history with the world that she was closer to leaving than myself. All I know is that I looked at her and saw some classy old lady who I desperately wished was a writer. So, instead I’m going to be a writer. And by the time I’m her age my goal is to write more books than Joyce Meyer 🙂 wishful thinking.

3) I love reading – leaders are readers. I have had many books shape the way I have seen Christianity, Christ, The Bible, Adventure, Love and the Warrior heart within us (see below for a list of books that I think are awesome). These books have molded me into a sharper thinker and a thankful human being. They’ve pushed me to grow and expand my way of thinking and brought me closer to the heartbeat of Jesus. I want to give the same feeling of finishing a book and being called to an adventure so I’m probably going to keep writing and praying that G-d does something with that.

4) It’s what I want to do – it’s pretty simple guys. I’ve wanted to write a book for a while. Gotta start somewhere.

But, I suppose finally it has to do with the fact that it’s who I was created to be. G-d knew from the beginning that I’d love words and books and I think through that He gave me a strong conviction with words. I like to keep silent unless I have something I need to say and I like to think through that something if I think I should really say it. The largest compliment my heart can receive is that I communicate well. And the biggest accomplishment I plan on achieving in the next three years is graduation college and signing my first printed book to give my parents for Christmas.

Find what you love to do. These were just my thoughts for the day.

((Laina’s list of awesome books that she thinks is awesome))
Scouting the Divine – Margaret Feinberg
The Barbarian Way; Artisan Soul; Uprising; Soul Cravings – Erwin Raphel McMannus (probably my favourite author)
Closer Still – Scott Evans
Radical – David Platt
The Sacred Romance; Epic – John Eldredge
In a Pit With a Lion On a Snowy Day – Mark Batterson
Outliers: The Story of Success – Malcom Gladwell
((These are just a very few))

One Day I Will Write A Book

We all have a story to tell and we all need to become the best listeners. There is so much more to learn from other people than a skill or craft, I have a desire to learn peoples hearts. The only way I have found to make people comfortable with opening up and sharing is by forcing myself into transparency: I do this often through writing. Although I’ll take a coffee date any day of the week.

I’m blessed to be apart of Hillsong Church for this season in my life right now, and our wonderful pastors are sharing their Dangerous Declaration over this year. We as a church are expecting a New Normal, we are expecting provision, we are expecting healing, and we are expecting that the best is yet to come. I, as a 24-year old college student and servant under this declaration am expecting healing in my own spirit, body and heart and also all those who might ever read this. I pray that G-d would use whatever He puts in my heart to minister to others. Rarely do I EVER post about things I know inside in out, but rather my journey and what I’m learning. I do not know it ALL but I do know the King. Our G-d is a BIG G-d.

And I want it all. 

Apart of my “new normal” is the discipline of writing AND publishing weekly (because I didn’t have enough homework yet ((that’s SUPER sarcastic)). I have written a lot previously and it usually ends up on Facebook but I was challenged to not only make it more accessible but to be more consistent in my craft. Purposefully fine tuning my thoughts and leaving them out for the world to see. G-d has been pushing me to share my story, share what I know. I don’t expect these posts to be large profound thoughts that people have never thought of; I’m not trying to change anyone’s theology. I’m just trying to be obedient to what I feel G-d has me to do this season.

I have a simple tattoo on my right wrist that says “My Story” it is a reminder to share… it’s made it grossly easy here to share because people see it and always expect me to have my story ready. It’s awesome. I constantly am reminded to think of what is my “now” story with G-d? What is my current path with The Creator? I got it also because tattoos hurt, sometimes our stories hurt, SOMETIMES we don’t want them there… we don’t want to have to tell about the pain, but the next morning it wont scrub off. Time heals all things; of this I am strongly convinced. There is a physical healing that has to happen with tattoos… and often there is healing that HAS to happen with Our Stories. But what I have found to be true over all is that He is a mighty healer, He is a comforter while we are walking through and He is guidance around all the plot twists that make up our lives.

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I have a lot of things I’m believing for which will come out in time but one is to write a book. I always have wanted to and just never put all my thoughts together. Or really probably doubted that I could stay on a theme for that long. This is a small step but it’s a challenging one for me. So my goal is to post every Friday [Aussie Time (not like Aussie time as in 3 minutes late but UTC)] I have some solid friends who I know will be excellent reminders so I’m not worried about it. But this will stretch me so I’m excited. I could go on, but this was supposed to be a short intro post.

In short (if you read nothing other than this paragraph, which you probably wont because if you’re reading this than it is stupid likely that you’ve read the whole post) this site is created out of obedience and I have so many expectations for G-d to provide so many things. But if I continue talking about it right now then we will never finish. You all have a solid day. Love you all with all that I know how.

Enjoy!