Am I Hipster Yet?

My housemate Krysia and I have had coffee dates every semester since school started specifically to discuss what we are expecting for the semester coming. As well as the ‘pre-semester expectations’ that we set up we have follow up meetings to see how those expectations went. I’ve had ‘themes’ and sentences impressed on my heart for the semesters that have tied with different scriptures that have carried me through the very crazy seasons that emerge at Hillsong College.

At the end of last semester as I was thinking about what I wanted for this semester it wasn’t an opportunity or to even grow in a particular area of college or church leadership. I simply want to know G-d more this semester than I have in a while. I want to focus on the Word like I haven’t in a while and spend time learning about the Lord. The songwriting and lectures and learning curves will happen and somehow everything will get done this semester that needs to, but my desire is more Jesus and more of the Word in my heart. 

On a recent trip home for my brothers wedding I inherited my dads Nikon camera. Short of having another ‘Daddy teach me’ blog I will say that trying to figure out how to use it today has made me realise a few things:

  1. Learning new things, and more than that, learning ALL about new things involves more reaching out to people who know more than it does you trying to just guess. 
         By this I mean, I went ham on Youtube tutorials for this specific model of Nikon and watched all the things. I didn’t rely on and can’t rely on myself and my thoughts on how the camera should work in order to take the best pictures but I SHOULD research and see how people have used it and how they’ve best figured out to take those classic hipster shots that get so popular on Instagram (shameless plug). But really, learning is best done in community and I don’t see how that differs to learning about G-d. We should be discussing what passages mean to us and the best that we understand how it applies to whom it was addressed to and to us. We should be reading and researching what the scriptures are actually saying and we should be giving them a chance to say it. 
  2. Learning involves time – but the learning goes quicker if you focus your time. 
    I’m the QUEEN at multitasking… and by multitasking I mean today I did laundry, watched youtube, did make up on half my face, finished my laundry and then washed my face, straightened 1/3 of my hair before I realized I didn’t like the texture of my hair so I washed it then redid the whole thing and blogged. I also took one photo I was proud of but it was with my iPhone. I tend to get bored halfway through whatever I am doing so it sometimes takes me a while.In other, more related words, sometimes getting to know someone or something intimately involves time given up to focus JUST on that thing or person. This is more just a reminder for myself of what is required for my expectations
  3. I would love to have a number 3 because 3 points is good but I’ve really said what I wanted to.

Sometimes I don’t know why I post stuff on my blog that just belongs in my journal.

Thank you if you’ve read this – and if you will just pray that I focus and get what I’m expecting this semester. Love you all.

 

“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.

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.

If A Tree Falls Down… Am I Still A Hippie?

This blog is brought to you today by the letter ‘P’ and by conversations with Krysia.

Hillsong College and Church is as inspiring as it is challenging. My faith has been polished and solidified in many ways, one of which is my belief in creation and heaven. This week my goal for writing was to order my thoughts enough to explain some things that are dear to me and invite you to share your thoughts as well.

I find several of our favorite verses to quote from the Bible are often the beginning of beautiful passages that we remove from their context; not always, but sometimes we do; and sometimes we miss the point.

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18 (Such a pretty verse, often quoted to make you feel good about life when you’re going through crappy times)

But then we look a little further down…

“For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.” Romans 8:19-21 (NIV)

To this passage my friend posed the question, ‘what does it mean for creation to wait for G-d’s children to be revealed? Is creation waiting on US, do the trees know more than we do?’ (ish). I responded instantly but I don’t think I knew what I was talking about until half way through what I was saying. I told her that I think it means creation itself knows who the worshippers are and when they will be born. I think some foliage might be waiting for the right photographer to be born so that it can start growing because it knows at some point they will collide and together create an image that will draw multitudes to worship. I think some birds hum specific songs in worship to G-d in front of specific people, songwriters, who will notice and translate it to human terms. I think heaven is a lot closer than we think. We know that we will worship fully there – but maybe creation has already figured out how to worship fully HERE.

“All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name.” Selah” Psalms 66:4 (ESV)

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.” Psalms 19:1 (ESV)

In Teamnight Thursday we saw images of snow being blown over the road by the wind. The question asked to US is, do we dance when no one is watching? The snow dances across the road and I can’t help but believe it is in praise to the One who created it uniquely, and not for a show for man but for G-d alone, not for instagram. Nature in many different forms has found it way to praise G-d.

If a tree falls down in the forest and no one is around to hear it, is it still worship?

Have WE dulled down the cries of creation to a human sound? When a tree falls is it because it is so moved at what G-d is doing in the earth that it has to bow before Him? An avalanche is nothing more to us than the sound of a mountain shifting and snow falling at 200 miles per hour (320KM) but is that really just the way the snow knows how to cry out?

I’ve always veered more towards the side of being a hippie and I know that… but something inside me likes to believe that just maybe heaven isn’t this far off place in the clouds but possibly it looks more like a redeemed earth. Maybe heaven looks like US joining with an ALREADY CONSISTENTLY PRAISING creation to be with G-d and give Him all the praise He deserves.

What does a redeemed earth look like? What is dirt when it is no longer dirty?

It’s soil.

I believe we are here now in this beautiful place to get glimpses into what an environment of praise could look like. Next time you get woken up by a bird singing or get annoyed at how hard it’s raining stop and think about the last time you were moved to sing or overflow with what is inside of you. What if all the dirt on the earth was redeemed – and became soil – and we saw life all over the earth?

This is open to opinions obviously, this isn’t theology just thoughts. I’m a tree hugger of sorts and I feel like that is clearly reflected here.
I just figure if the Bible tells me that creation is waiting on me for something – I might as well be aware of it.

 

You Aren’t Original – And It’s Ok

We are all just walking projections of everything we have ever learned, all the hurts we’ve ever experienced, whatever innocence we were born with that was protected and the built in human moral that at least half of you will believe in. There is in fact NOTHING original under the sun. Though you’d love to think that you were the first to create, write, paint, build, engineer, you actually developed those ideas off of things that you already knew. It’s like a load of those little Lego pieces all over the ground. They serve one purpose in linking together, but the combinations of the pieces snapped together that you ‘come up’ with have actually been done before.

But you are still beautiful.

You are beautiful and the way you create is unique and wonderful.

Though you are repeating news there is a new way to say the information that you have, there is another way to tell your story. People need to hear what you have to say with the tint of your perspective. The way you compile your information and regurgitate it in a personal way is what will speak to others. I think something I have figured out (or at least pretend to have figured out) is that, it’s not about what you’re saying; it’s about if you’re speaking to people.

G-d put this thought on my heart a while back and if you keep up with my Facebook author page you would have seen me say:

This was that project… To challenge you all to firstly –

  • Get over yourself.

But once you have that out of the way and realize where you get the resources you’re using to create –

  • TO CREATE

Your life and knowledge bears repeating, don’t forget that.

I asked my good friend Dalton Smith to help me out with a logo for this project, for you to share and use and challenge people in your world to share and use.

((See what I did there?))

You people inspire me!

I have a few confessions:

  1. Jaclyn Hill is a make up artist on Youtube and I follow her religiously. But only wear make up a handful of times a year
  2. I follow more blogs than I have time to read
    1. http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/
    2. http://maddiefantillo.wix.com/life-to-the-full
    3. and many many more
  3. Songwriting is the best stream in the world and I could watch people play their songs ALL day
    1. But all the chords are the same

Why do I watch YouTube videos? Why do I read? Because your story might be borrowed concepts but people with humble beginnings who love what they do is what it’s all about.

Publish – Produce – Share

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 9.09.55 AM

How beautifully convenient was it that last nights #Teamnight was all about creating and showing your work? Let me tell you. This has been on my heart for a while, do what you love to do and share! Get it out. Post your blogs, Instagram your paintings, dance and teach others your moves, use the skills you learned to teach someone else how to apply a winged eye-liner. I’m obsessed with people who love their art and share their art.

I’m challenging you to share, rip off my logo and get the people in your world to become obsessed with creating. Let’s bring our stories (that sometimes have the same message) but douse it in our language.

You aren’t original and it’s ok –

I think we create such a difficult life when we try to be the only ones who’ve thought up the next big thing.

Be creative, be you, give credit and steal.

There Was an Old Guy Painting in the Park

I always intend to not write these on Fridays, I have a new goal to post them by noon on Fridays (which clearly didn’t happen today, at least not for Australia) because I want to get out of the habit of writing anything on Friday and just editing the final things. In all honesty I have two other posts that I wanted to do today and HAVE been working on those this last week. The thoughts are very near and dear to my heart and very much what I’m learning this week. But then Jesus always throws me something that I can’t shake on a Thursday or Friday.

((maybe I’ll get better at this soon))

Today, it was an old man painting in the park. 

My housemate and I had just worked out at the gym and had our beautiful walk home in front of us; It’s gorgeous here in the Hills today. As we were walking we were recounting all the things that we had the opportunity to hear Erwin McManus speak about last night at Team Night – and we were dreaming about creating. G-d dropped a LOT of things on my heart last night about my ‘art’ and my creativity. Sometimes I have issues with finding exactly what my creativity looks like. I suppose actually, He didn’t drop a lot of things but really just one thing. Words are my art. I feel like He gave me words. I feel like it’s something He’s given me as a gift and whatever capacity I open myself up to be used in – around that area – is what I will get to see happen. I want to song write, and book write, and teach, and speak, and read and learn languages. We have such a limited understanding on how to express what we are really trying to say. So, I guess I want to get good at what seems impossible. I want to be a storyteller and a brilliant communicator because I’ve been healed and feel like I have something beautiful to communicate with the world. Not because I’m good at it per-say but because I’m willing to open my mouth and tell about what G-d has done.

But, I learned something about creating, even the perception of creating can inspire. Even the thought that beauty might be being born somewhere around makes me want to dive deeper into my art. I saw this old man in the park with his easel and paints and wanted to talk to him about his life. I wanted to know what HE found beautiful and how he communicated that to the world. Or, if it was just for himself and maybe a significant someone in his life.  Do you realize that even your efforts to better yourself or communicate to the world around you through what you’re good at and enjoy inspire people?

You make me want to write. And learn.

I’m not the best at what I do (yet). But I’m trying. I’m trying to learn that consistency brings quality. Faithfulness is rewarded and even when I feel like I’m not getting better… just my effort is doing something.

Having said all of that the other thing I’ve been thinking about is the above and beyond G-d… How I’ve heard over and over from people about how they thought their life was going one direction and ended up so much more than they could have imagined. I’m not saying I’ve out imagined the creator… its just makes my heart feel so full it could burst to hold onto knowing that as much as I love all of this, it could be bigger. I’m also sort of looking forward to the day I turn 45 and can look back at what I thought was going to happen, and see by then how much MORE He’s done.

What’s that G-d? I can’t even dream up enough of what it means to journey with You? Cool. Bring it on.

Ugh, the more I learn about G-d the more I realize I need Him. This is a pretty cool place to be.