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.

And a Happy New Blog

Guys, there isn’t a good way to intro my first blog back after a horribly long break.
I missed this. I miss you (probably). More to come (probably).
There is nothing like longevity to back up commitments so I decided to post my first blog back on 2 January instead of the 1st, because that seemed too eager.

In my last blog I announced I’d be starting degree in January – Well life has a way of happening and due to getting a visa sorted and settled I will actually be taking this semester off of studies to work and save and keep my track record of debt free education. I was bummed at first and really didn’t want to admit it to myself that it was a wiser decision to take some time off, but since then have realized just how good this will be for me and the people in my life. So, I’ll begin in July for another 1.5 years of study. It will still be a Bachelors of Theology with a focus of Biblical Studies. With that said, my intention is to publish a blog fortnightly. As always, these are downloads of what I am learning, thoughts, inspirational posts, honestly posts. They are hopefully the cheeky amount of me that you needed for your day and full of all the love I can give – that prayerfully points to something much bigger than myself.

I also announced that I was getting married.
That didn’t change 🙂
Laina Davey at your service.

This semester I hope to figure out how to prioritise being a consistent writer and to trust my content, not because it’s the best in the world, but because you get to read my content with the lens of your life. In my brain that makes the perfect melody of community for you to get the most out of my thoughts. They’re worth more when you add to them. Please feel free to respond to my thoughts, leave a comment, leave a disagreement or a different way to see something. I’m here to learn. For the love, correct my grammar… I know I need it.

I feel like that’s what I’ve learnt most this year is that I just need people. I’m so thankful for my confronting friends that I’m surrounded with, just them living their life makes me work harder at mine. We sat with half of my connect group (small group or family group) and chatted about our “New Years Thoughts”, they’re kind of like resolutions but they’re more lax than “I will run every day” or “I will start going to bed at 9pm”. One of the sweet ones in the group simply said she wanted to love people more.

I was a little bit wrecked. My goals were all about…me. Developing myself while I’m not in school, reading, listening to podcasts, writing, reading more. She just wanted to meet more people and take care of them.

Eeek.

This is why I love connecting with VERY different people.

As if her comment wasn’t enough, our connect is also walking through the 19 Mercies retreat in the back of Brennan Manning’s “The Ragamuffin Gospel” (HIGHLY recommend) and I’m on day 8: The God who is love.

“Do you really believe that God is unchangeably, unalterably loving?”
– 19 Mercies

I’m still sitting with this question – I’d love to jump in and say yes! but sometimes the way I act towards God would admit otherwise. I want to have no separation from an ideal and true belief and what I live out as my beliefs.

1 John 4:7-20 (NIV, Emphasis added) “Dear friends, let us love ONE ANOTHER, for love comes FROM GOD. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another…God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them… There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar.

Eeek.

Do I believe that God is love? Do I believe that He loves me? Is His love seen in me by loving others? If no – Do I REALLY believe that God is love?

I’m committed this year to love people with my strengths – I will love by giving myself and my learning to God and others. I LOVE to give to others, I love hospitality and feel that gift is straight from God because it isn’t natural for my personality to love people 🙂 Jesus sometimes has to remind me. But I am committed to loving people the way I know how. By learning, giving my heart and soul into understanding things and sharing them in conversations and writings. Over tea or sitting by the beach. Or both.

I’m also committed to loving people the way they understand love. Do you need a hug? I’ll get over myself long enough to show you care in the way you receive it. Are gifts your thing? Please allow me to be the thoughtful friend who remembers your birthday – or even remembers that it is a Tuesday and you are alive and deserve to be celebrated. Love unlocks things that are bound and I’m praying that this semester/year I learn what it is to give until I see people changed. NOT because of me… but because I can love because I know what it is to be loved… even with my faults.

 

I do love you much.

I pray blessing over your today, I pray the sunshine reminds you of the faithfulness we see in God. He is SO kind and SO loving and SO in love with you. 

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.

Just Cause

Amos 5:21-24
(NIV, emphasis mine)
“I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

One of my classes this last week focused on Worship and Justice. We looked at what these two have to do with another and what expectations have changed since scripture was written up. I was shocked to discover the call in the Old and New Testaments to the leaders and governments to keep justice in the courts – be fair to the widow, orphan and poor. We have to assume these warnings were written to 1) keep them on track and 2) clean out what was already bleeding through the culture of oppressing those who couldn’t support or even defend themselves.

We as students were given different portions of scripture to look at: what it meant to the people it was addressed to, what it means for us as a collective body of Christ and what it means to us individually. My group looked at Exodus 23. I’ll summarise it for you…

  • Don’t lie about people
  • Don’t pervert justice and lie in court
  • Be fair to poor people in court
  • Be kind to your enemies property
    • Not JUST to them but even their stuff
  • Don’t take from the poor just because they are poor
  • Don’t oppress a sojourner (don’t beat down, put down, dishearten, suppress a visitor, companion, inmate, visitor, lodger, different nationalities, different religions, refugees)

When we as a group looked at what it might have meant for the Israelites we assumed maybe they had corruption in the courts and were probably exposing heaps of poor people because they thought they could get away with it. We assumed there were crooked people who were so wrapped up in the culture of slavery that they had just been delivered from that they were treating others as slaves. Granted, that’s what they knew to do but it still wasn’t just or fair. We assumed they were treating people less than what they would want to be treated like and that they were disregarding taking care of people who didn’t belong to them.

Then we moved to a harder question – What does this text mean to us as the body of Christ?
How do we take on these scriptures in the Church?

 We talked about Public Justice (How society treats and manages others),
and Private Justice (How I treat others and manage myself to benefit others).

So the public justice level around this passage would look more like how many Christians are educating themselves on the elected ‘in-charge’ of our governments and nations. Are they contributing to who is in the courts and even becoming those who are in the judges in courts deciding what is fair for all? Are we as a local church involved and benefiting the community around us? Are we investing in families and defending those trapped in Domestic Violence? Are we doing all we can to find homes, clothes, food, and clean water* for refugees and flood victims alike?

There are many more things the Church COULD be doing but there are loads of things that fall more on the individuals that make up the Church that we should probably be looking at.

Private Justice –
The hardest and most confronting question of all that we addressed is how this all applies to me? How do I treat others?

This was the hardest one to speak out loud.

I grew up in a westernised, bible belt, mostly white’ish people culture. But I also grew up with the news… I knew what areas of Tulsa (and now Sydney) to avoid if I was alone and I rarely ever walk in a park without looking over my shoulder. I grew up with a fear of homeless people because at no point do you know if they’re going to rape you, if they’re mentally unstable, if they’re in a very real sense ‘battling their own demons’ or how they would react to a conversation. But my fear grew out of judgments that began when I didn’t take the time to look them in the eyes as I walk by them on busy Sydney streets. My very judgments dehumanised someone with a story. I wasn’t being fair – I wasn’t being just – I wasn’t being anyone who remotely resembled my Saviour. Jesus, who took the time to look a naked woman in the face and tell her that He held no sins against her. Jesus, who when Himself was oppressed by the government didn’t fight back with entitlement or ‘rights’ but instead STILL SHOWED LOVE to all. I know much this last paragraph makes me seem like an ignorant… dirtyword… but this was my honest heart condition.
My ignorance turned into judgments that disguised itself as fear so that I could neatly sweep it all away as, “I’m just protecting myself”.

Am I saying single girls should stop at every homeless person and strike up conversation? No, that’s not what I’m getting at… But maybe just get involved and start to add humanity back to those around us. Maybe just start to learn the faces and names of those we equate with statistics and numbers.

My thought is that we are already a pretty passionate generation – I think that there are specific desires that are unique to individuals. Where our Private Justice comes in is EDUCATING ourselves on the issues of our hearts and GETTING ACTIVE in those areas.

Some of your hearts are absolutely wrenched for the homeless, some want to take care of the elderly, some have a resolve of adopting, some are desperate to help stop domestic violence, some of you can’t sleep at night because you’re broken over those still enslaved in sex-trafficking.

Great, I hope something breaks your heart – I hope you let yourself cry sometimes while praying over these neglecting issues that Christians love to talk about but sometimes never DO anything about.
But, OUR G-D… the one who CREATED JUSTICE calls us also to be just

The Lords desire is more for justice and fairness than for one more ‘Christian’ to write Him one more song, or worship Him one more time for all they have. He wants us to give to and restore those who DON’T have.

So after you forgive me for being a little too honest again, find one of the links throughout this blog and research, get involved, be the just cause… just because.

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.

 

Love On Your Little Ones

Live your life with children, explore faith with them as well as the back yard. Love them innocently and fiercely because they get it. This #ThinkBackThursday brought to you by 5 years ago – Feb 2011
I can’t explain a lot of the feels I have in my heart for my sister. Sometimes one of my friends will bring her up because it changes my demeanor instantly. I wonder if G-d’s face changes when He thinks about us…
Be blessed, be new and thank you for having a look into the stories that make up my life.

Today was a day that Oklahoma decided to have good weather. I enjoy those. You could hear kids playing in the neighborhood as their parents called for them to come inside for washing up. I had a few friends over and for whatever reason I was parked behind them, so when it was time to say goodbye I had to move my car for them to get out. I pulled my car back and was about out of their way when I see my little sister running down the driveway crying. I’m a softie for her firstly, because she is my sister, but also because when something breaks her heart it usually breaks mine. This wasn’t a scared cry; this wasn’t a hunger or a pain cry even. She was running down the sidewalk shrieking, so I jump out of my car and run to her and hold her.
“Gracie, what’s the matter? What happened?” I start to cry simply because I can see in her 6 year old body, brokenness. Something is eating her apart inside and I can’t do anything. In a painful, sobbing voice I hear her scream, “Why don’t the little ones belong to Him?”

I couldn’t answer her.

Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so

little ones to Him belong, they are weak but He is strong.

She was torn apart because she knew the kids in the neighborhood didn’t belong to the Saviour. The kids who most people just want out of the road, the kids who people look over and wonder what their parents are thinking letting them play in the street.

Gracie has taught me more than I could ever explain about life and about G-d. The story above was a dream I had one night and woke up crying to. Children have such a precious heart; they have such a strong faith that when someone tells them something is they believe it. One day Gracie wanted to stay home and watch TV while everyone else was leaving… I told her that it wasn’t safe and she had to come with me because no one would be there to watch her. She told me G-d would be there to protect her.

How do you argue with that?

I told her that if she got hurt there would be no one to take her to the hospital. She said that if she got hurt G-d could heal her. Who am I to tell her she’s wrong? That the faith she has isn’t always true? (I didn’t leave her alone but I had a hard time convincing her that she just WANTED to come with me).

I want child like faith. I want to have passion for the little ones who don’t yet belong to Him. I want more G-d… 

As We Tarry There

((Maybe don’t read this one at work, or maybe grab a tissue.


It’s really hard for me sometimes to say that I miss my grandparents, when I don’t honestly remember that much about them. My grandma (on my mothers side) died when I was about 4 or maybe 5 years old. I remember that she was heavy set and soft. She had white hair and my own mother has the frame of her hands, they’re rounded and not harsh. They are soft and always in need of physical contact to show love. I have those same rounded hands too; my fingers and features are soft. So while I can’t say that I miss her because I don’t remember much about her I do know her. I remember her Bible being filled with so many highlighted and written in words that it was like 17 devotionals in one. This is a part of my heritage. I remember that when she died I cried because I saw my cousin Ricky crying, and I knew that something bad was happening if he (in my eyes at the time a ‘big kid’) was crying. I remember Precious Moments coloring books at the hospital. I remember telling my brother that I was sad and I wanted to see her again, he told me that if I wanted to see her I would need to go to heaven. He brought me to my mom and I got saved that day (so that I could see Mee-Maw again).

So although I don’t remember her well – I know that she knows me and I know that she has molded my life without being in it.

My grandfather died when I was 10, I remember a little more about him. I remember him eating Ritz crackers with peanut butter on them every time I was over at his house. I remember that he would tickle you until you shrieked and then act like he was going to let you get away but as you ran his arms would catch you and pull you close again. I remember his big funny glasses that now remind me of the guy from Up (or a hipster). I remember his skin being terribly thin and me being afraid of hurting him when I hugged him later on in his life. I remember mom waking me up the day after a celebration ceremony I was a part of for having read the entire bible and memorized a zillion scriptures (seriously a zillion) and maybe learnt how to build a fire? It was pretty much girl scouts for Christians. She woke me up to tell me we were off to Georgia because my grandfather had passed away. I remember his favorite song was In The Garden. A few of the cousins, my mom and myself sang it at his funeral and THAT I can never forget – I can never forget this song.

I may have not known much about my grandpa but I do know that he had a heart to be with the Lord, he was good at sitting with Him.

I don’t remember much about my grandparents, but I do know them.

memawThey’ve been apart of molding who I am since way before I was conceived. I’m so thankful for my heritage that has since passed on and I’m thankful for my grandparents who are still with me.

I love my Grandma Cheri (dads side) more that I could ever explain and I hold part of her personality with me always. I know that without her realizing she has an inflection in her voice when she speaks and emphasizes different syllables. And I know that she has already forgotten how to log in to her Facebook. My love of dogs comes from her and I’m fully convinced that as soon as I can, I won’t be able to keep away from having those lovely fur-babies in my home. I do things that she does without even realizing they probably came from her, like mass cooking awesome food and loving to decorate cakes. We enjoy sushi and being feisty and stubborn as.

But, G-d reminded me of this song this week, as I’ve been so focused on what’s coming this year, what is the next thing I have to do I’ve forgotten too quickly how to tarry with G-d.

I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.

Refrain:
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.

To tarry is to stay longer than you intended, or delay leaving a place.

Time spent with G-d cannot come back void and you can never be there ‘too long’. Life happens all around you and all around the world without you, the worries and tasks will be there after the morning and after you’ve sat with the Saviour.

He walks with me. He talks with me. He tells me I am His own.

Lately my prayer has been that G-d would restore to me the joy of salvation. I’m not unhappy, but I want more joy. I want more peace regardless of circumstance and joy that is simply based on what Christ has already done by saving me. No greater joy have I found than to sit and be in His presence and have Him tell me that I AM HIS OWN.

And the JOY we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.

Although I didn’t know my grandparents enough to ‘miss them’ as much as my older family members – I do know my Saviour, and sometimes I just miss tarrying with Him.

Sometimes you need extravagant moments with Jesus. Sometimes you just need to sit and hear Him calling you His own. Sit and listen to the melodies He is singing over you, let it echo through your being. Learn to seek Him and find the characteristics you have learned from Him that you might not realize are in you.

We truly come by them honestly.

All Aboard The Struggle Bus Express

Leaving Sydney last week was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. I’m not one to be overly attached to people and friends to the point of not leaving them so that’s not what I’m talking about. My flight was scheduled to leave at 3pm (Sydney time) on Monday the 7th. 4am Monday morning hit and I was woke up with a stomach cramp of mass proportions. I got up and kindly left all of the food I had eaten the evening before in the porcelain dome.

I repeated this task every half hour for the next 6 hours.

I text my parents right away to let them know I needed prayer from every direction and let Facebook know I needed anything they wanted to give; kind wishes, warm thoughts, your shooting-star requests, prayers, hail Mary’s or the daily 11:11 dreams thrown into space. I needed anything that would get me well enough to fly for 17 hours. By this point we had discussed the possibility of rescheduling my flight(s) only to realize that airports are still TERRIBLE about rescheduling flights and it would end up costing 4x what we paid to book them in the first place. Thanks airplane man.

I decided to get on the train to the airport struggling between “What if I throw up everywhere?” and “G-d said if you pray He hears you and healing is yours”.

Believing in prayer AND practicality can be exhausting.

But I went. I reminded G-d of all the prayers that everyone was saying over and over in case He forgot that I really needed to make it through customs without throwing up. He remembered. I got to the flight and slept the majority of the way across the Pacific, taking NO opportunities to watch all the free movies or play the games on the personal screens. I asked for water, ice chips, a bread roll at dinnertime and ginger ale. before I knew it I had somehow made it to Texan soil. From Texas to Tulsa was only 45 minutes, which was pleasant until the landing felt like we ran over a large rock on a skateboard. But I was HOME.

Jet lag is a very real and very sneaky thing. Putting food into your mouth and thoughts into your head becomes a challenge as you try to convince yourself that it is in fact, not 3 in the morning but it is early afternoon.

Sleeping patters are also a joke for about the first 3 days.

The getting here was a difficult journey; a struggle bus if you will… but the reward of the destination is always worth it. Homemade chicken noodle soup and a warm bed is always worth it.

My housemate in Aussie and I frequently talk about (and I’m sure I’ve written about) what it is that makes some people maintain faith and some people walk away after many years. I suppose it’s a matter of still getting on the bus when it comes even if the ride looks like you might have to run to the bathroom a few times. I think it has to do with trusting that prayers were heard and even when you don’t feel you have the strength to do what you have to.

I think it looks a lot like holding onto commitments and convictions that you can grow unsure of but going back to the place you were called, the place you wrote out the promise, the place where you realized G-d IS REAL and you really will be ok.

Find the place you can breathe and sit there. Go home a while and sleep a few 11 hour nights. Find some comfort food, repair, and then board the journey again.

Keep going.

Wherever you are, you’re almost there so Keep Going.

I’ll leave you with that. Partially because my brain is still a little lagging and partially because that is all I had to say.

Much love for you all.

I Don’t Believe In Fear

 

Story Time With Laina at it’s finest.

Some tunes to read to

I’m on top of the world today, and by that I mean I swam under the world with giant sea turtles, massive stingrays and sharks ranging from 1-3 meters long. I couldn’t have been more excited unless you told me I had a dinosaur of my own.

We showed up and got (wet) suited up and were taken to a small pool where two turtles had already come by to say hello and make sure we were fully trained with our underwater breathing gear. We got in the pool and one by one were strapped in with an oxygen tank and handed a mouthpiece to start breathing through. I was given a mask that looked less than flattering on my partially Native American cheekbones and told it was time to start breathing underwater. We were told to put our faces under the water and keep our ears where we could hear them for the next bit of instructions.

Breathe Normally.

Breathe in and out of your mouth. I know that sounds simple for some of you obnoxious mouth breathers currently walking around the earth, but for me, trusting that I wouldn’t die if I tried to breathe in through my nose accidently was terrifying. I actually was given to a second instructor to walk me through one on one and talk through everything. She assured me of the facts that I already knew; that the mask wouldn’t fall off, that the oxygen tank had more than enough for our dive, that my natural survival instincts will take over and in the aquarium tank I wouldn’t even think about how I was breathing but my body in fact, would breathe.

Take deep breaths… 1, 2, 3, in… 1, 2, 3, out

The instructors made their way through the little manhole from the pool to the aquarium with the fish, turtles, rays and sharks and the other 3 people I was diving with went through. Right before the person in front of me swam into a 30-minute adventure – I got on my knees and tried to practice not dying underwater. I instantly wanted to give up. Then realizing everyone was already through my only option was to leave alone or fight fear.

Fun fact about me… I LOVE SHARKS.

For me, getting in a tank with jagged-toothed, 10.5 foot, and 350 lbs. beauties was easy. But trusting in what I was given to get there was hard. Sometimes fear comes not from what is ahead but from the equipment you have to move ahead. Sometimes I have issues trusting what I’ve been given to be enough for the journey.

You can sometimes see what is coming, we are diagnosed with cancer and told we will go through treatment, it will be hard but there are facts about what we can expect. We are dealing with the loss of a loved one and we are told to see grief coming but not to worry – there are steps that are known and trained help to get you through. We prepare for our university exams that will make or break our career choices and can see it coming by the date the teachers have set. We get a birthday gift to swim with sharks and research the breed to a make sure how tightly you can hug it before it gets irritated and tries to hug you back… with it’s teeth.

What is coming isn’t often as scary because we know it’s coming. But trusting that YOU have enough inside of you to make it becomes a risk. Are you strong enough to fight after chemo leaves you weak? Are you brave enough to plan a funeral and still let you emotions breathe and not shove them into hiding? Are we intelligent enough for exams or do we need to get a day job? Will the oxygen in the tank run out?

Are we equipped?

Do we have enough for the journey?

G-d, is Your Word REALLY enough?

I’ve recently decided that I don’t believe in fear anymore; not to say it doesn’t exist, but I’ve tried to redirect the emotions that I might have once called fear and accept them as something else. Am I really afraid? Or am I nervously excited? Can I call this something else so that one word doesn’t take a hold of what I am and how I function?

When you put your BELIEF into something you feed it. It gets bigger and bigger until it paralyses you from doing what you want or need to do.

I refuse to get there; I don’t have time to believe in something so strongly that it won’t help anyone. I don’t have time to be too afraid to move when the adventure is forward, and when the things ahead are prepared for. I can’t fall back simply because I don’t think I have enough.

I can’t fall back simply because I don’t think YOU have enough, Lord. I trust that what You’ve equipped me with is more than enough to carry me through. I KNOW there will be bumps along the way but I know that you will sustain me. My tank wont run out. You have me.