Happy Birthday

Hillsong College has been booming with end of semester presentations and performances lately, which has been great fun mixed with a little nervous excitement. The first year songwriters had their performance this week and as I sat at the packed out café and listened to their beautifully composed songs I began comparing (as you do). But it wasn’t a negative comparison or even a “me against them”. It was more reflective of my first year songwriting self – I began to wonder if there was a difference between my time before college, last year and this last weeks performances and the caliber of songs that I was producing. I think this was Jesus – because I am not this clever – but I felt in my heart that it wasn’t a measure of “are my songs better” but:

“Am I better? Am I better at being a songwriter?”

I got stuck on the thought that if I haven’t improved in my discipline of songwriting, then, I haven’t improved. I feel the same can be said of my character and life. I question a lot if I’ve changed much year to year being at a Christian Leadership college and spending most every day at the church. We are invested into almost hourly and are exhausted by the second week of school. It’s beautiful here and it is hard. This has been the most demanding semester I’ve been a part of and I have felt stretched and sometimes broken. I didn’t address my infrequency of writing this semester in my previous blog because I didn’t want to.

But just so you know, I KNOW.

In my questioning if I have changed, if I’m the same, if I’m different but revert quickly back to the worst of me, I again felt that drop of a discipline thought – If I haven’t improved in my discipline, I haven’t improved. I can’t actually gauge how I’m doing by how I feel because that changes every time I change my diet. If I don’t see my journals filled, if I have more books to read than books that I’ve read, If I have more abandoned coffee dates than friends then I am no better.

But tomorrow, I get to start a new journal, I get to start reading Joshua, I have a coffee date with a good friend and I get to choose to believe that He who began a good work in me will carry it out unto completion. I’ve learned more this semester than ever about getting into the Word of God and APPLYING it to my life. Technically there is a model to look at them, us, me – but that’s more of an in person conversation and it’s my blog so naturally I’m talking about me.

The Word of God is active and is most useful when it is USED. Of all my disciplines I pray this increases the most.

My life isn’t about the caliber of my accomplishments but the consistency of my growth – and I pray that yours never becomes about what you produce but the daily producing of fruit and great things to build your community and to grow you closer to Christ.

I love you all, Happy Birthday.

Winds In The East, Mist Coming In – Something Is Brewing About To Begin

“Like a rushing wind
Jesus breathe within
Lord have Your way
Lord have Your way in me
Like a mighty storm
Stir within my soul
Lord have Your way
Lord have Your way in me”
-Hillsong Music

So, I missed posting last Friday because March in every way kicked my butt. It was a beautiful month full of serving and giving and making sure our church was set up for Colour Conference and Easter Sunday. Now it is time to refresh and breathe a little bit until we vamp up into our Conference for July.

Today in our 2nd Year Chapel we had a beautiful opportunity to worship as a body of students and to sit in G-d’s presence and be refreshed. One of the songs we sang today had the lyrics I listed above (also click here if you want to take a listen for some nice background music whilst you read). Now I’m a good ol’ girl from one of the fifty United States of America – Oklahoma. When you’re from Oklahoma this song means something entirely different to you. I stood there in worship thinking about my Facebook feed recently being bombarded with pictures of a tornado that just hit back home. A few little things I know about storms:

  1. Storms cannot hit an area without changing everything about the area.
    ((Even if it’s just a ‘bad storm’ and not a tornado it still tends to bring an abundance of rain that changes the very look of a town. I’ve never seen the outdoors look as peaceful and vibrant as after the storm; the greens of the earth are richer and the sky reserves a crisp blue for these moments. And in cases of tornados and strong winds you see the very foundations of buildings moved. Things never remain the same after a storm. You’re given an opportunity to rebuild things that may have been unstable in your life and to build better than before.
  2. Pics or it didn’t happen. You can be one of two type of people in Oklahoma, you can be afraid and hide in the closet even though the tornado is in Pryor and you’re in Oklahoma City. Or you can be like the rest of us out on the front porch with your fancy camera phones out taking a picture of you smiling with the storm in the background. People notice when the wind shifts and when change is happening. People stop to take note of G-d I promise you that. When is the last time you stopped to really focus in on what G-d was doing in your life?

Like a mighty storm
Stir within my soul

When I think about what I’m truly praying – Lord STIR within my soul – and I think about what this could actually do to my life as I know it I realize it’s a terrifying prayer to pray. I’m asking G-d to come in and shake the foundations that may need rebuilding in my life and to cause me in that moment to never be the same. I stood in worship pondering what these lyrics truly meant and I realized I didn’t want anything else.

Lord have your way, Lord have your way in me

It’s hard to keep this in focus when you’re human though, I fail probably daily but I also had a subtle reminder that I’m no longer who I was but I am not who I will be. G-d is GRACIOUS and so faithful along the journey and I am so blessed to call Him mine.

G-d move in my life to where people notice and have to sit back and make a memory of who You are and what You’re doing in me. Move my unstable foundations and cause me to have to rebuild with the truth of Your word to something different, stronger and more lasting than what I was holding onto before. Bring the rain and then bring the spring of all the new things you want to do in my life. Lord have your way. I surrender.

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.

 

Aussie (Day 1- Jetlag)

In honour of my 1 year anniversary in Australia and Aussie Day I figured it was appropriate to post this #ThinkBackThursday to my first few days here. It’s been an incredible year and now I’ve had the privilege to welcome the new January intake students who will join in and add to our travels. What a beautiful year we have ahead of us!

Enjoy this look back and Happy Australia Day


It seems like these two days have flew by and also like I’ve been here a year. This isn’t the cleanest thing I’ve written because jet lag. But I know a lot of you are asking my parents questions they don’t know how to answer because communication has been limited. So for you now, a collection of my thoughts the last two days… Oh my gosh it’s only been two days.

It’s raining in Sydney, which I find awkwardly appropriate for starting a new adventure. It’s been said before that G-d is in the rain and in all of my limited life experience I would have to agree. Maybe its because I’m an Okie but storms are calming to me. They remind me of sitting on my front porch (like a good okie) and watching the lightning roll in with my dad. I wasn’t scared because I was with my dad.      

   It’s empowering when you all the sudden see yourself invencible just because of who you surround yourself with.

I have had a peace in this season of my life that is both unexplainable and incomprehensible- and only from walking with the Father. At first I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t even know what it was. I was walking in step and therefore in peace with my heavenly Father and I felt awkward.

G-d I can live calm and focused? This is what redemption feels like – this is hope and this is healing and it is what being with G-d feels like. Watching the storms fall in and realizing I’m covered. 

I’m with my Dad

How comforting. 


“He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” – Daniel 3.25


 

I spent a good bit of time this morning wondering what the heck I was doing. With all the activities and gatherings that went on I realized an unfortunate truth about myself, I’m bad at people time. I didn’t realize how terrible I am at holding a conversation until I actually didn’t know what came next in my day and I had nothing to do. We were all crammed in a breakfast room to eat and I suppose probably chat and get to know people and I struggled with not being able to focus on the people around me because I wanted to know what I was supposed to be doing. Where was I supposed to be? Did I need to be preparing for something? We’re been in this room a long time did we all happen to miss a cue for going somewhere else? What if we are late to the thing that we don’t know we are supposed to be doing?

Just Be

Our Vice Principal (or someone else really important to our schooling) was speaking about letting this be a relaxing time. It ISN’T going to be like home here in the way we remember, but this place IS home. He challenged us to get used to things changing and maybe even running a minute late. He told us we needed to relax. He also told the Mexicans to not relax so much. It was exactly what I needed to hear and it was exactly where I needed to be. Reminding myself that my entire path coming here has been covered by a peace that I don’t understand and a favor that I’ve never let myself receive before. Laina, freaking chill out. BE THERE with the people who are with you now and calm down. Has G-d not had this the entire time? You didn’t even know what you needed and yet here you are.

Just Breathe

The crazy thing is that I am EXACTLY where I need to be. I’m hearing exactly what cuts my heart and I’m having the chance to express myself exactly the way the good Lord put it in my heart to be heard. I had a conversation with a friend before I left and he was simply asking me how I was doing. I was almost embarrassed to admit that this whole process has been a beautiful experience; but because I didn’t know how to live in beautiful experiences… I didn’t know what this feeling was of my heart being light and my spirit being free. I was so unfamiliar with the peace of G-d that I didn’t even recognize it when I was walking IN IT. Lord, Forgive me… I neglected to learn how to receive from you so many times before. You give good gifts, Abba, and I want all of them. IF this is what walking with You truly feels like then I must have been stumbling before.

Just Accept.

G-d, I’m blown away, absolutely speechless. I didn’t even know who I was and You called me Yours. I didn’t know what I needed and You provided an abundance. I didn’t know where I was going and You picked me up and walked me there. What the heck? How am I so blessed? Oh, how He loves us SO

Just Receive.