Obey: Journey and Heart

I think this one is hitting home for the last #ThinkBackThursday this season. It’s now been a year; 52 posts of old material that G-d used to once again locate me and challenge me. This blog was birthed out of obedience, and while I didn’t want to be THAT Christian-Hillsong girl who writes a blog about my journey… I am. And I LOVE it because it’s what G-d has put on my heart and in my hand to do. So dang it – I’m going to do it well. I’m going to do it out of obedience and trust and I’m going to do it out of self-reflection and self-location because I’m going to want these things written; I’m going to want these stories that I get to live with others retold because I have enough faith to believe that Jesus will turn up in the midst of them.

The biggest THANK YOU to those of who you have read my blog faithfully, inconsistently, never read it but always intended to and to those who’ve stumbled upon it now.

THANK YOU for reading… not because it’s my blog but because I’m honoured that you somehow might believe in my story. Thank you because your time is valuable and spending 5-10 minutes, twice a week to catch up with me means heaps to me. You are so treasured.

I have such love for you all.


5 November 2008-

“G-d, I’m listening, and I don’t know what to do-
I’m doing my best to listen to what you tell me to.
Putting actions with my words has become the hardest thing
When I cannot speak anymore, LORD, you’ve taught me how to sing.”

All I’m hearing lately is “OBEY”; Even though I have NO idea the outcome or the process that He will lead me though. Sunday night G-d surprised me and just told me to obey… it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt (thus far), but I did. I have no idea when He will mend what he’s asked of me or how many days it will last. But, I’m learning that it’s not about me anymore.

G-d has something amazing in store for those who seek them, and He’s leading me beside the still waters so that I can.

I watched “Everything Is Spiritual” by Rob Bell, with our leadership core on Sunday afternoon, and throughout all of it what really stuck out to me is “Sitting on top of the mountain”.

*G-d called Moses to Obey… Exodus 3.11-14 ((EDITED))
(a)
11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go ((Insert G-d’s resolution to a personal problem here))?”
12 And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have ((Fixed your problem the way I TOLD you to)), you will worship God on this mountain.”
13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go ((Oh, I dunno… OBEY, what then should I tell people?)), ‘The God of your fathers has sent me…’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am… ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ”

(Actual Verses Cited below)

Something that I couldn’t get out of my head is the thought that all He’s asked us to do is obey. Just to sit with Him, hear Him out and obey the words He has given to us. Moses was instructed by G-d to go up Mount Sinai and meet Him there.

(b) “The LORD descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain.”

Just to meet Him. Just to spend time with Him. Just to listen to Him.

I attend The University of Tulsa (Community College) ha… Ahem, anyway I have classes every Tuesday and Thursday from 8-9.20am, and then another class at 11am. I was given a book called “Practicing the Presence of God”, so I thought I would read it during break. There is a hallway at TCC that everyone refers to as the ‘breezeway’, because it is a hall of windows, and I suppose seeing the outside is just as good as being there nowadays? I sat in the breezeway staring out until a bench outside caught my eye. It was tucked away underneath two trees no taller than a one-story house and decently shaded, and still allowing enough light to keep whomever was underneath warm. I gave G-d a sarcastic look in my head and thought, “Why do you want me outside? I could just read in here and not have to move.” G-d has a funny way of returning my cheeky favors, so a little more clear and for no particular reason I get a nudge to get off my rear and go outside. I start down the breezeway when I realize that I’ll have to walk through the smoking area to get to my little picnic table that G-d wanted me at, and I begin to think “I don’t want to go through the smoking area, I hate the smell of smoke it’s bad for you.” As I make my way to the Library G-d pulls all the more hard telling me to go to table and reminding me that sometimes he takes you through something you don’t really want in order to get you alone with him.
I sat and read and didn’t really understand why I had to be there. But it’s not about me… G-d just told me to obey and I’m trying my hardest to do so.

(c) “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.”

G-d, do you really think that of me? Am I really a treasured possession of YOURS just because I listen? That’s enough for me – it has to be enough for me.

So I’m stuck, at the top of the mountain waiting on the Lord to come find me. I can’t do this alone because I wasn’t created to be alone, and right now trusting in G-d is all I need to be leaning on.

Just some thoughts of a Follower of Christ trying to find whatever He needs of me.

“And I’ll praise you in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For you are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise you in this storm”

Exodus 3.11-14 (a)
11
But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
12 And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”
13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ”

Exodus 19.20 (b)

Exodus 19.5 (c)

Scrabit Valentines

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hmmm, so love.

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

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

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

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

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

 Happy Valentines Day

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.

As You Do – Think Back Friday

I sort of shoved #ThinkBackThursday and a new Friday post together… You know, because it’s New Years and I’m cliché.

1 January //

I’ve now lived through 25 of these and probably for the last 13 of them I’ve wondered where on earth time has gone. It seems that time has a preferred method of transportation that it enjoys, and it’s always the one you wish it wasn’t on. It grabs a Delta flight, a free miniature bottle of wine and sticks its feet up for the joyful moments. They go so fast that you hardly remember all of the details even when you’re trying. Without a shadow of a doubt I believe that it grieves with us in the hard times and it too finds it difficult to pull itself out of bed and move when we cry – making our sorrow seem even longer.
Misery loves company.

But, then you look back and realize there was 24 hours in each of those days and 7 days in your weeks and that you just wasted 1-4 hours of your today realizing that you’re still here. You still never know when moments to be remembered are happening and you never know when you will finally heal.

But you have the moments, and you heal.

I’m currently in Oklahoma for the holidays, which brings up loads of memories in the 17 years I spent around this town. It’s impossible not to remember the great, good, bad and regretful. And as odd as it can be to grow up and see that nothing is ever the same year to year, the obscurity of it is shadowed (for me) by remembering a few things:

  • My Good Friends are GOOD – I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for a handful of very, VERY good people in my life. They’ve believed in me, pushed me, prayed for me, let me cry, let me fail and still told me they loved me and that I can make it. Hometowns can sometimes bring a sting along with comfort when thinking about the ‘used to be’ and ‘could have been’ relationships, adventures and journeys; G-d has been in the redeeming business of reminding me that the people I have now are who need to be in my life NOW. He knows all things, He knows my heart and who builds it, He knows what’s coming for me and He has been blessing me more and more with like-minded lovelies who care about me.What and who HE allows in my life is more than enough.
  • He has ALWAYS been faithful – this has been so overwhelmingly in my thoughts this last year or so. I’ve always known it but G-d has connected this knowledge to my heartstrings and veins and has literally flooded my being. The knowing physically weighs on me and can often, easily and frequently bring me to tears. Guys, He cares so much and loves so deeply and IS SO FAITHFUL. And not just for me; this is for you and I’m sure if you take time to let the Saviour and comforter help you look back you’ll see it to.
    ((Please take the time to look back))
  • Discipline is hard, sacrifice is hard, they both suck and they’re both mandatory – reading and writing daily is a choice and no one will tell you to do it once you pass the age of 17. I’m a routine and schedule person and it’s extremely difficult for me to cram a devotional or blog into the end of my. Mornings are my zone and when I don’t allow myself that time I feel like a pretty crappy person. This one is really just a memo to self // Be An Adult.
  • Reading is very important – I am not an educational or approved resource to quote. While I’m overjoyed that you’ve read this blog or any of my other blogs I’m not the end all… heck, I’m not even good at ending blogs real good.

Find a book and learn something.

 

Art above by: Mindi Garland (That’s MY bloodline)
Title: “Jenine Races Down the Path Less Traveled Without Fear of the Future” (That’s my middle name)

Think Back With Me On A Little Poetry

I don’t really know HOW people ‘get into’ poetry, so I’m not entirely sure where my obsession and appreciation began. I remember having a book for a language class growing up that had the most beautiful poetry in the back of it. I memorized one of the poems entirely.

This is a poem I had written 5 years and a day ago (16 December 2010). I modified it in the slightest to help the cadence along but this is still a very real part of where my life walks. Please enjoy this #ThinkBackThursday!


 

Sometimes I wish I had more strength, 
You tell me to rely on You.
Sometimes I just want to be able to see,
but You say You’re leading me through.
Sometimes I wish I had more trust,
But You tell me it’s just something I have to DO.
Sometimes I’m glad You believe more in me than I act like I believe in You.

Who’s Your Daddy?

Just a little #ThinkBackThursday. Pardon any shortage on an image or formatting… we don’t have WiFi currently so I’m eating up my phone data.


I went to Office Depot today to buy little envelopes. I got through the checkout line and along with my receipt the cashier gave me a business card that was good for a free PC check up… I chuckled in my head as I saw it and almost offended I thought, “Hello… doesn’t she know who my dad is? He’s the biggest computer geek I know, why would I bring a PC into here when my dad could fix it? Doesn’t she know who I am?”

I’ve always felt this way about my dad, I’m 110% convinced if there is a computer problem my dad can fix it so I’ve never worried about anything when it comes to the computer. I’m not the most computer savvy person in the world that you will meet but simply because I am my fathers daughter I really don’t think too much about it.

Dear G-d, why can’t I think this way about You? Consistently? Yes, I know you’re big enough to solve my problems but even in the moments when there isn’t one why am I not constantly thinking, “Pft, no harm can come to be, no evil force can stop me, no nation will stand against me… don’t they know WHO MY DAD IS? He happens to be the savior of the world, the comforter of the broken, why would I let my heart become troubled knowing that He can fix any problem that comes up?”

Fact is – I’m human and struggle with doubt. I guess I don’t doubt my earthly father because I’m an earthly person and that’s what I understand… I’ve seen my dad in flesh and have seen him fix thousands of computer problems.

I feel like an idiot to admit that I’ve doubted my heavenly Father but I have; I’ve seen the work of His hands in all of creation, I’ve gazed at the stars knowing that He holds each one, I’ve seen G-d’s protective hand over my life and others and yet, because my mind is limited I have to still remind myself that He can take care of me.

G-d, please, help me to see the problems in my life as something that I don’t have to worry about because I’m YOUR daughter. Make my response to them as quickly as I would respond to a office supply store telling me that they’re offering me something that I know my earthly dad could already do. Change my doubting heart, G-d.

But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand. “ – Romans.1.18-23(ish, MSG)

G-d, I’ve been with you a while, I know you well… help my heart not doubt so that I might not trade your glory for cheap fixes…

I’m sorry G-d.

Do you know who MY Dad is?

Sucky Sound Systems, Surprising Stories, and Skepticism

G-d is actually beautiful.

I was thinking this morning about how doing #ThinkBackThursday is getting more challenging the longer I do it. It’s weird – I’ve used the majority of my old posts from Facebook (be my friend! If you mention my blog you get a 3% discount on being my friend!) and I was running out of material. I was about to start creeping through my 10 year old journal but, no one REALLY wants to read who I was crushing on at 14.

Lo and behold, I found a post from October 2010 that I don’t recall ever stumbling over in this last year. And wouldn’t you know it… it’s in perfect timing with what I NEEDED to hear this week.

I write for me.  I publish for accountability. I pray that somehow in the middle it might be the encouragement, challenge, blessing or honesty you need. I truly could never say ‘thank you’ enough if you pray for, support me or have been apart of reading my stories. Please enjoy this #ThinkBackThursday


 

Thursday we had a worship night at church and all was going well until Jesse and I here a loud pop in the monitors in front of us. Jesse was roughly 4 feet away from me so I casually and in the full attitude of worship lean over and ask if he can hear Kevin anymore or the piano.

“No”
wonderful.

You see, when we cannot hear Kevin that’s a bad thing. While I have attempted to train myself to just know what key we’re in and sing it in tune the whole way- there is still comfort in being able to hear the piano and KNOW you’re in the same key.

I couldn’t get the attention of our wonderful sound man Steve (thanks for the photo Steven B.) without making a scene so I felt pretty stuck, and then suddenly, the monitor popped back on.

This actually was wonderful.

Unfortunately, our sound system didn’t like leaving people feeling happy and fuzzy so again, the sound went out. I wasn’t sure what to do, there wasn’t much I could do, so instead I just prayed. If I remember correctly it was something like, “G-d, this might be a silly request but… I don’t want to create a distraction with not being able to hear correctly so if at all possible could You somehow make the monitor start working? I mean, I’ll still love You and do my best either way… it’d just be nice”

I felt in that moment like He was legitimately asking me if I’d be surprised if He did, He reminded me of the scripture in James 1.6-7 about coming to G-d with our requests, “Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way…” I felt like He was asking me if I was going to truly believe that He could; if I was going to believe that He would answer something so – in my mind – trivial. In an honest answer back to G-d I said, “I’m not sure.” I couldn’t tell Him that I w o u l d n ’ t be surprised but I remember thinking, “G-d, I don’t honestly know if I will be surprised, I just know that You can”.

((Before I completed my thought the monitor came back on. I smiled.

I don’t know what it was in my heart that shifted to where I just decided to believe. I still don’t understand why I can’t live there constantly. Where I ask G-d without doubt and know that He’ll answer if it’s His will. I’m ok admitting that in my almost 20-year-old mind I still struggle with trying to figure out why it seems G-d answers some prayers right away and on some He waits. All I know is to trust that His word and promise to me are true. And that I must be patient in not understanding because HE knows whats up.

I’m not perfect. I don’t have everything figured out. I’m learning. I’m accepting when I can’t do things alone. I’m committed to the only thing that has never let me down.

I’m His and that’s all I need.