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.

List This

Things I’ve discovered while doing a 100-day creative challenge:

1. I love waking up and asking G-d if I can create with Him

He is a forever and eternally THE CREATIVE G-d and this challenge to create something or play every day has opened my eyes to all the opportunities that we have to learn from the Author and Creator Himself and co-write with Him along this journey.

2. I am creative

I’ve noticed that it isn’t a matter of, “oh I need to do something creative today for the 100-day challenge” but more “Oh my goodness, I read today, wrote, went diving with sharks, colored a page in, packed a suitcase that shouldn’t have been able to hold all that it did”.

WE ARE CREATIVE BEINGS and it’s awesome. I’ve realized that by spending copious amounts of time with G-d that He has granted my request to be more like Him and less like me. Life is full of beautiful things and we do beautiful things all the time, sometimes it’s just a matter of slowing down enough to realize you’re actually close to who you want to be.

3. People are inspiring

Lets get some facts straight: I spend a lot more time on Instagram now BUT it’s typically to scroll through the #100daycreativechallenge tag and see all the wonderful things that people are up to. Some of my friends have some insanely creative minds and what they are producing sparks my imagination to make even more unique things. I’m (clearly) a firm believer in producing your work and sharing and inspiring others so this whole challenge has me frothing*.


 

Things I’ve discovered while being at Hillsong College:

A. Relationships Matter

I knew it would take a miracle for me to love and get along with 7 other women in one house. I prayed that we would all get along and G-d gave me even more than I prayed for. I have lived in a house full of challenging, encouraging women who have shaped me this last year. My friends at school and in my tutorial have been a vital part of me trusting, giving and breathing through tests and assessments and full on pout fests. They are all wonderful.

B. Miracles Happen

My house. Provision. Healing. G-d reminding me in the DAILY that He is real. Relationships restored. Salvation. Blessing on blessing. I’ve seen so much this year. I began writing in my planner the miracles I saw on the daily near the beginning of the year because I just wanted to remember. I wasn’t awesome at keeping up with it but as I look back on the year I can tell you countless things that I have seen and life-changing experiences I’ve been through that have absolutely changed the way I see prayer.

C. You Can’t Explain All You Go Through

I wish I could… I so wish I could. The best way I can explain life here is with the metaphor of a garden.We as students literally plant ourself inside of this fertile soil here all the while trusting that G-d the father is at work. And OH He is. He seems to take no time to root out any weeds in our lives and continuously water us and give us sunshine to grow. As quickly as a flower in our garden begins to brown, there is Jesus with some sharp garden tools to make sure that we take no extra time to produce a flower even more beautiful than before. Our rocks are removed so that we have nothing to hide in and nothing to stunt our growth.

But also. It’s so much fun.


Things I’m excited to eat in America

. Chili’s

If you didn’t see that coming, I DON’T KNOW YOU.

.. Taco Bueno

Very few things divide the innocence of Owasso, OK like the Bueno vs. Bell debate.

… Anything that resembles holiday food

Cream Corn, Apple Pie, Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce, Soup, Holiday Little Debbie Snack Cakes… guys I’ll take anything.


 

What a weird season to have walked through, what a weird season to leave.

I can’t wait to get back.

 

*Frothingif you’re frothing over something you’re really excited.

 

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. 

 

(Travel) Back Thursday

Today in class we were challenged to tell the person next to us why we are here. We were asked to remember the reason that we came to college. It has been a great breath of fresh air this week to think on the season that led up to moving to Australia – G-d was doing great things, Oklahoma was the kindest it had ever been to me, I felt closer to my family than I ever had and it was time to leave.

I can’t honestly remember why I was on a plane in January other than the trip here but I wrote this while trying to avoid overthinking. Please enjoy!

#ThinkBackThursday


Flights are annoying, and boring, and lonely. You have to turn your phone onto airplane mode and just sit. I play Sudoku but eventually that gets frustrating. You can read or write depending on how much space you have to move your elbow from one side of the seat back tray to the other. But mostly, you’re left to be with your own thoughts and feelings. You think about the last time you flew, where you went, what trips you have coming up and so on and so forth. If you’re smart you brought snacks. Thought exploration is exhausting.

      “Here it’s You and me alone G-d, You and me alone.”

Learning how to be alone is going to take me time… I enjoyed being alone once upon a time, for a season. But now as I have been out of that season for a bit of time I don’t really enjoy loads of “alone”. I find time spent with people more valuable and enjoyable because frankly, I’m pretty happy right now and I don’t want to learn sometimes – because I don’t like correction.

So, here I am. It’s a baby flight compared to the 17 hour one I have ahead of me but it’s a good reminder and starter for what I have to look forward to.

Alone time.

I’ve been praying for a family when I get to Australia already. I group of parents that will call me their own and let me cry on their couch when I miss my bloodline; A mom and dad that will possibly let me adopt a puppy under their care (wishful thinking). A couple that will care for me and invite me over for Sunday dinners, a counselor to talk to. There are people in my own life currently that model what they do well. These are positions in my life I don’t care to live without… I’m too old to care if my roommates like me or not. I just need a family to care for me. I am NOT an adult.

I have already started praying for the young girls I will live with (I have an odd feeling they will be young), for their growth while they are there and for their hearts as they take a few years to adventure into education. I’ve already begun to pray for my professors and faculty that they don’t mind my brashness and attitude I tend to write and live with. I don’t know who will be picking me up from the airport but I’ve already begun to pray for them too.

I don’t believe in coincidence anymore. There will be a reason behind my conversations with people, and Lord willing, He’ll maybe use me to draw out things people don’t see in themselves. And may it begin when I am alone… May it start on my plane ride there, with the patient people sitting to my right and to my left as I cry my way from Tulsa to Texas and onto Sydney. I’ve had too many “random choices” that led to G-d moments with random people to think when I walk it isn’t on purpose. When I wake up in the morning it is for no other reason that G-d allowing me to be apart of someone’s story. To show them a little more of the Creators heart wrapped up into who they already are.

If you collect me from the airport that first day in Sydney, know I was praying for you. Future housemates, I hope G-d wrecks you in whatever time we have together at Hillsong. Absolutely levels your foundation and rebuilds and fortifies who you are (whoever you might be). I hope you fight with me, I hope you cry with me, I hope you learn how to share with me and be real with me, I hope you learn how to heal as I learn this walking in healing. I hope we laugh together to the point of tears and spend a few hours exhausting the “next episode” button on Netflix. I’m leaving it in G-d’s hands which makes it more exciting than I can stand.

Teachers… I hope you don’t fail me. (haha, kinda serious though)… I hope you understand what I’ve learned from childhood to now is to be bold about who I am and if you don’t agree I typically don’t care. If you’re right then I’ll learn eventually. And I will admit it to you. But I am already praying what you teach is fully absorbed by my little ol’ self. I want to be a student to the fullest and give you back as much time in my work as what you’ve put into educating us. You are valuable and will be a life changing person for me. Even if I think your class is dumb.

((I hope I don’t have to take any dumb classes.

For those who I’ve been forced to say farewell to and will have to say it to soon… I hope you know how dearly you will be missed and I hope you know how excited I am to leave you. I love having conversations with a lot of you (some of you all are more of a challenge) and I love downloading and learning from you. I am excited to sharpen my skills and thoughts and come back and learn again what G-d has done in your lives and share what He has done in mine. I’m excited to miss you because it’ll make the reunion hug that much more squishy.

Squishy hugs rule.

Reunions are beautiful.

And my friends are freaking great.

So, as I prepare for the flight and the time I have to be alone just know… I’ll probably spam your Facebook with writing. I’d apologize but I really like writing and if you don’t like reading then don’t click on the links 🙂 If you do like reading, be my friend. This is how I process and learn I’m excited to see what there is to see and meet people that will become my adoptive family for a season… And if I get a puppy in the next year I’m gonna freak out 🙂 Thanks for reading if you actually took the time.

I have love for you all.