Monday, November 3, 2014

The Concert Guide

I'm no expert at what to do or bring at a concert, but I thought I must as well list down a few things that I've learnt to bring or not bring and tips over the past few concerts I've been to:

1. Your tickets
Remember to bring them. And if you've opted to pick them up at a venue make sure you go earlier because chances are, you'll need to queue up to grab them and then go to the back of the line to queue for entry. Sometimes there's different queues depending on the ticket you've bought e.g. VIP. The more expensive your ticket the more likely the line will be shorter. But, it's better you go earlier so you can check out the venue if there's pop-up shops or you can check out merchandise!

2. Shoes
I've been to concerts where a lot of girls wear heels. And that might take your fancy (it might give you some height if you're short perhaps) but I'd rather be comfortable. So, flat shoes please. And be aware that no one else wants to have punctured toes if you choose to dance in heels. Closed flat shoes are the best because if you're in an outdoor venue, you won't get your feet dirty. No heel means you won't puncture the grass and hobble. (I watched this happen to many at Mariah Carey's concert last night). I opted for flats for many concerts but after yesterday night if I'm in an outdoor setting I'm definitely wearing sneakers. At Sandalford there was so much grass or hay, whatever it was, and it got into my shoes and everything. You can look cute with a pair of converses than heels. Really.

Unless you're going to a concert where there's no chance of anyone standing up (exception being a standing ovation) then don't go for heels.

3. Signs
If you're going to bring a sign, don't hold them up for too long because you block other people's views. It's nice that you made the sign and yes you want other people to see it, but it can be really inconsiderate. And the person behind you most likely paid the same price as you for their tickets, so let them have a good concert experience too.

4. Bags 
If possible bring a small bag. Especially if you're standing. Unless you're seated always opt for a smaller bag that's preferably a crossbody because honestly, you wouldn't want to get jabbed by someone else's bag so don't do the same to someone else. Respect your fellow concert-goers. You want your hands free to do things like record, instagram or snapchat your friends rather than holding a water bottle or something. You can probably get away with a larger bag if you have a reserved seating. That way you can place the bag at your feet because there is usually ample space for you to do so.

5. Location
Be aware if the concert is indoors or outdoors! And sit in your seat if you've bought reserved seats. I saw a couple last night shift one row up because the guests were late. The boyfriend moved back but the girlfriend refused to budge. I don't know if it was the numerous glasses of wine she was drinking or what, but eventually the people who'd reserved a seat just let her stay there and one of the group shifted to the row behind to sit with her boyfriend.

6. Water and food
Some concerts don't allow you to bring food and water to the venue. Snacks are good to bring because sometimes vendors don't sell food you're fond of, it's over priced, or the queues are way too long. If that's the case, then your only option is to buy them there. You should be aware of this from the information that gets sent out from the promoters of the concert. Other concerts allow you to bring water and I'd suggest bringing some water because if it's an indoor venue, chances are it'll get hot and people do pass out because of it and require security to drag them over the barricade or however possible. Some venues have a free water station. I'd prefer to bring my own just in case it's crowded. There was one time I saw a man handing out water in cups and after people took a sip they'd give the cup back. I'm not 100% sure about this but I think some cups were being reused. I'd like to avoid any chances of that.

7. Camera
Unless you're a professional photographer who's there to capture professional photos, I'd suggest against bringing a DSLR and all those fancy lenses. It's bulky and you don't really want to be holding it the whole time. Enjoy the concert experience rather than looking behind a camera the whole time. And sometimes the venues don't allow you to bring cameras anyway unless it's on your phone.

8. Phone and possibly a portable charger
Charge your phone to the max before you go! You might have to call a friend to find out where they are if they're lost, or you might want to record your favourite song. Whatever the reason, make sure you have battery because you don't want to spend your concert wondering when your phone will die. Buying a slim portable charger will be a good item to bring along!

9. Common meet up point
This is probably not a huge deal, but in the event that phones die and you're with a large group of friends, have a meet up point set if someone gets lost.  

10. Money 
Usually you can get away using your debit or credit card but just in case there's a failure in EFTPOS machines, bring a decent amount of cash which allows you to buy water, snacks or some merchandise if you want to. 

11. Clothes and jewelery
Don't wear expensive jewelery. If it breaks, it's practically gone. There's a sea of people and the venue's large and chances are you're not going to get it back. Placing your bets that the person who finds it is going to be honest and hand it to lost and found is a huge risk.

Also, this ties in back to venue. Be aware of your venue. If it's outdoors, chances are it'll get cold! Bring something that will keep you decently warm. If it's indoors, chances are it'll get hot because of all the people. Take into account of the weather too. Outdoor venues mean you should take into account of many facts. The sun means you might need a hat, sunscreen, spare hair ties or sunglasses.

At Mariah's concert last night it rained. Drizzled. No one expected it would but then we saw the rain clouds. Rain poncho's sold out and I was so blessed to have a couple sitting with me who offered me a spare rain poncho they had. You can get them at a local supermarket for a few dollars.

12. Buy merchandise before the concert
You can buy merchanise whenever you want really. But I'd go buy it concert before you enter the venue or after you enter the venue depending on how they're doing it. Sometimes they sell it whilst everyone's waiting for gates to open. That's probably the best time because there'll still be sizes. Waiting until after the show probably means no sizes. And hey, if you're set on buying merchandise, it's better to buy it there than buy online because you can save on shipping fees.

13. Don't get smashed
Some concerts are alcohol free. Some aren't. Everyone reacts differently to alcohol and so be aware of your tendencies and know when to stop drinking. No one wants to deal with you being drunk really.

14. Have fun
You've paid to support the artist so do so. Dance, clap along, put your hands up in the hair and jump! However you want to express yourself do so. Subject to ensuring you're being considerate to those around you though. You wouldn't want some person going crazy dancing and doing the sprinkler next to you and having to move to avoid getting slapped in the face haha.

I hope these help you in preparing for your next concert! :) 

The Elusive Chanteuse 2014

Went to Mariah Carey's concert at Sandalford Winery yesterday night! Vocals and whistle register were right on point! I've been wanting to hear her sing live ever since I was 5. The first song that got me into Mariah Carey was Fantasy and I was so stoked that she used it as her opening song! There were two support acts and quite lengthy breaks throughout the concert and unfortunately it started drizzling. This was bad because it was an outdoor concert venue and a part of me was feeling bad for the sound equipment getting wet up on stage.

Would have been hilarious if she sang "Through the Rain".

Her set was delayed half an hour (it was meant to start at 8 but didn't start til about 8:30) so we had a 1.5hr show which was quite short. But, still it was amazing to hear her sing live. Many have accused her for lip syncing since videos which have popped up about her 'losing her voice', but I can vouch that she has NOT lost her voice! She probably wasn't feeling to well during her other concerts.

Her on stage persona was.. Mariah. A Diva, a mom and so gorgeous.At the very end she sung Super Natural and dedicated it to her children (or should I say 'dem babies' haha).

I'll leave you with a video of her opening song!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

I can't believe it's November already. My second exam is in 7 days but the thought that lingers in the back of my mind is ministry and changes in season. I've been watching God allow things to happen and I know it's because of a shift in season, because He wants to bring me into a new season, and though I know He has everything under control, there's a desire in me to see things done well.

Leaving Children's ministry is a new ball game. The leaving itself. When I left Vibe Worship it was because there was something in me which knew that I was giving the ministry crumbs of my time. Preparing was difficult and I didn't think that was how it was meant to be.

I'd like to write a post on how you know when you should leave a ministry. But, I can't. I can't because God speaks in many ways. I can't because from my experience and knowledge, the only thing that made me leave the youth worship ministry was because I couldn't justify the amount of myself I could put into the ministry. And I didn't think God deserved just crumbs of my time.

The decision to leave children's ministry is different because there was a thought to leave Children's ministry for the whole year. It would be something that would cross my mind over and over again and I wasn't sure of why it was happening. So, I asked God. What do you want me to do? Because I'm not sure if this is from you. I need a clear indication. Who will take over my place? Will these people be equipped? 

Though caring about whether someone will take over is not really a huge concern, because God will provide regardless it was something I wanted to know. In our church there's not a huge volunteer base for Children's ministry. We do have two teams, which alternate but we don't usually get a lot of people who choose to volunteer either. In two years I'm not able to say "we had some crazy growth". Our registration for volunteers wasn't that great, but some time during this year after seeking God about it, we had a registration booth. Only this time 10 volunteers came in. Which was crazy. Because this type of growth in volunteers was beyond what we've ever had.

The next thing which made it clear to me was being asked to ensure the people placed in my team could learn the ropes. From these two things, something in my heart was convinced.

The thought I had today was what did I learn in Sunday school? and have we taught them about Jesus rather than facilitated for them to know Jesus? To know He's the God who breathed into the Bible. That He loves us so much. And have I helped facilitate and helped them to get to know Jesus rather than know about Him in two years.

I started to draw on thoughts about my own Sunday School experience. We can memorise bible verses until we quote them chapter by chapter, but what is the point if we don't see the God the verses are actually about? What's the point of tithing if we don't understand why? We can tell them until they can repeat the answers back to us, but it's so important they know in their heart and not their head. To believe in what they do and why.

I've wondered about whether I've talked about God only to tell them things that I know, rather than facilitating for them to know about this God I believe in. How can we do this? How do we encourage them to search? To find God themselves and allow them to see His goodness? Because really, what IS the point if we're just telling them about God instead of showing them how to reach out to Him? Sharing is good, don't get me wrong, but what we do is so important.

We need to do life with them. We need to walk through the process of life with them. Be in their life. Understand them.

I remember listening to Steffany Frizzel's sermon I've linked before this post. And she said, "if we're not a safe place for people, why would we expect them to trust Jesus. If they can't share their stuff with someone, what are we being and what are we for?" And it's just the same.  We need to understand them. Walk them through it all.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

32 hour law exams

A 32 hour law exam teaches you a lot of things. It teaches you that leggings and a loose shirt are probably the most comfortable things to wear to write up your 3500 paper in, that water is your best friend, and that probably somewhere in those 32 hours when you're editing, you can sneak in a break to put an oil treatment into your hair so that once you're done writing, you can take a shower and have silky soft hair.

Apart from making sure you know your content, making sure you save your work (I turned off my computer to sleep for a couple of hours and once it switched off I thought I forgot to save it. I opened my Intellectual Property folder only to find it wasn't there and my heart dropped. But then I found it on my desktop. Thank God. Seriously), remembering to eat and remembering to take breaks... all that obvious stuff, there's one major thing I learnt..

Start by getting your heart in the right place.

Always get your heart right before you do something. Get your heart right in the morning. Get your heart right before a presentation. Get your heart right before you meet someone.

On Monday I had group meetings and a presentation.  Yesterday morning I had a case study for two hours until 10AM and at 9AM my law exam was released. I'd spent my weekend preparing for the law exam and Monday night I should've probably been studying right? For my case study if not my exam? My heart and mind were just everywhere and I made the decision then and there to just spend time at His feet. To read His word and declare it over my life.

And that really set me right in my head. I had a couple of freak out moments during the 32 hours because there was literally so much to write about but I didn't feel overwhelmed. This was new because this semester with so much going on I was often feeling very anxious and overwhelmed because of the load of everything.

I still remember waking up on mornings after WACE exams in high school in a panic thinking that I'd overslept and still had an exam that day. It was crazy. But when I woke this morning, I felt so grounded and ready to continue. Note to self. Always be aware of where your heart is.

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23

Monday, October 27, 2014

Comparison is the one thing that will keep you from doing what God's called you to do. 

I heard this when I was on Youtube listening to a sermon Kari Jobe was preaching. I've watched that video plenty of times because it's so encouraging and first came across it when I was preparing for a youth camp in 2013.  I've been learning a lot about being responsible for my season and seeking God. To use the things that I'm finding difficult in my life, well allow God to use those things in my life to draw me closer to Him. This year I've found it so difficult to be focused and I know the Lord is teaching me on how to teach myself to place myself at the feet of the Lord, and not rely on other people. We definitely can need people to help us conjure up the Truth when we can't, but there is a responsibility we have for ourselves. And I know this has been important and something that I've known but it just feels like God's really branding that into my spirit. I've been learning a lot about basics, but it's been a branding process. We can't keep looking at other people and focusing on what God's doing on their life and let go of our own lives and expect God to sort it out without seeking Him.

I probably haven't been able to write this out well. I have a case study and a 32 hour exam tomorrow. But, for some reason I stumbled across Steffany's sermon. I remember searching for her sermons or any preaching etc. but finding nothing and tonight I randomly stumbled upon it and I cried watching her preach because it was exactly everything on my heart. I encourage you to watch it because it's absolutely beautiful and I love how raw it is.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Freedom in identity

Just as I highlighted in my previous post, I've been learning a lot on loving myself and accepting myself. It's so important to love yourself and accept the person you are. However, it's important to know where you tack your security or it can also be a very dangerous thing.

For example, I hope to never find myself identifying myself by my job in the future. I hope that I can wake up every morning remembering first that my identity is that I'm a child of God and from that I work, for example, as a lawyer. I found a lot of insecurity and hurt in saying that I lived about 40 minutes away from most of my close friends because the response would often be "you live so far away". And though possibly not their intention, it translated to "you're not worth driving the distance for". A lot of my friends live on the coast or south of Perth. Possibly as a joke, or not, I heard a lot of talk about my postcode and the stereotypical personality that comes from my postcode - even the high school I graduated from. I find that completely unfair and disgusting. But, it hurt me. And why? Because I wasn't secure of my identity in Christ - as a child of God. We feel negative emotions but often it comes down back to us and we need to discover why we feel that way.

Through this search in first securing my own identity in Christ and believing I was loved, loveable, cherished I found so much more freedom. That people's thoughts didn't matter to me and I became more confident in knowing what I liked, didn't like and what I stood for. To accept myself for who I am in Christ and be okay with that and not feeling the need to conform or desire to live in a different postcode because of postcode stereotypes. Goodness, who even knew it was such a thing!?

You don't need to change who you are for people. I'm not saying never change. I think there's such beauty in becoming more Christ-like. But, we should never feel the need to say "I don't like deep house" because some people think that means you're a clubber. (Yes, that's from personal experience).

Heck no. I'm a child of God. He loves me and I him. I like many genres of music from deep house to acoustics to folk to indie to jazz to bossa nova. I hate pumpkin and the smell of banana peels. I like low cars and late night drives. I think driving late at night with windows down and music up is such a satisfying feeling. I like reading books in my bed on rainy days, chai lattes with soy milk and peppermint tea. I would like to sky dive and I can't ride a bicycle. I like wearing floral and lacey things on some days and on other days I want to wear leather pants or jackets because they make me feel completely bad-ass and I love the strength and boldness that it speaks. I suck at drawing, playing piano or guitar and the same time and singing and I lose my appetite or forget how to eat when I go out with people for the first time. I like words and writing and listening to people. I like sharing with people about the things I'm learning but find it difficult to put them into words in a conversation. There's so much improvement to be done on me as a person, but I am loved, and I don't need to change myself for people to like me.

Appreciate the person God has made in you.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

When we experience real suffering, we must be quick not to say “But Lord, why am I going through this?” but instead we must say “Lord, is this a taste of what You endured?” and when we do that, we will weep at the realization that our God took on the weight of the world for us. We may be weary travelers, but we carry no pack as heavy as Christ’s, because He took it, He took the burden that we could never carry so that we could make our way home. So rejoice! You who journey, for you are on a path that is far greater than the one you thought to make; for you are on a path that is laid with the footsteps of Christ, the only traveler who can tell us the true way, the only traveler who has done this hardship before.

- T.B. LaBerge // Go Now

There's about two weeks left of uni. I feel like the stress of exam period hasn't settled in. I'm aware there's so much do to still but there's so many other thoughts I've needed to address in my mind. Four years of uni have made me wonder what I'm doing all this study for or what all the things I'm going through are preparing me for. Over this year I've questioned the things I've put my time to, my heart to, my thoughts to and I've really wondered, what if I've missed the point or purpose of life, being so caught up in the things I've been blessed with, or the things that I'm going through that I've completely disregarded God in all that I do. There's something fundamentally wrong if we're being so busy that we can't find time to rest in Him.

I've wondered where people are going. Though not really my issue to be concerned about, I wonder how people will be, how people will change and where they will go. And then I wonder about where I am and as much as I don't think there's been change, I know many changes have occurred this year. It's been tough but this whole year has been centred around learning one thing. Trusting God.

I think before this year, trusting God was something I did; just because. This year I've learnt to choose to trust God against all odds. It's been the equivalent of me (or a tiny person) pushing against a massive crowd running in the opposite direction. It's been hard. I got pushed back, still get pushed back, but choosing to trust God is pushing through and refusing to get swept away. It's choosing to push through and be strong because of His strength.

It's been a year of trusting God with lack of reasons behind things that happen, trusting God with my future job, trusting God with my discouragement from job rejections or internship applications. It's been a year of stretching beyond measure. It's been about learning to nurture friendships even without seeing the other party frequently, it's been about keeping contact with friends overseas and weekly or monthly skype calls. It's been about a year of maybe seeing a friend for one hour a week during my whole semester of uni. It's been about meeting up with a group of girls and learning how to encourage and support each other through our walk in life and choosing to show Jesus to one another. It's been a year of learning to love myself, not being so tough on myself and learning to forgive myself. It's been a year of breaking down and learning the basics again and building foundations. It's been a year of watching other people move onto greater things and a lot of learning to be content in where I am. It's been a year of choosing to actually seek God and not seek God instead of defining 'seeking God' as an expectation for Him to find me where I am.

Above all I'm thankful. I'm thankful that it's been hard. It's hard to be thankful amidst all of this but there's such a beauty in seeing Jesus in everything whether it be through people or whatever, there's a beauty. It's hard to be thankful when you don't see a destination but our thankfulness shouldn't come as a result of the end point, but it's about being thankful for who He is, and being thankful for the promise land which is where we are now.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

I couldn't think of any other way to write all these down. I guess this will be a popcorn post so if you catch onto something, I really hope it blesses your heart. It's a whole bunch of takeaways and things I've learnt these past few days. Had breakfast with my cell leader yesterday morning and had a really good talk. The past few days have been spent talking with friends, doing a whole lot of thinking, a whole lot of praying, a whole lot of journalling and a whole lot of questioning.

  • God is not good because of your circumstances
I think this is something all of us have heard. We can hear a lot of things. I've come to realise that I often have head knowledge, but the application of it doesn't necessarily occur. Nor do I see the things I'm doing wrong etc.

I think this year I've been dwelling too much on the pain of disappointment. And, I really want to challenge you today and ask you, what YOUR focus is on? Is your focus on God or the pain? Yes, pain can be overwhelming, but YOU need to choose His joy and His peace.

I'm reminded of Matthew 12:25: "every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand." You can't say God is good in someone else's life and then question His goodness over yours. You can have one mind telling you one thing and another something else. You can't get on in life with that mentality. Just the same, you can't declare God's goodness over one part of your life and say He's lacking in another area of your life. He has EVERYTHING in control. Everything, every single aspect - even if you don't see it. 

Note: Psalms 118 and Isaiah 43. Never lose heart.

  • God is real and God is not a vending machine
I got to a point where I was really questioning this, this week. It's been a very strange season of my life where I could see God's hand over the lives of others. I've come to realise that it can be very difficult to see it when you're in it. And sometimes, it might seem like God's doing absolutely nothing in your life. But is He really doing nothing? Or is He doing things in other areas of your life? Is it that you want God to do something you want so much so that you're missing out seeing on what He's doing in your life? I was faced with asking these questions really, and I think they're so important. We tend to "measure" God's presence in our lives by seeing the good things He gives us in our lives. And for a moment in time this year I was starting to question whether God was good because my life seemed to fall apart in so many areas this year. God isn't good because you have good things in your life. He's always good regardless of your circumstance. He's always there - from the beginning to the end - and in the middle He's the one cheering you on and it's up to you to choose to believe and press into that and listen to His voice guide you.

It wasn't about whether God had breathed into the Word, but rather about me choosing to see and believe that it was - through faith.

  • Finding the root of your negative emotions
Your negative emotions don't stem from love. Most likely, they stem from fear or pride. This was a huge perspective shifter for me when my cell leader was sharing about what she'd been learning this year. This year I often found myself irked or disappointed and upset, sometimes even angry and though I knew they didn't stem from love - I knew they came out of other emotions such as jealousy. Jealousy because I feared I wasn't good enough, or pride because I felt that I was better. I would find myself angry, or disappointed because of others but all because of expectations I'd placed on them! That was incredibly unfair of me. Just like you shouldn't get angry at other people for your own expectations, don't get angry at God because He's not doing your will for your life. Find the root of your emotions.

  • Whatever ministry you serve in, serve out of thankfulness
I've been considering leaving Children's Ministry and going into the Worship Ministry. One of the questions I've asked to check up on this are: What are your reasons/intention/motive behind shifting? Is it because of something that happened? Is it people? If it's people then who are you serving? What is your perspective of God? Are you going through a dry season? Why Worship Ministry? Regardless of the ministry you choose to serve in, serve because you're thankful. Because you want to serve the One who loves you unconditionally. The one who sent His Son to die on the cross and defeat death for you. Don't serve to get faith. Don't serve because you expect God to give you something back for your serving. Love doesn't work like that either. You don't love to expect to receive something back. Love is something that goes the distance and never fails. I've also been wondering about serving when you don't feel like it. Everyone gets those days. Nothing you do for the Lord will ever be in vain. I think that it's important to act in obedience even if you don't feel like it. But, it's important to pinpoint what is making you feel that way and you need to find the root of those emotions.

Monday, September 22, 2014

'You can't be self conscious and God conscious at the same time.' - T.D. Jakes