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

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dear Heart #2

Dear Heart,

If only you could see as far as He sees. If only you could see how beautifully He has ordered your steps right now and understand the beauty behind every single day and moment. There's no such thing as a boring life or season. If only you would choose to see the grace behind every moment of your life.

So, why does this year seem so empty, you ask? Why the set backs and rejections? Heart, He knows, He has a reason for that. He has a perfect timing and a perfect way. Heart, what if you're exactly where He wants you to be? For now, for today? What if you took your eyes off the problem, from the rejection, from that job you didn't get and saw the beauty of grace behind it? That God is unfolding His plan for you and building you so He can build better things together?

He has not abandoned you. He promised He would never do that. He didn't hold back anything from you. What makes you think He would choose to do so now? He parted the red sea, raised Lazarus from the dead, transformed water into wine. Heart, He is the Almighty God.

Heart, I pray you'll be filled with the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. A spirit who trusts in the Lord and allows Him to reign in your heart. I pray that you'll let Him transform your heart, that you'll allow Him to teach your heart to trust in His plans and His goodness. I pray that you'll learn to listen and trust in His voice and to never let other voices drown His.

Heart, you've come so far. His plans will be revealed soon enough. Praise Him, Heart. For He is good and because the best things are yet to come and in His timing, you'll understand why everything happened the way it did.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Understanding God's love

One of the biggest things I've been learning about this year is what love means. I've been learning about the ways that God loves us and how beautiful and wide His love for us is. Below I'll be posting about 4 things I've learnt this year so far about God's love for us. I can only hope and pray that it blesses you and that it speaks to your heart, no matter how full or tired it feels.

  • He waited for us 
I write this first because it's the most recent thing I've learnt. Whether it be waiting for an internship in a law firm (having been rejected by 6/9 firms), waiting for my graduation to happen, waiting to see the Lord's plans for me unfold; just an incredible amount of waiting. Maybe you're waiting for something. Waiting on God's timing.

Waking up with a heavy heart this year has been so common because of my forgetful heart and I remember waking up a couple of days ago saying, "Lord, I'm tired of waiting. I'm tired of praying and seeing nothing happen." And while so selfish a thought due to the expectation to see things or even believe nothing was happening, I remember a gentle voice telling me, "I waited 18 years and more for you to fall in love with me." Something in my heart clicked that moment. Something so beautiful in that moment like a sea breeze gently brushing over my heart. He knew me from the beginning of everything. He pursued me from the beginning of it all and He waited. He actively waited and pursued me, my heart and invited me to accept His love.

There's something very beautiful about the way He waited for us - for You, for Me. He never gave up on us no matter how many years it took.

  • His love is unshakeable
This point brings me back to how the Lord waited on our hearts to turn to Him. The years He waited, man if I could say that I didn't do anything that broke His heart, that would be something. But, I'm sure none of that can say we kept a perfect record and never once did something which broke His heart. But, through all of that. Through the years we struggled and fought to do things on our own, through the years we chose to say, "God I know better", He still loved us and looked at us with love in His eyes - His heart burning passionately for us.

I'm always reminded about how the love we show will always be a shadow of what God's love for us is. I'm reminded of how imperfect my love is compared to His and how my love shakes and can be overridden by jealousy, lack of grace and/or selfish motives. I'm thankful for a love that is unshakeable, and hope that it continues to teach me how to love.

  • He doesn't need us to be perfect to accept us

This point ties in with the previous one but a lie that ran through my head is that I'm not good enough. That my grades aren't high enough to push myself into the higher 'league' of law students out there to get an internship, that because I've been so emotionally and physically drained that I can't speak into the hearts of my class in Sunday School...

It's beautiful that regardless of whether these accusations coursing through my veins are true or not that He still tells me He loves me. That He still chooses me knowing about my imperfections. It's so beautiful that we can draw on His grace, His love, His strength and more. Without it, I don't know where I would be this year. I probably would've taken a one way ticket to some far away country to start everything all over again. He takes all our broken pieces, whether it be in chunks or so broken that it looks like fine sand, He takes all of that and makes it all new and showers us with love.

  • He is faithful
This is the biggest struggle of my year. To trust in His faithfulness. My heart is forgetful and I often find myself needing to preach gospel to myself. To remind myself that He loved me from the very start and has promised to never leave me. To remind myself that when love could only make a way, He held not even His Son from us. That He was willing to give it all away because that is who God is - because He is love.

He cared for us and He wasn't just 'willing' and without action. But, rather willing to and carried out what He would do for us. He sent His Son Jesus for us and He made a way. He made a way for us to have a relationship with Him, to draw on His strength, to draw on His grace, to find the promise land right here and now in His presence. He paid the ultimate price for us. He wants us to draw close to Him. He made a way. If He wasn't faithful, then He wouldn't have made a way for us. We just need to choose and press into believing that He is faithful and acknowledge His sovereignty in everything and every circumstance.

I hope the last paragraph resonates within your heart and that you'll take the time and allow God to minister to your heart. 

He is FAITHFUL and He. Is. LOVE.

He loves you very much and I hope the weight of that statement sinks into your heart and that your heart opens up for His love to pour in.

Perth visits!

Decided to finally upload a few snaps from visiting Sugar & Nice, the Perth Wedding Upmarket and Typika. My original intention was to upload a post each (with more of the other photos I snapped) but I'm currently caught up with an Intellectual Property research paper so I decided to put one big post instead and choose a few of my favourites. Visited these places with Suanlee and had such an incredible time catching up with her. It's kind of crazy where we've both ended up after 15 years of friendship. So thankful for her through the ups, downs and plain right crazy moments of life.

Sugar & Nice is a cute little cafe in Inglewood. They have a little section in the back of the store filled with various things like the pompom garland below, terrariums and the like. Was so incredibly tempted to buy one of the terrariums there but refrained from doing so after remember that I killed the terrarium Suanlee gifted me for my 21st birthday. (Killing a cactus, check).

I haven't taken my camera up for a run in a while, so please bear with my snaps!

Food was okay. I was a little upset over how tough my bread was. Coffee was beautiful and Suanlee was happy with her order. I didn't remember to snap a picture of the wallpaper they had up, but they had a cute yellow chevron on the walls. 

We headed over to the Wedding Upmarket at the University of Western Australia after an impromptu detour into an amazing furniture store which we drove across when we were stuck in traffic on Beaufort St.

The Wedding Upmarket was gorgeous, and filled with brides-to-be. I didn't know what to expect, but it mainly showcased wedding setups and decorations. I half expected to see garlands for sale but unfortunately there wasn't any. The cakes displays were so gorgeous.

After checking out the Perth Wedding Upmarket we went over to Typika to have a lunch. Unfortunately the case of tough bread came up again, but the eggs were beautifully cooked. Suanlee ordered chips and the red fruit salad. Wish I could've gotten a better picture of her meal to upload, however my shots were below par so I left them out haha.

After 15 years of knowing each other, it's just crazy to see how we've changed over the years and see how everything that's happened has moulded us into the people we are. Always have such a lovely time hanging out with her!