I am currently working on switching my blog over to tumblr. This is taking much longer than I thought with the chaos of the end of the semester, but it should be coming together shortly. When it does I will post the link to it on this blog.
4 days until my sister arrives in Sydney, can't describe how excited and ready I am!
Inspiration. Inspiration was my hope-filled prayer early this morning while getting ready for a day in the intriguing city of Sydney.A new revelation, a new perspective, something to mark the day as much more than one filled with new clothes and a Starbucks green tea. Sure enough, I am left in no shock at how our God always seems to answer even the smallest prayers. That is why I asked him.
From the moment I arrived at the train station I decided to be aware, which soon lead to my exploding thought. "When you make God your everything, you begin to notice that he is everywhere." Those of you who re-read that thought and related with a smile, it's pretty incredible isn't it? God was amongst Jennifer and I through-out our day in the city, and at the same time he was sitting with the woman on the train who seemed so alone, he was in the radiant colored sky, trees, birds, and surrounding tall buildings, he was smiling at the children playing in the parks, he was busily walking beside every business man and woman, he was in the voices of the buskers who were hoping for the passerby's spare change, he was in the small cafes and fancy restaurants, he was everywhere. How is this seen, noticed, or even possible? Simply because He is God. Everything was created by him and all things were created in him. From trains to planes, from oceans to painted sunset skies, he is there in the midst of it all. He enables us with the privilege of doing this life with unique gifts and talents that allow us to even further demonstrate his creativity. When God is our everything, we can't help but continually be in awe of his pure greatness because... He. Is. Everywhere. Take a look.
People watching is something that I do on a regular basis and today was particularly interesting because it was taking place in the city. This fun little game often leads to trails of curious thoughts as to why someone would walk, talk, act, dress, or simply do life the way they do. But today I didn't ask why... I smiled.
I smiled at how different everyone is than I am, and began to try to comprehend how incredible it would be if each of them personally knew Jesus. What it would mean if they were allowing him to fully use them for the purpose they were created and outworking the interests that God gave them. Life is lived on a joy high when God is in the center. My heart ached for those who I saw today, and knew they were searching. The same normalcy and life routine is just not enough anymore. We can search, but always seem to find that nothing will ever be enough. The things of this world will never satisfy us. I long for those individuals to experience this wonderous relationship that I have with the creator of theuniverse that has changed my life. What's even more mind blowing is that God desires for relationship with each person that I saw today, plus the billions of others on the planet, a million times more than I could ever long for them to know him. Do you understand that? No? That's completely fine! Because I could try to understand that kind of love all day every day and I have faced the fact that I never will. His love and compassion for us to know him and be a part of his perfect plans can only be described as unfathomable. I am so thankful that God is unfathomable, that we can never know him enough.
Making our way into a fairly small room tightly packed with people waiting to hear a local band, I began to think again. Tigertown, a band made up of some Hillsong church members/students, were next to perform at the El Rocco Room.Familiar faces surrounded me, others not so familiar... I felt different than I had all day. Being in a room of people, in a church or secular environment, that share the same heart as you brings an encouraging vibe. The band was phenomenal and as they played I tapped some thoughts into my phone... I am so thankful for the way God weaves everything together so perfectly. He specifically threaded together this community of students to serve one purpose. Each in their own individualistic manner, weaving in and out, touching the lives of other people. Using only what God has put in our hand and living in a new found trust. Glorifying him in all aspects. Leading the way to uniquely impacting towns, suburbs, cities, states, countries, and even the nations in which we live. Not because we had a plan, but because He had a plan. God had a plan, and in that plan he knew we specifically should be created for such a time as this.
"But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls." Hebrews 10:39
"We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up." Romans 15:1
"And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith." Hebrews 12:1-2
I am currently at my breaking point, if I do not get out of my house tomorrow I might just have to go insane. Yesterday morning I wokeup with a throbbing headache, sore throat, and the infamous runny nose... yes, the seasons are changing. I have done everything I can think of that involves staying in bed: read, journal, sleep, skype friends, Facebook, Twitter, and now Blog. After I finish this post I have no idea what I will do.
On the positive note, being sick has not really had an effect on me besides that I had to miss one of my favorite days of the week at school. (Wednesdays) Even when I am feeling my worst, I have discovered I can not escape the joy that God continuously fills me with every day. I am so blessed to be where I am, sick or well. I have not a thing to complain about! Tuesday, March first, Ryan and I combined our connect groups for the first time and it was incredible. We had people coming in with food, music, and excited attitudes! The atmosphere was like family and most people were only meeting for he first time. Ryan and I kept glancing at each other throughout the night just shaking our heads in awe that our first connect meeting was going even better than we prayed or expected. God is so good, he has for sure surprised me in many ways each week and it only gets better. We just pray that people would experience spiritual growth like never before in our connect group and that God can use all of us to do big things! We are a like family and it's only the beginning!!
While I was home yesterday I was given probably the best type of medicine, skyping with my family. They were all together for my dads birthday dinner and just hearing from them, laughing, and catching up had it's own way of making me feel so much better. Plus, Dad broke the news that Emily is getting to stay with me here in Australia the ENTIRE month of July! We are so excited and I keep catching myself already planning the things we will do when she is here. Today I skyped with my best friends from back home Mal and Hannah and it made me so happy. Right when I saw them on my screen I was smiling for the rest of the time we talked. No matter how long we go without talking or catching up nothing ever changes. I love them so much. Last week I got to skype with two of my Obrien babies and they always make me laugh. I have just gotten all kinds of love from home lately!
Church, work, and school are my life right now and it makes the weeks fly by. "Colour," the women's conference Hillsong hosts every year, is next week and it seems like just yesterday that we were saying, "Eight more weeks until Colour!" I'm making sure to soak everything in because before I know it, my first year will be over and my second year will be starting! Everything here is going too good to take a single day for granite, it's where the preparation for the rest of my life begins. These leaders pouring into my life and the friends encouraging me are doing so much more than I give them credit for, I am incredibly thankful. I don't think I could ever explain what goes on here well enough, you just have to come see for yourself. :)
After reading my last post, some of you might be thinking.."Hmm it sure didn't take her long to quit the NY resolution." This is not true! I arrived back in Sydney on the 22nd of January and have had no internet connection in my house until this past Wednesday. It has been quite tragic, especially for my family that I normally skype with at least twice a week. If I were an ultimately committed blogger with lots of patience, I'm sure I could have blogged via iPhone... but I am not. Arriving back at Hillsong was like coming back to a massive family. Everyone wanting to get coffee and chat about break. So many people with beautiful hearts that genuinely care about you create a warm welcome home. It makes it so much easier to know that this is where I am suppose to be.
To think that I have been back in "Oz" for a whole month leaves me perplexed. Time goes by so quickly here that everything simply runs together. Getting back and moved into my new place was an adventure in itself. I moved into a room with Marthe, one of my best friends from Norway. We both quickly realized we had WAY too much stuff/clothes. After 2 weeks of organizing here and there, everything magically found it's place.
In Australia, they have something kind of like the 4th of July and call it Australia Day. My friends and I decided it was a great excuse to go to the Northern Beaches, grab a late lunch at Manly, and finish off the day at a favorite place we found to watch the sunset.
It ended up being perfect, with girl conversations, and prayer as the sun went down. My kinda way to kick off the semester. One of the most gorgeous sunsets that I have seen since I have been here.
At the end of January we headed up the coast for Power House Retreat. This was for all students ages 18-25, three days of amazing worship, speaking, and sun. Definitely got me back into the zone before school started. Oh, I think I have failed to mention that it is blazing hot here! Well, recently it has not been as bad thanks to the overcast whether from God. But we had this one week where I thought I might melt into a puddle walking from school to my car. The breeze was like hair dryer in your face hot. I am from Georgia, which is a pretty hot place, but I have never felt such dry heat like this. It is great for days at the beach.. but to be in a house with no AC.. no. You quickly begin to love cold showers and wet hair.
I had many things I was praying about for this year throughout the entire break and God has for sure blown me away. Throughout my first month back he has blessed me with a car, new job, an amazing connect group of girls to lead/disciple, new friends, growth opportunities, and the little things he does each day to remind me he is lookingout for me. Always leaving me in awe for sure. Valentine's Day rolled around and my friend Jennifer organized a night out in the city for the single ladies.. I can honestly say that it was nothing but refreshing to be on my own and single this year. I know it's just another day, but looking at where I was last year and where I am now makes me sit back and thank God I am where I am today. I couldn't be more pleased. We went out for gelato, daydreamed about our futures, and got excited thinking about where all of us will be next Valentine's Day ;) hint hint..? kidding.
I don't think I mentioned in my last post that I decided to become a reader this year. I told myself that I would continuously read throughout the year, when I finish one book pick up another. I have known that I would write a book and have wanted to since I was about twelve years old. So, I have decided I should read more if I want to be a successful writer... makes since. Still going strong, I am happy to say that I'm half way through my second book of the year. It is no longer a forced habit, but something that I look forward to... which was my intention. Over the last two weeks God has begun to lay book ideas and topics on my heart, let the dreams begin! Things like that make me so excited, and I am making sure to write it all down.
I would highly recommend "Radical" by David Platt. It was the first book I read this year and definitely the most challenging/eye opening book I have ever read. He puts Christianity and what it truly should be about into such a great perspective. I am currently reading "In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day" by Mark Batterson. It is based on the story of Benaiah in the Bible (a personal favorite) and he encourages us, as Christians, to be lion chasers. To never allow our fear to control us so that we are able to step out into our full God given potential. So far very good. In the morning I have been getting up and starting my day with Oswald Chamber's 365 day devotion "My Utmost for His Highest" and as a result, I have become a morning person. (miracle) So much wisdom in that devotion and gives something to reflect on throughout your day.
Lately, if I had to describe life in one word, it would be incredible. I am so thankful to be here under such great leadership, surrounded by world changers, and the purpose behind it all keeps me happily pressing forward. God is so good.
"And don't be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God's place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there." 1 Corinthians 7:17 (The Message)
Since I have been greatly slacking with keeping up with this blog over the last couple of months, I have decided that I am going to make it my New Years resolution to blog more. I honestly think that I'm just now getting the time to sit and focus long enough to complete my thoughts. The end of October and beginning of November brought my 19th birthday and exams. Not the best combination, but I managed to finish my first semester at Hillsong with great grades and friends that have become my family. When the big day to come home finally came around, I couldn't believe it. It was definitely the fastest five months of my life and the most inside out changing I have ever experienced individually. Coming home was like a dream. Hugging my mom, dad, and sisters for the first time can not really be explained, I missed them so much. Both of my sisters are like my best friends and I think being apart just made the bond even stronger. After arriving home, I remember thinking "I have over a month to be home, it will feel like forever"and now, moving into my last week in Georgia, I can't believe my return is here.
My break home has been delightful, filled with my favorite families, friends, foods, and church. Not to mention all of my most missed American things. Having no schedule or responsibility for the last two months has been the life. Everything started off well with surprising my family and a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. We even made time for a boat ride and tubing before winterizing the boat! Girls night with the girls who complete me did not take long to organize, they are the friends who will never be replaced... one of a kind. We could be separated for months and nothing would ever change. Caressa and I got a little itch for adventure and decided to go to Laguna Beach California for a few days and enjoyed sunshine, shopping, and Disney Land. Anywhere that I can be a child.. I'm in. My little sister Emily is in her first year of high school playing Varsity basketball, watching her play has been the highlight of my break. We made sure her big fan club was there each game. Seeing how much she has improved in only 5 months blows me away. I blinked and it was Christmas, my first white Christmas! It couldn't haven been more perfect. I definitely caught myself sitting back and thinking "How blessed am I?" multiple times, God is so good. My mom, sisters, and I had a girls day following Christmas in Atlanta and went to Cirque Du Soleil.. so awesome! Inspired me to be a trapeze artist on the side. One week later, I was with my friend John heading down to Pensacola Florida to be with our best friends for New years. Many laughs and fun memories were made, much needed before parting ways for ten months. It seems all of my friends have done a good job of getting out of Gainesville Georgia, our home town. Passion Conference began on New Years day. I can not think of a better way to start 2011, it was incredible. 22,000 college students gathered together in Atlanta to start the year encountering God. If there is any way you can get the messages from Passion 2011 I highly suggest it. Passion was so challenging and helped me establish many goals for the new year. The heart and vision behind that conference is golden.
Reflecting on my break, I have realized that my expectations were greatly exceeded. My goal was to continually grow with God and stay on track while I have been home and I feel like I'm falling more and more in love daily. Adjusting to the difference of environments was a challenge, but reality. My eyes have been opened to so many things as far as my walk with God, where I want to go next, and things that I should and should not be investing my time into. I was given the privilege of speaking to 5 school's FCA programs throughout the break and God is definitely moving and working in the lives of our youth in this area. It is so encouraging to see students that love God and want to change their school. Next Saturday I leave the United States to return to Australia until November 2011. It will not be so easy, I am really enjoying being with my family, but I know Australia is where I'm suppose to be. I am very expectant for what is in store for this year and overjoyed to be a part of a world changing church like Hillsong. Not to mention my home church, Free Chapel. I might not know exactly what is ahead for me, but I do know who is controlling my future and that leaves me with such an indescribable peace. I'll make sure to keep posting what is going on as next semester at Hillsong College begins. I'm hoping round two will consist of zero hospital visits. Ha.
By the way... I joined the twitter world a while back, you can follow me @lindseycrain or http://twitter.com/#!/lindseycrain