June 18, 2015

The Path to Here: A Coffee Date

"Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage."
~Psalms 84:5~
Time. We have all talked about what a precious thing this thing called time is. We speak of valuing a moment, and not letting it slip through our fingers. A moment. That is quite certainly what this last year has felt like. In less than a month it will have been a year ago that I embarked on my journey to Sydney - just a girl with two suitcases at max capacity,  a passport waiting to be stamped, and a heart full of anticipation, expectation, and a little bit of fear. 
Little did I know that I was in for the most beautifully, difficult year I have ever experienced. Beautiful because my Jesus loves me too much to leave me the same, difficult because my Jesus loves me too much to leave me the same. 
{:Vivid: The city displays a light show throughout the city:}
This year has been filled with new adventures and moments of struggling to find my way, triumph and heartbreak, victory and defeat, beautiful friendships and loss of loved ones, moments of indescribable opportunity and moments of being hidden in the shadows. And yes, at the end of year one of Bible college I am indeed still the "single girl." {:Which I am actually not even sad about:}

It has been too long since I have caught you up to speed on this life of mine over here on the other side of the world so I thought this morning we would do just that. What do you say? I will try not to go on forever, but just in case I do, I have added some pictures. {:You know form my visual peeps:}

{This picture has no purpose other than the fact
that I ate at Jamie Oliver's restaurant and I ate
all of this bad boy and it was goooooood}
I started my second semester here in January and it has been nonstop since I stepped off the plane from being  back in the States for the holidays. I got off the plane and the next day I went off to a retreat at a beautiful beach two hours away. Retreat is a great word to use to describe the event for those who just attended, but I was in charge of 900 people's registrations so retreat may not be the best describing word for the long weekend.Oh, and can I mention that the computer with all 900 names of the delegates crashed 5 minutes before the doors opened. No pressure or anything! So retreat...not so much. More like a head spinning, capacity stretching, self-pep-talk-coaching weekend. Good news is I made it through and even enjoyed a couple of hours on the beach, because remember February is summer here. It was quite glorious to get on the plane in DC to ice and snow and get off here to beach wether.

The school semester started and it was weird no longer being the "newbies" as a new intake had come in. Classes seemed to start and then we went on a break for the annual Colour Conference where 32,000 women gathered over two weekends. This is obviously a massive event our church puts on and being a college student we all got to serve. Somehow I wound up with the jackpot job of hosting the pastors that flew in from all around the world to be Pastor Bobbie's guests. It was an incredible opportunity to be around such influential and annointed people. But, I think what I gained most from being so close to some of these amazing and legendary pastors is that they are simply people, who love Jesus with all their heart, and who have been bold enough and brave enough to walk the path He has set before them.

You can check out a little recap from Colour here...you know you wanna {:Just scroll down and press play.:} 
{:The view in the beautiful Blue Mountains:}

Then, we were back in classes for a short week and a half and it was time for Easter, another massive weekend in church life. Finally after Easter we had an entire four weeks of class without interruptions before our break. Over the semester break this girl headed off to Melbourne with some friends for a get away. It was a short get away {only two days} but it was a blast 1) going on a trip with friends and 2) getting to explore another part of Australia. We ate amazing food. I fell in love with gelato and Swiss ice cream {you've really got to try it}. I realized I am the worlds worst pool player, and this girl's boots were NOT made for walking the 22 miles we walked in those two days. But, none the less it was fun, memories were made, and clothing was bought at seriously the biggest H & M I have ever seen!

{:Waiting to explore in Melbourne:}

{:Life with these two is a dream:}
In all the business college life brings, I have realized just how necessary amazing friendships are to sustain you. And getting outside the church bubble is a must! One of my favorite trips with these beauties to the right was to the Blue Mountains. The air is fresh, the scenery is amazing, and it makes for the best girl time. As we were driving there I almost started crying because it felt like I was back in the rolling hills of West Virginia. It was such a stunning day, all around. The weather was beautiful, there were waterfalls all along our hike, and we even just stopped for an hour in this little hideout to chat. It was kind of the best.
{:Catching up with my college roommate on the other side of the world:}

Guess what else happened in the last few months?! My roommate from my sophomore year in college happens to be a traveling nurse and is currently living in Brisbane {:about an hour flight north of Sydney:}. I have not seen her since college and reunited with her on the other side of the world 8 years later. How cool is that?! We spent the day roaming the city {:most of the time lost due to my poor navigation skills:} eating yummy Italian food and talking about everyone from college and their "where are they now" tales. It was certainly a pinch me moment for the both of us. When we finally saw each other all we could do was hug each other and giggle because it was so surreal. 

{:On our way to the airport for Melbourne:} 
So yeah...I have now officially finished all of my classes for first year and this week and next week are all about gearing up for Hillsong Conference. Forty thousand people will be coming for a week long conference and I am so excited and expectant for what God is going to do. I have no doubt it is just going to be the icing on the cake of this year! But, before then there will be more girl dates filled with "High Tea" {because thats what the Aussies do}, dinner dates with friends, and Christmas in July with my amazing housemates. Then, I am hopping back on a plane for some quality time back in the States and even a quick trip to NYC. 

Even though all of the trying times, I just cannot believe that I am so blessed to be living this life. I seriously get to take two years out of my life and work on becoming the person God desires for me to be...and being in Australia isn't so bad either! It isn't always easy, but every step has been beautiful while I'm living in His time. I am learning to love much more than the destination; I am learning to love the pilgrimage. 

{:The amazing people in my tutorial this past year ::a smaller class where we unpack what we are learning in our main classes of about 150 people:::}

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May 12, 2015

Specialty Dish

Most people, even the worst of cooks like yours truly, have a specialty dish. It’s that one thing you make that every time you go to a party they ask you to bring. For me, mine is my Funfetti cake cookies.

Then there are those times where you go to a party where the signature chef wasn’t present for their particular dish and someone else tried to step in and make the dish. Let’s be real, it ain’t even close!

When I moved out of my parents house and attempted to cook, amidst serenades of fire alarms and overcooked meat, I began to try my own hand at making some of my mamas dishes. She gave me the recipe for some of my favorite meals she cooked and I would cook them. Even on the slim chance that I actually did everything right, it still just wasn’t as good as mama's.

Ain’t nobody do it like Mama do it!

I think the enemy of comparison is a lot like those dishes at the dinner party. We often show up to the party of life with our Funfetti cake cookies in hand. Then as we walk through the foyer and into the kitchen we begin looking around – homemade  cheese balls, German chocolate cake, bruschetta, apple pie, shrimp fondue, freshly churned strawberry ice cream – and we are self conscious of the simple Funfetti cake cookies we hold in our hands. We try to sneak them into the garbage before anyone notices.

We are overly aware of how amazing everything on the table is, everyone else’s “specialty dish”, that we forget just how “to die for” what we have in our own hands is. The dinner party doesn’t need someone else to bring the world’s best carrot cake, there is already one on the table. We need those Funfetti cake cookies because no one puts just the right amount of extra sprinkles like you do.

This post was inspired by a message I heard a pastor at my church speak on comparison. He had so many brilliant points that just led me to meditating on them this morning. One of the things he said is, “Why are we trying to be like someone else when we weren’t called to be like someone else. We were called to be like Jesus.” Maybe you are Super Spiritual Sally but that statement convicted me.

Too many times I look at the gifts I have, my Funfetti cake cookies in my hand, and think they aren’t good enough to bring to the table. Then in my insecurity I try to make bruschetta like my friend and just end up failing ridiculously because that just isn't my "specialty dish". The truth is if I don’t bring what is my uniquely given gift to the table of the Kingdom dinner party there will be lacking something.

Ain't nobody do it like you do it!

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