If you never visit me here again on this site, but you read this, I’m ok with that.

This morning I did the unforgivable. I skipped church. Actually, my beautiful church family is probably starting their sermon right about now. I’m sad I’m not there, but I’m thankful I’m home. After everyone left, I had quiet. All I could hear was the faint ticking of the clock, and the gentle water hitting the ground outside the window as snow melts away.

A few days ago, I started thinking about 2014. Now I can hear you already, “Sam- be in this moment.” Be calm- I was only thinking and asking God for a word for 2014. Last year in December as I prayed about 2013, He told me that this year would be “hard, but good.” This year, I gently asked Him for something different. “Maybe not so hard this time? Please?” But He’s the almighty, and He carried me through this year, so He can carry me through anything.

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In case you’ve been looking around here, and you’re missing me, remember to head over here. I’m not posting here on this blog anymore, so be sure to subscribe over there to see more photos, and read more words. Today’s post is a good one!

 

Much love,

 

Sam

I’ve moved..

Ever get those moments where your whole life seems to hinge off of one detail? Like- if I don’t get this job, then I can’t make my car payment, and then I won’t have a car, which means I won’t be able to get a new job, and then I’m jobless and carless. Or how about- if I don’t date/marry this person, then I’ll be alone for my whole life, and people will never stop looking at me with those sad eyes, or asking me if there’s “anyone on my radar”………

 

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If you love me, and love reading what I write.. I’d like to invite you over here, where I will be writing from now on. I’ve so enjoyed this space, but realized the need to combine my art into one space, and the other guys won. I hope you’ll come and join me! If you scroll to the very bottom, you’ll find a spot to subscribe, so just like on here, every time I post, it is sweetly delivered right into your email.

Thank you for your dedication to me!

 

Samantha

More photos, more thoughts, less words

This week, as well as last week, I’ve been practicing my decision making skills. As it turns out, I’m not as skilled as I should be at making decisions, and so it’s been more challenging than it has to be. Thankfully, I’ve found a beautiful escape in nature here.

Last week’s decision: what visa do I apply for? And, based upon that decision, what forms do I need to apply for? This lead me to rushing a long form birth certificate in the mail, and booking a train trip to Ottawa next week. Discovery: be thankful for spontaneous adventures, and for friends who are willing to help you out.  Lesson learned: God has it all in control- even the boring, legal bits.

This week’s decision: Do I apply for a 2 year commitment to Amsterdam? As a sweet friend reminded me this morning, “2 years is a long time, but it’s not a lifetime”. Noted. Now to continue to pray, and then fill YWAM Amsterdam in on the spider web decision making process that is my brain. Your prayers are appreciated.

This week’s blessings: painting a room creates a brand new space, and opens up a fountain of creativity. Leaves that fall outside my window. Doing a job I love, for people I love even more (yes, Michelle, I mean you). Quiet time with Him. I’ve been quiet around Him lately, but decided (and recognized the great need) to walk back to Him and sit with Him a while. It was quiet for a bit, but not too long. I like to think He wanted to enjoy the silence of us just being there together. Together. What a beautiful word.

Thank you, my beautiful reader, for listening to the ramblings of my heart and mind. Please leave a comment and tell me what the blessing and decision and concern for you is this week.

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

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Alive

thankful

 

I had plans of making this really beautiful collage of photos. Photos that represented people, places, things and experiences I am thankful for. I had plans, but then I decided to be with those people, to talk about those experiences, and to add to the list of places I’m thankful for. I spent the day with my sister, and then joined my dad in the tractor and relived a bit of my childhood. I realized today that the smell of a John Deere tractor never really does leave the memory space in your brain. In traveling, I’ve come to really appreciate this time of year. Yes- it is beautiful and cozy with sweaters and scarves and leaves changing colours, but it’s the holiday of Thanksgiving that is so beautiful. A day dedicated to making you stop and reflect on the things you’re thankful for. Here’s my list, in no particular order, and totally incomplete. I could be here for a while if I listed them all.

Thankful for:

A country like Canada to call home. It’s vast, it’s beautiful, it’s safe, and it holds so many of my memories. I’m thankful that I can contact my local MP to help me out with legalizing forms, that we have a government that cares about us (really, we do), that our backyard is nearly a national park, and that I can really hear people yelling “Thanks for stopping by, eh!” I love it.

I am thankful for handmade cards and letters, transformation, music, tea, thrift store finds, the smell of a field, living in a new place, and my bed.

Travel. It has opened my eyes, and my mind, completely. Traveling the world has helped me see my home with new eyes, to see “familiar” people groups with a new understanding, more compassion, and a more simplified mindset. Although traveling has opened my eyes to a lot of pain, it has showed me that simplicity is incredibly beautiful. I’m thankful for the ability and privilege it is to travel the way I do, with the people I do, and how it is making me a better version of myself.

I am thankful for my people. I could say family and friends, but really, you’re one in the same. I’m thankful that no matter where I live, God brings people into my life that challenge me, bless me, and teach me. You make me laugh uncontrollably, cry at your pain, shake my head around when I’m becoming too selfish, and question my beliefs in a great way. My people come in all different shapes and sizes, and as young as 2 to as old as 85. My life would be pointless, boring, and quite lifeless without you, and I am blessed beyond belief to have such incredible people to invest in me.

I am thankful for food, sunshine, tea, handmade journals, scarves made by my mum, nap times, toddlers learning new words, biographies.

I am thankful for the challenge and blessing of loving deeply and letting go. I am thankful for it because each time I do, each time I allow my heart to cling to another, my eyes are opened to a new perspective. I am thankful for it because each and every person on this earth deserves to be loved, and in that moment, He has chosen me to be the one to love them. I am thankful (and must choose this one daily) to let go of the ones I love. Thankful because, by being loved, they now have the ability and knowledge to love others well. By letting go, I release them to go where they are being led, and His love gets to be spread to more people. I’m thankful this is a challenge, because I grow most when I’m challenged, although I never desire the challenge.

I’m thankful for education, for Canada’s health care system, for a strong Dutch-Canadian heritage, tea, nail polish, tax returns, beautiful nieces and finding money on the ground.

I’m thankful for the past 10 months. When I look at the state of my heart on January 6, I can’t help but realize a softening, a maturing, and a subtle growth in myself. I walked into this journey quite naive, and although I still believe I’m naive, my eyes have been opened. God has opened them to more of what He sees, which is pain, brokenness and evil, but even more joy, hope and restoration than my small mind could ever comprehend. I’m thankful that I said yes when He asked me to pack that first suitcase, no matter what or who it meant I was leaving behind. I’m thankful that He is more committed to my plans than I am, and I’m thankful that He led me gently as I resisted so often the destination He was guiding me to.

I’m thankful for harvest, Thanksgiving, fog in the morning, old and new friends, hopes of a new camera, Amsterdam, road trips and brothers that make me laugh until I cry.

Take a page in your journal and write out what you’re thankful for. And if you don’t journal, start. I’m serious. The way I’ve seen God answer prayers, provide miraculously, teach hard lessons, and bless incredibly is all recorded for the past 3 1/2 years. Each time I read them, I stop and thank Him for how beautiful He is, and for how He uses me and blesses me along the way. I’ll add that to the list. Journalling. I’m thankful for the reminder it brings that He is good, all the time.

What are you thankful for?

With Strength that is not my own. Sam

Just 5

 

I’m giving myself 5 minutes to write this. I want to let you know what I sound like when I’m not  “perfectly” edited (although I know there are flaws on this thing somewhere). But I figured I don’t want to produce this perfect life, this perfect view of a life as a 23 year old, “galavanting” around the world as she pleases.  So here I am, unedited, just letting you know what’s going on with me.

This week started off… strangely. Sunday morning I woke up feeling like I didn’t belong. Like I didn’t belong here in Canada, that this wasn’t my home anymore, that I don’t really have a home anymore. Instead of doing what I should have done, I wallowed in those feelings for far too long. I tried to journal, but really didn’t want to process any of it. I was stuck. Frankly I can’t even tell you how I got out of it, although I’m sure it was God pushing my thoughts around. Monday and Tuesday were full of running around. I’m so blessed to have so many people that want to see me, I actually had to sit down and write out a morning, afternoon and evening schedule so I didn’t overlap people. (I love my people- I want to see them all). My wonderful sister is giving me work to do, painting her…life, which I’m so thankful for, to have something to “do”.

Tuesday I almost went into panic attack as I realized I need to apply for a working holiday visa when I land in the Netherlands, and of course, I don’t have the required documents to apply for that, so I’ve been trying to race around and apply here in Canada for those documents, all the while missing my friends, painting, visiting, and filing taxes (which is a story in itself- a good one!).

So, stresses from this week:

Visa’s

flight prices

feelings of not belonging

wanting to plant somewhere

 

Blessings from this week:

tax returns of a lifetime

pastors with camera connections

another monthly supporter

friends that love out loud (KJ- special shout out to you)

Mentors that will put it to you straight, and tells me to get over myself

God has everything in control, whether I recognize that or not.

 

And that is my 5 minutes unedited. I don’t know how often I’ll do this. Maybe it’s a one time deal, maybe it strikes a chord with you and I do it more often. I just want you to know I’m real, and not every day is perfect travelling this beautiful planet.

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With Strength that is not my own, Sam

 

 

 

 

Here and gone again

I’ve been home for a week and a half. Of the 10 days I’ve been home, I’ve probably cried on 7 of those days. Tears thinking about the past nine months and how challenging they were. Tears because saying goodbye is not on my list of favourite things to do. Tears because I’m moving again, and even though it’s exciting, it means starting over again. Tears because I have seen and felt God move, and it has blessed me.

It’s been very subtle, my plans for the next few months. I’ve sent out an update with the news, but I’ll clarify more what my bright and shining future looks like, and how I’ll need you. Trust me, I will definitely need you.

Last year in August, I was standing on the shore of Prince Edward Island, with my feet in the very cold Atlantic Ocean. At that point in time I was fairly certain I was heading back into missions full time, but wasn’t able to communicate with anyone who could help me out  with that in Kona. I was desperate, and wanted a “yes!”, or “Go to Kona” from God when I asked Him what to do. Instead of the answer I thought I needed, He gently spoke to me and said “Look for me in the darkness, for I’ll be there- shining my light.”

If you know me, you know that “my word” is shine. It’s what I want to do- I want people to look at me and see Him shining through. I want Him to light my path, I want His joy- even in tough times- to shine through. How fitting that He spoke that to me. So over the past year, as I’ve looked at some very dark places and situations, I couldn’t help but notice that He was already there. He was working, He was shining, even if very dim, He was there. I prepared myself to work with prostitution ministries, to be face to face with His beautiful sons and daughters in dark places, and although I have learned a lot, I haven’t been on the front lines.

Until now.

In early November, I will be packing- once again, but this time I’ll be leaving my sun screen and bathing suits and shorts in exchange for boots, a bicycle and some thick sweaters and jackets. I’ll be moving to the Netherlands to work with YWAM Amsterdam’s ministry, named The Lighthouse.  When I packed to leave for Kona in January, I had no idea this is where He would lead me, but I’m slowly learning that God’s ways are better, and He is trustworthy. I could tell you a whole bunch of heart wrenching statistics, but statistics don’t do much unless you know there is a person behind the number.

If you would like to learn more about The Lighthouse, click here. The Lighthouse partners with Not For Sale, an anti-human trafficking organization. I’m still in the process of finding out exactly what my role will be in supporting this ministry, but I encourage you to read up on the prostitution industry, not only in Amsterdam, but right where you are. No one wants to find it, but in this case, when we decide that ignorance is bliss, our sisters slip through the cracks.

This is where I’m headed. Each time I pray, God only gives me enough direction for November and December. This is two things- frustrating for me because I’m tiring of planting and being uprooted, and exciting because the future is wide open.  There are two things I need from you, my beautiful reader. One, and honestly my most needed and important thing:  I need your prayers. I have no idea what I’m walking in to. This is a world I have tried to overlook and avoid, and I know that beautiful things can happen in dark situations, but it’s tough. Please, keep me in your prayers, even pass my name on to your friends and family, the more the merrier! The second is for you to consider and pray about, but I am hoping to be able to increase my monthly support. If you would be able to sacrifice $20, $30 or $50 a month, please consider supporting me. What I do is entirely supported by donations, as I’m not legally allowed to work in either America or the Netherlands. Please pray and see if you would be able to join me.

So, there it is. My little announcement. I’ll still be around in Canada until around the first of November, so if you’d like to hang out, let’s grab some tea and chat! Thanks for reading this monster!!

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

God, I don’t feel you near

Faith is a journey. As much as I hate little cliché sayings, this one is 100% true. Faith in Christ isn’t something you experience once and put on the shelf. Your faith isn’t something that you talk about in the past tense, “oh that time when I had faith…”. Faith is present, and it’s alive- it’s what makes us come alive.

At times I forget this little fact, and when I do, my life becomes very exhausting. I become very anxious “Why does He feel so far away?”. I become ungrateful, “If I was somewhere else, doing something different, with different people, then He would be closer.” I blame my surroundings for my “lack” of faith, when- although a big factor, my surroundings cannot take away my faith.

If faith is a journey, we could compare it to a road trip, right? We get in the car all excited- we have everything we perceive we could need. We’ve got the snacks and map, we have our friends, we have music, fuel, excitement, and we’re filled with passion and vision “This trip is going to be awesome!” We yell out that “This is about the journey, not the destination!” It starts off great- we know where we are as we are leaving our own driveways. We know our town, so we don’t even really need the map to direct us. The tank is full, the snacks are fresh, we are happy!

Somewhere along the line though, we get lost. We take the wrong turn and end up off the map. In our mind, we may as well be in the middle of India, that’s how lost we are. But what’s generally the first thing you do when you’re lost? If you’re not a man, you pick up the map or jump to Google maps to find out where you are, so that you know where to go. You find your way again, and then you head out, knowing that getting lost a little is all part of the journey. Sometimes you learn the most about your friends and your surroundings by being a bit lost, even though no one really tries to get lost.

How similar is your faith, then? If your faith is like a road trip, there will be times when you feel empty and frustrated. You’ll feel sick of the people around you, you’ll feel like you took a few too many wrong turns, and you’ll definitely feel far from God. When you don’t see Him beside you, it’s easy to think He’s not there. But just like in your car, just because you can’t see the coast doesn’t mean you won’t at some point. You know you’re on the way, and sometimes you need to keep going because the map says you’re on the right road, whether you feel like it’s right or not.

Long story short, faith is hard. Trusting in Someone you can’t see can be difficult, and following Someone who wants to teach you how to be wise and make wise choices is harder than following a handbook or rules. There are many times where I feel far from God, but like those cheesy, cliché church signs say, “When you feel far from God, take a guess- who moved?” And it’s always me. I like to spin it and say “But I don’t feel Him, so He must be far.” But can I have faith, even if I don’t feel Him? Is “feeling Him near” a requirement for my faith? Because really, how much strength does your faith need if you always feel Him? When you think of a baby learning to walk, you may as well be 10 meters away if you’re not holding their hands, even if you’re 10 centimetres in front of them. Are we the same way? If we don’t feel Him, then He’s not there?

I’ve been encouraged by John 10:14 since being home. I too have been having those feelings (that everyone gets), but He’s taught me in the past (in the “easier” seasons), that His word is absolute truth, and when I don’t “feel” Him, I can know that His word never fails. Jesus has just finished one of His famous parables, and of course, not many understood. (He did this on purpose, by the way, but that’s a different story.) So He’s explaining Himself, and says something beautiful. Context: you and I are sheep. We’re the ones who lay down our lives to follow our shepherd. If you’re not ok with this, you need to take that up with Him.

“I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and my sheep know me.”

Someone who created me, who knows me. He knows me when I don’t even know myself- I’m sure you know the days.

Back to faith, and then we’re all done. If you check out 2 Peter 1, there’s a sweet little verse (5) that says to “supplement your faith”.  Add to your faith. Wait- game changer! This faith, which you and I have been given ( 2 Pet. 1:1) by God, can be added to. With what, do you ask? Well, let me tell you. Good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love. Looking at all of that at once seems overwhelming, but start with your faith. Start in the beginning, and ask Him “God, what can I work on today?”

And I’ll leave with reminding you that satan hates when we believe truth. He is the master of lies, that is his nature. So if you’re like me and love to kick satan when he’s down, start declaring truth, even if you don’t feel it. Declare that “God is near” (Psalm 145:18). God has a plan for all of this (Romans 8:28), even if we mess it up a lot. You are His sheep- you know Him and He knows you (John 10:14).

He came to give you life, and life to the fullest, yes. And sometimes that includes a bit of challenge. Are you up for it?

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With Strength that is not my own, Sam

 

P.S- A Bonus for you: