New Pages

Everyday, we write a page in our life book. Sometimes the pages look the same, depending how long you live a similar lifestyle. But sometimes your pages start to shift, they get a new theme. Sometimes these changes are slight, barely noticeable. They only way you know something is different is when you look back and see the change. Right now, in the stage I’m in, I have new pages. These pages are totally different from the ones I wrote before. These pages look different, and they sound different. They are fresh, clean, and unhindered. These pages are getting filled very quickly. God is writing things in me that I have never known before, and let me tell you, it is so freeing!

This week has been insane. I looked over my notes, and they alone tell a story. Monday I took 6 pages of notes. I was enthralled with what was being thrown at me, I ate it up and craved more. Tuesday was rough. Our speaker challenged our thoughts on God. I was ticked, to say the least. “Who is this man to falter my image of God?”. Little did I know, Kevin wasn’t faltering God, he was simply revealing truths to me that I didn’t want to accept. And why not? Because I wasn’t taught it before. Wednesday was a slight continuation of Tuesday. We just needed to establish who the Bible says God is. Does God change His mind? Read Jonah. Are God’s decisions able to be influenced by a mere human? Read Ezekiel 4. I didn’t like this. I didn’t like the thought that I, a faulted human, could influence the Creator of the universe. I didn’t like how God had to change His mind, because that, to me, meant He didn’t have the outcome planned out. How could all this happen if God is perfect? The thing is, just because these things happen, God is not diminished. God lets us be a part of future plans by letting us ask for things. God changes His mind because He is gracious, and His previous plans don’t apply any more because nations turn to Him. So just because it turns out that God isn’t who I thought He was doesn’t mean He isn’t still good. It doesn’t mean He isn’t still infinite. It doesn’t mean He isn’t still bigger than I can understand. It means He wants me. He wants for me to offer my opinion. He wants me to know that this relationship we have is influenced by both Him and me. And what about that is scary? Absolutely nothing. So after all this revelation, we wanted to meet this God that we were learning all about. We wanted to meet the Spirit, and learn more about what part the Spirit has in the Trinity. So we did.

Thursday was a continuation of Wednesday. You guys know head knowledge right? Like, I’ve always known God loves me. “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” We rattle that song off from the time we can talk. And it’s so true. But it’s head knowledge. I wanted to know, in my heart, that He loves me. I wanted to let go of the standards I was setting for Him, but still come to Him with expectations, because that’s allowed. We are allowed to expect things from God. Just like you expect certain things from a husband, wife, best friend, or even neighbour. I made expectations for Him. And the beauty of it is that I could never have an expectation for Him that He couldn’t fulfill. The thing is, you need to come before Him with your real self. Don’t come before Him pretending to be happy, because He knows your heart. So I dropped the guard. I told Him what was on my heart, and I was prayed for by 3 incredible men of God. And guess what. HE LOVES ME. He really does. In His own way, He showed me. He told me who I was to Him,  He told me what I’m meant for, and He told me to keep going, keep stepping closer to Him.

Jesus crashed into me yesterday. I finally realized something. All this time I’ve been running for Him. I’ve been pushing things out of the way, throwing stuff around, making a mess of life, and there was beauty in it. Because on the other side of the door, Jesus was doing the same for me. HE was running to me. HE was fighting for me. HE WANTS ME. He crashed into my heart, and it didn’t hurt. He filled me with His spirit, and you would have died laughing at me, because I was so overjoyed. No one could get me to stop laughing. And I didn’t want to. Because He loves me. And that is joy to my ears. So why not laugh? Why not.

Tomorrow morning we’re leaving for Hidden Valley. Two weeks of camping. We are learning Lordship, and then a secret topic! 🙂 The drive is about 2 hours north, so I’ll be sure to make a super annoying playlist for the ride! I’ll be keeping a journal, so I will top you up when I return on the 6th. Sunday my outreach team is going for a hike through the rain forest. We’ll be dropped off and we’ll hike our way back, anywhere from 3-6 hours! We also found out the first stretch of hike for outreach in PNG is 15 hours! So again, please pray for me! 🙂

Here’s my outreach team! We’re pretty awesome. This is at the top of Castle Hill, probably around 6:15am. Like I said, pretty awesome. The back row is Abbie (leader/friend) me, Claire, Lovisa and Sam T! The men: Ben (leader/friend), Pete, Jordan, Roger and Peter. This is as good as it gets! (To see a bigger view, click on the picture)

I hope the pages you write these next few days look more and more like Jesus. I miss you all! Lots of love from Australia!

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

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Give me vision

So, it’s Tuesday. It is Week 5 of lectures. WEEK 5 FOLKS. That means I’ve been here just over a month. I’m not going to lie, it feels like much longer than that. Things have definitely happened in this past month for me. First off, I moved to Australia! I experienced my first cyclone, which is crazy! My boy Evan has doubled his birth weight! (almost) I have learned the enjoyment of prayer. Training has begun (hardcore) for our trip to Papua New Guinea. I have been pushed down, picked back up, defeated and confused. I have relied on strength that does not come from myself, and I have dealt with issues I didn’t even know I had. I have been challenged, encouraged, blessed and filled with the glory of my Maker. And this is only the beginning. Exciting, isn’t it? 🙂

This week we have a guest speaker from Kona, Hawaii! Exotic much? Ha, but seriously. It’s Tuesday, we’ve only had 2 lectures with this man, and already I have gone from pumped about the week, to confused about where I stand in my understand with God, to now, where I am at peace with my Father. We have been challenged, to say the least. Monday, Kevin pumped us up in our relationship with God and what power He holds. Think about sin. How often do we look at sin in a negative light? We hate sin, because it pushes us so far from God. Yet, what it all comes down to is that we actually love sin. Confused? That was me. But then I started thinking about it. If something causes you pain, you run from it right? If something scares you, you avoid it. Yet sin causes us fright AND pain, and we don’t run from it. An alcoholic experiences HUGE pain from their choices, yet they still choose the drink. We love sin. I don’t know about you, but that just about made me sick. So how do you deal with that sin? Do you constantly focus on fixing it? Attend meetings, pray harder to rid yourself of it, get angry at yourself because of it, put yourself on church discipline? Good idea, let’s turn our attention off of God, and focus on our sin. Sounds like a wonderful plan. Maybe not. Honestly, something I’ve found to be true is that when you want to forget about one thing, overwhelm yourself with something else. And that’s the key. If you want to loosen the grip that sin has on your heart, fall deeper in love with Jesus. Love trumps sin. All the time. If someone gave you a choice, would you chose love, or sin? Good stuff, right? Monday was a good day. I took another step closer to my Father on Monday.

Tuesday. Oh Tuesday. Where do I start? Who is God to you? I’m not asking who do you think God is, but He has many qualities, and many positions to fill. We talked a lot about this. God is Creator, Saviour/Judge, Master/Lord, Father, Friend, and finally, He is our Husband. The Bible is constantly talking about how Jesus wanted His followers to take the next step in their relationship with Him, to keep digging deeper into Him. John 15:12-15 talks about how Jesus no longer calls us slaves, because He confides in us. Masters do not confide in their slaves. Friends confide in each other. Jesus encouraged us to jump away from being the slave, and to jump into relationship with Him. How lovely, right? We are Jesus’ friends. We are also Jesus’ bride, but that’s a hard one to convey to you guys through a blog, so I’ll leave that until June.

Flip the switch. Kevin is no longer talking about relationship with Christ. He jumps into common assumptions we make about God and who He is. Let’s rewind a bit. Last year, a friend of mine was on YWAM in Australia as well. I remember the conversation we had because it intrigued me. I asked him how his experience had been in general, and  he said all the good things a man of God would. Then he shook me a bit and told me to be prepared. “Sam, you’re going to learn things that are opposite to what you’ve been taught your entire life. Being able to look these things through and find the truth in them is hard. What’s even harder is admitting you have been wrong for a long time.” Now, I’m not saying he was encouraging me to believe everything I am told, that would be foolish. But I have to look them through. I have to look at both sides of the story, and talk to God about them. All this time I’ve been waiting for these things to be presented to me, and they haven’t come. We’ve dealt with everything under the sun, and I’ve been fine. So I swept that under the rug. Cool, I’m alright, I don’t need to rearrange my thinking. BAM! Bring on Tuesday. Kevin started throwing assumptions at us from all over the church. Things about God and time, the control that God has in our lives, the plans God has, and how we mess them up. These are things that I thought I figured out. These are things I grew up with, beliefs that are Biblical, but then again, almost anything is Biblical if we want it to be. To say I wasn’t frustrated would be a big fat lie. How can these things be assumptions? They’re truths, aren’t they?

I have kitchen work duty right after lunch. We clean the kitchen. Anyone who knows me well knows that when I am angry, I clean, so today that was perfect. I watched my friends get so frustrated with the lectures. “Does he actually believe these things”, “I have proof from the Bible, this verse says this…” “I’m not saying he’s wrong, but don’t belittle my God.” And believe me, I was frustrated as well. But do you know what I saw when this was happening? I saw warriors of God rising up. We got so heated and angry, ready to defend our Saviour, it was infectious. Whatever Kevin’s intentions were for this lecture, they still rub off on us. Even now, 3 hours later, there is a group of girls sitting behind me trying to figure it out. Oh man. This was Tuesday. I’m almost concerned for Wednesday! 😛

Oh, and just so you know, we have started climbing Castle Hill twice daily now. We get Wednesday’s off, so that’s relieving, and definitely needed. We leave for camping on Saturday, so we are driving up to Hidden Valley. It’s about 2 hours away from here in Townsville, and we’ll be gone for 2 weeks! I come back on Sunday, March 6. So you won’t be hearing from me during that time, but rest assured knowing I’m hiking to waterfalls, encountering God, and making great friendships.

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

Happy

So my blog is supposed to be a depiction of who I am, seeing as it is my blog. But looking over my posts, they seem a tad bit, shall we say, dreary? A little to sad for my liking. Here on the base they have this tradition that started in PNG, and seeing as I am going there, I need to get some practice on it. This is how it goes. When someone says “God is good”, your response must be “All the time!” And how true. So true. God is good, all the time.

Clearly this is a time of personal growth. And usually that growth comes from a lot of brokenness and defeat, from which you pick yourself up off the floor and, well, grow. But that’s not always the way growth looks. To me, growth is beautiful. It is finding joy in the small things. When I find a note on my bed telling me I’m beautiful. Hope when I see a small sapling standing strong amidst a field of uprooted trees, proof that there is life after the storm. I feel love when I walk into a room and people smile, not because I bring some kind of material gift, but because they appreciate me as a person. I find beauty in walking around this base and seeing people lying on the grass just resting in God’s presence. When I pass 2 friends coming before their holy, mighty King in reverence and joyfulness.

I witness growth when a young girl learns her beauty. I experience encouragement when I am passed a stone that depicts the strength I have in God. I know the love of a family that comes from all over the world, but has the same Father. I experience humbleness when I learn my short falls, but that my Father is there to help me grow. I feel excitement when my heart is stirred in morning worship. I grow ALL the time. It’s incredible.

I want you to know these things. Not so that you can compare what you feel to me, and if you need to do that, then do it, by all means. I want you to know these things so that you know I serve a God who is worthy. He is worthy of my praise, of my plans, my future, my family, He is worthy of it all. If we went back to the cross, you and I, and sat and watched them torture my Father, my Saviour, I would know full well that if I was the only one who would believe, He would still be there. He would not come down from that cross if I was the only one to believe Him. He would stay there, endure that pain, all for me. So why should I be silent? Why should I be ashamed of this truth?

AH! It’s something that is just pouring out of my heart at the moment. Trust me, I didn’t plan on sharing anything today. This morning started out pretty rough, but He has restored me, and He has filled me. Lately I’ve felt like He was trying to fill me, but I had all of these holes all over me that was letting His love seep out. I couldn’t hold onto it. But not now. Not right now. Right now I am content.

I want to share something with you that I scribbled today during my quiet time. (Yes mom, I am quiet when I try) Its called “Different”

You are DIFFERENT

But different does not mean wrong

It does not mean bad

It means you are unique

Your thoughts

Your delights

Your pains

Your processings

Your talents

Your struggles

But especially your faith. God needs you

He needs you to BE you

Not your friends. Not your family

YOU

He needs your heart. Your patience

Your love. Your smile. Your mind

He needs your passion. He needs your determination

HE

NEEDS

YOU

So. You are different

Live like it. Don’t fake yourself

Be the girl God made. Don’t waste His artwork

Embrace yourself

Be you

Be beautiful

Be different

That’s it. That’s what rushed out of me. I was so wonderfully encouraged today that I am different for a reason. And my faith does NOT need to look like anyone else’s. Now that that knowledge has been imparted to my mind, I am now working on the heart knowledge. So pray for me please? And you can rest assured knowing full well that I am praying for each of you. Specifically at 5 am tomorrow morning, so I hope you feel Him 🙂

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

To Relate

“If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” Matthew 11:37-39

That right there is one misunderstood passage. I don’t know  about you guys, but I’ve read this so many times and immediately thought “God wants me to hate everyone? Hm, I’m pretty sure that contradicts His entire message of life, love one another.” But look further into this with me. Imagine love is measured in a scale. The love I have for my family and friends is 100 pounds, which is quite a bit of love, right? But then on the other side of the scale is my love for God. That love weighs an infinite amount, but for number’s sake, let’s say 99,999 pounds. Now, when you look at that scale, my love for God far outweighs my love for anyone else, so in comparison it looks like I don’t really love anyone else at all, right? That’s what God is talking about here. I need to love Him firstly SO much that my love for others doesn’t even look like love. Crazy, right? That’s what I’m learning about this week.

The theme this week is relationships. Before you say anything, no, they are not pairing us up and deciding who is going to marry who in the class. Sorry. Most of it is very basic, but there are so many things that I’ve known in the back of my mind that are being shoved into the spot light and are being examined. Mainly we are talking about our relationship with God, and how that effects our relationships with others. Ryan, our speaker, talks a lot about King David and his relationship with God. Think about David, someone who committed adultery, murdered an innocent man, then watched his family fall apart due to rape and murder. Now ask yourself, how could someone like that be quoted by God as “a man after my own heart?”  (1 Sam.13:14, Acts 13:22) He fails. Over and over and over again. David strives for God, but fails so often. But in Psalm 27:4 David says “The one thing I ask of the Lord-the thing I seek most- is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in His temple”. David’s heart was tainted. It was dirty, he made mistake after mistake, but what was his heart’s true desire? To dwell with God, to delight in God, and to meditate in His temple. God knew David’s heart, just as He knows each of ours. He knows when we have fake desires, when we are being untrue to ourselves and to Him. And when we finally come before Him and wait, He takes delight in us.

See, when our relationship with God is honest, when we don’t hold back, and when we actually take time out of “our” day to dwell in His presence, He blesses us immensely. A healthy relationship with Him leads to healthy relationships with others. That’s the main reason we have relationship week here, and I’m thankful, and I hope you are blessed by me through this.

2 other huge things that play up in a relationship are trust and pride, but I’ll just touch on trust because it made me cry. Here we are talking about men and women in marriage and what not, and Ryan switches to hardships, and how when we persevere through hardships, we grow closer to God and others. He quotes James 1:2-4, which I have previously claimed is one of my most favourite passages before, and sometimes I regret saying that. Go read it to understand why. Ryan mentioned that God knows best, and in the instance when someone is sick, it is sometimes better to not be healed in the long run. And there it was. A door I thought was closed flings open, and I’m sitting in the front row crying. Why? Because I don’t trust God to know what’s best for my sister and her children. I don’t understand why He would take a beautiful baby from her family, or what good could come from it. But I have to face it, I don’t know what’s best, I can’t plan anyone’s life, and I am NOT in control of anything. Hardships are going to come knocking on our door through every stage in our life. They will be ugly and messy, and no one wants to deal with them. But the only beautiful thing in that situation is that you have choices. You can either choose to persevere and look for the blessings you already hold close to your heart, or you can have a crappy attitude and sulk like no one else has gone through it before, like my friend Job. This just seems to be something God is constantly reminding me of, that He knows best, and I shouldn’t challenge that. Oh what a bitter sweet lesson to learn.

On a lighter note, I have already started preparing myself for outreach to PNG. We are climbing Castle Hill 3 times a week, and it takes us about 40 minutes to reach the top. We need to cut that time in half, as well as climbing it 2 times in a row with 10 kg on our backs, so that should be a nice goal to reach, right? Please, please pray for me! 🙂 We leave for our outreach to Cairns in 5 1/2 weeks, and PNG in 10 1/2, so that is crazy! I’ll be getting some more info tonight at our meeting, so I’ll be sure to fill you guys in. As for fun, we are going to the Billabong Sanctuary this weekend, which is a zoo. So Olivia, I will get to hold a Koala bear! And quite possibly pet a Kangaroo! (Or maybe just her baby)

Thanks for all your love and support! I cherish you all!

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

Did someone say cyclone?

Yes everyone, the cyclone has come and gone. There were a few moments when I was thinking it was heading straight for us, but God definitely had His hand over Australia, and especially Townsville this week. Sunday we had to prepare for Cyclone Anthony, which hit on Monday, but was only a category 2. It definitely set us up for what was coming next with Cylone Yasi (also known as Yoshi to those of us on base who *don’t really care about cyclones*) Anthony was a thriller, but Yasi was definitely the real deal.

I’m sure all of you over there have seen the news, and you know the devastation that Australia is experiencing, but let me tell you one thing, GOD IS GOOD. He kept His protective hand over us, and praise Him, not one person has been killed! Wednesday morning we had a preparation for the cyclone, and we were all sent back to our rooms at 1pm, and told to stay there. In total, we were on “house arrest” for 24 hours. Let me say, I love ALL my flatmates, but 24 hours with 18 girls in 2 rooms and 1 toilet is not exactly ideal. But we made the most of it. We had chocolate, dinner, prayer time, bonding moments. Oh, and the power went off around 6 pm, and came back on this morning around 9! Not a big deal, I’m all for the pioneer life, but not in Australia. The only saving grace from the heat was sleeping on the tiles so we didn’t drown in our own sweat, and opening the door and letting the 120km/h winds into our room. Anyway, we stayed in our room (kind of 🙂 ) until Thursday at 12.15pm, and went to explore the damage done. We got instructions for safety, and split up into groups to assist our neighbours. A group of girls went to help an older lady down the way named Faye. She was prepared to clean her back yard for the next 4 days, but the lot of us finished within an hour!

Some statistics- 30,000 people were evacuated from Cairns, and 3000 people from Townsville as well. In Innisfill, where the cyclone touched down, 1 in 3 houses were completely destroyed! The evacuation center across the road from me has one of its walls ripped off, yes, the evacuation center. AND, 5 telephone lines were down on the street behind us, as well as 2 trees on people’s homes. Palm trees are ripped up, there are trees in the middle of the road, it’s crazy. But we are all safe, and yes, we now have power. Even the thought of that, after 1 day and all those power lines down, we are online! Craziness.

So. I’m thinking of making a t-shirt for some support raising. “I survived Yasi”. Cliché? Yes, I think so. Classes have gone back to normal now, and now I get to keep my mind focused on moving forward. Camping in 2 weeks, outreach to Cairns in 5, and PNG in 7 weeks! I’m excited!!!

Love you all!!

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

Drum roll please…

Alright everyone! Here’s the deal. In this blog post I will reveal where I am going on my outreach. So here it is! I am going to Papau New Guinea! For those of you confused with Guinea, West Africa, PNG is an island nation located directly above Australia. Life there is much different from our life in the western world, but I couldn’t be more excited.

All of the villages we are going to be travelling to are very remote. Remote as in no running water, no type of electricity, very traditional (and frightening) clothing, and 800 different languages. We are going to be doing quite a bit of hiking, and it’s possible that a few of the trails we will be taking haven’t been used in a while. To prepare for the physical strain, my team will be waking up for 5.30 3 times a week in order to hike Castle Hill, which is about half an hour up. Before our outreach, we will need to be able to climb up and down this mountain twice with a 10 kg pack on our backs! The physical aspect of this trip is intense, but add to that the greatness and faithfulness of God, and we’re going to have a rocking 6 weeks.

My team is the most even team of all, seeing as we have 5 girls and 5 boys. On my team my leaders are Ben and Abbie, who have both been to PNG before. Take note, YWAM has not yet sent a team to the locations we are going to! 🙂 On the male side we have Roger, Jordan, Pete (who is a native to PNG!) and Peter. On the good/girl side, we have Sam T, Luvisa, Claire, and myself.

So! That’s the plan. Our first 3 week outreach is aimed at Cairns, and we are not positive of what we will be doing, partly because of our planning, but also because of the massive Cyclone Yasi that is headed straight for the city. Some possible cyclone relief may be in order, but I will be sure to update you as those plans are finalized. As for Townsville, we will be experiencing Cyclone category 2 winds, and loads of rain, but thank Jesus we are on high ground here. Please pray for the people of Australia in general as they have taken quite a beating these past few months.

Thank you all for reading! Love you!

With Strength that is not my own, Sam