Too many topics to put in a title….

When thinking about the title of this post, my mind went blank. How do I string it all together, yet again? If I was filled with determination, I would put this off until I thought of the perfect title, but instead, I’ll just go on ahead and continue writing instead. I have a lot of different, unconnected thoughts rolling round in this head of mine, as seems to be quite common lately. I’ll get through as much as I think you can handle, and save the rest for another time. So, here we go again.

-I am almost 100% positive I’m heading back to work with YWAM. Although the PhotogenX course seems fantastic, I’ve been getting different reoccurring signals from God about my program choice. At this point, I’m being lead to YWAM Kona for the School of Photography I which, although very different from the PhotogenX, still screams God’s glory and gives me a direct way to utilise the skills He has given me. This school runs in January, which for this year is too soon, seeing as I have commitments here that I need to see through and maintain my word to, so I plan to head out in January 2012. For those of you who don’t know, YWAM is a volunteer missions organisation that gives people everywhere an opportunity to learn, grow, and serve Him in all aspects of life. Seeing as it’s a volunteer organisation, everyone who serves with them is required to raise their own support, my most favourite thing to do! (imply heavy sarcasm  here)

Through the next year I have a lot of work ahead of me as far as support goes. My details are not set in stone at this time, and so I won’t begin support raising immediately, but it is on the horizon. The beautiful thing about YWAM is that it’s a tax-deductalbe non-profit, so it offers a wonderful benefit in that regard. If you have any suggestions for me as far as fundraising goes, I would be more than happy to hear them! Coming from a heritage where you work for anything you desire, asking for donations to do something you feel God is calling you into is definitely like swimming upstream. I do see room for growth in humility though in my own life in this area, and have already come to realize that this is just a new way I can involve others in my journey.

-Over the past few weeks, and now come to think of it, this whole year, God has been teaching me a lot about prayer, about sitting down, stopping my normal thought process, and talking to Him. Even better, being silent and listening to Him. Through my journey, I’ve learned more about this heart God has given me, and the drive for prayer that exists within me. A good friend of mine constantly built me up in encouragement, repeatedly calling me a “prayer warrior”. I’ve developed this love for prayer, for those moments of pure honesty with my Father, where I unload the fragile contents of my heart and entrust them to His hands. And somehow, I was delusional and thought everyone felt the same way. I would walk into situations thinking, “wow, we should just pray about this right now”, and when I vocalized that thought, I was shot some very strange looks. For a while I was a bit frustrated, or shocked, at the responses I was getting. To me, praying seemed like the only logical thing to do in a crisis situation. If you’re under attack, whether emotionally, physically, financially, etc, you bring it to the One who can and will handle all of your troubles, right? Not so.

Somehow, somewhere along the way, we lost touch. We started thinking that God was too big, too important, too busy to even consider listening to our little problems. And since God is too busy, we shouldn’t bother Him. We only need to tell Him how good He is, how we trust that He has everything under control. We inform Him of our trust, but then hold back how hurt we are, and how we don’t understand what He’s “doing”. For some reason, we decided what was important to God. Talking to God became like talking to our great-aunt twice removed. You give as little information about yourself as possible, and don’t really expect any advice relevant to your life, let alone some comfort or some real love.

I don’t know about you, but I cling to the words Paul writes in Philippians 4v6-7 where he says:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, in prayer and petition, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”

Or what about Ephesians 6v18:

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”

There’s something to be said about those first few words in Ephesians, “and pray IN the Spirit”. When we pray by the Spirit, we’re out of control. I’m not saying your body is doing things you don’t want it to, I’m saying your mouth is forming words that aren’t your own. In those moments when you’re praying for people you haven’t thought of in months, that’s the Spirit. When all of the sudden you find yourself praying direct, specific prayers for something not on your prayer list, that’s the Spirit. The Holy Spirit prompts us to pray, to press further into the heart of God, and I think that’s a beautiful job. The other day I was driving, and God stopped me in the middle of my “God, please be with so-and-so” and yelled “Pray.Specific.Prayers” If you’re going to talk to God, make it count. Be honest, tell Him when you’re upset and hurting, because He already knows. There’s no point in pretending for Him, He knows your heart and wants all of it.

Talk. Talk and listen. I suppose I should say it the other way around. Listen. Listen and talk. Zeno of Citium, a 3rd century B.C. Greek philosopher, once wrote, “We have been given two ears and one mouth so that we may listen more and talk less.” I think there’s a lot to learn from that. So now it’s my turn to stop talking. Thank you for reading today.

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

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Drum roll please…

Sometimes I read this and I’m just so.. exhausted! So I give you so much credit for sticking with me! I have a few things to unroll today, and I’m not so sure how smooth its going to be, so maybe pause for a second to grab a tea/coffee/anything and then we’ll have a go at this together.

Alright. Back now? Great. Let’s get at it.

So. When I flew home from Australia, I spent almost my entire flight to LA writing. (Surprise, surprise!) And until recently I haven’t really looked back on those pages. Partly because I read too many other books to be reading my old journals, and partly because I have this stupid obsession of only looking forward, when clearly I can and should learn from my past. Anyway’s, for no other reason but a thought from God, I decided to flip back, back to my last day on that beautiful Australian soil. And this is what I found:

SO much has happened in the past 5 months. It has been SO good, to say the most simple thing to close this up. I trusted God when He called me out of school last February. I trusted that He knew what I was doing. I knew the path I was on wasn’t what He needed from me. And now, I’ve found myself right back in the same position. I have so many paths that I can choose. Do I go back on YWAM? What about Africa? Maybe the Youth Centre? Or what if I go to Hilsong? And every time I pray, I ask God for direction. But over and over I get the answer…

“JUMP.”

Pick something.

But what do I choose? Anything. If you pick Hilsong and its not what God needs, He’ll tell you. If you make plans for Africa and its not from God, He’ll make sure you don’t get there. And even, what if you go to school but never pass? What if you fail? Who cares. Would you rather spend an entire life making awesome plans, or living OUT those plans?

I read that and sat, for quite some time, and mustered up the strength to surrender again. It reminded me of camping in the Outback, when a certain Mark Parker yelled at us until we cried (good tears). It reminded me of my friend Cory, staring us dead in the face, hitting us with word that would sting for months to come. “You have already been forgiven, of everything! Why are you wasting His sacrifice by telling me “I can’t.”  YOU can, because HE did.” And here I am, saying “I can’t, because…” I don’t know if this is 100%. I don’t know if I’ll succeed. And it’s all a crutch.

I have a plan. It’s a good, beautiful plan. I know the downfalls of letting secrets out prematurely. But I also know the benefits of having a group of fellow confused friends behind me pushing into our Father, so I’m letting you know what’s been bouncing between my head and my heart these past few weeks. Here goes nothing, I suppose.

In 5 words. Photography. God. Hawaii. Missions. Africa.

How does one go about linking these 5 together? Well.. logically speaking.. you don’t. But with God.. Oh, with God, anything is possible.  (Matt. 19v26) So I’ve been looking into my passions and my talents, and trying to figure out how I can use them. I mean, God’s given me a gift, it’d be wasteful not to use it, correct? And then comes this lovely little phrase.. stumbled upon. I “happened” to stumble upon this website, which lead me to another, and I end up at the YWAM Kona website, staring at the page explaining the contents of my heart.

PhotogenX.

http://www.uofnkona.edu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=343&Itemid=635&lang=en

Please, go check it out. It’s incredible. It combines writing, biblical studies, injustice exposure all into one, while using photography to string them all together. I would hone in on my talents, study in depth God’s word, travel this beautiful earth, and reach out to the lost and hungry hearts of this land.

And yes. It is with YWAM. This coming from the girl saying “Going back isn’t for me. I loved what I experienced, but I don’t need more” What a joke that was. And this is purely an informative blog post. I’m not asking for donations. I’m not saying this is set in stone. I’m just saying this is on the horizon. And I’m asking you to pray with me. For clear direction, for faith to jump at something, for support to get there, and just to say ‘hey’ to the One who makes all this possible.

And I bet you’re wondering how Africa fits into all of this, right? Probably not, but I’ll tell you any way’s. If you know me, you know I LOVE Africa. Could not emphasize that more. And I’ve been torn recently. Do I pursue photography further, or jump right into missions in Africa?  Yes, I do think I’ll be a “full time” missionary one day. Clearly I didn’t think about how God could join those together, silly me. But I’m starting to see how this will work out. I’m have this funny feeling that if I go with this Kona stint, I’ll meet a few people who can connect me with the right places in Africa. So! To Africa with love! And, a camera too!

I think we’ve made it. Over 900 words, and I could keep on going, but that would be cruel. Thank you for reading. Thank you for caring. For taking time to bother yourself with me. Thank you for being constant supports. Even if I don’t know your names, I know someone is out there.  Maybe next time I post I can actually add some insight into your life, but right now, I’m trying to figure me out.

Love, love, love.

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

Freestyle

No alarm clock. Waking up naturally, to a bird or two. But beautiful sunlight streaming in, that’s a must. Even in the basement.

My favourite Australian breakfast. Eggs, bacon and grilled tomato. Add a tall glass of orange juice, and perfection is reached.

A long, drawn out walk in the middle of nowhere in flip-flops. Add my I-pod, with all sorts of music. But enough silence to get me thinking.

Writing a letter to my pen pal, Laurie G. Getting to reminisce on our adventures and beautiful moments.

Having my little baby nephew grace me with his presence. His smile is infectious. Who knew you could be so blessed by someone that can’t give you anything but love?

Spending hours in a book store, perhaps alone, perhaps with a friend who is very patient, and also a lover of books.

Pouring myself out into my journal, learning something new about myself, and coming into a new knowledge of God, and the amazing, selfless things He has done for me. Selfish little me.

Being called on by friends out of many areas… for help, for understanding, for another side of wisdom, for someone who will listen. This is one of the best things I could ask for.

Listening to my new favourite song, I wonder, by Leeland. What about them could you dislike?

Jumping in Pip (my car), and blasting the stereo as loud as I can stand, singing like a crazy person, looking like a crazy person, loving every second of it.

Being ridiculous with my family at dinner time. As much as my mom hates it, it makes me smile every time.

Crawling in bed at the end of it all, and taking in all I’ve learned, all I’ve been taught, all the people who have blessed me, and thinking about doing it all over again the next day.

-Clearly my version of a perfect day is different based on where I am living. If you placed me by the ocean, it’d be much different. More like.. waking up to the waves crashing, sitting myself on the beach in the salty wind, with my Bible and some water. And that’s it. I’d stay there all day. If I were back in Atherton, I’d be walking through those narrow country roads, watching the grass sway in the wind, singing at the top of my lungs, knowing I’m the only one for miles. And if I was back in Africa, I’d drive back to Theocentric, sit on the red sand with those beautiful babies and learn as many handshake games as they could teach me.

What does your perfect day look like? What can you do today to make this day look more like your favourite day?

I know, this isn’t my usual style, this blog. But I’m feeling light and refreshed today. I guess God does that sometimes. Knowing His children He knows when they just need simple, uninterrupted beauty. And today I had a whole download of that. So I hope you’ve still enjoyed this. If not, I guess we’ll try again next time. Thanks for sticking with me.

Much love,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

Dish it

Just four days ago I sat here behind this screen typing my heart out. Words were pouring out like a fountain, I was unable to stop them. But I couldn’t post it. After reading over it about 15 times, I realized that no one else could possibly follow it. My messy heart transformed itself into a messy blog post, and I feel its a bit too personal to display for you. I was rambling, which I’m famous for, jumping from one heart string to another. I suppose I was frustrated. But this beautiful thing happens when I write… I figure it all out. Or maybe I should say God gives me a new perspective, which is SO appreciated. Seriously. I think my family can attest to that. I’m a better person when I’m seeking God out. Duh.

Sunday was a beautiful day, for no particular reason except for God. I didn’t do anything spontaneous or overly exciting. I went to church, left a bit confused, spent some solid time with the family, and then went for a much needed walk. Needed both physically and spiritually. Mostly spiritually. I’ve been lacking in the joy department lately, for various reasons, and I’ve gotten sick of it. So I did what I do best, and I knocked on His door. “God, you’ve got me here for a bit for your reasons. If I’m to do this, I need an upgrade. I’m down with whatever you can dish out to me, but I have a few requests.” And so I rattled them off. Thankfully He knows what’s best for me, and He’ll deny the silly, selfish ones, but let me tell you, does He ever deliver.

I am blown away by God. Completely. He is so faithful. He is the best comforter I know. He sees each tear that slips off my cheeks. When I lack insight, joy, determination, patience, love or direction, all I need to do is ask Him. Today I was reading and came across this too-true chunk of script,

“Think about your life. What are the moments that have shaped you the most? If you were to pick just a couple, what would they be? Periods of transformation, times when your eyes were opened, decisions you made that affected the rest of your life?

How many of them came when you reached the end of your rope?

When everything fell apart?

When you were confronted with your powerlessness?

When you were ready to admit your life was unmanageable?

When there was nothing to do but to cry out?”

That’s from Rob Bell’s book called “Jesus Wants to Save Christians.” Please, don’t ask me what I think of the man and all the controversy surrounding him. What I do know is that this hit me. Big time. And no, maybe I wasn’t at the end of my rope, but I was close. I think. I asked for a few things, mainly joy and direction, and I feel like He delivered big time. And it’s funny, because I’m the type of girl that once she receives direction, joy doesn’t take long to show its beautiful face either.

So, these are a few things I’ve been dreaming of. And most of them are my plans, and interestingly enough, I find a way to rationalize each one of them:

-Return on staff at the YWAM base in Townsville, where I was earlier this year.

-Do a BCC (Bible Core Course) or SBS (School of Bible Study) anywhere on this earth

-Attend the PhotogenX course offered by YWAM Kona    (This one is my dream. Photography, writing, Bible study and exposing injustice around the world, all rolled into one? Check.Mate. Not to mention travelling to 10 different countries in one year.)

-Find myself a wonderful little orphanage in South Africa, fly there, and be Jesus with skin on to those little babies. Oh, S.A. There’s something to be said about the fact that our initials are the same. Predestined? I believe so.

And my friends, the list goes on. School. Invisible Children. Photography. A family of my own.(One day….long from now) My plans are limitless. But why not dream? Why not set my sights high, and see where I go? I understand that God’s plans are bigger and better than mine, but just recently I’ve come into a new heart knowledge of this. So dream I will. Watch out world.

What about you? What would you do with no barriers on your life? Where would you take your kids? Your spouse? Your group of friends? What would you give to someone if you could afford it? What passion have you set aside for something more “logical”, more “successful”, something less you? What would you say to that person you’re thinking about right now? Dream. Please, dream big. Bigger than you could ever think would be possible. Ask God to reveal your talents, your gifts, what you have to offer this world. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Oh! And one more thing. I’m dying to know… who are you? I’ve had over 3500 views on this thing, which is amazing to me. Who knew my thoughts could be so interesting. Please though, tell me your names. Here. On Facebook. In a text. Even better, in real life. Let me know who’s sitting on the other side of the screen. I’d be oh-so-grateful. Thanks.

With Strength that is not my own, Sam