Well that was fun

2011 was FULL. Full of coming and going, new friends and old friends, small babies and big ones, sunrises and sunsets, laughter and tears, of pathways behind me, and wide open highways ahead of me. When I thought of writing about 2011, I didn’t know whether to cry, laugh, or just sit silently in remembrance, willing myself to be thankful. Sometimes it’s easy to be thankful, and other times it takes a bit of coaxing, and this wrap up is one of those times, I suppose.

I can almost separate this year into 2 equal parts, both of them having taught me lessons that I couldn’t get in a classroom. The first half, let’s call it GO, was so much more than I thought I needed. It taught me who this Samantha character is. I don’t understand completely, but I know MUCH more about myself now than I did last year on December 31. GO taught me more about this incredible, intricate, powerful Saviour I serve. GO taught me to love without holding back, even if the love you dish out isn’t reciprocated. GO also taught me how much it hurts to leave everything you know, but that there is peace and incredible safety in my Maker’s arms. GO taught me so many lessons I can’t write them all out, you’d be reading for hours. I loved GO. I cherish every memory, and miss it so much. There’s something about a season in your life when you leave all you know, you’re wide open, ready to learn anything you can. Because of the sacrifices I made in order to get there, GO had a long way to prove itself worthy, and thankfully, that proof is still bearing fruit. That was GO. And now, for STAY.

STAY and I did not have a very good relationship these past few months. It started off nice, but quickly went sour. When I landed back on this sweet Canadian soil, I received STAY with open arms. With it came my beautiful nieces and nephew, my family that I missed so much. STAY gave me my friends, my possessions, my comfort and my familiarity back. All these things I missed so much, I thought I’d never grow to take them for granted again. How wrong could someone be? As the months passed, I began to resent STAY. My questions to my Planner became more of a book report “When can I go? Where am I going? Who am I going to be with? Why do I have to stay here now? How can I make an impact here?” Gone were the sweet prayers of “In Your time, God”, I was back on track with being my old impatient self. STAY, in its own way, has taught me all the lessons I never wanted to learn. That His plans are bigger, better, and higher than mine. (Isaiah 55) That I need to rest in the Lord, and stand in silence before Him. (Isaiah 41) I was taught that I need to stop talking so much, and listen a little longer, a little harder. But I was taught good things too. Even if no one completely understands me, they still try. Even if I seem like a misfit in my family, they’re still my family, and it wouldn’t be the same without me. I learned a passion for photography that started long ago, but has finally been given room to breathe, grow and flourish. And everyday, when I’m open to it, God’s been calling out to me, giving me words to speak, prayers to pray, and love to give.

I could easily pick a favourite. I mean, who wouldn’t love to be in Australia and Papua New Guinea when there’s a snow storm outside your window? GO is me in a nutshell. Unpredictable. Adventurous. Confusing. But free. I’ve learned from both, absolutely, and I think God meant for this to happen, so what I learned in Australia could be applied here. You’re given a responsibility when you’re given knowledge, I see that now. Maybe I don’t always like it, but I see it.

So, 2011 is over. GO and STAY have come to a close, and now, I walk into a whole new chapter. It may only be a different number, 2012, but I see it as a chance to grow, to learn, to plan, and to love. So yes, I’ll confirm it, 2012 will see me on a few planes in a few new airports. I am planning on heading to Hawaii at some point to the YWAM base in Kona. It could be for 3 months, it could be for 6, it could be for more. At this point I don’t have specifics, but I have this. I’ve come to the realization that if I want friendships and relationships that look more radical than average, than I need to apply that to my life first.

And how like God to give me a plan that doesn’t officially “start” for another half-ish year? Another waiting season, I suppose. Care to join me?

Ah, maybe I’ll give you a few pictures of this last little mini-season of my life. Enjoy. Take some time to figure out what season you’re walking into, you’ll be surprised at what you can learn. Peace.

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

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It’s funny how God catches our attention sometimes. As you may know, I just returned from a short, yet blessed, 3 day trip to Pennsylvania. I was there catching up with a few friends that I met in Australia… and it was exactly what my heart needed. Being a social trip, I didn’t intend wholly on doing much outreach, but those Americans have a way of sneaking Jesus into you before breakfast, at least, the Americans I know 🙂 So as it was, we were out the door by 7, headed off to a Bible study in the E-Town public high school. Seeing as the speaker was also our host, I tried especially hard to pay attention, but based on his topic, I didn’t really need to try.

Have you ever gone to a restaurant, read the menu, smiled, and then walked out feeling satisfied? Probably not. Sounds like a ridiculous idea, doesn’t it? We know what we want, we order it, and we gladly receive our meal. How many times do we do that with God and His Word? God knows what we need. He knows the desires of our hearts, yet we sit and look at what He’s offering, then turn around and walk away. What do you want? Where do you want to go? What do you want to do for God? Order up! God has so much available for you,  such amazing plans, but we reject them simply by not asking.

“What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong- you want what will give you pleasure.”              James 4v1-3

You don’t have what you want because you don’t ask for it. Sounds like the story of my life. God’s put option after option in front of me, and I’ve looked at each of them and said “That could work, but first I want to…”  I think its about time that stops. Slowly I’ve come to realize that I need to go. I’ve had confirmations all over the place, from people near and far. And setting down my own plans has taken longer than I’ve expected, but has happened nonetheless. I’ve come to realize that if the things I want are from God, then He’ll make them work in my life somehow.

In light of all the thankfulness we are expressing in this season of Christmas, I want to encourage you to ask God for direction for your life. No matter if you’re deciding where you’re going to school next year, or what to do with your family situation, God wants to be part of it. And when you find yourself frustrated, wondering why God’s holding back on you, go recheck and make sure you’ve been asking Him for the right things.

I’ve gone through a bit of YWAM home-sickness lately. Funny, about this time last year I was dreading hopping on that plane. Too much was happening here with my family, the realness of my trip was hitting home, and I easily could have emailed Ben to tell him “no dice, I’m out.” It’s hard to imagine what my life would be like if I actually did that. My heart would still be asking those same old questions. My walk with God wouldn’t have grown, my view of God would be even smaller than it is now. And even though I don’t know exactly what my task is, I do know what my goal is. My goal, and yours included, is to dig. Dig into the heart of God to find your purpose. Not to find your own purpose and ask Him to bless you in it, but to ask HIM first. This is part of my New Years resolution, so you’ll most likely be reading a lot about this in my blogs to come.

On another note, small plans are coming together concerning my grand return to YWAM! Times, locations and school details are yet to come, but know this: you are involved! I’ve got photography fund raisers, support letters drafted, graphic designers warming up, and some delicious dinner party ideas formulating in my mind. I’m embarking- again- on an adventure, and want you there with me. My blogs will eventually be much more informative concerning what I’m doing, rather than what I’m dreaming of. So if you’d like, there’s this nifty little button you can press that says “follow”.. press it, I dare you. It’ll send you an email when I write so you’ll be informed on what’s going on!

Thanks again for reading. We’ve almost made it a full year and 36 posts! I’m excited to see where the next year brings us.

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

Surrender (suh-ren-der)

Surrender-verb- to give oneself up

So. I threw that last post out there a while ago, received some wonderful, much appreciated feedback, and then…nothing. I didn’t receive this overwhelming amount of peace from God. I didn’t have confirmation after confirmation that YWAM is my absolute choice. I didn’t instantly regret being honest, nor did I wish I could delete every word written. But I also didn’t have a pit in my stomach, telling me it’s wrong. I didn’t have heaps of resistance, or nervous anxiety attacks. And, being an analyzer, I don’t know what to do with this. YET. All of this is leading me to one place. A beautiful place, one that I am becoming very familiar with, and is becoming quite like a second home to me. I am being lead into my own, big, wide open, neutral territory. I feel as if I’m back in Hidden Valley, staring at the tall grass between the hills, a valley, yet one that’s big enough to breathe in. And for now I’ve found my own log to sit on and bask in His presence, letting the sun warm my face. Sweet serenity.

One thing I’m learning, which isn’t always easy (for me, or the wonderful people in my life), is that my life is always better when I’m surrendered. For a long time I thought that meant on the go,heading anywhere, ready to hop on the next flight, no matter where it was headed. But I have been wrong, Oh, so wrong. Surrendered means many things, 5 to be exact, according to the dictionary. But of course they are all strung together, the theme being getting rid of yourself. Ditching you. Learning a bit of relinquishing those rights we cleave to so tightly, submitting to Someone who knows more, knows better, and knows US better than we know ourselves. It sounds beautiful, right? Refreshing, freeing, airy and comforting. Than why is it so hard? Why do I hold so tightly to these things? Why do we encourage one another to “figure out where you’re going”, without inviting our Planner in? Clearly, I have many questions. And like you, I have way less answers. But, I have more answers today than I did yesterday, because of the grace God sprinkles on me every morning.

So, I’m here to inform you that I’m surrendered. And I need you all to hold me accountable to that. Clearly, photography is in my blood. I visualize photos in my sleep, seeing beautiful eyes staring back at me through the lens catches on my heart a bit. To learn how to use this gift practically would be amazing. So I plan, on a Rock. It’s not in cement, but it’s on a Rock. The Rock can move me, He can redirect me, He can sustain me to stay right where I am. But I’m living on HIM. On the days where I’m sure of my calling, I remain surrendered. And on the days where I wonder if this, Canada, is home forever, I remain surrendered. When I am unsure, when I am determined. When I am overjoyed, and when I’m an awful person to live with, I remain surrendered.

I was reminded by a wonderful friend this weekend to bloom where I’m planted. That doesn’t mean you always know exactly what you’re doing, or why, but you have to do it anyway’s. I always find myself wondering exactly what I need to do, specifics, details, the whole lot, and sometimes we don’t get those. But ask yourself this question when you feel God placing something on your heart. Would it be wrong for me NOT to do this? I kind of feel God calling me to YWAM again, but would it be wrong if I didn’t do it? At this point, no. If I didn’t go, I don’t feel as if I’d be breaking some sort of treaty between me and God. But in that time, I’m urged to search for what that one thing might be. And right now, it’s love. It would be wrong for me NOT to love. Maybe that doesn’t require a university degree. Maybe I need no specific job training, and I’ll receive no honorary job titles. Perhaps loving doesn’t come with a salary, a work schedule or specific demographics. But at this point, I need to love. I want to. I’m called to. I need to. I will.

Hopefully you can feel that as clearly as you can read it.

Each of you, known to me or not, is loved unconditionally. I want to apologize for the times where I have not conveyed that properly. I ask for His love and my heart bursts, the love is uncontainable. In your own moment, go to the Father. Go to the one who always has your best interest at heart, and ask HIM for love. With the love comes a whole slew of other blessings. Peace. Joy. Direction. Provision. Healing. You know how I feel about love, so maybe I’ll end it now.

Thank you for walking this road with me. Sometimes it feels like a mixture between flowing meadows and a dry wasteland, but in each step there is knowledge, and I’m thankful you’re walking with me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With Strength that is not my own, Sam