Just an Average Day

Sometimes I feel the need to make my days sound more exciting then they actually are. But really, how can you dress up work, dinner, working another job, and then sleep? It just doesn’t make for a very exciting letter back home. I’ve been thinking about it lately, and of course hearing a few sermons on the subject helps, but the same thing keeps coming up. I mean, I suppose if I read through my journals I could see it coming- God has been speaking it to me repeatedly. (Here’s the dressed up version) On a mountain in Papua New Guinea, walking along the beach in Australia, through my journal on a flight back home. All the same thing “Make every day count.”

But how? How do I make every day, even the boring ones, count? How do I make sure that I am glorifying Him while I drive to work, read a book to some cute little kids, edit some pictures, or hang out with my friends? Do I constantly need to be speaking Jesus’ name? Or giving money to the poor? Or even praying as I walk? Because if that’s the case, I fail daily.

Three weeks ago I was in church, and the pastor gave us 6 reasons why the mundane, boring periods in our life are so significant. If you care to know all 6, leave me a comment, but there was 1 in particular that struck me.

In the mundane we learn loyalty and consistency. 

I think this one is especially important for me because the word consistency means unchanging for me. I live for change. I love new people, new places to explore. New hobbies to acquire, new airports to land in. Consistency does not fit well with me- so why is it important? Because our lives are made up of these moments. Every life is a cluster of moments, opportunities and choices. Some are grand and life changing, but most are average and repetitive. If you cannot be trusted to glorify God in the average moments, why would you expect to be given the big, life changing, earth shattering opportunities?

Take heart as you do the same thing today as yesterday. If you are glorifying God, if you are serving others above yourself, if you are holding on to whatever hope you’ve got, keep on going. When you are proven trustworthy with the small, Jesus will sweep in and bless you with big, beautiful blessings. (Matthew 25:14-30)

So tomorrow I will go to work. I will love children that don’t belong to me, I will give more than I can handle, and I will love without reservation. All before serving lunch. Join me?

 

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

Think about your life.

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A Little Piece of Heaven

Sunlight streaming through maple leaves. Walking through struggles with sweet friends. Crying tears of joy after hanging up the phone, remembering God’s constant provision. When God called me back home for this season, I didn’t know what it would bring. I didn’t know the vastness of His blessings, and I suppose I still don’t. They never stop.

I think all too often we search for them- looking so hard to see the blessings, the extra’s. Sometimes I think they’re right under our noses though. I say blessed is the person who knows the abundance of what they have without having to watch it disappear before they realize it. I can’t get over this blessed feeling, and I don’t think I want to.

Last night I went to London to watch the play called “She Has A Name”. It paints the dark, painful story of one girl, Number 18, caught in the cycle of sex trafficking. The playwright wrote an introduction in the program, and one line hit me- “we are all just a degree away from being one of these characters” And how true? Change one small detail about my life, and that could be me. It could be my sister out there, your daughter, your son so confused that he gets himself sucked into that world.

I was asked a question last night about what I’ll be doing when I go back into missions. It is quite likely that I will find myself talking with these girls, loving them back to life, showing them how valuable they are. It’s a dangerous situation- and I was asked if it scares me. I thought about it a bit and probably gave an answer that was a bit confusing.

Yes. It scares me. I’m getting out of my comfort zone, going into an environment that should not exist. I’ll be telling girls about the Father’s love for them, when they only “love” they’ve ever experienced is something they need to earn, and will be beaten if they don’t do a good enough job. It’s dangerous, and yeah, it scares me. But what scares me more? The fact that I’ll be out there? Or the fact that if I don’t go- they won’t know my God? It scares me to think they could die without knowing real love, without knowing that someone out there is trustworthy and has made them with a specific purpose. It scares me more not to go. 

You know, it’s not just a human trafficking issue. It’s not this whole worldly thing where the problem is so monumental that it’s impossible to tackle. It’s really quite simple. The answer came in two simple commandments: Love God, and love others. Loving displays itself in so many ways, and I believe when you begin to love someone the way God does, you get a little piece of heaven. If that means extending a hand, writing a card, sending one extra invitation or hoping on a plane- do it. Whatever facet you have to love, use it. It’s the greatest thing you could ever do. And, biblically, the most important.

Again, I am so thankful for this season. It has stretched me, rocked me, refined me and amazed me. I have made new friends, I have sparked up old friendships, and seen so many sides of grief. I have never laughed more, cried more, or read my Bible more then in the past 12 months. And I can say that it has been incredible. Maybe not always enjoyable- but worth it.

Take a page out of your notebook and fill it with the blessings in your life. Write out what you’ve learned, about yourself, your Father, your journey and the people He puts on your path. Look at the whole thing and tell me it’s not worth it. I don’t think that’s possible.

With Strength that’s not my own, Sam

Just to let you know…

In January I am heading off to the next step of my story! There is nothing that makes me more excited then thinking about the opportunities God is handing me, and where they will lead me! I’ve put together a small write up of what I’ll be doing, where I’m going, and how it all ties so perfectly in to explain me!

What am I doing?

For those of you who don’t know, I spent 6 months in Australia doing a Discipleship Training School with YWAM. On this school I was the student, and when I return, I will be a staff member! So what does that mean? Well, it entails a lot of things! I get to walk along side a group of students as they pursue God’s heart. I will be a one-on-one mentor for them, a friend, advice giver, prayer warrior, adventure seeker and confidante. When the lecture phase is finished, I will be responsible for leading a small group of students on a 3 month outreach anywhere in the world! While on outreach, we’ll be looking for any opportunity to show God’s love for His people, as well as using our photographic skill to expose otherwise unseen injustices, and using our talents to tell the stories of our international friends.

When the school is done, I have many options as to where I could be working. PhotogenX works with a few main ministries, including Voice for the Voiceless South Africa (www.avoiceforthevoiceless.co.za) and Hakani (www.hakani.org/pt) that I could be assisting where I am in Kona. PhotogenX also has produced the film Sex + Money: A National Search for Human Worth (sexandmoneyfilm.com/), which focuses mainly on human trafficking and it’s effects individually and nationally. For my six months that I am not working directly with the students, I will be helping out wherever I am needed, as well as completing the internship training that is required of me.

Where am I going?

This is the toughest one to explain, because most people instantly think palm trees and beaches, and yes, there is no shortage of these things in Hawaii! But no, this was not my first choice, especially not when I have to “justify” why Hawaii. But I have full confidence this is where I’m meant to be! So now that you know that, let me explain why Hawaii is the perfect place to stand in the gap.

Hawaii is a hub between both “worlds” (western world and eastern). Just like how the United States saw it as a prime location to put an army base, God has claimed this land as an in-between area. YWAM’s main base is here on the island, which sees upwards of 1200 students each year. These students are doing entry level schools (DTS’s), as well as attaining degrees, being trained practically in worship, prayer, health care, clean water delivery systems- the list goes on. Hawaii is also a stop over for a HUGE amount of trafficking victims being smuggled into America from Asian countries. If I can stand here on this soil and do my part here, I will take all the eye rolling I encounter! :)

Why is this so perfect?

I truly believe every person has specific talents that God has given them to further His kingdom. Sometimes, as was the case for me, discovering those talents and figuring out how to use them is difficult, but very worthwhile. Some time ago I prayed a dangerous prayer, “God, break my heart for what breaks yours.” He heard it! He has shown me family after family that is broken, and what effect that has on society at large. He showed me the beauty inside each person, beauty that sometimes needs to be coaxed out of an individual. He gave me a talent to display that beauty through photography, and a passion to get out there and do it. I think you know by now that I love writing, to tell people’s stories with words as well as photos.

God has promised that when I step into my gifting’s, He will be glorified. He has promised that as I pursue Him, I will grow to look more like Him, and less like me. This, to me, is a beautiful thing. Each aspect of me will be stretched, tested,strengthened and refined as I step up and out.

Thank you for reading, for taking an interest in my small part of this story. Your support is so encouraging. Truly. If you have any questions, you can email me at shine121photography@gmail.com  I would be more then happy to sit with you and talk, especially over a nice cup of tea. My entire stay (2 and a half years) is completely voluntary- yes- that means I do not get paid. If you are interested in supporting me, whether a one time donation, or monthly (like a sponsor child!), send me an email, and I can let you know your secret benefits!

With Strength that is not my own, Sam