When enough is enough.

I will fight- Exodus 14:14

This line came to me today when I was sitting in class. All of the students were learning how to cut and transition videos, which, although very useful, couldn’t hold my attention in the least bit. “I’ve heard this before… I just don’t remember where.” But I was playing around in Photoshop and fell in love with fonts and colours, the way it all fits together. I’m so sorry that this is boring for you, but being out here doing all this training with the students is awakening my nerd side. So after I had saved this graphic, the curiosity got to me and I found where it’s from- Exodus 14:14. In the past few days God has been calling out to me from the Old Testament, which isn’t uncommon, but seeing as I’m currently stuck in the middle of 1st Corinthians, isn’t in my plan. So I took some time this afternoon to search this chapter, to gather what was going on with the Israelites during this time, and what would cause God to say this to them.

So, the plagues were done. Moses had seen the burning bush, frogs and gnats and darkness, rivers of red and black skies were all done. Pharaoh basically begged them to leave, he had lost his first born, and that was too much for him. So the Israelites packed up their bags, put leashes on their goats (not really, but imagine?) and headed out as fast as they could. But, just as any good story does, there’s a pursuit. Pharaoh realized his grand mistake. “I just let my free work go- how will my kingdom continue to grow? I must go after them. I must get them back.”

I can only imagine the terror in their minds and hearts as they realized the race was on. I personally have a fear of being chased. It doesn’t matter if it’s up the stairs, for fun, or in a game- I hate it. But what would you do if you were the wife of a man who was beat every day. What if yours was the son who was killed in order to stunt the Israelite nation? To know that the one who controlled your life, the one you feared most, was coming to take you back to your living hell. Fear set in, and the people were frantic, and rightfully so. They cried out, they searched for someone to blame, for anyone to point a finger at. They panicked and yelled out to Moses “Why!? Why did you bring us out here?”

This is my favourite part of the story, because Moses comes up with the best response ever. I can imagine the pressure and the panic, and unless it came straight from God, I wouldn’t be able to answer like this. I wouldn’t be able keep it together like this. But here it is, my favourite part.

“Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”        Exodus 14:13-14

We are lucky enough to know the rest of this story. God blows the Israelites minds by providing perfect protection for them, but of course this was nothing new for them. How many times do we read through their stories, their history, their lives, and think “How could you not believe in Him? He sent you manna from the sky! Water exploded out of rocks, He was visibly present in the day in the form of a cloud leading you, and a pillar of fire at night!” We sit shaking our heads, with the privilege to read the beginning, middle and end of each story. Yet how often is this our story? How often do we freak out, concerned about our safety, about not having enough money, enough time, enough love. I, as human, look out and feel like screaming, “He’s better than that! He is faithful always- don’t you remember that? How can you not remember that?!?” But not God. He just gently whispers to us.

Don’t be afraid. 

I will fight for you. 

Just. stay. calm. 

Thank you God, for knowing me better than I know myself. Thank you for knowing my plans, for creating me for a purpose, for placing my feet on the ground with your guiding hands on my shoulders. Thank you God for loving me when I don’t feel loveable, for running after me when I’m too lazy to even think about you. Thank you for the stories of old that are proof that you are who you say you are. You are love. You are glorious. You are mighty and strong. You are generous and gentle, humble and comforting. You speak truth into my heart when I take the time to rest and wait in You. You fight for me when I cannot fight for myself. You fought the ultimate battle, you won the war, and you have given me every single thing I could ever need in order to stand with courage before You. Cast me not away from Your presence, O Lord, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation, and renew a right spirit within me.

Amen

Psalm 73
With Strength that is not my own, Sam

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For my Father

This is a bit different. I’ve noticed my posts have all started to sound the same, which I don’t necessarily like. If you know me, you know I like change, even if it’s difficult. So when God brought this topic to my mind this week, I knew I should take some time thinking about how to word this, how to put this in a way that would best honour my dad. Yes, I’m going to write about my dad, and yes, I have already started crying.

All this week, and really for the past year, I’ve been confronted with the issues our world is facing due to a lack of stable, godly fathers. Boys are growing up without them, not learning how to treat a woman with respect, not learning the importance of defending and providing for a family. I’m seeing girls who throw themselves at boys for attention, because their daddy isn’t around to show them how beautiful and loved they are. I see mothers picking up the slack because their husbands are either working too long, or aren’t doing anything at all. It’s easy to see the hurt and damage that comes from a family that isn’t functioning the way God intended family to.

This week, the students have been walking through heavy forgiveness issues, and a lot of the hurt they’ve faced in their life comes from their family, which of course got me thinking about my own family. I started thinking about the hurt that has happened in our family, but also God was highlighting the blessing my family has been to me, particularly my father. I know I could be in a much more difficult position emotionally if my dad did some of the things I’ve heard this week, and I’ve just realized how important a father really is.

I don’t think we realize how important fathers are, and believe me, I know mothers are so important to, but fathers have a special influence that is irreplaceable. Fathers have an ability to speak life and courage into the hearts of their children, they have a platform to expect respect that is different from a mother’s. When a father is present in his child’s life, showing love and respect, speaking life and encouragement, that child will flourish. I guarantee it.

My dad does these things. He has constantly given me room to grow, to figure life out the hard way, to challenge what I believe. He has prayed with me, he has expected responsibility from me, he has told and shown me how much he loves me, and he’s been ready to go up to bat against my opponents with me since day one. He’s made it terribly difficult, in my eyes, for Kris, because he’s set such a high standard concerning what I expect in a man. My dad is open about his struggles and desires to work through them, no matter how difficult the path may be. I see a side of God working through my dad, a side of God’s father heart that wants what’s best for his children. He’s let me walk onto multiple airplanes to let me figure my heart out, to pursue God. He’s let me go so that I can fully find me, and thinking about my own future children, I can only imagine how hard that must be.

My dad means the world to me, and I think that if your dad has been influential in your life, you should honour him by letting him know that. And I’m not talking about June 17, I’m talking right now- when you can surprise him with a note of encouragement, a text or phone call, or better yet a hug. Let him know how thankful you are that he’s spoken life and truth into you, that he’s been present, even though far from perfect. I think today is a perfect day to start telling the people in our lives how much they mean to us. Care to join me?

Edits (48 of 85)

 

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

Less words- more love

If you skipped that video to get to this, please go back. Just click on that little triangle and listen to the words. “Indescribable, uncontainable, You placed the stars in the sky and you know them by name. Incomparable, unchangeable, You see the depths of my heart and you love me the same.

Like the title says, today I have less words, and I pray I have more love than ever pouring through these few words. I could go into detail about homesickness, I could talk about how this is so much more different then I thought it would be. I could tell you of the challenges, but I will choose instead to tell you these few important things.

My God here is the same as my God there. He is comforting all the time, He is teaching me such important lessons, He is breaking hearts and fixing them in beautiful ways that only HE can do. God is only as close as I let Him get, He doesn’t push Himself on me, He lets me come to Him when I’m ready. And how does He make sure I’m ready? He calls out to me from the depths, He ushers me in to His holy of holies, which thanks to Jesus, is anywhere my spirit rests. God is good, all the time. I am drowning in the swells of His love for me, completely overwhelmed by the fact that He thinks I’m worth it. He’s so good.

I am serving. I’m throwing my heart on the line for people I’ve met only 2 short weeks ago. And even though that sounds scary and irresponsible, they are blessing me and teaching me and welcoming me into a home that was built with love. These students have stopped their regular flow of life for this 6 months. They’ve committed to giving God all they’ve got, and He’s breaking them and making them whole. And I, along with a beautiful staff family, get to watch it and help them get up off their broken and bruised knees and praise God through it all. Ah, sweet surrender.

This photo below was taken at South Point, which is the southern most point in the United States, being at the very bottom of the Big Island of Hawaii. Many of you have seen it on Facebook, but I wanted to share it again. For those who love photography, this was the shot that when I took it, I said to myself, “This is my favourite. From today, but possibly of all time” And that is huge, people! Something about the simplicity of it, the colour tones, the mystery of the silhouette, I just love it. Leave it to Jesus to make a weed beautiful.

Island Adventure (1 of 1) copy

See what I mean? I just love it. Thank you God.

So this turned out to be many more words than I thought it would be. Here’s your challenge for today (you thought you’d get away without it, didn’t you, you sly one? 🙂 God speaks, daily. And He is not limited as to how He speaks. Through nature, through His Word, in a still small voice in your heart, through other godly people in your life, through music. You name it, He can speak through it, that’s how powerful He is. And I can guarantee you, He wants to say something to you today. Our challenge with the world we have made is that we ask Him to speak, and then within 2 minutes, we’re on our way again because “we didn’t hear anything yet.”

WAIT.

Give God time to speak to you. I never doubt His ability to speak, only my ability to hear Him. One verse He has been etching into my heart is Isaiah 41:1: “Listen in silence before me, you lands beyond the sea. Bring your strongest arguments. Come now and speak. The court is ready for your case.” I don’t know the context, all I know is that sometimes, God just wants you silently before Him waiting. So go. Go be silent, listen for His voice. It’s not impossible to hear Him. Jesus says “I know my sheep, and my sheep know me” Do you know your Jesus?

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

My beautiful one

Where do I begin to describe the depth of my love for you? Sometimes the words I use overwhelm you, they swirl around in your heart and mind for too long without finding rest. You are my whole world, and you don’t even know it. When I think of you, my heart skips a beat. I’ve tried to tell you that in a small letter I wrote to you, you know the one with 66 books? I’ve scribbled it in there many times, and painted it all over creation. I’ve created quiet places for you to retreat to so you can rest with me, I’ve intervened on many occasions so you would be at home with nothing to do except spend time with me. That’s how much I love you my beautiful one.

Your heart- oh your heart. It carries so many of the same traits as mine. You are so eager and willing to love people, and just like me, you sometimes get turned away. That heart feels things that others don’t. You see it as a curse, but I’m turning it into something beautiful. When I think of you I cannot help but smile- you are such a treasure to admire. But my love, you are too hard on yourself. You look upon challenges I set before you with exhaustion, as if you could never complete what I’ve asked you to take on. Don’t you know that you are capable? Don’t you know that I have given you everything you need to succeed through my Son, Jesus?

My beautiful one, I see no stain on you. Daily you fall before my feet asking for forgiveness, and I couldn’t be happier than to wipe you clean. But the moment you walk away you’re checking your palms and your knees, trying to see the marks, the stains, the leftovers. They’re gone- can’t you see that? The minute you ask, it’s all gone. When I see you I see strength, deeply rooted in my living water. I see a spirit full of adventure, willing to say goodbye to those you hold so close. I see wisdom, because from the day you asked when you were 7, I have never stopped giving you opportunities to grow in wisdom. I see a heart that is so easily broken, but I LOVE that you carry it to me in your hands. You surely are a wise child, I’m glad my Spirit has taught you well.

My child- every day you live is a new chance to know me better. Every struggle I walk through with you, every blessing I give, every moment of quiet- they’re all there to complete you. I love you with my entire heart, and I know the fear you have of loving too much. Trust me- I know how to love, and I can be quite overwhelming at times, I know, but what a joy- to be overwhelmed with love. Perhaps it will take you a lifetime to know how much I love you, but even then, what you know is just a tiny example. One day, when you are here with me in heaven, you will surely understand my perfect love. No more questions, no more doubts, no more counting yourself unworthy. You will be fully loved in a way that only I can do.

My beautiful one.

One day- you will see how truly beautiful and magnificent you really are. I long for that day even more than you do.

Love, your most adoring Father.

 

^^That right there was an assignment for the students on my school. Susie Childers is speaking this week and gave this to our students, and I thought, hey, I was a student once, why not relive this? And that’s what I came up with. You could read this as a letter to yourself as well, because His heart for you is similar to mine. He loves you, oh so very much, and when you sit before His feet and let that soak in- oh it’s just so beautiful.

Hawaii is new to me. It’s full of new faces, new rooms, new experiences, but the same God. And that right there has been one of my greatest comforts. He is the same here as He is in Canada as He is in Australia- ever present, ever faithful, ever comforting. I have been thrown right away into staffing the V4V school (voice for the voiceless). The day is full of lectures and photojournalism training, worship and prayer, and I’m already overwhelmed, but taking it one day at a time.

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With Strength that is not my own, Sam

Aloha, Ohana and one big beautiful Saviour.

I had no intentions of writing today. Actually, this is the last thing I should be doing. My list keeps growing as my hours tick away, but leave it to Jesus to draw me into His heart in this ridiculous time. I can’t even begin to explain to you the state of my heart in this moment, but I will try because if I don’t, you and I will miss out on this time, and I don’t want that. So I’ll start with the obvious, and move on. I have no plan for this post so it could get messy, but bare with me.

First off, I am extremely excited. I have been gearing up for this for officially 8 months, but deep in my heart for much longer. I am going to another place where God is moving, where He is meeting with people as they step out of their ordinary and up to a calling that has been placed on each on of us who call ourselves followers of Christ- to know Him, and to share our hearts with other people. I am excited to meet new people, people who will challenge, encourage, strengthen and teach me. I am excited to have some serious responsibility placed on me, no matter how heavy the load gets. I am excited to feel the warmth of the Hawaiian sun, to explore new places that scream beauty and creativity and I am excited to say a million “aloha’s” after all these goodbyes. I am excited to fly, and I’m excited to land. I am excited.

Along with excited, I am raw and sad. To avoid this would be a lie, it would be dishonest, and I’d be painting a picture that isn’t real. I have cried more tears in this past week than in my whole life combined, I am sure. My heart keeps racing back to Psalm 56:8 “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” He sees it all. I remember what my mum said to me the last time I left and it was hard, “Be thankful you have a hard time saying goodbye. It’s proof that God has blessed you with people who hold you close. Be thankful.” And thankful I am, but still sad. And yet, God has blessed me with people who meet me in my tears, friends who are also struggling with saying goodbye, family that is selfless and puts their wants aside and let’s me pursue my dreams. I’ve been blessed immensely by a man who perhaps cannot see the bigger picture right now, but is trusting Jesus to lead, speak and bless. I am sad because goodbyes are hard. Being physically present with the people you love cannot be replaced by Skype, Facebook or letters, but I will remain thankful for each of those things because for now it’s all I’ve got.

So, when I left for Australia, my blog was a baby. I had only a few posts on it, and my only intention for having it was to keep people updated and informed on what was going on in my life in Australia. I had no idea it’d grow to what it is now, nor the fact that I’d learn to love writing so much. It’s become a release for me, one in which I learn more about myself and Jesus, and you get a glimpse into this crazy complicated heart. When I left in January 2011, I wrote a post on the 5th of January, and lo and behold, today is the 5th of January as well. Thank you God. Anywho. I left a quote from Donald Miller, a man version of me, and I could cry thinking about the things I’ve learned and experienced in the past 2 years since I quoted him. Here it is:

“And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you, about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it?

It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.

I want to repeat one word for you:
Leave.

Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn’t it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don’t worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.”

If I could write you a list of the things I’ve learned in my life, you’d either give up reading or fall asleep trying, because God has been gracious enough to let me endure struggles and trials in order to refine and teach me. This is the part where I turn to you. Take a look back, even if it’s just the past month, 3 months, 6 months, or heck- go on to your whole life. What has the theme of your life been? What has God been trying to teach you? Are you learning, growing, sharing? God is beautiful. I can’t say it enough- I can’t wait until the day I see Him face to face. This life has been given to you for many wonderful reasons- but the main one is to glorify Him. In all humility, I can look back and say I have been trying to do just that. Yes, many times I fail, but His mercies remain.

Thank you for reading all these jumbled up words. I can’t wait to see you again and hug you. Please don’t hesitate to initiate the hug. sunset

 

With Strength that is not my own, Sam