Alive

thankful

 

I had plans of making this really beautiful collage of photos. Photos that represented people, places, things and experiences I am thankful for. I had plans, but then I decided to be with those people, to talk about those experiences, and to add to the list of places I’m thankful for. I spent the day with my sister, and then joined my dad in the tractor and relived a bit of my childhood. I realized today that the smell of a John Deere tractor never really does leave the memory space in your brain. In traveling, I’ve come to really appreciate this time of year. Yes- it is beautiful and cozy with sweaters and scarves and leaves changing colours, but it’s the holiday of Thanksgiving that is so beautiful. A day dedicated to making you stop and reflect on the things you’re thankful for. Here’s my list, in no particular order, and totally incomplete. I could be here for a while if I listed them all.

Thankful for:

A country like Canada to call home. It’s vast, it’s beautiful, it’s safe, and it holds so many of my memories. I’m thankful that I can contact my local MP to help me out with legalizing forms, that we have a government that cares about us (really, we do), that our backyard is nearly a national park, and that I can really hear people yelling “Thanks for stopping by, eh!” I love it.

I am thankful for handmade cards and letters, transformation, music, tea, thrift store finds, the smell of a field, living in a new place, and my bed.

Travel. It has opened my eyes, and my mind, completely. Traveling the world has helped me see my home with new eyes, to see “familiar” people groups with a new understanding, more compassion, and a more simplified mindset. Although traveling has opened my eyes to a lot of pain, it has showed me that simplicity is incredibly beautiful. I’m thankful for the ability and privilege it is to travel the way I do, with the people I do, and how it is making me a better version of myself.

I am thankful for my people. I could say family and friends, but really, you’re one in the same. I’m thankful that no matter where I live, God brings people into my life that challenge me, bless me, and teach me. You make me laugh uncontrollably, cry at your pain, shake my head around when I’m becoming too selfish, and question my beliefs in a great way. My people come in all different shapes and sizes, and as young as 2 to as old as 85. My life would be pointless, boring, and quite lifeless without you, and I am blessed beyond belief to have such incredible people to invest in me.

I am thankful for food, sunshine, tea, handmade journals, scarves made by my mum, nap times, toddlers learning new words, biographies.

I am thankful for the challenge and blessing of loving deeply and letting go. I am thankful for it because each time I do, each time I allow my heart to cling to another, my eyes are opened to a new perspective. I am thankful for it because each and every person on this earth deserves to be loved, and in that moment, He has chosen me to be the one to love them. I am thankful (and must choose this one daily) to let go of the ones I love. Thankful because, by being loved, they now have the ability and knowledge to love others well. By letting go, I release them to go where they are being led, and His love gets to be spread to more people. I’m thankful this is a challenge, because I grow most when I’m challenged, although I never desire the challenge.

I’m thankful for education, for Canada’s health care system, for a strong Dutch-Canadian heritage, tea, nail polish, tax returns, beautiful nieces and finding money on the ground.

I’m thankful for the past 10 months. When I look at the state of my heart on January 6, I can’t help but realize a softening, a maturing, and a subtle growth in myself. I walked into this journey quite naive, and although I still believe I’m naive, my eyes have been opened. God has opened them to more of what He sees, which is pain, brokenness and evil, but even more joy, hope and restoration than my small mind could ever comprehend. I’m thankful that I said yes when He asked me to pack that first suitcase, no matter what or who it meant I was leaving behind. I’m thankful that He is more committed to my plans than I am, and I’m thankful that He led me gently as I resisted so often the destination He was guiding me to.

I’m thankful for harvest, Thanksgiving, fog in the morning, old and new friends, hopes of a new camera, Amsterdam, road trips and brothers that make me laugh until I cry.

Take a page in your journal and write out what you’re thankful for. And if you don’t journal, start. I’m serious. The way I’ve seen God answer prayers, provide miraculously, teach hard lessons, and bless incredibly is all recorded for the past 3 1/2 years. Each time I read them, I stop and thank Him for how beautiful He is, and for how He uses me and blesses me along the way. I’ll add that to the list. Journalling. I’m thankful for the reminder it brings that He is good, all the time.

What are you thankful for?

With Strength that is not my own. Sam

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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