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

I am…

Ask my at any given point what I am, and you’re bound to get a variety of answers. I am happy. I am satisfied. I am confused. I am feeling blessed. I am nervous. I am a photographer. I am a writer. I am a free spirit. I am uncommitted. I am lonely. I am present. And on the other hand, it’s humorous because you could ask me what I am at any time, and I could say ” I don’t know today.”

And even though I sound like I’m dealing with a million personalities, I AM all these things. And sometimes it gets exhausting trying to sort them all out, only presenting certain sides of myself to certain people. But then I think about it, and I smile. Because I’m (almost) always myself, and even though I sometimes have to sensor who that is, I am accepted. I am loved. I am depended on, which makes me stable, makes me feel needed, and even a bit important. And so I have a question. A question for you. 

What do you need to hear?

I enjoy this online way of sharing my heart. I love writing, as it’s become a major part of my story. But I don’t do this online thing for myself. Just this morning I was thinking about how there hasn’t been a day in the past 9 months where I haven’t written something. (With the exception of –almost– dying while hiking through PNG.) Some days it’s 7 journal pages, sometimes I barely get through my second sentence. Maybe I’m super charged because of my recent Francis Chan stint, or maybe feeling like giving back intentionally because of Donald Miller. Either way, you get the last say. Let me know. Comment here. These comments I’ll keep to myself, and I’ll write about them. Tell me about your hearts, tell me what you care about, what effects your days the most, and what you love about life. Ask me your questions, tell me your struggles. And somewhere along the lines, you’ll get a post, just for you. (Secretively, of course!)

So, to continue the theme. Today, I am sick. But I am also clothed, fed, comfortable, surrounded by family, dreaming of Georgia and the Passion 2012 conference in January. (By the way, if you for some reason want to sponsor me to go, let’s chat!) I am looking forward to the last few weddings of the year, excited about the new church I’ve been visiting, and slowly learning more about the way God guides.

So what about you? What are you?

 

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

21 and feeling fine…

Yes. Today is my birthday, and so far, it’s been pretty.. ordinary. What’s that? No, I don’t feel older. I certainly don’t act older, just have a visit at our dinner table and you’ll see. But besides all that, I do feel very happy. Very.. blessed. Because of all the ordinary things, yes. Receiving a full 20 years of health, adventure and wisdom. Because of the explorations I’ve been on, through this earth, through His book, and through my heart. But most of all, I’m feeling blessed because of all of you.

I spent the majority of my day with one of the world’s cutest 3 year olds, who would run up to me every 5 minutes, give me a hug, and yell “Happy Birfday Samamfa!!” It was great. And during his down time, I got to dig into one of my beautiful gifts, Donald Miller’s newest read, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. SO. GOOD. I got through 135 pages, and I’m feeling good. Basically he’s writing a story about stories. The idea sounds beyond boring, but every page, I catch myself agreeing, underlining, being in awe of God and His awesomeness. One of the best quotes comes when Don is talking about the way an author feels when they are creating a plot, and He likens the experience to when God was writing our stories. He says ” If I have a hope, it’s that God sat over the dark nothing and wrote you and me, specifically, into the story, and put us in with the sunset and the rainstorm as though to say, Enjoy your place in my story. The beauty of it means you matter, and you can create within it even as I have created you.

How beautiful is that? I messaged my mom, the wonderful one who purchased this gift, and said “I love Michael Bublè because he sings to my heart. I love Donald Miller because he writes to my heart.” If I could write a book, it’d be a mix between the two of those, and that might be scary.

I don’t have much else to say today, which is surprising. I just wanted to say thanks, I guess. Thank you to all the wonderful people who make my life worth living. To the ones that encourage me to grow, to learn, to give, and to just be. Thank you to God for the adventure that I get to call my life, whether it’s far away in a different country, or here, where I find myself right now. Thank you to the ones who expect more from me, and the friends who know when I need to let everything out, and listen, so gracefully.

Last night I experienced another one of those overwhelming moments. After God delivered big time with a night I desperately (unknowingly) needed, I sat in my car and just thought about Him, about where He’s taken me, and where exactly He’s leading me. I thanked Him for His sacrifices, reminding myself of what He gave up, because of the things I choose to NOT give up for Him. Guilt, thankfulness, nervousness and excitement rushed over my faint little heart, and I let it happen. And that, my friends, is the ramblings of this 21 year old heart.

Thanks to each one of you who influences me in one way or another. From near or far, you have made 20 worth it. I look forward to exploring 21 with you, adding a few new experiences and mental notes to my heart. Let’s do this together.

With (beautiful) Strength that is not my own, Sam

Leave…

“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.”

That’s a quote from Donald Miller, his book is called “Through Painted Deserts”. I thought it seemed quite fitting to life right now. Read his book, it’s amazing. Sometimes leaving is an option, sometimes it’s not. For me right now, I could easily tell myself its an option. I could tell myself there’s too much going on at home. I say God needs me here more than in Australia. But time and again, those thoughts in my head are slashed. So I’ve been defeated. I’ve given up on making excuses. I’ve given over the control.

So yes. There are a lot of things to go through and finish before next Thursday. And I’ll get through them all. I have a feeling next week will show up faster than I thought, so I’m going to enjoy it. And hey. God may be calling me to leave. But that’s me. He may be calling you to do something totally different, all I can say is listen to it. Running away from what God has planned for you doesn’t work out well. Just ask my friend Jonah.

With Strength that is not my own, Sam