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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Dish it

Just four days ago I sat here behind this screen typing my heart out. Words were pouring out like a fountain, I was unable to stop them. But I couldn’t post it. After reading over it about 15 times, I realized that no one else could possibly follow it. My messy heart transformed itself into a messy blog post, and I feel its a bit too personal to display for you. I was rambling, which I’m famous for, jumping from one heart string to another. I suppose I was frustrated. But this beautiful thing happens when I write… I figure it all out. Or maybe I should say God gives me a new perspective, which is SO appreciated. Seriously. I think my family can attest to that. I’m a better person when I’m seeking God out. Duh.

Sunday was a beautiful day, for no particular reason except for God. I didn’t do anything spontaneous or overly exciting. I went to church, left a bit confused, spent some solid time with the family, and then went for a much needed walk. Needed both physically and spiritually. Mostly spiritually. I’ve been lacking in the joy department lately, for various reasons, and I’ve gotten sick of it. So I did what I do best, and I knocked on His door. “God, you’ve got me here for a bit for your reasons. If I’m to do this, I need an upgrade. I’m down with whatever you can dish out to me, but I have a few requests.” And so I rattled them off. Thankfully He knows what’s best for me, and He’ll deny the silly, selfish ones, but let me tell you, does He ever deliver.

I am blown away by God. Completely. He is so faithful. He is the best comforter I know. He sees each tear that slips off my cheeks. When I lack insight, joy, determination, patience, love or direction, all I need to do is ask Him. Today I was reading and came across this too-true chunk of script,

“Think about your life. What are the moments that have shaped you the most? If you were to pick just a couple, what would they be? Periods of transformation, times when your eyes were opened, decisions you made that affected the rest of your life?

How many of them came when you reached the end of your rope?

When everything fell apart?

When you were confronted with your powerlessness?

When you were ready to admit your life was unmanageable?

When there was nothing to do but to cry out?”

That’s from Rob Bell’s book called “Jesus Wants to Save Christians.” Please, don’t ask me what I think of the man and all the controversy surrounding him. What I do know is that this hit me. Big time. And no, maybe I wasn’t at the end of my rope, but I was close. I think. I asked for a few things, mainly joy and direction, and I feel like He delivered big time. And it’s funny, because I’m the type of girl that once she receives direction, joy doesn’t take long to show its beautiful face either.

So, these are a few things I’ve been dreaming of. And most of them are my plans, and interestingly enough, I find a way to rationalize each one of them:

-Return on staff at the YWAM base in Townsville, where I was earlier this year.

-Do a BCC (Bible Core Course) or SBS (School of Bible Study) anywhere on this earth

-Attend the PhotogenX course offered by YWAM Kona    (This one is my dream. Photography, writing, Bible study and exposing injustice around the world, all rolled into one? Check.Mate. Not to mention travelling to 10 different countries in one year.)

-Find myself a wonderful little orphanage in South Africa, fly there, and be Jesus with skin on to those little babies. Oh, S.A. There’s something to be said about the fact that our initials are the same. Predestined? I believe so.

And my friends, the list goes on. School. Invisible Children. Photography. A family of my own.(One day….long from now) My plans are limitless. But why not dream? Why not set my sights high, and see where I go? I understand that God’s plans are bigger and better than mine, but just recently I’ve come into a new heart knowledge of this. So dream I will. Watch out world.

What about you? What would you do with no barriers on your life? Where would you take your kids? Your spouse? Your group of friends? What would you give to someone if you could afford it? What passion have you set aside for something more “logical”, more “successful”, something less you? What would you say to that person you’re thinking about right now? Dream. Please, dream big. Bigger than you could ever think would be possible. Ask God to reveal your talents, your gifts, what you have to offer this world. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Oh! And one more thing. I’m dying to know… who are you? I’ve had over 3500 views on this thing, which is amazing to me. Who knew my thoughts could be so interesting. Please though, tell me your names. Here. On Facebook. In a text. Even better, in real life. Let me know who’s sitting on the other side of the screen. I’d be oh-so-grateful. Thanks.

With Strength that is not my own, Sam