Lay it down

It’s Tuesday night, 10pm to be exact. I’m laying in my bed in Hawaii, and all my roommates are asleep. If it wasn’t for the soft pounding of “Clair de Lune” rushing through my headphones, I’d hear the slow in’s and out’s of their sleep cycles. Today has been a long day. Not because of the hours I’ve been awake, nor the amount of things I’ve had to check off my “to do” list. Today has been a long day because my heart is tired of one little word.

It’s a word I can’t get used to. A word that only has deep meaning when someone becomes important to you. It’s a word that doesn’t ever get easier to say, and actually has the potential to build up a bit of bitterness inside you. I know it has for me, not just in the past, but also today. I hate goodbye.

Goodbye sucks, and let me tell you something- God never intended for us to say goodbye. If only we had listened. If only Adam and Eve didn’t fall into the temptation of something lesser than Him. If only, if only.

Let’s face it- I could live in the land of “if only’s”, but that wouldn’t help me. It wouldn’t move me closer to my friends, it wouldn’t stop me from missing my family, and it wouldn’t let me receive His heart in this situation. So what do I do? How do I live knowing that goodbye sucks, that goodbye is inevitable, and necessary?

Sometimes I’ve been tempted to shut off, and mum can tell you that I’ve succeeded multiple times in doing so. It’s how I safeguard my heart. Here’s my logic: Goodbye only hurts when you say goodbye to someone you love. SO: If I stop loving people, then when they leave me/I leave them, it won’t hurt anymore.

I’ve lived this out, sadly, and let me tell you, it’s a rotten idea. We are meant to love. We’re meant to live together, through the joy, the pain, the excitement and sadness, we are not meant to do this all alone.

Our lectures last week were about fear of the Lord. No, not fear that He is going to smite you, not fear that He can and will wipe you off the face of this earth, but healthy fear. Part of fearing Him is laying down our rights, and I’ve talked about this before I’m sure, but He is always speaking newness, and so I’ve been listening. “What does hating goodbye have to do with me laying down my rights?” Do I have the right to have all my friends in my life forever? Do I have the right to walk with the same people always? How about to keep them to myself, even though they were meant to do great things in new places? Do I have the right to get to know them when I want, or to spend as much time with them as I want?

Nope.

Not even a little.

See, I’ve learned that God, He’s a good God. He knows my heart, even the nasty, disgusting parts that I try to hide from you. He sees all of that, and He sees that my hate for goodbyes comes from a place deep within. I’ve learned that He knows best, even though I fight with Him all the time, being so sure that I’ve got it under control. Does it make it easier when my friends get in vans and airplanes and leave? Not always. But I don’t have to pretend with Him. Today I sat in the middle of the sidewalk with a friend and we just sat and cried. We cried because people mean something to us, they sit in our hearts, and we are thankful for them. We cried because yes, saying goodbye is hard, but we also know that they are meant for greatness. I will let them go (as if I have a choice), and serve the best way they can: by listening to Him.

So: when goodbyes suck, tell Him. Tell Him how much you hate them, and I guarantee He will agree. But one day, one glorious day, there will be no more goodbyes. No more.

Take that, Satan.

change

With Strength that is not my own. Sam

Before the question comes

I love meeting new people. LOVE it. I love learning where they’re from, I love learning what kind of talents they have. I love learning what they’re passionate about, what makes them cry, what gives them energy- I just love learning people. But there’s one thing I hate about meeting new people. The one dreaded question that everyone asks.

“So, what do you do?”

As if that defines them.

I’ve come to realize that this question is a quick defining tool when you’re getting to know them. “Oh, you work at the bank?” (she must be rich) “Oh, you’re a missionary?” (she thinks she knows it all..) “Oh, you work in a greenhouse?” (they must not have gone to college) Oh, you own your own business? ( wow, they must be determined.) I could go on, but I’ll spare you.

One thing this question doesn’t do is tell you about who they are as a person. Are they kind? Does their heart reflect Christ? Do they spend time with the ones they love? What is the heart behind what they do? I so deeply wish this question wasn’t so important to us. Yes, I understand that it’s a “get to know you” question, but why not switch it up? Why not ask “So, what makes you, you?” instead of “What do you do?”

I’m not trying to come across as angry or upset, just more so concerned about how we plop people into status bubbles based on their occupation. Does it matter if someone is a teacher, rather than a politician? Or a mum rather than a pastor? Does it matter if someone works a minimum wage job, or they make the top ranking salary? Today Jesus over took me with His love. He showed me just how deep His love for me goes. He whispered love into my heart and reminded me again of how much He cares about me, how often He thinks about me. He just came and sat beside me in the middle of my struggle. He was caring. He was gentle. He didn’t rush me or expect a certain response from Him. He was just there.

And Jesus was a carpenter.

I want to challenge you (but don’t I always, fellow reader?) Before you ask someone what they do, work at understanding who they are. When you know who a person is, you’ll come to realize that their job doesn’t define them. The salary doesn’t define them. The success of their business doesn’t tell the whole story. Let’s work at breaking down social statuses, and work more towards developing character- of love, of justice, of respect and of courage. Let’s learn from Jesus and look beyond the tax collector status and see the heart that beats wild inside.

So yeah. I’m a missionary. But what makes me, me? My sass, which I have to keep in check. My heart, my wisdom, my love of words and letters and anything extravagant. My deep, overwhelming love for a Saviour I cannot see, and don’t always “feel”, but know, without a shadow of a doubt, that He’s here. Always. My family has formed and shaped me, but yet doesn’t define me. My love for life, for freedom, for justice and for peace. These things make me, me. And if you roll that all together in some sort of personality test and figure out what occupation best suits me, please, let me know. Until then I will continue where I am, loving the people He blesses me with, and dreaming alongside Him as He walks me through each day.

Much, much love.

Mile 88- Feb. 2013

Photo credit to the beautiful Sarah Griffith

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

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