Lessons from today

This day was one I will always remember. I’ll remember it because it was an ordinary day that, when turned to God, becomes something surprising and beautiful and sometimes- just what you need.

This was a day when God took me on an adventure with an incredible friend. A group of us walked to the local market and I was overwhelmed, thirsty and unimpressed. This market was nothing special, nothing set it apart from all the other markets we constantly found ourselves in. To be honest, I was in an awful mood, not exactly the person you might deem fit to lead a team across the world. Exhausted and thirsty, we decided to walk the 45 minutes back to where we were staying. Along the way, I remembered a scene I wanted to take a photo of- two trees hanging over the road, perfectly framing the mountain on the horizon behind it. I set out with my student and sent the others on ahead so we could take some photos. When we finished, we decided to walk a bit further past the trees and happened to run into our friend, Ellie, who we had met just that morning.

African’s continually amaze me. When I was in South Africa in 2008, the hospitality and generosity of the people humbled me, and this day was no exception.  Ellie invited the two of us to his home, which he had built himself (and is in the process of finishing) just behind his parent’s house. He called to his wife, Simonè, who came out to greet us, holding their 3 month old daughter. I wasted no time in taking that beautiful girl into my arms as Ellie set up a bench for us and a chair for himself and invited us for tea.

 Here I was, sitting with my Korean and Togolese friends, holding a 3 month old baby, in Africa, being offered organic, home grown tea. A beautiful surprise, perfectly timed, and perfectly suited to me. 

Ellie was a blessing, a gift from God I’m sure. God knew the state of my heart, ungrateful, annoyed, exhausted and ready to be an extreme introvert, and He gave me 4 things I love- friends, a baby, Africa and tea. As I reflected on the day, I was humbled and challenged and encouraged all at once.

Humbled because God looked at me in my dirt, and He chose to give me the best blessing He could at that moment. He didn’t look at me in my bad mood and choose to leave me alone until I sorted it out, He looked at me and said “She could use this right about now.” Do I do the same? When I encounter someone having a bad day, do I seek for the best way to bless them? Do I truly desire to love the ones who don’t love me?

Challenged because far too often, I only look out for myself. Even in a situation where I’ve been leading a team for the past 2 months, my mind still snaps instantly to what I want/need/desire etc. I’m sure there was another person that day, guaranteed at least at some point on this trip, who needed a blessing. Did I choose to serve them? Did I choose to ask them, to pray with them, to set aside what I needed/wanted, in order to bless them? It’s a simple thing, really. We try to make it sound complicated so we don’t have to do it, but really it’s simple. I was challenged to get over myself, again. (still learning)

Encouraged to know, and be blatantly reminded, that God knows my heart. He knows what makes me smile, what reminds me of home, what I need and in which moment I need it. I was encouraged to know that He loves me even if I’m in a terrible mood, and encouraged to bless others simply. It was refreshing to know that something as simple as tea can change someone’s entire mood as it did for me.

– – – – – –

So I’ve been challenged, encouraged and humbled, all in one afternoon. As we set out, thanking Ellie profusely for the blessing it was to sit with him, to hear his stories of God’s faithfulness, to pray for healing for his sister, I nearly cried. You could chalk  it up to homesickness, exhaustion, frustration- but I choose to give credit to God, for being the One who made my heart and knows the simple things that make me smile. I felt so blessed to be so loved. And I pray you feel that too.

So challenge yourself, be encouraged, and humble yourself. I’m sure you could find a million ways to bless the people around you. Can I call you to action? To love and serve them, even if they never know? Even if they don’t show their appreciation, and even if their hearts are never warmed to yours? Jesus was the best example of this- serving people who, really, had nothing to offer Him, but aren’t you glad He did?

Be blessed, my friend. You are loved!

Ellie-tea

Kathleen teapotJiminSamtea

beautifullight

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

Advertisements

What if..

What if we only spoke encouraging words to each other?

What if we loved unconditionally, without abandon?

What if you let someone before you in line at the store?

What if you stopped for a minute to ask how your neighbour is doing?

What if we  valued people more than time?

I’ve been having a whole bunch of different thoughts rushing through my mind lately. Thoughts about how blessed I am, thoughts about the future and what it has in store for me, thoughts about how that “me” has changed into “us”, or “we”. Jesus has felt so incredibly close the last few days, and I am so incredibly thankful for that. It’s not consistent that I feel Him, not because He’s not there, but because my perception is so weak. But the love of my Father runs strong and wild and free, and this is what He’s been saying.

LOVE.

Love here. Love now. Love out loud.

Sometimes I struggle to know what my calling is, as if God screams it out to each one of us specifically. But then, looking over scripture, I realize the common theme. Just love. It seems so simple, and really, it is. Sure, loving someone who doesn’t love you back seems difficult, but that love can change the world. Asking intentional questions, paying attention to people, sharing in their struggles and giving sacrificially- these are all different ways of loving.

What if you loved unconditionally? Would the entire world change? Probably not- but you could change one person’s world. You could shine some light into their life, and really- isn’t that all we’re called to do? Love and be loved.

“Jesus said ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 16:4.

God is love- so show someone a bit of love today.

 

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

Safe

I should apologize again for my absence, but that has been done before. I could apologize because life has been ridiculously busy, but I’ve been enjoying it. I could apologize that I haven’t written, but I’ve still been learning. So I will apologize for not sharing what I’ve learned. Please grab some tea or something else that is delicious to you, because this girl has been learning heaps.

My life is made to be unsafe. There- I said it. And I’m the kind of girl that believes that this is alright. Lately I’ve been called many things, including naive, idealist, unrealistic, dreamer- the list goes on. People mean well- they are concerned for my safety. They don’t understand picking up and leaving- again. They love me and want to protect me- I see all these things. But something deep down inside me feels like screaming- not at them, definitely not at them, but still screaming.

When did we become so obsessed with safety?

Our lives are tailored around it. We turn on the news and fear. We fear weather, we fear other countries, we fear government, people, cars, animals and even words. I get it. We like to be safe. But is that what we’re called to? Weaving our lives around the unsafe, the unsure and the unpredictable?

I don’t think so.

I realize writing this could cause some discomfort- for me and for others. But what I’m saying has been churning in my mind for the past few months, and increasingly so as my departure date comes closer. (12 weeks!!) Call me naive, but I’m not concerned about my safety. I know that my life rests in the hands of God- and that is the most powerful statement I could ever make. He has asked me to go, and so I will. Will I be placed in situations that are uncomfortable? Most likely. Will I be in over my head? Absolutely. Will I be homesick and worried? At times, yes. But what’s my cost?

When I was in Papua New Guinea, we had a church service at night in one of the villages we stopped in. I was tired from hiking, probably didn’t smell that wonderful, I was hungry and not really “feeling” a church service. So we did our thing- asking God to lead us, to speak through us, and to show Himself to the people there. The service was nothing out of the ordinary, but one question came up from a man that met us there. He, in a longwinded way, asked “What is the cost of following Jesus in North America? Here, if we follow Jesus, we must give our food to someone else, because we must show them love. That means we have no food for our children. Here, we must invite someone into our homes to sleep at night, forcing one of our family members outside to sleep. What is your cost? What do you lay down?”

I was so ready to say “I left everything I know- I left it all to come and seek for you. That’s what I gave up.” But I sat quietly and let it all sink in. Just 3 weeks from that church service I was back home. Back with my family, my friends, comfort, food and safety. And that man was still there in PNG giving away his bed and food.

What is your cost?

I am not trying to be brave. I’m not trying to shine a spot light on myself- I am a selfish person with selfish ambitions, but I am washed freshly clean in the grace and blood of Jesus. I give up my safety. I will go to the unsafe village to love the people who get overlooked daily. I will speak life into the hearts of the unseen, and I will give words to the precious children who go unheard. Perhaps people will continue to worry for me, perhaps that’s how they show love, but rest assured- I am safe.

I’ll leave you with some song lyrics that have been rousing in my soul lately.. I’m loving the way God connects feelings and words.

I let go of all I have
Just to have all of You
And no matter what the cost
I will follow You

Jesus, everything I’ve lost
I have found in You
When I finally reach the end I’ll say
You are worth it all

There’s no riches
Earthly treasure
That will satisfy

Every longing for You, Jesus
Set this heart on fire
Set this heart on fire

And here’s the video that goes along with the lyrics! Bonus for you 🙂

With Strength that is not my own, Sam