Tears don’t help

ONE YEAR

Full. Refreshed. New. Astounded. Challenged. Lost.  Broken. Healed. Surrendered. Encouraged. Worn down. Commissioned. Loved. Blessed. Homesick. Lost. Amazed. Taught. Immersed in grace. Surrounded. Overwhelmed. Rested. Prepared. Found.

I could go on. I’m going to try and summarize this part of my journey, the short 5 1/2 months. I was unsuccessful in doing this when I returned last June, which you can read about here. In church we’re learning about the importance of reflection, both personally and collectively. The thing about reflection though, is that sometimes you find things you don’t want to.  I’ve done it, and my goal is to learn from it. So here’s my reflection, my look back to a year ago today, and everything that’s happened in-between.

January through June rocked me. It stripped me of so many things I thought I was, and filled me with love, dreams and knowledge. I met friends that I’ll never forget, friends I’ll never know better, and friends I’ve never missed more. I learned to love community- even living with 17 other girls in a 2 bedroom flat. I was pushed, uncomfortable, alone, challenged, humbled and ever so gently lifted back up and taught to walk on my own feet. God went from being distant and quiet, to so near it was both beautifully comforting and alarmingly bold. I went from snow to ocean to mountain ranges. I changed from a broken child, to a still broken woman, but yet filled and fixed in so many ways. My lectures were like doors being thrust open- revealing God in new and powerful ways. And my friendships? They loved me back to life. Friend is easily interchanged with family. My friendships- they, by God’s power and leading, changed me the most. Never in my life have I been so free in my relationships; to have them know every regret, every secret, every desire, every dream and to be loved completely. It healed my heart. (understatement of the year) To instantly, at a moment’s notice, run to our Father together in prayer. To know that I’m not alone in my passions brings me so much peace and joy.

The tears don’t help. They don’t solve, sooth or cure a hurting heart. I’m not going to lie, I wasted a lot of time wishing I was back here. Sadly, now I’m caught doing the same wasting, wishing, dreaming, wanting to be in another place. I will never.ever.forget my time at YWAM RTO. I waited a year to get there, and it blew me away. Every expectation was  knocked out by day 3, and the surprises never stopped.

I want a reunion. I want us all to go back to our flats, back to the Strand. I want to sleep on the hardwood floor on outreach in Cairns Baptist. I want to host free sausage sizzles with that amazing BBQ sauce. I want to watch Peter rock out the salvation message, or watch Ben carry a 30kg pack up 2500 feet of untamed mountain. I want to sit around the campfire in Hidden Valley, roasting disgusting fruit flavoured marshmallows, and go mud sliding in the fields. I want to go on day long hikes with my team to prepare for a hike that no human can adequately prepare for. I want to sit front and centre with Gill in worship, praising our God. I want to be yelled at by Mark Parker, laughed at by Kevin Norris, and prophesied at by Ryan Booker. A part  of me even wants to scrape my knees falling off a skateboard at YouthStreet.

I miss the sun. I miss Castle Hill- the satisfaction in continuously beating my personal best, and enjoying some of the worlds best quiet times looking over the city of Townsville. I miss tea dates with Laurie at Castle Town, sweat moustaches compliments of Emma, cheese parties with Ben and Roger (sans wine ). I miss Australian sarcasm (never thought I’d say that). I miss getting in trouble from Nomes for being barefoot, and racing to the deck for morning tea. I miss Sunday funday, gelato on the Strand, dodgy guys calling us from their utes. (ok, maybe I don’t miss that, but it’s a memory nonetheless) I miss hanging out in our outside kitchen in the middle of Cyclone Yasi, Mal sleeping on the tile floor to keep cool-or just leaving our room for the left side due to Fanny and Emma’s synchronized snoring. I miss our temperamental showers and long lines after morning workouts, apples and peanut butter (???), hearing Aleksi talking to Lucy (his dog) on Skype in the cafe. I miss Tillman’s interpretive dance to Halo for morning devotions, small group discussions and prayer. I miss Asta’s intense facial expressions, and hearing Chello sing his heart out while rocking the dish washer. I miss hearing Ben give a champion’s speech on graduation day, and hearing Katie, when the guys are telling her she’s beautiful, yell out “Ya I am!!”. I miss Shey’s beautiful and strong leadership in worship, Abbie’s incessant laughter, Ben’s ridiculous attempt at dreads, and Joanne yelling “Je-SUS!”

I miss being pushed. Here I’m challenged, but I’m not pushed. Never pushed to dig deeper, figure God out, pursue Him before my own desires. There’s only so much a girl can push herself to do, and I seem to be at full capacity. I need the push from an outside source, and for some reason, I’ve made myself believe that those sources can only be found thousands of kilometres away. As much as I’d love it, this isn’t home for me. It has everything that is good and beautiful and lovely to me, but my heart does not rest here. My coat doesn’t get hung up, and whether that’s out of laziness, or out of the urge to be somewhere else I’ve yet to discover.

I’ve learned. Heaps. About me. About you. About God. About life. About being stable, and about being detached. I’ve learned about my fears, which include loneliness, commitment, inadequacy and wasting my life. I’ve also learned that I’m nowhere near finished learning. I look back on the year and smile through tears. And oddly enough, I hope to say the same about this next year, whether I’m off galavanting through Australia, Hawaii or good old Canada.

My adventure does not depend on location- but on my willingness to act, live, love and serve.

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

Drum roll please…

Sometimes I read this and I’m just so.. exhausted! So I give you so much credit for sticking with me! I have a few things to unroll today, and I’m not so sure how smooth its going to be, so maybe pause for a second to grab a tea/coffee/anything and then we’ll have a go at this together.

Alright. Back now? Great. Let’s get at it.

So. When I flew home from Australia, I spent almost my entire flight to LA writing. (Surprise, surprise!) And until recently I haven’t really looked back on those pages. Partly because I read too many other books to be reading my old journals, and partly because I have this stupid obsession of only looking forward, when clearly I can and should learn from my past. Anyway’s, for no other reason but a thought from God, I decided to flip back, back to my last day on that beautiful Australian soil. And this is what I found:

SO much has happened in the past 5 months. It has been SO good, to say the most simple thing to close this up. I trusted God when He called me out of school last February. I trusted that He knew what I was doing. I knew the path I was on wasn’t what He needed from me. And now, I’ve found myself right back in the same position. I have so many paths that I can choose. Do I go back on YWAM? What about Africa? Maybe the Youth Centre? Or what if I go to Hilsong? And every time I pray, I ask God for direction. But over and over I get the answer…

“JUMP.”

Pick something.

But what do I choose? Anything. If you pick Hilsong and its not what God needs, He’ll tell you. If you make plans for Africa and its not from God, He’ll make sure you don’t get there. And even, what if you go to school but never pass? What if you fail? Who cares. Would you rather spend an entire life making awesome plans, or living OUT those plans?

I read that and sat, for quite some time, and mustered up the strength to surrender again. It reminded me of camping in the Outback, when a certain Mark Parker yelled at us until we cried (good tears). It reminded me of my friend Cory, staring us dead in the face, hitting us with word that would sting for months to come. “You have already been forgiven, of everything! Why are you wasting His sacrifice by telling me “I can’t.”  YOU can, because HE did.” And here I am, saying “I can’t, because…” I don’t know if this is 100%. I don’t know if I’ll succeed. And it’s all a crutch.

I have a plan. It’s a good, beautiful plan. I know the downfalls of letting secrets out prematurely. But I also know the benefits of having a group of fellow confused friends behind me pushing into our Father, so I’m letting you know what’s been bouncing between my head and my heart these past few weeks. Here goes nothing, I suppose.

In 5 words. Photography. God. Hawaii. Missions. Africa.

How does one go about linking these 5 together? Well.. logically speaking.. you don’t. But with God.. Oh, with God, anything is possible.  (Matt. 19v26) So I’ve been looking into my passions and my talents, and trying to figure out how I can use them. I mean, God’s given me a gift, it’d be wasteful not to use it, correct? And then comes this lovely little phrase.. stumbled upon. I “happened” to stumble upon this website, which lead me to another, and I end up at the YWAM Kona website, staring at the page explaining the contents of my heart.

PhotogenX.

http://www.uofnkona.edu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=343&Itemid=635&lang=en

Please, go check it out. It’s incredible. It combines writing, biblical studies, injustice exposure all into one, while using photography to string them all together. I would hone in on my talents, study in depth God’s word, travel this beautiful earth, and reach out to the lost and hungry hearts of this land.

And yes. It is with YWAM. This coming from the girl saying “Going back isn’t for me. I loved what I experienced, but I don’t need more” What a joke that was. And this is purely an informative blog post. I’m not asking for donations. I’m not saying this is set in stone. I’m just saying this is on the horizon. And I’m asking you to pray with me. For clear direction, for faith to jump at something, for support to get there, and just to say ‘hey’ to the One who makes all this possible.

And I bet you’re wondering how Africa fits into all of this, right? Probably not, but I’ll tell you any way’s. If you know me, you know I LOVE Africa. Could not emphasize that more. And I’ve been torn recently. Do I pursue photography further, or jump right into missions in Africa?  Yes, I do think I’ll be a “full time” missionary one day. Clearly I didn’t think about how God could join those together, silly me. But I’m starting to see how this will work out. I’m have this funny feeling that if I go with this Kona stint, I’ll meet a few people who can connect me with the right places in Africa. So! To Africa with love! And, a camera too!

I think we’ve made it. Over 900 words, and I could keep on going, but that would be cruel. Thank you for reading. Thank you for caring. For taking time to bother yourself with me. Thank you for being constant supports. Even if I don’t know your names, I know someone is out there.  Maybe next time I post I can actually add some insight into your life, but right now, I’m trying to figure me out.

Love, love, love.

With Strength that is not my own, Sam