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!


Kathleen teapotJiminSamtea


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