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

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Where you go I’ll go

I listened to this song this morning. I’ve heard it before. It’s not a new song, it’s not super popular, but it was something that I needed to hear. I wanted to share it with you, because I was blessed by it. And yes, I am very proud of myself for learning how to link this into my blog.. proof that I’m learning!

I am so incredibly blessed. Sometimes I don’t take the time to think about that. Everyday God is opening doors for me, revealing things that were “hidden” from sight before, giving me knowledge and wisdom even though I don’t deserve it. This isn’t to say that I go about life without struggle though. After a good talk with my friend Sean, I realized that I tend to put up a good front. My blogs seem to end on a positive note, any Facebook status is (generally) uplifting, expressing thankfulness, gratefulness. Now. I’m not going to bore you all and unload my heart. I won’t do that because it’s not wise, I mean, this is still the internet. But what I would like to do is tell you how I cope, how I deal. How do I figure out my life, when I don’t know where it’s headed?

Simply put, I don’t. When it comes to making big decisions, I usually run far, fast, and with no direction in mind. Good thing I have a God that won’t relent, won’t give up, and won’t let me self destruct to the point of no return. As you should be able to tell by my massive blog posts (which I’m working on), I learn when I write. The beautiful thing about blogging is that I have to sensor what I write to you. As much as I love you all, I have to use discernment in knowing how far is too far. But when I journal, it’s a different story. No one reads it. No one knows what’s in it. And no one will. It’s my space to be honest, brutally sometimes. Its eloquent at times, and really messy and ugly at other times. Sometimes I write 2 times a day, sometimes I don’t write for 2 weeks. But when I’m stressed, you can guarantee I’m writing somewhere. It works well for me. But this really cool thing has been happening in the last little bit, and it makes me excited. Recently, God has been using other people to point out my weaknesses. At first it was hard to take. I mean, no one wants to be told where they’re messing up, over and over and over again. But, trying to succumb to a humble heart, I asked God to teach me through it, and man, has this girl received.

You. In the long run, you teach me. You help me figure out my messes. God uses YOU, whether you know it or not. In your word of encouragement, in your quick little text. In your questions that you trust me enough to answer, in your smile in the middle of a heated conversation. When I can’t figure out me, YOU help. Yes, I run, and just like Jonah, God is wherever I run. He catches me, pulls me back with His strong and able hands, but He’s using YOU.

Where do you run? Who’s doorstep do you find yourself standing on when you can’t figure it out? Who is the person you talk to when you’re ashamed, when you’re hurt, when you’re confused, or even when you’re just lonely? What is the way you figure out you? I can pretty much say from experience that I learn more about myself when I’m trying to learn more about God. Hopefully that’s the same for you.

I don’t know where you’re at. I don’t know if you and I talk on a regular basis. I don’t know if you even know who I am. But I do know that the friendships I have now are helping me become WHO I need to be. Can you say the same? I pray to God that you can.

Where you go I’ll go.Where you stay I’ll stay. I’m taking those words to heart. Join me in the next few months as I uncover exactly what that means for this 21 year old heart. I promise you it’s not going to be easy. I promise I’m pretty messed up, and might hear things incorrectly. I even promise I’ll end up making my “adventure” sound better than it actually might be. But I promise to take you with me, to keep you informed, and to give just as much as I’ve been given.

“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5v8 NIV

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

One Step for a Cross

I survived. Scratch that, I did more than survive. I came back from Papua New Guinea yesterday at 3:00, and my heart has been a beautiful mess ever since. Many times throughout the past 6 weeks I was wondering how I could tell you what I’ve been through in a way that you would understand, and so often I felt like it couldn’t be done. I could give you statistics, but that would omit any personal achievements. I could give you personal achievements, but those wouldn’t mean much to you. I’d love to tell you everything, but I don’t have enough word space for that, but I did write a nifty journal entry explaining my heart in the last week, and I’d love to share a piece of it with you.

“When you spend 6 weeks in a rainforest, you’re bound to learn some important things about your life, and why you’re here. But when you’re lead into that forest by a God who needs you there, you learn even more about how “your” life really isn’t yours at all. Very quickly, all of the “I deserve” becomes “I am blessed to receive”, the “basic human rights” turn out to not be so “basic”, and the way you’ve viewed life before those 6 weeks has forever been changed. How can you escape the forest without seeing that God is good, and that He is everywhere? He’s in the creative way the nature blends together so perfectly. He’s in the awesome power rumbling in the thunderstorms. He’s in the eyes of the tiniest child looking for some love. God is here.
PNG definitely is the land of the unexpected. You can wake up in the morning and see nothing but blue skies, not a cloud anywhere. The next thing you know, you’re out walking around when a storm erupts. I’ve learned there’s no way you can predict the future. God has a funny way of letting you know who’s in charge. We’ve been through some pretty tough times (to put it lightly), but He’s always been there to give us exactly what we need, with His perfect timing. In the middle of a 10 hour hike, and you’ve already passed the point of giving it all you’ve got. You know, without a shadow of a doubt, that God is slowly but surely lifting you you up the mountains and through the mud. Or, when you feel called to speak in front of hundreds of people, and you’re up next, when suddenly you realize, “I have no idea what I’m supposed to say.” But, you know you’re meant to speak, so you ask for the right words, and you manage to blow them out of the water for 45 minutes. Only with God.
In the end, when you’ve taken the last step, what have you learned? In the last 6 weeks, what about you has changed? Because there’s no way you can go through everything you’ve gone through and be the same girl as before. You have had the beautiful chance to experience another piece of God, a new piece of Him you understood, but hadn’t experienced. It’s changed you from the inside out. People aren’t just people any more, and money isn’t nearly as important. As I look towards my future, I no longer doubt God’s ability to provide for me, in all areas. I know He’ll provide, because I’ve been surviving off His blessings for the past 6 weeks. Crazy things happen when God is given room to be God.”

So. For those of you who like numbers. Through the six weeks, we hiked on a total of 14 days, for a total of 63 1/2 hours. On a map of Papua New Guinea from 1980, to fly straight from Kerema, our starting point, to Menyamya, our final destination, was a total of 70km. What you need to know: this map was 21 years old, and 100% inaccurate. I’m estimating that the hike was a good 150km, not including all the zig-zagging we did, plus all the inclines. At our highest altitude, we were 2280m above sea level, which is 100% accurate, because we actually started our hike by stepping out of a boat off the ocean. After reading over this, I’ve realized how this is doing the trip a huge injustice. Words are hard to piece together to give you a fair understanding of what we’ve gone through. I hope I can take some time with each of you when I get back and give you some more details. Until then, this will have to do.

When I was hiking, there were points where I felt “I have absolutely nothing left” I knew that I couldn’t go any further. My mind played games with me. Defeat merely begins to explain it. But when I got to the spot where my foot felt like a cement block, all I could remember was “One step, one more step. He took the Cross. I can take a step for that”. Where in your life have your feet stopped moving? I want you to know you can keep going. You CAN continue on, because He’s there to help you, no matter what situation you’re stuck in. This is where you can let God be God. And He’ll never stop surprising you.

Again, I want to say thank you SO much. Thank you for praying. Thank you for saying hi, for encouraging me, and for supporting me from so far away. I have been blessed so much by all of you, God is a good, good, God. I can’t wait to see all of your beautiful faces in less than 2 weeks!!!

With Strength that is not my own, Sam