Nepal – Shaken not Shattered

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Anyone with access to media knows at least the bare minimum about what’s going on in Nepal right now. On April 25th, they experienced a 7.8 magnitude earthquake which killed thousands, destroyed cities and damaged most of their heritage sites. Although aid is flowing in and the people seem, for the most part, to be in good spirits, it is going to be years before their infrastructure and economy recovers.

I have had a fascination and obsession with this mysterious and mountainous country for well over a year now. I’m not exactly sure what initially drew me to it, nor do I remember exactly when it started. But as I’m sure my friends can testify, I’ve talked about wanting to go there for quite a while now. No one really understood why, myself included. There was just something about this small country that fascinated me.

Maybe it’s because I have a thing for mountains and Nepal just seems like a country created for adventure. Or maybe it’s because they have an ancient and beautiful culture, language and temples and colours and smells that would be foreign to me. Then again, maybe I’m just stereotyping and being an ignorant white girl from Canada. But the people there seem to have joy in their smiles and a strong work ethic deep in their bones and I just fell in love with Nepal the more and more that I read about it. I thought about it often, read about it often, dreamt about it often.

I want to be clear that I’m not oblivious to the fact that it is a developing nation. I know that much of the country lives in poverty and brokeness. But for me, that doesn’t and shouldn’t disqualify them as a nation of potential. I’m going to be studying International Development and Globalization in university next year (which I am SO excited about) and I am so passionate about seeing those small “third world” countries develop and grow and share with the world why they are so awesome. So Nepal, for me, was a place of both mystery and beauty in spite of their struggles. I felt drawn not just to the place but also to the faces of the people and wondered how long it would be before I could visit.

Fast forward to last month and my economics teacher assigned a project where a partner and I would have to choose a country currently on the United Nations list of Least Developed Countries, learn more about it and then come up with a theoretical plan on how they could improve their economy. Naturally, I convinced my partner that we should choose Nepal.

The next day, the earthquake happened.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that it felt like something had been ripped out of my chest. I was actually heartbroken. Why would something like this happen? And more importantly, why did I now have to sit in a classroom everyday and work on a website called “Solutions 4 Nepal” while the real country lay in ruins? This past month I have come very close to booking a ticket and just going, I would say about 6 times. I wanted nothing more than to help this country that had somehow found a special place in my heart.

Truth is, an 18-year-old girl from Canada showing up in a recent natural disaster zone with no experience working in developing countries and nothing but a heart to help and the first aid knowledge of a lifeguard would have been more of a hinderance than a help. No matter how good my intentions are, I am not equipped to help in country right now.

Maybe in a year from now, when most people have forgotten all about it, I will go. Nepal will be recovering from years to come and I don’t want to be just another person who forgets all about them after the earthquake stops being on the news everyday. I’m not trying to be self-righteous but that is what we all tend to do in situations like these. We are interested for a minute and then leave them to try to do the rest of the recovery alone.

For now, all I can do is pray. When I feel helpless, prayer is my only possible response. And I can ask you to do the same. Will you please intentionally pray for Nepal today? The Nepalese are so very proud and they don’t trust the first world and the help we offer. Pray that they would be open-minded. Pray for the people who have lost family. Pray for the aid workers, that they would have wisdom, humility and that they would go in willing to partner, not take over. Pray for revival. Pray for joy in this dark time. Pray for hope. Pray for opportunity to not just recover, but to grow. Pray that Nepal will come out of this stronger than ever before. Pray for the people above all, for jobs, for homes, for relationships and for safety. Pray that they would be ok, whatever that means.

If you want to learn more about the project my friend Rico and I did, you can check it out here (fair warning, the project isn’t due until next week so it’s a work in progress) If you want to donate to help with the rebuilding check out this link .

That’s all I have to say. Just wanted to share a bit about why the earthquake has bothered me so much. I’m still hoping to see Nepal one day, to explore, to experience the culture and meet the people. I have faith that I will see a beautiful country as I’d always hoped, a strong, proud and hopeful nation. I believe that Nepal, while shaken, is not shattered. The country lies in ruins but they will recover. This is not the end of Nepal’s story. I don’t know if part of God’s plan for this country includes me…but I hope it does. Either way, I think I will always have a soft spot for it.

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Shaken, not shattered. I have faith in you Nepal, you can do it. But please, trust us to help. We really do care.

– Sam

*all photos come from google

Pitch Perfect 2 – It’s a Love/Hate Thing

Here it goes, my round two attempt at a movie review. And yes, I know that the category is listed as books and movies but as a second semester high school senior, reading for pleasure is a hard no. Not that I don’t want to, but even finding time to write a blog post or hang out with my friends is a struggle, let alone trying to plow through a 400 page novel. So, book reviews, I’m hoping will come someday when I have a bit more time on my hands.

This week I went to see Pitch Perfect 2 not once, but twice. Yes, I know I’m crazy. The first movie is one of my absolute favourites of all time and I can pretty much recite it to you word for word. I was nervous about going to see the second one because what if it didn’t live up to my very high expectations?

Thankfully it did. It was hilarious but also oddly heart-warming? I loved that the girls had to struggle with moving on in life while still staying connected to the friends and memories they made in school, something I’m currently dealing with as I move into my last month of high school.  Penetonix making an appearance as the Canadian team? Genius. Also, Fat Amy, that is all. Everything Rebel Wilson does in these movies is hilarious.  And of course, if a good a capella movie soundtrack doesn’t amuse you, I don’t know what will. Let’s be honest, the movie doesn’t have a very complex plot, but as a comedy, it was great.

Kind of. The thing is, as much as I loved it, it also made me a little uncomfortable. I felt that a few of the jokes went just a little too far, past the so-called “acceptable” level of offensive humour and edging into the territory of just plain offensive. Now, others may agree or disagree with me on where that line lies (or even if it exists at all) but I had this slight moral struggle after going to see it the first time. Yet I went again.

On the drive home on Tuesday night one of the girls I had gone to see it with made the comment that it was almost easier to swallow the crass humour because of how straight up it was. Other films will dance around topics. You know exactly what they are getting at but they don’t, if you’ll excuse me, have the balls to outright say it. Pitch Perfect on the other hand, both the first and the second, is unabashedly racist and sexist to your face. It’s part of that absurdity that makes it funny.  Still, how can I love a film series so much but not agree with some of the things it promotes? If someone I knew said those things in real life, I would so not be okay with it.

I guess one thing to keep in mind is that it is a comedy. The things they are saying are said purposely to make people laugh, and yes, maybe even to get a rise out of them. The jokes I had a problem with are stereotypical and rude and it’s almost like they are funny just because they dared to say them out loud. Now, I will say, Pitch Perfect also has a secondary level of humour that you catch more of when you watch it more than once, jokes that aren’t so in your face which is one reason I like them.

At the end of the day, I still loved the movie, I still went to see it again, I will still buy it when it comes out. Does that make me a hypocrite to support media that promotes values I don’t agree with? I don’t know. I really don’t have an answer. I just figured I would share my thoughts on a movie I waited anxiously to see and thoroughly enjoyed, even if it made me question what I find funny and why I find it so. Maybe I’m reading way too much into this anyway haha!

What do you think? Have you seen the movie? Were there any jokes that you felt went too far? Am I a hypocrite?! Sound off below!

 Here’s the link to the trailer if anyone’s interested.

– Until next time, Sam

Grateful

Sometimes at night I like to think about all the things I am grateful for. The list often quickly becomes longer than I had expected.

I think it’s normally really easy to get caught up in the bad in life or the struggles we face. We focus more on what we don’t have than on the things we do and more on the things we want than on the needs that have already been fulfilled without our even having to ask. Stopping for just a few minutes to record the little things in life that make me happy and grateful is one of the easiest ways to keep myself looking at the positive and to remind myself how truly blessed I am.  Here are the things that I am grateful for tonight.

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– Laughter. The kind that makes your eyes water and your belly hurt, the kind you can’t stop or control. Best when accompanied by good friends.

– A warm bed, a home. To me, it seems normal and expected. Reminding myself that it is a privilege and not a given is important.

Warm spring rain. All rain is good, but this kind is special. It smells like new beginnings.

Tea. Need I say more?

-A God who loves me despite all my faults. I am the farthest person from perfect that I know but I am blessed enough to serve a God that looks past that and loves me unconditionally either way.

Access to healthcare. The dentist terrifies me but having untreated cavities sounds worse. Medicine may taste bad but I am so beyond lucky to have it when I need it.

-Peace. Both in my heart and in my country

-Poetry. Beauty expressed in words is my favourite

– Community. I am part of a church family that supports me, a school with more spirit than we know what to do with and I have world class friends and family members. What more could I want?

– Dreams. I mean this in two senses. One, who doesn’t like a fantastical sleep full of adventure and intrigue? It’s like a movie in your head! Also, dreams and vision for my future. It’s fun having things to look forward to and to aim for.

– Quiet time alone. Yes, I am an extrovert. Yes, I like to be alone in the silence sometimes!

– Thought provoking conversation. Let’s talk about life and have debates about complicated topics. I’ll learn and maybe, I’ll teach you too.

– Singing. In the shower or in the car, I will belt it out whether it sounds good or not. God gives us so many opportunities to choose joy everyday and music just makes my soul sing…so obviously I have to actually sing.

-Colours. How can you look at a tiny flower in bloom or the blue of the sky and not feel lucky to be alive and in such a vibrant and colourful world?

Honestly, this list could go on and on and on. There are so many things in my life that I feel so blessed to have. Are some of these trivial? Yep. But I’m choosing to try and find joy in even the smallest aspects of my life. Once you start looking, you may find you’ll never stop finding blessings in disguise.

No idea if this was of any interest to anyone other than myself but, c’est la vie right?

-Until next time, Sam

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With Everything – Giving Back What Isn’t Ours

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind  and with all your strength – Mark 12:30

Another year, another Overflow has come and gone! If you don’t remember (or never knew) what Overflow is, you can check out their website here or my blog post from last year, here!

Now, forewarning here, I have this problem called being distracted. Which means I spent a lot more time this weekend laughing than I did thinking about my blog. Which means, there aren’t photos. Sorry about that my friends! You’ll just have to use your imagination…or Google I guess.

So the thing is, last year’s blog post was easy to write. I could just write about what Overflow is, the event of it. But I can’t write the same post twice. And if I learned anything this year, it’s that the event isn’t what’s important. Music, sports events, games, performances, and lights and people can only get you so far. At the end of the day, it’s not about any of that. It’s about Jesus. It really is.

This was my fourth Overflow and for the first time, I wasn’t excited about going. I’m a really social person but the idea of loud music and people jumping around isn’t really my cup of tea. But God surpassed my expectations, as per the usual. He proved to me once again that what we do can’t limit His power, nor can it distract from His glory. Now, don’t get me wrong. Overflow is an amazing event that brings people together and provides a fun environment for people to encounter God. I’m so grateful to the tech and creative teams, the organizers, the speakers, band and youth leaders for giving up their time and energy to make Oflo the best it can be. What I’m trying to get at is that having an experience with God isn’t contingent on how good of an event we put on. We can meet with Him in our bedrooms, our school hallways, or in Walmart just as powerfully as we can in an arena full of people worshipping.

The theme this weekend was “With Everything”, the idea being that God doesn’t want just part of your life, He wants it all. This isn’t because he wants to control you, it’s because when you fully surrender He can begin to reveal His incredible plan for your life.

It makes me think of when I went with my Mom to visit Ottawa in the fall. She wanted to use the new GPS she had bought but didn’t trust it fully. So sometimes she would do what it said and others she would say “No, I remember the way, I’m sure we’ll get there faster if we go straight.” The GPS would then have to recalculate and usually we ended up having to backtrack, or extend the trip in order to get back on track. I remember getting frustrated and telling her that she couldn’t have it both ways. Either turn the GPS off and go your own way or listen to what it’s telling you to do! You can’t pick and choose what directions to follow. You trust the guidance or you don’t, there’s no in between. 

It’s the same thing with God. Following Him halfway sucks. It’s not fun, it’s confusing and it ends up getting you even more lost. The thing is, we aren’t always going to understand why He’s taking us a certain way. And that’s where faith comes into play. Do you trust Him with everything or does your faith have boundaries? If so, is it really worth it all? I can tell you, God’s plans can seem terrifying but they are designed perfectly in line with who you were created to be. This means that when you walk in the Spirit and in full confidence of God’s plan you will be more fulfilled in your talents and gifts than any other time. He knows better than even ourselves what we are capable of and how to use us to our fullest potential.

But here’s the kicker, the biggest part of “With Everything”. Giving everything to God is really just returning what is rightfully His. Everything we have and everything we are is just a reflection of who He is. All of our talent, our opportunities and yes guys, even our cash, are blessings that God has given us in order to be used for His plan. By re-entrusting it to Him, we can ensure that it will be used effectively.

Overall, Overflow is a life-giving event but it isn’t life-changing. Only Jesus has the ability to change lives. But it was an incredible weekend and I was blessed enough to be given an opportunity to use the gift of writing God has given me and share it with people in the form of spoken word poetry at the Overflow after-party. I was so nervous and thankful I didn’t puke like in the first Pitch Perfect movie haha! But when I was up on that stage, I felt full of the Holy Spirit and knew it was where I was meant to be in that moment. I’m so excited (abet nervous) to see where God is going to take my poetry and this blog in the next few years…trusting Him with every word I write.

My God is bright colours and I'm just enjoying all the different shades
My God is bright colours and I’m just enjoying all the different shades

Until next time, I hope you all have a lovely day

– Sam

Here’s the Recap video from last weekend if you want to see how cool it really is!

Let’s Talk about LOVE

We have corrupted love.

Previously a weightless ray of sun,

we have tied it to an anchor

and drowned it in the sea.

We have taken a word as strong as iron,

heated it with the fire of our indifference

and twisted it until it broke

into pieces

not useable for much.

 

We love Starbucks

and our hipster clothes.

We love driving fast in cars.

When did love start applying to

momentary satisfaction?

And why do we have such a shocked reaction

when God says love

is forever?

 

See we in our simplicity have taken

four Greek words and translated them as one.

But God had a single intention

when He sent his son

to earth.

 

Agape

No, it’s not a new flavour of smoothie

This

is a little foreign.

A little out of place on my lips

and a little startling

to the ears.

This is the love that we have lost

in the shadows of a world that is drowning itself

because it won’t let go of an

artificial emotion.

 

This love

comes with no terms and conditions

because we all know

nobody reads them.

Our father

already skimmed

and found the loophole.

 

Our father

can’t be discontinued because

eternity will always be in style.

 

Our father

doesn’t watch us be carried away downstream

and throw a paddle.

He jumps in

and pulls us out because

he’s not afraid of ruining his hair.

 

Our father

doesn’t cheer us on from the sidelines.

He will run every uphill mile

and piggyback you when you twist your ankle

or get a cramp

in your motivation.

 

Because He is Agape

 

And Agape is not a love that is stagnant

It doesn’t have an ending

Agape is a love

in the business of sending

us out

to find more people to Agape.

 

Agape asks for nothing in return.

Agape will give you it’s jacket in the rain.

Agape and love are not the same thing.

 

But we don’t use the word Agape.

Someone was too tired

and accidently spelt it

L-O-V-E

when transcribing.

 

But we are children

learning by example.

 

I will start liking Starbucks

but loving people.

I will stop expecting an “I love you too”

I will reclaim the word “love”

 

Because language is defined by the people who use it

 

I like to get my meaning across,

use precise diction.

So I will use action

to remove ambiguity from my words.

I will make

love mean Agape.

 

And you.

I will pull you out from the depths

and into the sunlight

because

God

loves

you.

And I want to be the dictionary

He gives you to define it.

Stop trying to hide the sun

You
have so much potential it spills out from every seam of your body
You don’t even notice
It’s like someone is trying to hide the sun
with a fishnet.
Everyone can see through the holes
but
you’re still holding it back.
I will cut through the ropes
with words of encouragement because
you
you will be a light so bright it will illuminate those around you
like the moon
reflects the sun
you
will do
great things.

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Realizing you like yourself is an incredibly liberating feeling.

I spend my Tuesday nights volunteering as a leader at my church’s Jr High ministry, Wired. The kids are in grades 6-8 and totally crazy but, I can honestly say I love it with all my heart. I see so much potential in the kids. They are kind and creative and funny and smart and I love spending time with them. Not going to lie, I probably learn more from their brutal honesty than I teach them, although I hope I can be an ally and a role model to them in a time that I know, from experience, can be a really difficult period in life.

Anyways, it can also sometimes be really hard on the heart. Kids these days do not have it easy. Even since I was a Jr. High, just 4-6 years ago, things have changed dramatically. Sure, kids were always mean to each other. But since technology and social media have exploded in the last few years, these kids are growing up way faster than I ever did. And they compare themselves to each other to no end.

I was never comfortable with who I was. In fact, when I went to Wired, I was pretty angry all the time. I thought it was stupid, wasn’t sure where I stood with God and felt like I didn’t fit in with the kids who had grown up in the church and seemed to have all the answers. They always wore the right clothes, won the games, knew what they believed in small group discussions and seemed to have it all together. I on the other hand was awkward with how I looked, unsure of what I had to say and therefore was pretty quiet at youth (hard to believe now, I know). In fact if it hadn’t been for one leader, Nicole, who consistently loved on me I probably wouldn’t have kept going. I was that unsure of myself.

Safe to say, I’ve come a long way. Those girls I was jealous of? They are now some of my best friends and I can tell you, while they are wonderful people, they don’t have it all together. I now talk probably more than is good for me and I feel confident in the leadership roles I have been entrusted with. So what changed?

I realized that my talents aren’t meant to be compared to those around me. I know it seems pretty straight forward but even in high school I would look around and ask God why I wasn’t as pretty as her, as likeable as her, didn’t have talents in music or sports like her and her, why I wasn’t as funny as her, why I couldn’t be a little less annoying or better looking and you know God, wouldn’t I be better able to serve you if I was XYZ….?
I’ve realized now that I legitimately don’t want to be anyone but me. I have my problems but so does everyone else. By not being the typical “pretty girl” I’ve been saved from heartbreak and know that people like me for who I am inside. And my outgoing personality? I know it can be intimidating at times but for the most part it allows me to love people with everything I have. I love to talk to people and get to know them and laugh with them. I’ve learned that I may have no sense of rhythm but I have been blessed with a way with words, a love of poetry (something I’m just starting to explore), a passion for finding ways to communicate. I’m a storyteller and a people person and I am happy.

I’m happy.

And tonight at small groups, I wanted nothing more for those sweet girls to know how truly wonderful they are. They all are so different and I see them watch each other, trying to see who has the best gifts. But I’m learning that God really can use us each for our purpose. And I can see now that I wouldn’t be happy doing things I’m not meant for. And that is such a freeing thing to have confidence in.

Whoever you are, you do have gifts. They may not be the ones that are common or praised but they are there. Or maybe you are the athlete and the musician. That’s awesome too! Go for it with everything you have. Every quirk that makes you different from your siblings or friends can be used for greatness. If we all spent more time learning how to use our personalities and being confident in who we are, rather than wishing away our uniqueness, we would all be happier and the world would be filled with more beauty, creativity, innovation, intelligence and contentment.

So cheer on your friends in their talents and give yours a go! You have the potential for incredible things.
I can’t wait to watch my Wired kids grow into themselves and I pray that in gr 12 they will be able to look back and say yeah, I’m happy with who I am.

-Love, Sam

Gallivanting into the future

Hey friends!

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Long time, no see. Sorry about that. School this year is kind of kicking my butt. Not so much that the workload is bad but that I’m really struggling to find motivation. It’s odd; I love my classes but I wish I could just go and have these long discussions about politics and economics and the world and poetry and not have to do random assignments that have no impact on the real world.

Anyway, not really the point of this. Today was an absolutely lovely day filled with music and good friends and hope for the future, so I figured I’d write a little something even though it’s late and I should be in bed.

Now that I can drive, having the car for a night is such a treat. I love having the freedom to want to do something and then just being able to go and do it. Tonight, I was out with some friends and then decided to stop by another’s house for a quick visit. I had just come to the top of a huge hill in our neighbourhood when I quite literally had my breath taken away by the beauty of the sunset. The entire sky was taken up by it and I felt so glad to be alive in that moment. Lately, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by all the bad taking place in the world.

Last week I visited a courthouse in Toronto and witnessed an hour or so of a murder trial and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. And then there is the earthquake in Nepal which makes my stomach twist and my heart hurt every time I think about. And I don’t know if any of you see it around you, but the people in my life lately seem to be so confused or angry or hurting. But tonight I was reminded that there is so much good in the world. A friend of mine, Lauren, recently came back from doing missions work in India, Scotland and the Congo and was talking about seeing terrible things in the world but still being able to walk away and say “But God is faithful”

But God is faithful

In every situation, in every moment, God is faithful.

There is a verse in Hosea that I absolutely love and it goes

Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth – Hosea 6:3

The sun always rises and God is always faithful. I think one of the things I love most about that verse is that he will come to use like winter rains. Most of us, I think can agree, winter just is not fun. Maybe for a little bit, around Christmas, but mostly, cold, wet and gloomy is not what I prefer. But God comes. In something we may perceive to be bad, God comes.

I guess what I’m getting at is this. There is evil in the world. There is. And you know what? It sucks. But there is also good. There are sunsets and sunrises and good friends and warm tea and laughter and an entire world to discover. And there are people who work towards finding the good like the lawyers at the trial I visited and aid workers trying to help rebuild in Nepal. And there are people who will just give you a hug and tell you that you matter (if you ever need that, just let me know, I really love hugs, and you dear reader). Best of all, there is a God who loves us, fiercely and passionately and relentlessly. I just feel blessed to have been given a shot at life and I can’t wait to explore.

I want this to mark the start of a new beginning for Sam’s Grand Adventure. Because, sorry to say, there are no “adventures” looming in the future. There are no plane tickets booked, no bags waiting to be packed. But there are things to learn and people to talk to and ridiculous situations to get myself into. I’ve been associating adventure with travel but honestly, just living is an adventure. How cool is it that everyday is unique? That today, you had conversations you will never have again, that tomorrow is (as cheesy as it is) is actually a mystery? Not to mention, if you want a real adventure, try giving your future over to God. You’ll end up doing crazy stuff that pushes you out of your comfort zone on a daily basis, like asking a stranger to have coffee with you, or deciding to perform poetry that you wrote live in front of people or acting out life advice in the bookshelves of Chapters. Maybe thats just me, my life is basically a comedy show.

So if you’ve read all the way to the end, koodos to you! I know this has been long, and kind of all over the place. But yeah, that’s where I’m at. I think the whole time I’ve been blogging, I’ve been so worried about making it good and making people want to read it. But it’s called Sam’s Grand Adventure. I’m Sam, and if you stick with me, maybe we’ll learn some things together. I’m going searching for the good and trusting God to help me find it.

I’d be honored if you came along for the ride!unnamed  – Sam

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