Dear Friend…

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Hey friends, happy Saturday!

I hope your week has been going well. It’s been a pretty busy one for me here at school. Aside from classes,work, and skating on the canal, I’ve also had interviews and training for some volunteer organizations I’ve been working on getting involved with here in Ottawa. More to come on that as soon as it’s all confirmed!

But this week I also set aside an hour of time to do something seemingly small but oh so special. I wrote a letter to a friend who’s currently living out of the country. I bought a pretty card, caught her up on what’s been going on in my life, wrote some little encouragements, decorated the envelope and then sent it off. I wrote another one to my sister, wishing her luck with her high school exams. It’s such a small thing to do but I know that when I get a letter in the mail it is so exciting. I think this is for two main reasons.

  1. It’s unusual. With the crazy connectivity of social media, we kind of have no reason to send each other “snail mail”. It’s just not a social norm anymore. Why bother when you can send someone a text and get an instant response or call them on FaceTime? So when you get a letter in the mail, it’s totally out of the ordinary and that makes it exciting.
  2.  It’s personal. Getting a letter means that someone was thinking of you. It means they took time out of their day to intentionally sit down and communicate with you, even when you weren’t together. It shows that they truly care enough to keep in touch. I think that letter writing is the most personal form of communication other than actually talking face to face.
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A letter I got a while back from a camp friend

Honestly, it’s just special. And I love doing it, it’s kind of fun to sit down and actually write things by hand and make little jokes and address the envelope….it feels novel! So here are some “tips and tricks” to send some snail mail of your own!

  1. Write naturally. This is your friend! You don’t have to try and sound the way you think a letter is supposed to sound or start and end a certain way. Greet them the way you do in real life, tell them a story. Remind them of an inside joke. Write the way you talk. It’s just an ink and paper chat.
  2. Be encouraging. Getting a letter in the mail can be such a joyful occurrence. It’s like an unexpected ray of sunshine in a regular day! So write some kind words of encouragement, tell them you’re proud of what they’re up to or that you’re grateful for their friendship. It’s just nice to hear and be reminded of the things they already know. And the best part about it being written in a letter is that they can read over it another day when they need a friendly word.
  3. Decorate the envelope. This is my absolute favourite part! It’s so fun and the envelopes look so cute afterwards. I always draw flowers and little designs on the envelopes when I send mail to people. In my mind, I also always think that it might make the mail carriers smile. It’s worth the extra time.

Maybe it’s because my love language is words of affirmation or just because I love to talk and letters are an excuse to jabber on without interruption, but I really think that writing mail is a lost art form that we should revive. I realized how much it means to me to get a card at camp the past couple of summers; getting mail literally gave me so much joy it was ridiculous. Especially when it was from my old campers!

I tend to be pretty bad at keeping in touch with people long distance (sorry friends) but writing a letter is an intentional and momentary activity: a one shot deal. I’m actually able to “talk” to people without feeling like I have to be in constant contact via Snapchat or text.

So that’s that. Just a quick little post about something I’ve been trying to do more of and why I think it’s so great. Send a letter this week to someone you love and let them know you were thinking about them!

Until next time,

-Sam

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I’m hoping Dayna doesn’t see this before she gets it, hehe!

 

 

 

 

Sunday Night Musings

Sundays are for sleeping in and brunch with friends, for catching up on readings and spending time with Jesus. Sundays aren’t always a day of rest but it’s best when they are. Today was one of those lazy, lovely Sundays.

It’s not very often I just lie in bed, awake but still cozy in my blankets and nest of pillows. Today I did. Well, actually I got up and made a tea, got my bible and then climbed back in. I did my devotions and lay and thought about life for a while. Just when I had almost convinced myself that I was going to be productive today, BAM. An old high school friend texted and asked if I wanted to have brunch. Should I have said no? Probably. But I didn’t, because life chats and crêpes from Cora’s are better than the library life any day.

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We ended up coming back to my residence afterwards because Michelle lives off campus and wanted to see what LeBlanc is like. For me, trying to see my friends and our interactions from an outsiders point of view was so interesting. She kept commenting on how close we all seem to be and it made me grateful all over again that I get to spend this year living in such a close knit and fun community. And at the same time, I got to spend my afternoon with someone from home. It felt like my two worlds were mixing, just a little. It was so fun talking to someone who knows the same people I know and misses some of the same places and things.

I didn’t end up making it to church (which, by the way, I think I’ve found one) because I was having trouble figuring out the bus schedules to get there. But my God isn’t contained to a building or a group of people. I went to my room and listened to some worship music and dreamt about the future and prayed for my friends and read some theology blogs. I just got to hang out with Jesus. Anyone who could hear my music through the wall (totally a possibility in res) probably wondered why on earth I was listening to the same song over and over again. But sometimes words just speak to my soul and show me God in a clear and powerful way. Today that happened with the song “All the Poor and Powerless” by All Sons and Daughters.

 When it was finally time to get a start on my homework, I made a “To Do” list on my desk whiteboard, as I always do. Today though I decided to start with a bible verse to keep myself focused. This verse really made me think today and I posted it on Instagram with a caption: 

Started my “TO DO” list with some encouragement tonight. Right now my “wherever” happens to be the desk in my dorm room. Definitely not all that exciting and not exactly frightening nor requiring of courage. But the fact of the matter remains that God is WITH me. Whether I’m at a desk or on top of a mountain (please?) I can rest easy with the knowledge that God’s got my back. Also, with Arabic and Econ at the top of that list, I’mma need the back up.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened. Do not be dismayed. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” -Joshua 1:9

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And now, I’m here. Sitting at my desk, more behind in homework than I should be and yet completely satisfied and content. Working hard is important but so is having days of rest. Thank you Sunday for being so lovely. You’ve set the stage for a wonderful week.

Until next time,

-Sam

Learning to be Still

 

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Study central

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still – Exodus 14:14

Even though I have only been back at school for a week and a half, it already feels like months have gone by. Between finding classes, switching courses, buying textbooks and catching up with friends, it seems as though Christmas break never even happened.

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Very busy “TO DO” list this week

Last semester, I ended up being really, really stressed out, particularly in October when I had the bulk of my midterms and papers due. Although I don’t regret my first semester of university, as I learned a lot, this semester I’m making a concerted effort to be more organized, prioritize what’s important to me and make school not so much a struggle but a season on my life to enjoy to the fullest. I made myself a list of 16 goals (I’m ambitious okay) that I’ve actually been looking over at the end of each day and trying to ask myself if I made most of them happen that day.

And it’s incredible how much of a difference some of those things have made even in just the few short weeks I’ve been working on them. I’m not going to lie, getting up at 7am every day is not my favourite thing in the world and my floormates are not super impressed by my insistence on my “bedtime” of 11pm. But SERIOUSLY my days feel like actual, full, productive days! My friend Tati wrote a great post this week about becoming a morning person and  it’s crazy how much of a difference it makes. And the libraries are so quiet in the morning, having a cup of tea and ploughing through a couple of chapters of econ or history can be accomplished before most people are even out of bed.

But in the last week or so, I’ve been realizing something else that is important: knowing when to be still. Between classes, readings, working out, volunteering, clubs, friends, errands etc., I sometimes have to take a minute to be still, and just breathe. I talked about this actually last semester as well but clearly didn’t learn my lesson.

Which brings me to the point of this point. Every year, I choose a word to focus on, kind of a theme for my year. Last years word was courageous . This year, nothing was really coming to me and I kind of had decided to just go with “Joy” since one of my goals was to “choose joy”.

But then I went away to Wintercon, a weekend retreat with my school’s Christian fellowship. It was a time to get to know each other and learn about the “good news” of the gospel. It was definitely an amazing experience. Upstairs they had this prayer room which was absolutely beautiful and peaceful.

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p.c. Steve Kim @ stevekinsung.wordpress.com

All weekend however, I had a song stuck in my head that I used to sing with my choir in high school. The lyrics go:

When the oceans rise and thunders roar

I will soar with You above the storm

Father you are King over the flood

I will be still and know you are God

The word still really stood out to me, in two senses. One, for me to be still, in the busyness of life, to take time and just be in God’s presence. And secondly, still as a steadfastness, a continuation, an “even now”, an always. Since being in school I sometimes find myself just trying to get through it so I can move on with my life, forgetting why I’m here. But this weekend I was really reminded that God still has  plans for me, that the passions and promises he has given me are still remembered and that he is still with me everyday. In particular I really felt affirmed and renewed passion about my call and love for Nepal which I’ve written about here and here. My friend Dayna is actually there right now (as was my friend Tori about a month ago) and hearing their stories and seeing their pictures just makes me so much more excited for when the day comes that I finally get to go and explore this place I feel inexplicably drawn to. These are some of Dayna’s pictures, so of course photo credit goes to her!

So that’s my word for the year. Still. It will be interesting to learn how God can bring about incredible adventures for me, even when I am patiently standing still.

Sorry if this hasn’t been a super interesting post for you guys to read! This one has been (and let’s be real, several of my recent posts are as well) a lot of personal reflection and letting my thoughts spill out onto my blog…not to fear! I’m trying to come up with some fresh and interesting content soon so stay tuned!

Until then, I hope you’re having a lovely day. Pro tip: studying with a facemask and a cp of tea is pretty not bad.

-Sam

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Not a great picture but I got glasses for the first time this week. What do you think?

happy little bookworm

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me”

-C. S. Lewis

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As a child, I was what you’d call a bookworm, in the most extreme sense. I blew through thick novels like Anne of Green Gables in second grade and often started a book in the morning over breakfast, finishing it by the time I clicked off my light at night. I read anything and everything I could get my hands on. I’m not using hyperbole when I say that in elementary school I went through thousands of books.

In high school, my speed reading lost a bit of it’s steam. I became more involved in school and extracurricular activities and reading for pleasure became a little bit harder to fit into my busy schedule. Still, I managed to find time to discover new favourites and reread old ones. I even had reading traditions, such as reading 3 classics at minimum each summer and reading the Narnia series every Christmas break.

Until now. Now, I am in university. I’m a bookworm in hibernation, wound up in a cocoon of textbook readings and frazzled study sessions. I have not read a single book that wasn’t for school purposes since I moved to Ottawa. And that my friends, is a problem.

ENTER CHRISTMAS BREAK

Long awaited and much anticipated, the Christmas holiday finally arrived. 3 full weeks where I could spend whole days drinking in inky pages and downing mugs of hot tea, should I so desire. Now, let’s be real. I’ve been working over the break. I’ve had umpteen family Christmas party commitments. I’ve been sleeping more than is necessary for any one human being and grabbing coffee with as many old friends as possible. And yet, falling snow and spare time have become the perfect setting for diving into my bedside table book stack. I swear, I’d somehow forgotten how enthralling it can be to lose yourself in a story.

The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

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I might have kind of sort of…stolen this book. Or at least temporarily adopted it. A friend had left it in my room a few days before I came home and when I was packing to go, I threw it in my bag on a whim. I figured, if it was his favourite book, I should at least give it a chance. I kid you not, I opened it as soon as I sat down in the terminal to wait for my train. By the time we pulled into Union Station in Toronto, I’d eaten up more than half the pages.

The Bell Jar is not a happy book, I can tell you that. It’s beautifully descriptive and yet very blunt at the same time. It’s sad. Really sad. And yet, hopeful at the same time. The last chapter is open ended; the reader can choose to belief the best for Esther’s future or the worst. It made me think and it made my heart ache but most of all, it made me glad to be alive. Because even though there is deep sadness in the world, I still breath every second.

A Work in Progress – Connor Franta

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To be brutally honest, I wasn’t expecting much from Connor Franta’s debut book. My sister is the definition of a YouTube fangirl and in an attempt to show interest in her hobbies, I know my fair share about the whole community, fandom or whatever you want to call it. But I find that many celebrities write books just because they can; they often don’t actually have much to say.

Connor’s book was a breath of fresh air. First of all, it’s extremely aesthetically pleasing. The cover, the photos, the font, the layout, it really is a beautiful book. But hey, we’re talking about reading here!

To cut it short: it was good. He’s funny and has a strong voice that carries throughout. I actually really loved the writing and was so impressed with the clear amount of effort he put into making this book great. His antidotes are interesting and his honestly is relatable. Kudos to you Connor Franta, you caught me off guard! A Work in Progress actually turned out to be a really fun read.

The Fellowship of the Ring – J. R. R. Tolkien

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Yes, I know I should have gotten around to reading Lord of the Rings sooner. No, I don’t regret having waited until now. Why? Because reading a good book for the first time is an experience you never get back. A first reading is something to savour and enjoy because you’ll never be fully surprised by every plot twist and storyline again.

Lord of the Rings is, so far, all it’s cracked up to be. It really is an adventure, which as you all know is something close to my heart. I’m just about halfway through right now, having put it aside to type up this blog, and tomorrow I’m planning to go sit in a coffee shop downtown, and loiter,  drinking tea in a big armchair until I’m through with it. It’s been too long since I’ve spent hours truly abandoned in a story, allowing myself to forget what’s going on around me. I’m grateful this holiday for the world Tolkien created, and that I have time to immerse myself in it. One of my favourite things is all the little rhymes, poems and songs. They make the world seem even more real, like it really does have it’s own folklore and culture.

So as you can tell, my little bookworm heart is in holiday heaven. I haven’t read a crazy amount, but enough to make my heart happy and to give my imagination the chance to stretch out and shake away the cobwebs. And to top it off, I got Chapters gift cards for Christmas so last night I went on a little spree.

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Mere Christianity – C. S. Lewis

I love, love, love C.S.Lewis. I’ve been meaning to read Mere Christianity for a long time and now that it will have a home on my bookshelf back at school, I’m hoping I’ll have time to read it soon.

A Walk in the Woods – Bill Bryson

Another long awaited read. And another adventure story, though this one really happened! I have an absolute fascination with “thru-hiking”, the practice of walking a long trail all at once, over the course of several months. My friends tease me that when my future husband proposes to me, I’m going to say yes on the condition that I get to spend 6 months hiking the Appalachian Trail first! I’ve been waiting for a soft cover (less expensive) copy of Bryson’s recounting to come out for ages.

Reading Lolita in Tehran – Azar Nafisi

I’ve just now while writing this realized that all three of these books are non-fiction, rather unusual for me. This book is the wild card, one that I picked up off the shelf just because the cover reminded me of Three Cups of Teaa book I love. It’s a true story about women in Iran meeting in secret to read forbidden classic novels and something about it just made me feel like I had to get it. I guess we will see.

Cute notecards

Like I said, I seriously love mail. I love sending it, I love getting it, I love decorating the envelopes and writing to people I care about. These cute notecards I picked up say “Have a ridiculously amazing day!”and I can’t wait to surprise my friends and family with a little bit of happy encouragement this semester!

And just because my deprived bookish brain hasn’t been able to get enough of beautifully strung together words, I’ve been binge reading blogs left right and centre. Some of favourites this week have been Life as a Dare, Ordinary Adventures, Rose and Bliss, A Journey I Call My Own, You Make Something Out of Nothing, and Untidy Grace if you want to see what I’ve been reading!

Well, that’s about all for now. To any other bookworms and book lovers out there, here’s to another great adventure, another world, another life, another read.

I’m off to find a cozy nook to hide in. I simply must find out what happens to Frodo, Gandolf and the rest of the gang.

Until next time,

-Sam

p.s. how cute is my dog with his teddy bear??

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Visionner « Will Reagan & United Pursuit – Find My Own Flame » sur YouTube

Praying and thinking tonight at lot about Nepal, my favourite mountainous little country and about my future career,  family and adventures. This song came to mind and I’m loving it.

I want my life to be raw and real
I don’t want to be just dry bones
I want to live a life driven by passion and purpose

Lord, help me find my own flame, my own place. Plant a passion inside me for whatever you want me to do.

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A fresh blog and a messy picture

Tada! New Year, new blog!

My intention with this little impromptu overhaul was simply to make my site more easily navigated. I was constantly getting frustrated by the lack of an archive and bio panel, like the one now to the side, as well the inability to see visibly how posts are organized. I was getting confused and it’s my blog! I know all the little ins and outs and how to find things, so I can only imagine how difficult it was for others to find archives, recent posts and even a simple search bar. I hope this update has made it easier!

The other reason was because I wanted a cleaner, more professional look. I was getting a little tired of the yellow graphic at the top of the page and this theme allows me to have the focus on content and not unnecessary clutter.

It’s still not perfect, but I’m liking it at the moment. I hope you do too! This blog is always changing and evolving as I learn how to use the site better and figure out what I want it to look like. Thanks for bearing with me!

Lastly, a quick note about the photo I’ve chosen as the header. For the longest time, I’ve had a shot there of myself sitting on a wall in Lausanne, Switzerland looking out over the water and the mountains. I LOVE that picture, I really do. That day is such a sweet memory and it reminds me to keep looking forward to new adventures. With my new theme however, I could’t get it to fit quite right and I took it as a sign to try something new. After an annoyingly long time, I finally chose this one.

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It’s from a train trip Amen and I took in Interlaken. Again, a wonderful adventure and fond memory. But that’s not why I chose the picture. I picked it because it’s far from perfect. There are wires everywhere disrupting the view. Amen was calling for me to hurry up and the train was actually in motion when I snapped it. It was cloudy and there are several safety signs making an appearance; not exactly photography gold. Let’s be real, it’s not a great shot. But there’s something about it that screams adventure to me. It’s real. It’s motion and blue sky and messy composition.

It’s adventure. Sam’s Grand Adventure. A name chosen because it sounded regal and, in my humble opinion, rather epic. Grand adventures don’t have to be sailing seas in high winds and climbing mountains with good friends (although that does sound exciting). Grand adventures are long and have many ups and downs. They are chasing trains and finding dusty books in old stores. They are laughing over tea until you have tears in your eyes and worrying about what you want to be when you grow up. Life, life is a grand adventure. And that picture up there, is just one example of how messily perfect grand adventures can be.

I hope you like the new layout. I really wasn’t intending this post to be more than a few words but then again, sometimes words seem to spill out of my fingertips like they have a mind of their own. Maybe I’ve been reading too much Lord of the Rings and have my brain all tangled up in what it must be like to set out on an epic adventure.

Until next time,

-Sam

2016-A year to truly LIVE

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It’s January 2nd, 2016 and I’m currently curled up on the couch with a cup of chai and some Christmas cookies. The house is quiet. I’m wearing a pink fuzzy onesie. My dog is sleeping (and literally snoring) beside me. Life is SO good.

It’s only two days into the New Year and 2016 is already treating me well. I came home on New Years after the count down and sat and chatted with friends until 4 in the morning. On the 1st, I got to go back to my old job and work with my favourite co-worker from high school. Then my sister and our friends picked me up and I went to their house out in the country for a sleepover and movies. It’s been so relaxed and nice. I feel so blessed to be able to spend the first week of the year at home in Barrie, catching up with friends and family, going for long drives, sleeping tons and preparing myself for the semester (and year) ahead.

Looking out over a whole new year is both exciting and nerve -wracking but most of all, hopeful. There are so many possibilities and adventures waiting to happen. I know that as long as I continue to trust God and give everything I do my full effort, life will always be full of opportunity.

That being said, I love to take New Years as a time to look at my life and find areas that can be improved. I’ve learned over the years that many people don’t keep the resolutions they commit to on January 1st. But for myself, I need goals and benchmarks to work towards. What better time then the start of a year to set up goals? Sure, some may get broken or not turn out exactly the way I hope but if I don’t try, things will never change. And I find that even having them written out (and this year published online for anyone to read!) makes me way more motivated to stick to them and make things happen! I’m never one to step down from a challenge and I LOVE the feeling you get when you’ve worked hard for something and you succeed. Some of these are little, some of them are big. Some will require an everyday commitment and some can be accomplished in one go. Some of them may seem silly to you, or unrealistic. Maybe some of them ARE unrealistic. But I’m writing them down, big and small. And I’m committing to 2016 being better than 2015. I’m committing to these goals and all that they may entail. So here they are, in no particular order, 16 goals for 2016.

1. Speak more French.  I moved all the way to Ottawa, in large part due to the fact that it is a bilingual school. I take classes in French. I’ve made Francophone friends and, for goodness sake, I live in the French residence! Want to know what I don’t do? Speak French. Like ever. I know that I’ve lost a lot of my vocabulary since coming home from Switzerland, that I make a lot of grammar errors and that I have a strong accent. But I need to just get over myself. I’m going to try to speak French this year whenever I can, rather than just when I have to. 

2. Swim 200km. I thought a lot about this number. 100 seemed like too little to be of significance. 300 seemed unattainable. So, 200 it is. This fall, I finally got committed to going to the pool and was swimming 3-5 times a week. It became less of a chore and something I actually looked forward to, a reward after a long day of studying. It’s something I really, really want to continue and commit to in 2016 because it makes me feel so much better to be working out consistently. By putting a number on it, I have something measurable to commit to long term. And, I just think it will be cool to look back on and actually know how far I swam when I add it all up at the end of the year. Good thing I got a new bathing suit for Christmas!

3. Read the Bible. ALL of it. Go big or go home right? Something I’ve been really struggling with is making time to read my Bible and do devotions since going to university. Someone in the Christian fellowship posted in our Facebook group today, asking if anyone wanted to do a reading plan to go through the Word by the end of the school year. Perfect for me, short time frame and accountability. After that, I’m hoping it will become habit. I’m starting today and if you’d like to join me, this is plan I/we’re following. You read all the chapters across the row and move down the columns each day.

4. Finish the sweater I’m knitting.

5. Cut down on social media. I seriously waste WAY too much time on my phone. Before bed, when I wake up in the morning, in the dining hall if I’m eating alone, as a way to procrastinate while studying. Most of that time is spent flipping between Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’ve decided to disable Twitter for the time being as it is the least useful of my social media accounts and to just make a conscious effort to check my media less often. It’s a major unnecessary time waster.

6. Keep my GPA high enough to renew my entrance scholarship for next year. This is going to be a tough one, but I’m determined (and luckily, on track after 1st semester). Grades aren’t the most important thing but I do pride myself in working hard to achieve them. I want to use the opportunity I’ve been given to get an education and my goal is to get a GPA of 8.5/10 in order to renew the $3000 scholarship I was given this fall. I’ve learned a lot about how best to study after first semester and get the grades I want without losing my mind. The biggest one is stopping procrastination and prioritizing my health as much as my grades. And remembering that all-nighters are not my friend. Time management IS.

7. Blog once a week. This is a big one for me. Over the Christmas break I’ve remembered just how much writing means to me. It’s something I’m so passionate about and blogging is an amazing way to practice writing consistently. And it’s fun. And it’s not stressful. And I feel like it’s part of God’s plan for my life. Making time for it (an “non-essential” activity in the world of school) is going to be hard but that why it’s a goal; something to work towards.

8. Reclaim my mornings. Or…claim them…for the first time. Let’s get this straight. I am NOT a morning person by any stretch of the imagination. I’m happiest sleeping until noon and staying up past 2am. But I read this blog a few weeks ago about making mornings a productive and enjoyable part of your day. I’m kind of tired of jumping out of bed 10 minutes before class, gulping down coffee without eating breakfast and bemoaning my 8:30 classes. SO I’m going to try my very hardest to get up at 7am. That gives me time to go for a swim before class or just sit and have a tea and read my Bible (yes, two birds with one stone!), or make myself an omelette to have a good breakfast. Don’t worry, I’m still going to let myself sleep in once in a while but I’m praying that God gives me the strength to approach mornings with joy and productivity this year!

9. Find a church to call “home”. Being involved in a church community is so important to me and I’ve yet to find a church in Ottawa to call home. I went to one for several weeks in a row and though I was good to go but in December I started to strongly feel like God was telling me that it wasn’t where I was supposed to plant myself for these next 4-5 years. I’m praying that I’ll find somewhere I can find fellowship and actually GROW my faith.

#churchsearch2k16

10. Eat healthier. I know this is pretty basic but I noticed in the last little while how much BETTER I feel when I’m eating well and limiting my intake of sugar and processed food. A bit of a challenge with a 24 hour dining with a dessert bar and unlimited french fries but I’m going to do my best to eat salads and fruit and veggies and chicken and all that good stuff rather than pizza and ice cream!

11. Make my bed. A little thing, but in my small dorm room, makes all the difference.

12. Invest less in things and more in experiences. For Christmas this year, I asked to go on a family vacation instead of getting tons of unnecessary “things”, so we’re going to the Dominican Republic during reading week (YAY). I’m going to spend my Christmas money on a winter retreat with my school’s Christian fellowship and a trip to Carnaval in Quebec City. These are adventures that I will cherish far more than clothes I don’t really need or random things that just take up space. This year, I’m going to focus on doing things rather than buying things.

13. Spend more time outside. I want to go on a canoe trip this summer. I want to go hiking with my best friend. I want to sleep under the stars. I want to jump in lakes and eat lunch under the trees. I want to skate on the canal and go for long walks with friends and feel the cold winter air in my lungs. Like I mentioned in a recent post  I realized that being outside in the world God made seriously feeds my soul and makes my life so much better.

14. Pray intentionally. In high school, I loved making prayer lists and taking time to go through them and pray for people by name, for situations in the world, for really whatever God put on my heart. I believe that prayer has power and interceding on the behalf of others makes my soul sing. This year I want reintegrate intentional prayer into my life.

15. Volunteer. Again, this was something I was really passionate about in high school but have let slip since starting university. In high school I learned how to serve without expecting anything in return and God gave me so many opportunities to show love through the giving of my time. I learned that the least glamorous jobs are the ones that need doing, like stacking chairs or cleaning toilets or sorting paperwork. Over the break, I went with my old youth pastor to the Salvation Army and helped make and serve dinner. It was just a few hours of my week but they so appreciated having some extra hands around. My life in high school kind of revolved around my many volunteer commitments and I LOVED it so so much. I want to find that again and make this year not just about me. I’m not sure how I’m going to volunteer (I’ve been sending tons of emails out) but I’m willing to do whatever God gives me the opportunity to do. One thing I’m really excited about is the possibility of teaching swimming lessons to kid with special needs but I’m still waiting to hear back from them (who knew volunteer placements could be so hard to find??) However it turns out, people are important to me and therefore so is stepping outside of my own desires and putting time aside to serve others practically.

16. Choose joy. Last but definitely not least. Funnily enough “Choose joy” has been my Twitter bio for the last year or so but I don’t feel like I’ve been taking my own advice as of late. Emotions are fickle but I can CHOOSE to be joyful in every situation and every moment of 2016. The absolute best definition of this that I found was in a devotional by Rick Warren :

“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation” 

In 2016, I am going to be assured of God’s plan for my life, I am going to delight in the seemingly mundane and I am going to praise the Lord for every blessing in my life.

I think that what I’m most excited about for this year to to just GET BUSY. It’s so easy to feel  caught up in day to day life and go through the motions rather than actually living life. In December, a leader from my high school youth group was killed in a car collision at the age of 24. When going through his things, they found a painting that he had made and put up on his wall. It read “There’s more to living than being alive” and that phrase has been rolling around my brain ever since. Colin was an amazing leader, a man of God, a role model, an artist, and a person who loved humbly and practically. He LIVED. It’s made me think so much the last couple of weeks about what I want my life to look like.

This is life. This is all it is. It’s the day to day. For me right now, it’s going to school, it’s living in res, it’s late nights studying in the library. But I’m not going to wait to start living. In high school, I was always so crazy busy. I made time for things I loved. I volunteered, I wrote, I followed crazy dreams (see Switzerland), I sought God, I knit, I read. And I thrived being busy and involved in life. I guess, to sum up all of these goals I could have just said

“Stop procrastinating, stop wasting time and start remembering what it’s like to be passionate”. 

Because isn’t that what it’s all about? God put me on this earth for a purpose. I’m pursuing that purpose with my education but I know that there is more to life than books and papers. This year, these goals, are all just another step in my attempt to do life the best that I can, to live, to love people, to follow God, to be adventurous.

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2016, I’m coming for you. I’m ready to live this year, present and joyfully. I’m ready for the adventure a fresh new year brings.

And you, dear readers? Thank you all for taking the time to read and be a part of my life. It humbles me and makes me so incredibly thankful that people actually take the time to read my thoughts and follow my attempts at the blogging world. Thank you, a million times over. And welcome to the New Year. You too have an opportunity, 365 days to live out however you choose. What are you going to do this year? What goals will you set? How are you going to live life as an adventure?

-Sam

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