An ode to 2017

2017. What a year.

Thank you for being one of the best yet. Thank you for allowing me to pursue myself, to pursue passion, to pursue learning, to pursue adventure, and above all to pursue Jesus and the plans He has for me. It’s been so good.

2018: you’ve got a lot to live up to…somehow I’m believing you’ll be even better.

So here’s to you, 2017, with all your jumbled joy and challenge. Thanks for being:

 

A year of adventure and of travel.

A year of learning.

A year of working and a year of rest.

A year of strangers and of friends and of family.

A year of thriving.

A year of passion, of cultivating dreams, a year of sparks being fanned into flames.

A year of church searching and finding.

A year of getting lost and of laughing.

A year of rain dancing and mountain climbing, a year of paddle buying and canoe trip leading.

A year of address changing.

A year of deep question asking

A year of meetings and long days in a cubicle

A year of language learning and poem reciting.

A year of climbing and of hiking, of dancing and of stretching

A year of coffee shops and life chats that lasted until the wee hours of the morning.

A year of geyser watching and waterfall chasing, of cave swimming and pouring rain zip lining.

A year of book reading and blog writing.

A year of coffee drinking and bread baking.

A year of bike riding and of long walk taking

A year of chasing the future and a year of quiet nights taking it the now

A year of back porch dreaming and fairy light hanging

A year of prayer and of pensiveness

A year of breathing deeply in Creation

A year of gratitude

A year of changed plans and positive attitudes

A  year of late night essay writing, of co-op interviewing, of office hours visiting, of difficult exam taking.

A year of duty and floor meetings, of loving residents and loving my teams

A year of bucket lists actually fulfilled

A year of inspiration

A year of loving people and of being alone

A year of contentment and of peace

A year of ignition, a year of climbing to the high diving board and getting ready to leap

A year of being spontaneous

A year of being unapologetic in pursuing who God created me to be.

Sometimes a year of anger, of fear, of frustration.

Mostly a year of hope and of joy.

Always a year of Jesus, a year of faithfulness, a year of promises fulfilled.

Thank you.

2018. I am ready for all you have to offer.

 

Cultivate sparks – a 2017 thesis statement

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Have you ever tried to write an essay without brainstorming first? Just started writing with the hope that your thesis will magically refine itself as you spew nonsensical and unrelated facts? In my experience this is usually a late night, last minute, coffee fuelled approach to assignments. Sometimes it works out okay but the papers are NEVER as thoughtful, articulate and compelling as the ones I spend (literally) weeks researching, mind mapping, discussing, and reworking. The university paper I’ve been most proud of was one where I changed my thesis several times, discussed it with my professor and made all kinds of examples and connections that helped me understand the topic better, even if they didn’t end up in the finished project. Well put together papers take time…and I need to have an outline to know where I am going. 

I find that New Year’s resolutions are too often of the former approach. We frantically make them, (often too many of them) without actually considering how we are going to make them fit together. How are we going to actually make it from the opening paragraph (January) and effectively bring them to life and expand them throughout the body of the year, wrapping them up in December in a way that is still connected? And with no grades on the line like there is in school, how do we make sure we actually finish the “2017 paper” rather than having it be left unfinished like so many other years aspirations?

As with a paper for a class, our goals for a new year need to have a theme. Something that ties them together, a theme, a thesis so to speak. That’s how I see the “one word” new years goals. The theme is looked at from different angles every day but it weaves it’s way all the way through, tying the year together from start to finish. Anyone who has been keeping up with my blog for a while would know that for the past few years I have chosen a word of the year. Previous words have included renew, courageous, and then last year still. I guess choose is not quite the right word…it’s actually a process of prayer and really asking God what HE wants this year to look like and what HIS plan is. I can make all the resolutions I want but at the end of the day I know that God’s plan is better than anything I could come up with – and He is faithful with what He promises!

That said, I actually knew my 2017 word way back in November…at least I thought I did. I was having a pretty rough semester of school and although it really did force me to be still and draw close to the Lord, it was also a season of frustration and questioning. Anyway, I think one day God just decided to take pity on me and give me some hope for the new year.

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Me, all of 1st semester (source)

One night as I was journalling I ended up drawing a campfire (guys I do NOT draw lol) and writing under it “Lord make my heart outshine my beauty. Set sparks that will flourish into fire”. I really felt that that was a promise God was making to me; that 2017 would be a year of sparks and flourishing. Ya’ll sparks are LITERALLY hot. I associate them with excitement and fresh starts and fiery, confident growth. They START something that builds and builds into fire that can’t be contained. They are small but mighty. They can float away into the night, lost forever OR they can be fanned into something that can be seen from miles around. Guys, I was STOKED (get it?) that this was the word God was giving me for the new year. Especially after being “still” for a year…yes, lots of growth and intimacy with God but like hello 2017.

“See I am doing a NEW thing! Now it springs up, do you not see it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert” – Isaiah 43:19

So I’m all excited right? You know, I’ve got my theme for the year. It’s January 1st, I’m in church and praising and I’m all pumped for the new year and (I’m so sorry Pastor Jay) I’m not listening to the message at all because I’m just thinking about what kinds of exciting opportunities God’s going to give me this year. And then I start thinking about the phrase “she will run through fields of harvest” which is a poster I have on my wall in Ottawa and I’m thinking about how in order to reap a harvest you need to cultivate the crops yada, yada, yada. So the word “cultivate” just keeps running circles in my brain. I’m sitting there panicking and HOPING that God is not trying to change the word on me hahaha. Sparks sound exciting, cultivating sounds like WORK! But I really opened my heart and prayed about whether I was supposed to be focusing on the word cultivate instead.

I slowly began to realize that God wasn’t changing the word…He was ADDING to it. He can give me all the sparks I want. But like I said, sparks can fly away into the night, never to be seen again. Fires take time to build. It takes effort and patience. God was promising me sparks but He was also CALLING me to cultivate them.

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Cultivate (transitive verb)

2. To improve by labour, care or study: refine.

3. Further, encourage.

So yeah,  it will be work. But anything worth having takes work

SPARKS!!! TO CULTIVATE INTO FLAME!! Ya’ll this is exciting. I know this started as a boring analogy about thesis’ and essays but it made sense in my head. My word(s) of 2017 are now not JUST a theme but a thesis. They have a purpose that I can run with, expand, and discover. I am filled with so much hope for this year and all that it will bring!

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gifts of God…” – 1st Timothy 1:6

May 2017 be a year of passion, of friendship, of growth and of hope, of curiosity and of cultivation. Let’s do this friends.

-Until next time, Sam

p.s. yes I know I’m a month late, sorry not sorry

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Plotting, planning, praying, dreaming

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Hello there 2017! Welcome! I’ve been waiting for you with an expectant heart and a whole lot of hope for the beauty that will unfold in the next 365 days. Well, 364 days now I guess.

Exactly one year ago today I posted my 2016 goals and wow, does that feel like a long time ago. In a way, it feels like it’s been three years because every 4 months, my life changes and starts a new chapter. It’s hard to believe that this summer, 1st year and this past semester have all shared a year. And what a year.

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Out of those three chunks, summer was definitely my favourite. Although I won’t be returning to camp this year, the memories and connections I made on Beausoleil will be carried with me forevermore; I am so grateful to have been a part of the magic that happens on Kitchi sands, one last time. Whenever I think about those months I can’t help but smile and for that I am grateful.

On the other hand, this past semester was a very challenging season for me. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t enjoying school. At all. My professors were nearly all terrible teachers who really didn’t care about the subject they were instructing and I just became so disillusioned with my education. My grades fell below the standards I hold myself to and I found myself often questioning why God had me in such a place. Other aspects of life were great; I enjoyed my new job, made some new friends, and joined the executive of a club. But school became a source of frustration, discontentment, difficulty and a sense of futility. It took me a while to be okay with saying “this semester wasn’t great”. Because my life wasn’t totally falling to pieces, I didn’t feel like I had a right to be frustrated. Honestly though I have never wanted a semester to end more in my life.

Now that I’m out of it though it’s really cool to look back and see where God was in all of it. It wasn’t a fun season but I’ve grown from it for sure. My statement that “my identity is found in God and not my grades” was put to the test. I learned to trust Him more, to remember that in all stages, His plan is greater and He is still God. I learned to be still and content in every season. And I realized that sometimes I will do everything “right”, put in the work and still have things not work out; and that’s ok.

SO

2017

A new semester.

A summer coop.

My first solo travel.

A fresh start.

And a whole lot of unknown.

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It would be easy to stay frustrated going into second semester but I actually feel so refreshed and hopeful for what is to come. One bad semester does not mean development isn’t what I’m meant to be doing. One bad semester does not mean I can’t learn Arabic. One bad semester is a learning experience that is going to STAY confined to ONE semester.

So now I turn to planning. I turn to praying and asking God what He wants my year to look like. I start plotting out my goals and journalling my hopes. I let myself dream about all the big and scary and challenging and wonderful things 2017 is going to bring.

I started deciding to prioritize sleep. 8 hours shouldn’t be a treat…my life is so much better when I get enough sleep.

I’ve started laying out study plans to get myself where I want to be academically.

I’ve resolved to stop being afraid of Arabic and start LEARNING it for it’s own sake rather than for the grades attached to it.

I’ve started applying for internships.

I’ve discovered where I need to say “no” in order to fully invest myself in everything I do; nothing I do deserves half of my heart. I want to be truly present in few places rather than distracted in many.

I will make time for people but also make time for myself.

I’ve promised to give God the 1st of my time rather than whatever energy I have left at the end of the day. I’ve resolved to ask Him more questions and learn more about what it means to live and love like Jesus.

I’ve resolved to rediscover what it means to be curious. What it means to learn because something catches my interest. To read books not assigned in a syllabus and attend conferences to meet others with the same interests. To go to office hours and get to know my professors.

I’ve started praying for more grace and wisdom.

I’ve started asking for more passion.

I want 2017 to be a year that often makes me a little uncomfortable. A year to seek that flip flop in your stomach before you do something new and the rush of accomplishing something you never believed to be possible.

I am going to continue to try to make my bed. It just didn’t stick this year haha but one day I will be a person who’s room is presentable!!

And on that note, I am going to have an open door. I’m not working in rez because it’s free. I want to know the people I live with. I want to have conversations that go past “how’s school going?”. I want to be a person of warmth and welcome. My door will be propped open more often this semester.

I’m going to stop buying things that don’t serve a unique purpose in my life, consume more intentionally and truly appreciate my possessions.

I’ve decided to work on being healthier, to eat food that makes me feel ready to take on my day, to go back to swimming, to go on more hikes, to prioritize mental wellness.

I’ve decided to stop watching Netflix…not forever, not because it’s inherently bad but because there are so many other things I want to do.

I’m plotting ways to see more of the world. Iceland and then, who knows where!

I’ve decided to write when I want to and not when I feel like I have to. I’ve decided to keep learning guitar.

I’ve sworn to journal more, to keep records of the beauty of life.

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A new year isn’t a revolutionary thing. Life isn’t going to change just because the date did. *Sidenote: it’ll take me a solid month to start getting the date right at the top of my notes* But it is a benchmark, an opportunity to leave the past in the past and start anew, to allow yourself to dream and plan and seek new visions. This isn’t an itemized list like last year. Rather, it is a global overview of values and actions that I want to take to make this year the best it can be. I want to put every minute of my time to it’s BEST purpose, whether that purpose is studying, laughing, truly resting, writing, working, talking or whatever. Everything has a time and a place.

I want 2017 to be a year of balance.

What are you dreaming of?

-Until next time, Sam

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P.s. Stay tuned for my new word of the year!! I’m super excited about the theme and vision God has given me for 2017 and can’t wait to share that with you all soon 🙂

P.s.s. I did indeed finished the sweater I resolved to knit. Thought you ought to know.

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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?

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.

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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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15 things I learned in 2015

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2015 is winding down and it’s certainly been one of the biggest years of my life so far. I graduated high school, spent another amazing summer working on Beausoleil Island, moved to a new city and started university. Suffice to say, I learned some things over the last 12 months. Here’s 15 of them!

1. Things change. Things will always change. Life evolves and you have to learn to be content in every season and every opportunity you get given, even if that means closing the door on a good time in life.

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2. I am more capable than I knew. If you ever want to push the limits of your capabilities, go be a camp counsellor for a summer. You will learn more about problem solving, relationships and thinking on your feet than ever before. From canoe trips gone wrong and first aid situations that went right to defusing cabin conflict and telling bed time stories, working at camp this summer taught me that I am capable of more than I ever would have thought.

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3. Grades matter, but not as much as effort. In university I had to learn pretty quickly that good grades weren’t going to come as easily as they did in high school. But I also realized that knowing I had put everything I had into my work made me prouder than getting an A. Effort and work ethic mean a lot more than a number.IMG_20151114_163238

4. There are likeminded people everywhere. I promise. You might think you won’t find anyone who shares your sense of humour or your love of Doctor Who but I swear, if you’re willing to be social, you will find people to talk to.

5. T.V. is a waste of free time. Go for a walk, have coffee with a friend, have a nap, read a book, workout, bake cookies, draw, whatever. The less free time I had, the less tolerance I had for watching T.V. I realized that there were so many things I’d rather be doing than staring mindlessly at a screen. (Note: movie nights are always an exception…especially Disney movie nights)

6. University is hard. I swear, it feels like no one ever told me that before I went. It was all about how fun it is, how exciting it is, a new adventure etc. But holy heck, the workload is cray! It definitely takes getting used to and really good time management skills. Get a calendar. Use it. Don’t write a paper at 5am the day it is due.

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7. University is also fun. Despite the papers, midterms and long nights in the library, university IS an adventure. Living in residence and having friends around all the time is a blast. Exploring a new city is exciting. Freedom is awesome. And learning is actually amazingly interesting when you’re passionate about the subject.

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8. You can learn a lot from sucking at things. I’m not a fan of being bad at things. It stresses me out. For example, I hating driving at first because I sucked but, unfortunately, that is how you learn. The worse you are, the more room there is for improvement… but only if you’re willing to stick it out. This year I did a lot of things I wasn’t so great at; economics, driving, Arabic, using public transit, dodgeball etc. Guess what? It was hard, an I got better.

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First place in Res Dodgeball…and I swear, I actually helped.

9. Family is more important than I’d realized. It wasn’t until I moved away that I truly appreciated my parents. I missed my sister more than I expected and seeing everyone at Christmas was amazing. Although, they will also drive you nuts within a week of being home, guaranteed.

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Reunited with my not-so-little sister

10. Advil is expensive. So is toothpaste. And cereal. And shampoo. And socks. And deodorant. I never really grasped the value of money until this year when I had to buy things that had always just been there. Life costs money!!!

11. Snail mail is literally one of my greatest pleasures in life. I don’t care if that is a stupid life lesson, I learned this year just how much it means to me when someone takes the time to write me a letter. It’s a fun surprise when you get it, it means and lot and it is seriously just so FUN! Why did we ever stop sending mail?

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Camp friends make good pen pals

12. Nature gives me energy and revives my soul. Going from spending the entire summer outside and on a national park to living downtown in the capital city was quite an…adjustment. I’ve always loved the outdoors but this year I realized how much trees and lakes and stars make me feel alive haha. Not to mention, nothing beats long talks under the stars. This summer I lay on a dock and watched a meteor shower and talked about life until 3 am. Those are the kind of moments you don’t forget. In Ottawa, walking by the canal and seeking out parks quickly became a priority.

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13. Taking time to destress and do things you love is important. Little things that you enjoy are important for mental wellbeing and avoiding burnout. I like knitting, writing, catching up with friends, going for a walk or swimming lengths when I need to clear my head. Even when I’m crazy busy, making time to destress and do Sam things is important.

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14. Community is vital. For the first time in my life this year, I found myself in a place where I didn’t know a soul. I thrive off of relationships with others. In Barrie, I had an amazing group of friends, an amazing church and two families that loved me. Then I spent the summer at camp living with a whole bunch of my favourite humans . Suddenly I was in Ottawa, not knowing anyone. Thankfully, LeBlanc is the best (lebest) residence in the entire world and I quickly found a close community in the 3rd floor. Shoutout, heyyyy guys! I learned this year how valuable community is. Having people you can laugh with, trust and be comfortable around is what makes life fun.

15. Trust God. So many changes this year, it’s been kind of a whirlwind. There have defiantly been times when I questioned if I made the right choices. Thankfully, I’ve had the faith to continually put my decisions in God’s hands because I’ve learned that when I do, things always turn out better than I could have imagined. My God is faithful, and I am blessed beyond measure. When I don’t know what to do, trusting God is the answer to every problem because with Him, I don’t fear the future.

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Well, that’s definitely not everything but it’s what I can think of at the moment. It’s been a good year, definitely one that will be looked back upon as a turning point and a learning curve.

2016, I look forward to welcoming you in. I’m ready to give this next year my best shot and, I’m sure, rack up some more ridiculous stories.

Bring it on, New Years.

-Sam

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Courageous

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them because the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you” – Deuteronomy 31:6 

It’s January 2015, season of resolutions and fresh starts. While some may approach this with a cynical attitude, I love that people take this opportunity to make changes, to have a benchmark to look back on and to have a timeline for goals. A year seems like a long time in the present but in the grande scheme of things, it is actually just a fraction of life. The last year of my life brought me so many ridiculously amazing opportunities, it sometimes felt like I was living in a dream and I can’t wait to see what 2015 will bring for me in all areas of my life.

Something I did last year for the first time was have a word of the year. I honestly cannot for the life of me remember where I first heard about it but basically the premise is that you pick a word that you want to be representative of your year, something you want to strive for or learn about or focus on or improve. My word of 2014 was chosen on a whim on night early in January and I really had no idea how much of an impact it would have on my growth over the past year. The word was renew.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed, day by day” – 2 Corinthians 4:16

Throughout the year, the word would come up when I would least expect it, in bible verses, in conversation and in my life and I feel like it was truly a year of renewal and growth.

So after last years success, why would I not pick one this year?

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I don’t think I even know what it means to be courageous, but I’m willing to learn. Here goes nothing. 2015, a year of being courageous

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