Anticipating Greatness

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September, the season of endings and of beginnings. An exciting time, a nerve-wracking time, a new adventure time. It’s back to school, it’s the last of warm days and it’s beautiful and sad all wrapped up in one. It’s bike rides and trips to the Farmer’s Market and hugging friends you haven’t seen in a while, it’s saying goodbye to summer and it’s printing syllabi and updating your calendar. It’s when we look out over the school year to come, a fresh slate of tests not yet written and challenges not yet faced. What are you expecting this year? Are you apprehensive of what’s to come? I know I was.

This morning I woke up to an email from Blackboard, my university’s “virtual campus”; it was a notification that one of my economics professors had posted the syllabus for the course. As ridiculous as it might sound, my heart literally started racing and I was so nervous to open the file. Economics was my worst class last year and I am so anxious about going back to it this year, especially with two courses in the same semester, one of them in French.

This is just one example of the apprehension I’ve been feeling about second year. For me, summer has been over for almost 3 weeks, as soon as I left camp and came back to Ottawa for Community Advisor training. This year, I’ll be living in residence, watching over first year students and hopefully helping them to have a safe, fun and successful first year. That is an added responsibility that I need to account and make time for! I’m super excited about it but still! Tomorrow is the first day back at classes and I am definitely feeling nervous about all the work that is about to rain down on me and consume my life; but it will only consume me if I let it.

On Sunday I was in church and the woman leading worship said something that really stuck with me. It was about the difference between apprehension and anticipation. I looked up the definition of the two (as I often do) in order to make sure I clearly knew the difference.

Apprehension – anxiety or fear that something unpleasant will happen

Anticipation – the act of expecting or looking ahead to something with pleasure. 

It was one of those moments that I was caught off guard by the realization that this was God speaking clearly and directly to ME. I hadn’t even noticed the negative attitude I had been having towards the coming year. I was hiding my anxiety with “cautiousness” and “being realistic”. Neither of those are bad things but I was using them as reasons to not allow myself to be excited about year coming up. I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty optimistic, glass half full type of person, so it’s not normal for me to be like that. In fact, one of my favourite verses in high school was 2nd Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-decipline.” I loved it so much that I had it written out and taped on my wall but I think that I’ve still somehow forgotten!

I’m not meant to fear the future. I’m not meant to live expecting things to go badly. God has created this incredible world and put us in it, to live and learn and explore. So this morning I opened the email, read over the syllabus, and will go to the class tomorrow anticipating that it will go well, that I’ll learn something interesting. Fear is normal; letting it consume your life is not. This fall, I’m trying to re-learn how to surrender my apprehension to God and let him replace it with anticipation. The future is full of possibilities. Yes, some of those possibilities include hardship or difficulty or heartbreak. But they are just that, possibilities. This fall, I’m choosing to look forward with anticipation, expecting not just goodness, but greatness. 

Today, I went adventuring with a friend. We rode bikes along the canal, lined with trees while the sun shined brightly. We sat and had coffee, we walked through our favourite park and we sat at a lookout over the city. It was fun and warm and carefree. It was a great day. There are many more great days to come: deep chats in my new dorm room, friendships with my residents, (even if sometimes I have to break up their beer pong games), adventures through the beautiful city I get to call home, learning about the world and the people God created and hopefully lots and lots of laughter. Yes, school is going to be a lot of work, and yes, I’m going to have to learn to manage my time and schedule to balance school, work, life and self-care. But that’s okay. Because those are all exciting things that God has blessed me with. 

Anticipation – to expect or look ahead with great pleasure. 

Life is exciting if you let it be. So to all my friends going to back to school tomorrow, or sometime this week. Let’s be anticipatory. Let’s expect GREAT things from this school year. Let’s have good attitudes and a willingness to learn. We are blessed for the opportunity to live and learn in Canada. Let’s act like it. Let’s act like we have sprits of power, love and self-dicipline.

That’s all I got for now. I’m surprised how nervous (damn, there’s that word again eh?) I am about hitting “publish” on this post. Vulnerability here folks. All the more reason to do it I guess. Hopefully someone out there in the big world of cyberspace gets something out of my silly realizations. God is always teaching me, even if I’m sometimes an inattentive student. So, good luck with September my friends. Let’s make it a great one

-Until next time, Sam ❤

P.s. Here are some pictures of my last couple weeks settling into my new job/home. They do make me more excited for all that is to come!!

 

A simple pause

Sometimes you need to just be.

The last few weeks have been a blur of rushing around and a flood of names, faces, places, instructions and information. Even my last blog post was written in one shot and published immediately. The rhythm of university life caught me up in it’s current before I knew what had happened. And you know what? I love it. I love being busy. I love getting to know people and exploring and learning.

But sometimes, it all gets to be a bit overwhelming. Today for the first time I felt a little buried in this new experience. I looked around and felt odd knowing that no one here really knows me. They’ve met me and I’m sure they have a general idea of who I am and what I’m like but they don’t really know me, my thoughts, my soul. Maybe that’s a little dramatic but I miss having people around who just get me. Victoria, if you’re reading this, I miss our heart to hearts and you just knowing what I mean when I sigh and wave my hands around.

I think all this is amplified by the fact that I’m sick right now and having to take care of yourself kind of sucks to be honest. I miss my mom making me soup and rubbing my back when I’m not feeling well. I guess that’s part of growing up though right?

Today, I just needed to be Sam. Completely me. Not a university student, or a floormate, or a new friend or anyone. Just me. So I went for a walk and when I got back to my dorm, I put in my headphones and listened to some worship music. This one song came on. To be honest, I can’t remember what it’s called anymore. The lyrics go something like:

Holy Spirit you are welcome here

Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere

Your glory God is what our hearts long for

These words hit me so hard today, as I was sitting in my little room at the end of the hall. Even though it’s not what the song was talking about, I felt God speaking so clearly to me…as soon as I was willing to listen.

The One who knows my soul and my being better than any human ever will, is with me. My God knows “just Sam” better than even I do. I was so overcome with peace and a sense of the Holy Spirit as I sat and there and remembered that I am not, nor have I ever been and nor will I ever be, alone. That, my friends, is the most incredible feeling in the world.  Even when I am in a strange place, with no one I know, I am known. I am known by a God who cares about my thoughts, my dreams and my passions. My God knows that I need community and I can have full confidence that He will provide opportunities for new relationships and places that I’ll feel comfortable in. Barrie, Mapleview, Kitchi…Ottawa will eventually make the list of places I call “home”.

Today, for me, that pause in my day to just be alone with God for a few minutes made me feel so refreshed, calm and ready to reassess what I had to get done, one step at a time. It helped me get my thoughts back in line rather than let myself get caught in a rut of feeling out of place.

Life is busy. Life as a student in a new city is even more so. Today I am grateful that I’ve been blessed with this experience and even more grateful that I have a God who’s got my back. Essays and readings ain’t got nothing on me!

-Until next time, Sam

P.s. How is life going for you? I hope it’s good.

My little nest
My little nest

101 Week – I survived!

So if you weren’t already aware, I MOVED!

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10 days ago (was it that few days??) I packed up all my things in a van my mom rented, said a heartfelt goodbye to my friends and puppies and drove 5 hours north-east to the capital of Canada, Ottawa! I’m going to school for International Development and Globalization at the University of Ottawa and after a week and a bit, I can say that there is nowhere else I would rather be. You know that feeling you get when you have just complete peace with knowing that you’re in the right place at the right time? I was in my orientation for my program on my third day, listening to the President of the School of Development speak and I was just so overwhelmed with excitement and anticipation and this strong sense of being exactly where I’m meant to be this year.

So far, I have had an easy peasy transition to university. I’ve made lots of friends right off the bat, my dorm is small but cozy. I love my floor. Most people seem to be very social and we all hang out and study together almost every night. There are a couple of other first years in my program living on my floor so the three of us have ben hanging out a lot, buying books together, studying etc which is cool to have that support system built right into where I live. There are also quite a lot of international students from the US, Morocco, Nigeria, France etc. I love getting to learn about other cultures!

And campus is so pretty! I love the architecture and the vines and ivy growing on the buildings. One of my favourite parts is that the school is really integrated with the city around us so I can basically walk off of campus and right into downtown, instantly having access to museums and restaurants and I can practically see Parliament from where I live! Also, my res is the only one connected to the “skywalks” or “tunnels” that connect various buildings on campus so we don’t even have to go outside to access the dining hall or library which is kind of cool. Speaking of the dining hall, it has a waffle maker, a chocolate milk dispenser and a latte machine, so it’s basically my favourite place to go. The salad bar is cool too, don’t worry guys!!

Frosh week has come and gone, so now it’s time for the real work to begin. 101 week was fun, to an extent. It definitely introduced me to a lot of people. My program has their own student federation which means we got our own frosh week and I met a ton of people in my specific program and therefore in my classes so that was great. My favourite activities were probably a fundraiser we did called Shineday doing silly things in downtown to raise money for cystic fibrous, a camping night, exploring the city and jut getting to talk to other first years and the guides. A lot of the other events were not really my cup of tea, like parties and stuff. I’m glad I did it though, it was good experience.

Turns out, my high school teachers were not exaggerating about how much reading there is in uni! I feel like all I do is read  pages and pages and pages of my textbooks. And those things are not cheap, let me tell you! I’ve never been so grateful for education than I am now when every second I’m here costs me money! So far, I’m very excited about the classes I’m taking. It’s such a breathe of fresh air to feel passionate about the things I’m learning, to want to engage with the material and to have real opinions about the content. High school was basically pretty cookie cutter but now I’m in a program tailored to my interests and I already love it so much. The french immersion, honestly, it turning out to be easier than I thought it would be. I had my first “cour d’anthropologie” today and I understood pretty close to everything the prof was saying! I think a big part of that was that I had done the reading in advance (took 5 billion years) so I had the vocal already but still, it definitely relieved some of the fears I had. And today just kept being a good day to learn because my other class was Arabic! After the first day, I can admit. This is not going to be easy. But, I don’t need easy. I just need possible. That’s a Bethany Hamilton quote I believe! Anyway, ana ismii Sam, please pray for me in that classe!

The hardest thing about this week was Sunday night. In the morning I went to a church near the school with some people from res and it was pretty similar to what I’m used to at my home church. But even though I know my God is the same anywhere I go, it sucks not being with my church family. Like seriously. It’s weird being surrounded by people but having not one of them actually know me, or to be honest, care about me. Not yet anyways. That night I sat in my room and wished I was in Barrie, at Mapleview, worshipping with the Young Life. They say you take things for granted until they are gone and I am seriously missing the community I had back home. I’m praying to find a place here in Ottawa where I can connect and find a way to be involved. And I know, these things take time. I see a few friendships here with the potential to bloom into long lasting ones, and I’m sure I’ll meet more as time goes on. I’m going to try more churches too, and find one that fits! Just one thing I’ve noticed about being here that makes me miss home. Shout out to all my TSL people, love and miss you guys always!

That’s all for now, it’s getting late and I have class tomorrow. Have any of you started school the las couple of weeks? How has it gone? What are the best and worst things thus far? Let me know!

  • Until next time, Sam

First dorm room selfie hahaha

First dorm room selfie hahaha