Saturday, November 27, 2010

Possibly The Strangest Post I've Ever Made

I am a dreamer. 

I have more ideas and visions and hopes for ten years from now than practical wisdom for tomorrow.  I've been working through this book that has exercises to help stimulate creativity and curiosity.  One of the exercises was to create a list of 100 questions; don't think, just write.  Don't worry about the answers, just ask the questions.  And it was funny, some of the questions that came pouring out of my soul were: "Why is it so hard to get still?", "What am I running from?", "Why do I have such certainty about 30 years from now, but no idea about tomorrow?"

In the last two years of my life, I've learned some wonderful things about myself.  I've learned about the depths of creativity that God placed inside of me, that I am a woman who is passionate about relationships and love, that I am a very good leader, and that I have to be free, that I cannot stand to be constrained. 

But I've also learned some hard things about myself.  I've learned that I have things to work on and areas in my life where I need to grow.  I have fear in my life.  I've let fear push me around more often than I'd like to admit.  When I'm scared I hide, I lie, I get busy, I keep secrets, I procrastinate.  I've learned that it just takes a moment to make a mess, and messes scare me.  Messes scare me because they challenge love.  They challenge other people's love for me, challenge my love for myself, challenge my trust in God's love for me.

And I've realized that I am SO TEMPTED, so tempted to live my life just a little bit safer.  Dream up a future that I can do, that I'm sure I can do.  One without major messes, one that doesn't expose my faults, one that doesn't challenge me or my perception of myself.  It would be so much easier!  And wouldn't that be better for everyone?  Wouldn't everyone like that better?  If Sam wasn't such a screw up?

But.  I came to California because my life was on fire.  The past behind me that was so safe, so predictable, so strong was too small for me, and much too small for me to truly see God.  It's so sad, I've seen Him better in my worst moments than on my most peaceful day.  I came to California because I wanted to know Him, really and truly.  If it turned out that it was all hype, that Christianity was actually just some sort of mass emotional high, I wanted to know.  I wanted to know and for certain. 

So I burned everything that I built, and came out here where daily I walk on borrowed strength.  I know that I eat because He supplied it for me - and not in a way that I would have picked!  I've chosen this.  I've chosen honest frailty rather than implied strength.  I've chosen to be ugly when I'd much rather TRY to be acceptable, covered up.  It feels insane some times!!  It feels like, shouldn't chasing God be easier?  Shouldn't suddenly finances pour out of the sky?  Shouldn't wisdom just be downloaded to me; wisdom and tons of self control?  Right?  Wasn't that in the book somewhere?

I don't have a beautiful, properly edited end to this post.  This is just an honest moment where suddenly a bunch of ideas congealed and I knew I needed somewhere to remember this blob of truth.  This is the truth: God never gets tired of ugly me.  He never backs up or steps away.  The only step He takes is closer.  And He never does things the way that I want Him to, and I have to be ok with that.  Because that is who He is.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Organization is of God....

Haha, had you asked me five years ago - I would have told you I had no gifting whatsoever in administration OR organization.  But, God has given me new eyes to see the tidier giftings.

Firstly, I've been using a day planner.  (Can you all hear my mother gasping?  Haha!!)  Yes, it's true, Samantha Flanagan is the proud owner and regular user of a day planner!  I have one of those day planners that shows the whole week on a two page spread, and I use color coded blocks of time to break down my time with God, my time at school, my time for home work, my time for friends, and my time for work.  You see, once I understood that a day planner helps me to guard time in my life for the things that I ACTUALLY care about - we became goooood friends.  Hee hee.

Another step in this whole process (thanks to Gabe Valenzuela) has been discovering the roles that make up who I am, and focusing my time on them.  This is a new exercise, and one I'm still learning about, so I'd like to give you an overview.  Everyone has roles that make up who they are.  These roles help define your day and to quote Gabe, give you a reason to get out of bed every day.  The trick is to make sure that you're investing time in your week on the roles that need work!  Example: for a some people their roles would be father, mother, sister, brother, student, writer, musician, linguist, explorer, chef, etc.  Just to mention a couple of my roles: sister, friend, disciple, author, and explorer. 

Those last three roles are roles that God has been really talking to me about in the last few weeks, so I'm going to be very intentional about them.  Here is the break down of what that looks like:

I am a disciple of the Holy Spirit!  Like I said, in the last couple of weeks, there has been a growing awareness that I need to focus more on being a student, and pursuing His revelation.  All the bible homework we do through school is great, but there is something special about pursuing your own studies with God.  I feel like there is a grace to grow in the knowledge of Him through the bible, so I'm setting aside time in my week to ask Him to teach me.  Practically, I'll be using the interpretive tool that I learned last year from Grasping God's word to take me deeper into His word, as well as our Hayford Bible Handbook, and online resources like commentaries and  Every day, I'll spend some time in the word, and then I'll also set a time at least once a week to bite off a larger chunk of scripture to study.  I'm really excited!

I really enjoy writing and I know I'm going to write books in my life time.  So!  To prepare and brush up, I'm going to learn a new word every day (probably post it on my facebook, haha), and spend time every week writing.  I have a story that I'm working on right now, but I haven't asked anyone to look at my work besides my sister - I'm going to find a either a writer's club, or something like that, and open my work up to receive criticism.  Also, this blog plays a large part in my routine of regular writing - I'm going to keep modifying it until it's perfect!  To keep my creative juices flowing, I'm visiting the library regularly and taking out books (nothing like the classics to enhance your tone and your style!), and I'd like to buy a thesaurus.  Yes, the online ones are nice, but I like having books on my shelf!  Doesn't this sound like a good plan?  I like it.

This is an odd one.  In my time out here, I've been realizing, I love the idea of being adventurous.  Love it.  The problem is, I have this little voice in my head that says, "You're going to mess up your clothes.  What if you hurt yourself?  What if you get lost?  You don't know how to do that, do you really think you'd enjoy that?" and very quickly, I dismiss whatever opportunity for adventure is in front of me and go back to the known and the safe.  Mind you, I'm not unhappy - I just believe that I'm made to tramp around off road every now and again.  So in the interest of developing curiosity and creativity, and reawakening that spirit of adventure, I'm working my way through a delightful book called "How to think like Leonardo da Vinci."  It's a fun book that is filled with historical fact, quizzes, and exercises.  The first set is amazing!!  I had to write down one hundred questions and then look for the top ten, and then look for themes.  Seriously, it was eye opening.  So, in my journey to look closer at everything and to ask more questions, I am going to set aside time every week to explore, try new things, and work my way through this book!  I'll probably be posting stories (which would kill two "roles birds" with one stone - I'd be exploring AND doing creative writing!) and you all can watch as Sam experiences life in new ways!  Sounds fun, right?  That little voice in my head is doubtful, but what does it know about having fun...

So there you are!  My life is full of new fun things!  God is so good.  Just a side note - I was thrown a surprise birthday party yesterday by my sister Danielle and my roommates Angie and Lina.  That was SOO FUN.  They prophesied over me and we had snacks, and it was just perfect.  I couldn't have asked for a better birthday.  

Love to all of you!!  Hope your week goes well!  The holidays are around the corner - hope you all have a great Thanksgiving!



Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Resurgence of Dreams and Self Discipline: Yes, the Footprints of Living Hope

What a dramatic title!  Haha!!!  (Side note: I love me!  Wheee!)

The past few weeks have been intense; second year at Bethel hasn't felt the same as first year.  When I say that, I'm talking about my life in my body, in my spirit and soul.  I can feel when things are off kilter - no matter what's going on around me, I am an optimist, and I'm usually aware of Him (the peaceful resident of my heart).  Anything draws a shade on that reality for me feels like death.  No, I'm not being dramatic, I'm serious.  I get pretty frantic pretty fast, because I'm strongest when I live from my heart.

I started second year feeling weaker than I've ever been, emotionally, spiritually, even physically.  I was lacking interest in all of the things that I love to do, and was falling down on just the personal routines that keep my life moving.  I quickly got behind in homework, started struggling even getting to school on time, and generally felt STUCK.  Haha, yes, hiiiiiiigh frustration level!

I can't go into too much detail, since I don't have a lot of space or time, but sufficed to say things didn't look pretty.  My friends really rallied around me, and my revival group at school really loved on me, my intern repeatedly reminded me to take the pressure off, and my sister was there to sweep up the pieces every time I fell apart.  (Danielle is my personal rock star.  I don't ever want to live far away from her ever again!!)

In one week, God wiped away the storm clouds.  It's always so funny when He does that!  Because the circumstances don't change, it's just the posture of my heart that is different.  It's like He reboots my heart or something; all of my expectations change and I'm drafting on Hope again.  This year's reboot model was composed of LOTS of received prayer, LOTS of talks with friends who just listened, a sozo, and my first meeting with my coach!  It's so good - but I'm can feel that the growth is young and tender, and I don't want to rush it.  I don't want my heart to miss learning how to really rely on Dad.

Now though, as I am coming back to life, it's like I'm cleaning up after the storm.  Yep, have to catch up on homework.  Yep, have to start the healthy life habits again.  Yep, have to reinvest in relationships.  And most importantly, I have to begin to dream again.

Dreams are funny things.  Once you see the fruition of a promise - it's almost like you have to remember how to receive the seed of a new promise again.  I was talking with my coach about promises and how I was feeling uneasy because I don't have anything that I'm standing for right now.  It's like God has answered all of my past tense desires - what am I supposed to be contending for now?  And I realized, at some point my expectations went into survival mode!  No bueno.  (I could go into how I know that's not how I'm supposed to live, but that would lengthen an already lengthy blog!!)

Surprisingly, for me, self discipline re-awakens my dreamer.  As I do the things I know to do, keep my environment tidy, keep my room tidy, keep my car tidy, stay on top of homework, soak, spend time with friends, I begin to see my dreams so clearly.  It's like, I'm just cleaning the cogs of my clock and God is powering the motor.  I do my part to stay unclogged, and He moves me forward.  I keep my heart clean and pure (not to earn anything, but because I am HAPPIEST that way!!), and He fills me with dreams and with joy.

And once again, the climb has interest.  I'm listening for adventure, I'm looking at the horizon line and expecting Him to show up.  The season is busy when the season is called Hope!

Proverbs 13:12
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

Psalm 24:3-4
Who may ascend the hill of the Lord?  And who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and pure heart....

(Author's note: Just so you know, I'm not quoting these scriptures because they correlate perfectly or because they are in context - they are just the scriptures that are alive in my heart at the moment.  Love ya!)