I’m Back & Its Been a Minute

This summer I met someone who asked me what my favorite word was. I said present. Not that its my overall favorite word but just one that came to my mind. One I thought I’ve been trying to embody and encompass this year.

I was wrong.

6 or so weeks later.. after some significant processing I realized I have a serious addiction to immediacy. I want the future so bad and I chase it so hard that I really don’t live in the present. I’m barely “here” because I’m so obsessed with the next. A large part of that is my cute little apple watch buzzing on my wrist alerting me of new distractions in the rare moments that my phone isn’t in my pocket, or honestly, in my palm.

I decided I needed to make some adjustments. I set my Instagram to private, deleted the app off my phone and let my best friend change the password so I really had no way to access it, not even through a web browser. I went on a 3 day retreat, left my phone on my nightstand and brought along “12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You”.

I got home and I’ve only finished the foreword, the preface and the intro but have already bought a regular alarm clock to keep myself from checking notifications before I’m actually awake in the morning.

I’m realizing that despite how incredible the gift of technology is, I’ve allowed it to rule my life more than let it benefit. I highly recommend the book, its already convicting and I’m not even a 1/4th of the way through it.

Only a few times did I catch myself wanting to reach for my phone, far fewer than I anticipated. I brought an old phone with no data to play music for the car ride up to the mountains and my camera for taking photos. I’m a learner, and a total information junkie– typically the first of my friends to say “I’ll google it” and it was that I thought I would miss most but of the past 3 days, it was all things that could wait. Nothing I needed to google so bad that I even wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget to check later. I listened to more conversations, answered more questions, made more eye contact, and let my heart just sit with the Lord instead of  letting it be constantly distracted. I got a bad head cold right before I left that woke me up at 3am for over an hour each night but instead of sitting and surfing the internet, I spent time in prayer with the Lord processing the things going through my mind. What a useful way to spend mental energy.

I can’t go forever without a phone, and I’m sure some habits will creep back in within days but for the month, I am trying to make a significant conscious effort against the obsession. I hope to be more aware of how distracting my phone can be and choose to love people better by leaving it in my backpack, on my nightstand, or even some days: at home. I’m not sure I will ever master the meekness and humility of my friend who knows how to be present and casually take life moment by moment but I am trying and I guess thats what we have friends for. Friends to teach us the things they have learned, the things that come naturally for them, or the things they wish for all of us.

Here are a few pictures from my days away:

 

 

A Biblical Woman is Self-Aware

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*pic from my discussion group during the workshop

I’m the type that loves personality tests. Because I love knowing people and I love knowing how things work BUT I know not everyone is like that. You may be thinking to yourself: YESSS! I love these!! Or maybe,  “UHGGG! don’t put me in a box.” The reason I get excited about Self-awareness in regards to the Enneagram is because its a massively valuable tool for living life, engaging with others and communing with the Lord. The enneagram charts 9 different gifts or characteristics we reflect of God’s character.  Ennea is the greek meaning “nine” and gram meaning figure or drawing. The enneagram is a 9 pointed diagram.

—-If you haven’t taken the test, its okay. The test really helps with the “wings” which I’ll explain but the most helpful thing is to read the descriptions of each number and see which one most makes you squirm.

Self-awareness is important.

One way you can get to know who you are is by understanding how others view you.

My best friend Hannah is my favorite human being on earth, if I had to be single the rest of my life I would want to live wherever she is.

When we lived together overseas I would get dressed in the morning and I’d ask, “hey Hannah, does this look okay?” and without looking up or skipping a beat she’s say “No, you’re ugly.” Of course Hannah doesn’t actually think I’m ugly (I hope) but her opinion has always been of value to me, especially her honest opinion. 

A few questions to ask yourself is:

What does your best friend say of you?  What do your enemies say about you? (everyone has people in their life they don’t really care for. Thus, you are most likely that to someone else. What would one of those people say about you?)

When I think about dying, and showing up at the pearly gates my greatest desire is for God to look at me and say, “Sammy, Well done thy good and faithful servant.” Most days I feel unfaithful, and not good… Enough. I try so hard to fulfill this checklist that I put before myself and want the lord to look at me and not find fault. Scripture says that even my most righteous deed is a filthy rag, even the VERY best thing I could ever do is not enough. But Jesus was enough for me. He still is enough for me and He will always be my sufficiency.

**I do want to note this can be an emotional thing to learn**

You 8’s out there will especially cringe at this, so I want to let you know that

  1. Its okay to cry
  2. You may feel really exposed. That’s normal.

Sometimes I feel amazing. I feel like I’m finally good. I feel pretty. I feel kind or humble, like I’ve actually grown.

Sometimes I just want to curl up in a ball. Sometimes I feel so stupid, So wrong, So foolish, So mean, So embarrassing that the lord could never love ME.

I’m not worth it to him. He may love me but I definitely don’t think he likes me.  That what I’ve told myself.

Who do you say you are?

The truth is, regardless of what society tells us…We can tell ourselves all kinds of things that are not true.

Paul reminds us in romans 12:3: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement.” (or clear judgment)  Another way of putting that might be to say, “Be aware of yourself and see yourself exactly as you are.”

We are all made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27) but when we sinned everything changed. Matthew Henry in his commentary of Genesis three points out:

Adam and Eve saw the folly of eating forbidden fruit. They saw the happiness they had fallen from, and the misery they had fallen into. They saw a loving God provoked, his grace and favour forfeited, his likeness and image lost. ”

We have changed every part of our world because of sinning BUT there is hope in Christ. Because Jesus came back to restore to us what was lost. And when he left earth he gave us the Holy Spirit to continue to know him and be conformed to his image which will happen fully when we meet him face to face.

My goal is to help you understand that knowing yourself is a good thing and it’s a God-honoring thing. First I’m going to write about whose we are and what that means for us as individuals made in God’s image. And then how the Enneagram helps us to live in light of those things. 

What do you think the lord would say of you right now? When He looks at you, what does He see? What do you think He sees?

Have you ever babysat for a kid who drew you a picture that you can’t even tell what it is and yet you respond, “Oh my gosh, I love it!” and you keep it up on your fridge because it was for you? Have you ever seen parents watching their child take steps for the first time? What happens when the kid falls.. The parents don’t yell, YOU ARE SO STUPID WHY CAN’T YOU GET IT RIGHT?!

No, they pick the child up and say “you are amazing.” They are so proud when the child finally takes a first step.

I’ve been walking with Jesus for almost 8 years now and I still struggle to see who jesus really says I am. But the more I know who He is, the more I really know who I am in Him.

In one of the books I’ve read, it describes the Enneagram is a tool “Full of wisdom for people who want to get out of their own way and become who they were created to be.”

I do want to mention that the Enneagram is not the bible however Its roots are from a spiritual background related to  the 7 deadly sins (+ two) Romans 12:3 says Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement.” We don’t want to exalt ourselves over other people, nor do we want to belittle ourselves and think others are more valuable. We are all made in God’s image.

The Enneagram, like I said is a nine point diagram that has origins in the 15th century– it was primarily passed along orally and traditionally through the catholic church. Until the 20th century it was largely secret knowledge. In the 1970s, it started to become more public and widespread from Loyola’s seminary and an author named Richard Rohr. Rohr said learning the enneagram was the most spiritual experience he’s ever had in his life like scales fell from his eyes. Learned that he many times did the right thing but with false motives.

The enneagram is now taught from business perspectives, psychological perspectives and even non-religious secular perspectives. However the christian viewpoint is that its part of a spiritual journey. It’s about God’s gifts to us and our failure to express those gifts in love and then God’s gracious response to that failure.

The failure is self serving motivations–fixations that are compulsions, passions or as christians say “Sins” but God doesn’t leave us in that. The agenda of the false self is preservation. Our false selves are offended about every 3 minutes- very fragile. Where as our true self is not offended.

Each number are called by spaces or types–that reflect a gift or character of God that we image. Flip over the enneagram circle .

  1. God’s goodness
  2. His love
  3. His effectiveness 
  4. Creativity
  5. Wisdom
  6. Faithfulness
  7. Joy
  8. Power
  9. Peace

 

  1. What is beneficial about your number? What if no one reflected this characteristic of God?
  2. What is beneficial about this number in the body of christ?

 

We become obsessed with our gifts and cant live a day without them. The roadblock is when our gift becomes an idol and we are compulsive about how we think we should express that gift and how we think they should be received. Grace is what helps us loosen the grip of our compulsive thinking and enjoy our god given gift and the gifts of others.  –the 9 spaces or types show us the different ways we see the world. The purpose in learning the enneagram is to recognize and align back to your true self and dis-identify with the parts of yourselves that have become purely self preservation.

How this plays out in our brokenness is compulsion through faulty motivation. Some people think you are born a type-some think you develop a type in childhood to cope and feel safe.  So although there may be elements in each number you identify, which is normal-we were made to reflect God’s image and he is all of them. There will be just one that you align with or gravitate towards. EAch number has a distinct way of seeing the world and an underlying motivation that powerfully influences how that type thinks, feels and behaves.

Now those of you who are not a fan of being put in one of 9 boxes I do want to point out that just like there are a gazillion shades of the perfect blue.. There are a infinite variations in each number. Some of those are going to be gender, ethnicity, race, family, introversion vs extroversion, strengths, values, interests, etc.

Now no number is better or worse than another, they all have their gifts and compulsions or sins.

Like I mentioned above, this is not the bible–This is not the end all of who you are. how you are motivated and what sin you are for sure going to struggle with but it certainly helps get you started thinking about some significant points of reference. I’m still figuring out exactly what number I am so don’t be discouraged if you don’t think what you tested is right, or you don’t think you specifically identify with any of them quite yet.

When I first learned about the enneagram I started bawling in the middle of someone telling a story about a specific number. My second workshop I started uncontrollably crying again when they talked about that same number.

There are a couple of other significant parts to the enneagram. The first is the triads.

Gut, Heart and head.  8,9,1// 2,3,4 // and 5,6,7

Triads are Driven by different emotion related to the part of your brain called the center for intelligence basically what that means is how you habitually take in, process and respond to life.

Look at chart: Enneagram diagram

Gut triad AKA the anger triad: eights externalizes anger, nines forget it and ones internalize it. They express themselves honestly and directly.

The heart or feelings triad are driven by their feelings. Twos focus outwardly on the feelings of others, Threes have trouble recognizing their own or others people feelings. And fours concentrate their attention on their own feelings. They take in and relate to the world from their heart and are more image conscious than other numbers.

The head or the fear triad are driven by fear. Fives externalize fear, sixes internalize and sevens forget it. They take in and relate to the world through the mind. They tend to think and plan carefully before they act.

Triad Printout: Triad chart

Then there are the wings.  This is what shows some of the fluidity of each number. You may be an 6 with a seven wing which will act much differently than a 6 with a five wing. I’m not going to get into the wings much tonight because a. We don’t have time but also because until you really understand the basis of the number, the wings are just added jargon.

Ok, now were going to look at each number individually: The Nine Enneagram Type Descriptions

  1. reformer
  2. Helper
  3. Motivator
  4. Artist
  5. Thinker
  6. Loyalist
  7. Generalist
  8. Leader
  9. peacemaker

Each number has a chart describing the Vices and Virtues of each. They are also helpful in understanding the basis of each. Enneagram Virture__Vice chart

Discussion Questions:

  1. What in the number do you identify with on the chart?
  2. What surprises you about it?
  3. How can knowing this help you engage with and really love others better?
  4. How can knowing yourself better, (after tonight) help you to see more of who god is, To commune with him and worship him?
  5. What is a next step to continue to get to know yourself more?

 

Resources:

Books: (you can order them on amazon by clicking the links)

  1. The Road Back to You
  2. Mirror for the Soul

Online: Enneagram institute

The next website has all 9 numbers, but is difficult to search so just click the link and search through the “next” and “back” numbers

https://cac.org/type-one-need-perfect-2016-04-27/

Sleeping At Last is a band that has come out with songs for the first 3 enneagram numbers and is working on all 9. You can listen to the formation of the song project (specifically the one) here. And the first 3 songs here

 

Fall Family photo shoots

When I moved to Huntington I joined a church right away but was unsure how to serve there. It’s small, so there are a lot less opportunities than at the mega church I left in MN. Since I love photography and people I offered to take pictures of our families for Christmas cards. I had a blast getting to know more of my church community and excited to continue to meet the lord together in 2018.

Here are some of the families I worship with every week:

M E R R Y   C H R I S T M A S

Middle East Dreaming

 

Thinking about this summer has me all nostalgic as the applications for the program the program recently opened and students have started to get excited about summer 2018!

Praying it’s one of a lifetime for them ❤

Today’s forecast:

I thought my whole life that I wasn’t angry, because being angry was never acceptable. I actually get pretty angry but I’ve suppressed a lot of it. Now I’m slowly learning how to be angry and not sin.
Some People don’t understand why I don’t enjoy most sarcasm a whole lot–it’s related to my dad, you know the stuff I don’t share. Maybe instead of getting so mad at me for being sensitive they could ask why words or lack there of hurt my feelings so much.

Seems like everyone thinks I have my singleness ducks in a row–I don’t. I’m excited when people start dating or get engaged; I get mad when they say God is good because of it. What? Is God not good to me because I’m single? Does that mean he’s withholding something from me? How irritating. God is still good even if I never date anyone the rest of my life. I struggle to believe that’s true but like I said.. I’m learning.
I’m Samm.
I’ve grown a lot in accepting who I am the last 3 years and believing that I’m valuable not based on daily running more miles than the girl next door or in hoping someday I can fix the gap in my smile. I’m learning that I’m valuable not because I accomplish certain tasks or am the best at doing whatever it is that is asked of me. I’m valuable because I’m made in God’s image. I’m His, that’s it. He created and designed me the way he likes me. I’m still working through the kinks of the fall. Please give me some grace.
Also, I uhh see the world in broken pieces always in need of fixing and if you didn’t know the most fixing I see is in myself. I hate flaws, but I have a million of them and honestly the critic of myself in my own head is far worse than anything I would ever say to someone else. I’m sorry, I’m trying to help if I correct you; it’s because when I see a flaw I want to fix it. I don’t want everyone else to be drowning in the brokenness I feel trapped in. Here’s a fake picture of me edited to my liking.

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One of the rare pictures I actually like of myself, even without being edited. Instagram is the worst because it breeds comparison. Here is me feeding into the trap despite how much I hate selfies and roll my eyes at people who post them on their feeds. Another reason instagram is so dumb: it’s almost pure vanity “hey look at me and how cool my life is. Please like it, comment on it and hopefully envy it. Or I guess worst case scenario: pity me so I have some kind of attention.”

Today’s forecast: bitter

 

My favorite Bromance

Ive been gone from this blog since I moved to Huntington and honestly its cuz life is crazy and I barely have time to clean my room and do laundry between texts and appointments. I’m still learning how to say no. Recently one of the guys on my staff team told me I need to slow down and take better care of myself. He said, “I know Hannah (his wife) has an excuse to tell girls, ‘I’m sorry, I have to go home and cook Caleb dinner’ and you don’t have that married buffer but you need to learn how to tell girls no because you aren’t going to make it at this pace.”

Last night I said no when I needed to say no, and then went and took pictures for a friend who asked for help to find a new profile picture. I haven’t taken pictures just for fun in a while so we had a great time snapping some shots in a library parking lot. After, I hung out in a media room on campus and partook in a FIFA tournament with some friends. It was a night where I didn’t have to feel like I was working even though the guys playing FIFA were mostly students.

That’s one of the fun yet hard parts about being single here in Huntington. There are not very many, in fact, very few singles out of school in Huntington. I have been learning how to navigate what parts of my life are work and what parts of ministry are outside of my “40 hours”. Its definitely been trial and error and something I’m still figuring out. Can students really be friends? Is it possible to have a life outside of work in this city with so few singles my age?

God is surely teaching me all kinds of boundaries in this season. Can’t wait to share many of them with you when I arrive back in the frozen tundra this weekend before heading off to Lebanon in a few weeks.

In the mean time… here are two of my favorite people in this city. They are best friends; but refuse to act like they actually like each other because it might be “weird” if they enjoy each other “too” much. When the one asked me to take his picture, I shouldn’t have been surprised when the other showed up unannounced. They couldn’t be more opposite in personality but they enjoy arguing about pointless things like who the girl in their relationship is, and why oreos are a dumb cookie. They’ve taught me a lot about what it means to choose whats right when its not what I feel and how to see more of Jesus in the trusting and the failing. They’ve often reminded me how growth is such a process and each small step is to be celebrated one moment after another.

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Engagement

Loved getting to shoot these two for my first ever engagement photography.

They loved whispering secrets in each other’s ears and carried on with conversation in their own world. Such a fun day at the Como Park Conservatory especially when it was -2 outside.