Jobin Sam

Jobin Sam Follow

losing my life to find what cannot be lost

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When I was younger, my mom would get me these biographical books from heroes of faith, and teach from their accounts of sacrifice, tenacity and humility. I remember sometimes getting jealous of friends who got “normal” gifts. My parents kept luring us into reading and learning, in return for some choice rewards.. my brothers & I wanted more skateboards, remote-control cars, Kit-Kat bars, but it was a fight for the menial against the meaningful. At the age of nine, I got my first guitar by memorizing the longest chapter in Scripture. It felt so lucrative at the time, but only now as a parent I understand how crucial negotiation skills are with kids!!
I look back on this photo of my mom from her time here, and I’m flooded with stories and lessons of what I heard growing up. It’s all coming full-circle now. Sacrifice, tenacity, humility. The parallax of this moment, and the grace that what I was taught over two decades ago would come to fruition right in front of me. The person who helped shaped by faith more than any historic hero is the one I get to kneel with amidst the suffering that frames my reality. To enter into the wound and become whole. To count the cost and lose it all. To point toward Love and the life of the world to come
Maybe it’s purely serendipitous that this image makes it seem like we’re interposed in a sunbeam, but then again I’ve been taught to see meaning through the menial. Seated with another generation of the family, who is learning to see that Love is the reason and the reward
After a lot of anticipation and patience, we have our mom visiting us here right now. Yay!!! It’s been such an unforgettable time and we are so thankful to be together. She is the first of our immediate family to meet Jackson!! Francine & I have gotten so used to being alone that we remember little of what it’s like to have family near by. We haven’t had a date in 3 years. We can’t even remember the last time we had a room to ourselves! Even the little things like how my mom helps brush their teeth, homeschools them, make us meals - all those little blessings seem like we feel God nearer
Today is also my mom’s birthday!! Her first birthday away from my dad since they’ve been married. I don’t believe our life is formed through the aftermath of coincidence, but there’s an impetus at work that’s greater than randomness. Later this afternoon, I got a call from the family lawyer informing me (unbeknownst to us) that Jackson’s biological grandparents had just signed the consent papers for the adoption (even though they gave him up long before we met him). There’s nothing black and white in this journey, but what I’m sure of is the shade of grace. I look at this photo of my mom on our bed with the kids lying in her arms- the arms that cared for me now carrying the ones I call mine. Grace. Love by blood & water & tears. The mystery, the messy, the Kingdom of God come near
Recently a friend of mine asked “you used to be so edgy, what happened?” I remember it hit me like a rite of passage, a nostalgic loss for the parts of me I can’t feel anymore. It was one of those moments that reminded me of how I used to think about parents in my naiveté. Circle of life. Kids who think they’re cool, then become parents whose kids think they’re painfully uncool
Growing up, I never gave heed to vogue labels, and in my lifetime the labels have reincarnated in many looks- hipster, gangster, metro, emo, indie, preppy etc. I still remember being laughed at in college when I took my jeans to a tailor to get them tapered (because it was aesthetically sensible for my scrawny legs)... this was before the era of skinny jeans and subculture of sartorial themes
Someone more transcendent than our fashion trends once said that the body is more than clothes, and beauty is not created by our closet. It has little to do with what hangs on our skin, but a lot to do with what we hold within; it has little to do with how we look, but a lot to do with how we see others
Sometimes I grieve the parts of me I’ve lost- nostalgia for the community and the adventure that fashioned my journey. But living with my family among the oppressed of the world, surrendered to love & sacrifice, is my version of cool that’ll never get old... and it doesn’t matter if I’m edgy or have lost relevancy- I want my style to be about clothing the naked, comforting the lonely and bringing beauty in the ordinary
There are some moments that freeze time, like a good poetry, strong coffee, miracles that come slowly. As I put Emma to bed the other night, she prayed “thank you God for daddy, thank you for his jokes”.. and for a moment I felt like there was no gravity. Little does she know how hard I try to be fun for her and her brother. Little does she know that it’s uncanny she considers me funny.  Life has a way of taking the laughter out of living
All of us are held taut in this tension -sentience or slaved to emotion, the convenience of feeling nothing or the crucible of feeling everything. Sometimes we allow ourselves to feel deeply and other times wisdom would have it that we rise above how we feel. But when my daughter thanks God that I’m joking, it feels like God playing a joke on me- reminding me that the spiritual discipline I need more of (amidst the gravity of our reality) is the praxis of play & being silly
This is a real, vulnerable, unvarnished look into our struggle. Francine took this photo yesterday because the kids were comforting me and praying for me while pain was pulsating through my body. Sometimes we feel like a broken record because we share a lot about suffering, and it alienates us from relating to the happy-go-lucky with alacrity. But that’s been our greatest invitation into the heart of God; the suffering within and without
The last few weeks felt like our bodies had been floored metaphysically. When Francine lies awake in bed struggling to breathe because of the allergen-magnet grass-thatched roof. When Emma gets violently ill from drinking dirty water and Jackson is breaking out in rashes. But our desperation has been an invitation to grace and the power of prayer. Yesterday while I was twisting and turning in agony, Francine put her hands to pray over me, and I felt fire in my belly and the pain dissolve away!!
Even though sickness has been our nemesis, convenience would be worse. So we boast all the more in our weakness for a life that makes room for the miraculous
We are all one neuron away from not being who we are. Now I’m no scientist with credence to my sentiments, but there’s something so frightening about that thought which borders on miraculous. Every breath, every heartbeat, every fiber of our being that makes us familiar to the person we saw in the mirror yesterday, is purely visceral that it has nothing to do with our control. It’s so terrifying, freeing and humbling wrapping our humanity with that kind of fragility
There is a sacredness to finding beauty and reverence in the otherness of people. And humility to accede there is no us and them. In this age awash with labels and prejudices, where the principalities anatomize and politicize that which is different, it is a holy thing to stand in the margins. To walk with the marginalized. Love only deals in one currency - acceptance; and I want to live sold out and rich in that economy. As I learn to walk in this love with my friend, Kenneth, I’m humbled to know that we are both held together by a miracle. Fragile, whole, not in control. We are just one breath away from the inevitable, one shoulder away from experiencing our Maker in the other
I’m celebrating my beloved wife today :) I don’t normally share posts like this, but since so much of our story is kept in mystery (even to friends), I wanted to share this on @francineannabelle’s birthday.
For a girl who grew up in a part of the world (Sunshine Beach, Australia) where most people would dream of living someday, I’m always humbled remembering how she left everything she knew, to raise a family with me inside a hut in a lonely village in our little corner of Africa. “Where you go, I will go and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people...”. She’s that girl!! She never complains about the cold bucket shower, she never complains about sickness or hunger, she never complains about reusing coffee grinds a second time (hey don’t judge, we have to ration our groceries!). But a few days ago, I saw her secretly breakdown in tears from the loneliness we face. Along with our children, we knew this journey would be married to sacrifice, but we’ve been carried by grace in the pain & beauty. 
The story being written isn't about the both of us- but with every page we are humbled that we get to see the Face of God disguised in the least of these, and in each other
When life gives you minions... I mean, lemons!! :))
I’m so thankful I get the authority & responsibility to make corny dad jokes now
I think of myself as an introvert who loves people. My neighbors will tell you how quiet I can be with a proclivity for crazy. My wife will confer how I’m far better at listening than talking. I prefer being guarded in mystery while still choosing vulnerability. I crave the blessing of community while still carrying the burden of not belonging. Maybe our desire for human connection is designed by a higher love than our nature
Recently I reached out to someone I hadn’t seen in over ten years and I was surprised when the response was why. I don’t know if it’s painfully uncool or I should be proud, but I have kept in touch with friends from grade-school to the pharmacist at the corner store. I like to think that everyone we have in our life is not there by accident. It’s not chance, it’s grace. It’s not seasonal, it’s purposeful (community comes in our life for seasons, not people)
We live in an age with the faculty of 4G connectedness to everyone we know. It’s as easy as moving a finger. Yet we still struggle to stay close to each other, satisfied by the facade of social media. We can share photos, videos, even voice notes but prefer the virtual veneer of eavesdropping. Maybe it’s because my need for closeness is heightened being so far away, but I like to think it’s deeper than distance. Something that’s always stood out to me about Christ is how the Scriptures mention “He kept everyone whom He’d been given”. What a beautiful way to remember someone. What a legacy to lean on- to be known for the ones we held close and gave a place to belong. May we be people who haven’t lost any of the ones we have been given
if words travel at the speed of sound
vulnerability shows at the speed of light
these days are peppered with pain and joy 
the intersection of tension and freedom
beauty ain’t a thing of biology 
but what’s beautiful is how we see
as every sunrise that meets us
to bring color that was stolen in darkness
Peace as transcendent as the ocean
rising, falling, yet found through the ages
enduring storms and the refuse of men
with calm waters beneath the waves;
as the shore running back to the sea
always reaching for the other side
washing over the temporary
washing over you and me
Grace is what holds the tapestry 
from the song of the birds
to the roar of the sea 
friend of the friendless, 
nearer than the baby at a mother’s chest
between all the beauty and banality 
weaving every human story
into a design greater than we can see
As long as I can remember, I’ve wondered why it’d been said that the poor will always be among us. Are we to them a helping hand or are they here to help us understand? Was it said as something transcendent, beyond cynicism and subterfuge? Might there be a truth beneath that I’ve been blind to? Would God have to close my eyes so I can see? Could the suffering that surrounds me be the wardrobe into a world that’s beyond me? To remind me that grace comes free but hope is born in the pain & the cost of poverty
I have two little ones in my shadow, growing and becoming at the front-row of suffering. They’re always watching with wonder, innocent as doves, observant as hawks. As a father, that’s so honoring but also troubling because I’m painfully flawed! Fingers crossed they don’t remember the second-rate version of myself. But one thing I pray they never forget is how we held the hand of God under the skin of suffering. How we entered into the wound and became whole. Met by the mystery how from all the appearances God could adorn, He chose the disguise of the least of these
The cheekiest monkeys in the whole wide world :))