September 10, 2011

New Home!

Hi friends, thank you for visiting with us. You may have noticed we moved! Our new address is Come hang out for a while!

xoxo, Sam

August 17, 2011

Carrying the Conversation

Have you digested the Word, His precious Word as a love letter? A spilling forth of graces and hopes across the table. A divine conversation carried on between us and Him, the King. May you find yourself line upon line.

[Insert your name here], how I love to say your name! I hope you like it too…I picked it especially for you (Isaiah 49:1).

Please know you've been on My mind for a long time (Jeremiah 1:5).

What a joy to call you my friend (John 15:15), my son/daughter (Galatians 3:26).

You were a treasure to shape as my hands wonderfully wove and knit you (Psalm 139:15).

You are beautiful/handsome beyond words; flawless; inviting. Ravishing My heart; My delight (Song of Solomon 4).

Shhh…listen…do you hear My songs over you, for you (Zephaniah 3:17)?

I can hardly take my eyes off you. I count every hair on your head (Matthew 10:29).

Though you flit and flight hither and yonder, rest knowing I plan every day of your life (Job 31:4).

My eyes will always watch your paths and establish your ways (Proverbs 5:21, 4:26).

While we’re chatting, can I ask you something? Will you love Me (Deuteronomy 6:5)?

With all your heart. All your soul. All your strength.

One more thing I’d like to ask. When you’re tempted, please, don’t be afraid or discouraged. Be strong and courageous; take heart. Those battles waging? They are mine to face. I will protect you (Joshua 10:25).

I promise I will always stand up for you (Zechariah 3:2) and I will never leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).

You are cherished more than My life [insert name]; I love you. (John 3:16).

This conversation between God and us doesn’t end there. He longs to have this talk with us daily as we open our ears and allow His Word to filter the world.

How is memorizing our four scriptures going for you?

xoxo, Sam

Drum roll..... the WINNER of "A Confident Heart" by Renee Swope is...Carrie ( Congratulations Carrie! I will email you for your address! If you didn't win, there's another chance today! Enter at Melissa Taylor's blog...

August 15, 2011

The greatest of these is love

Something's wrong when a person is valued for where they live. Dignified based on financial numbers. Flocked to for prestige.

Something's wrong when a person is devalued for where they live. Undignified based on financial numbers. Avoided for lack of prestige.

Love is blind to address, accounts or affluence. Or it should be.

The LA Dream Center opened a door in my heart; opened a door into Los Angeles' Skid Row. Crammed 50 blocks of 4000 people, sleeping bags and cardboard, forming the nation's densest concentration of homeless people, carried on as usual.

Needles pierced toes for lack of strong arm veins. Rape victims screamed pain literally from the gutter. Urine wafted from crevices, strong in stench. Tents disclosed deeds paid for behind zippered doors.

Rivers of limping shopping carts and blanket pallets and drug deals and incoherent shouting didn't stop or change. But I did.

Kneeling on hot concrete, tucked head under Maria's beach umbrella. My knees burned on her temporary front porch scattered with needles, ants, and trash. My smile asked if I could visit. Her smile invited me under her multi-colored roof.

The trail she trod from El Salvador to Skid Row was littered with heartache for her son, her daughter left behind. Her U.S. employer died, leaving her without a home to clean; without a home to live in. She has no money, no connections.

And I was changed. Not by who she was or where she lived or what she had.

You see, she invited me to find shelter under her shade. We fell into a beautiful ease as she bore with my broken Spanish. Shared laughs and prayers and scriptures. Maria encouraged, spoke truth. She showed me love. Not for who I was or where I lived or what I had to offer.

For I had nothing but love. And I did love her and her weathered face and tattered home and sweet laughs.

No wonder Jesus says that's all that matters. Truly, truly, it is.
"The greatest of these is love."
~I Corinthians 13:13

Hey, friend? It doesn't matter who you are; where your heart has lived; what you have done. You don't have to bring or be or become anything to receive His great love. No, you simply invite Him in, share your story and love Him in return.

Beautiful ease.

August 12, 2011

I am loved

“I like not only to be loved, but to be told I am loved.” ~T.S. Elliot

If you are visiting today from Proverbs 31 Ministries, welcome friends! So glad you're here.

Not long ago, I was strolling the coffee menu at a local shop with my eyes. She nearly missed my line of sight. Red buttons clicked and clattered for release from their basket she held. Their ransom from captivity was paid in a story shared by the woman holding their prison.

Cold metal buttons and her words bestowed truth.

"He waded in gloomy belief he was unlovable. Until one day he scooped up his courage. He asked her on a date. Days, months, a year passed. He kept asking. She kept saying yes.

Yet lingering in the dark places of his heart was the fear he wasn't loveable. Until... Until he asked her to marry him. And. She. Said. Yes.

He ran into the streets. He shouted from the rooftops. He beamed,

'I am loveable. I. AM. LOVED.'"

So pleased was he, he had buttons made to share the good news!

He was Barnett Helzberg Jr., president of Helzberg Diamonds. Riches dripped. Gold oozed. Diamonds literally fell from his fingers. Yet without knowledge, sure knowledge he was loveable, he was unsatisfied, unwhole, uncomplete.

Love is a quirky thing. Our hearts crave it. Need it. Engineered to respond to it. Yet often we shun it. Scorn it. Refuse or hide from it when it's offered. Why?

I think it's a defense. Have you been told or felt you are not worth loving? Perhaps your dad abandoned his parental duty to love you. Your husband broke his vow to love only you. A best friend cast venom on sisterly love.

Maybe your weight, your singleness, your friendlessness, your {fill in the blank} casts a chilly shadow void of warm love. Doors of your heart shut and you think, "I won't be that vulnerable to love ever again."

Mr. Helzberg's story is sweet, but he remained in the cold lies if he did not embrace the truth of One Love. We do too.

Our heart must accept what our mind knows: No matter what you've done... or what's been done to you... You are loveable because Love called your name before you was born. Love delicately formed you in your mother's womb. Love left His throne for a cross. Love lifted the stone and the curse and you from the pit.Why?

Because He loves you. Because you are loveable.
Because He says so, He thinks so, He feels so.

Friend, my driver's side visor is pinned with this truth, "I am loved." A reminder wherever I go: I am loveable. A reminder for anyone who journeys in my passenger seat. But an invisible reminder written on my heart is more precious, more valuable, more eternal. It's the very Word of God. Can I encourage you... will you do something for me, for you, this month?

To enter to win A Confident Heart by Renee Swope, leave a comment with a story of how God has shown you His love. Please make sure to leave your email address. Thanks!

Will you post a note that says, "I am loved" in your car or home or office? And then, will you write one of these verses per week on the tablet of your heart? You are loveable. But don't take my word for it...Take His.

Week 1: Jeremiah 31:3, The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: 'I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.'

Week 2: Psalm 86:12-13, I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths.

Week 3: Psalm 94:18-19, When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, LORD, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.

Week 4: Numbers 14:18, The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion.

Thanks again for joining us! We've been jumping off the train of negative thoughts. Care to join us? Catch up by clicking here...

xoxo, Sam

p.s. you can pick up a free "I am Loved" pin at Helzberg stores. AND you can order 3 free "You are Loved" pins here!

July 12, 2011

you will find rest

Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me
for I am gentle and humble in heart and
you will find rest
(relief ease refreshment recreation blessed quiet)
for your souls.

You are tired, (I think)
Of the always puzzle of living and doing;

And so am I.

Come with me, then,
And we’ll leave it far and far away—
(Only you and I, understand!) ~e.e. cummings

Love has a right to be spoken. And you have a right to know that somebody loves you.
That somebody has loved you
and could love you.
We all need to know that. Maybe it’s what we need most.

So I wanted to tell you.
~From A Fisherman of the Inland Sea by Ursula K. Le Guin

I am gentle and humble in heart and
you will find rest.
~Matthew 11

July 11, 2011

A Place of Death, A Place of Life

I'm reminded today...

At the same time soil churned, seeds created a home, crops waved in the wind

Naomi lamented to her daughters-in-law.

"Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons—would you wait...?" {Ruth 1}

Perceived destitution bred palpable desperation. Can you feel it in her words?

Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? {vs.1}

Her tomorrows were grim. Bleak days awaited till death reached out its welcomed hand. If only she had known: the answer to her Why? valiantly fought to walk alongside faithfully. Ready to reap a harvest of salvation. Yet Naomi kicked scorn and anger around, rejecting Ruth and redemption.

Call me not Naomi [pleasant]; call me Mara [bitter],
for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. {vs. 20}

A dust cloud of pitiful and sorrowful blinded her from seeing that the very girl she pushed away was the very means God would use to rescue.

Perhaps you've given up on a hope, a dream, a love. Maybe you sit in the funnel of your fury, bitter the same trials dump heavy on you each day. Can't stand to long for change or rescue.

Don't miss this

So Naomi returned...accompanied by Ruth...her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem
as the barley harvest was beginning. {vs. 22}

The harvest Ruth arrived just in time to glean. In a field where Boaz noted her. And unceremoniously provided above and beyond for her and Naomi...for the rest of her life.

As Naomi urged her daughters-in-law to leave
He was working on Ruth's heart to stay

As her broken spirit stared at empty hands, and the end of her life
He was filling a field with rain and sun, and bringing life to a harvest

As she narrowly missed God's provision and love
He was guiding her kinsman redeemer in care and concern

When brick walls are hit, ropes frayed, moments blank, remember...though unseen, God works on our behalf always. And rescue may come in unexpected form. Embrace His plan, return to Him and take heart.

The place you fear will be the death of you, may be the place you reap new life.

Going Deeper
Would you call yourself: pleasant or bitter?

Pray for the Lord to open your eyes to see unlikely means of rescue {like Ruth or the barley harvest}. Have you rejected a means of redemption & rescue you deem as impossible, but God knows is possible?

Live out the first part of this verse; believe and ask for the second: Return to me, for I have redeemed you. {Isaiah 44:22}

You may also want to read "Sojourner," about Naomi's journey of grief and hope.

Would you care to join us in our series Jumping off the Train {of negative thoughts}? Click here to see past posts. Praying He rescues you in unexpected ways.

xoxo, Sam

July 6, 2011

He Still Sings

You are a hiding place for me; You, Lord, preserve me from trouble, You surround me with songs of victory and deliverance. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!" ~Psalm 32:7

If you're visiting from Melissa Taylor's online Bible study with Stephanie Clayton today, welcome! Thanks for checking in. I've been praying for you.

One of my first jobs out of school was in a nursing home. You could peel the layers of pain in the air. Lined up in the solarium were gray heads. Feeble bodies and souls shut down and checked out. Hours passed as they stared hard at something unseen, responded to nothing. Fully awake, but not alert.

Bells jingled to stimulate hearing. Puppets danced to divert empty stares. Feathers brushed hands in hopes of touching the life inside. A variety of things were used to draw them back from the emptiness.

Truth be told, my soul crawled to a similar void when pain hit. I built a barrier: closed my ears, eyes and heart. Pain and accusations wiggled in the recesses of my mind and lied-God is not enough nor does He care. Fear and shame ran circles round and round till I was sick with wondering where the Lord’s hand was. I couldn’t peel my eyes away from the mistrust and hurt. And eventually I became like the elderly in the nursing home. Dead inside and unresponsive to the voice of love.

Friends, the more days stuck staring, the longer it took for the nursing home residents to come back to the land of the living. I wonder, with all you've endured, have you retreated to an empty space too? Built a barrier? Focused solely on the circumstances?

Please, if you've looked away from Him, can't take your eyes of the harm and pain...

If your ears are blocked and heart turned off--found solace in drinking, sex, the internet, food, busyness--will you consider opening up just one more time? Cast a glance upward, feel His touch. Awaken to the sweet gentle voice of our Maker through His Word. Start by praying these simple words

Lord, thank You for Your healing. Please forgive me for drawing away from You. Here I am. Please open my eyes and heart to hear You as you draw close to me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Wait on Him friend...He is near. He sang these kind words over me and somehow, they registered. I pray you hear Him singing over you too.

"Do not fear, do not let your hands hang limp.
The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing."
~Zeph. 3:16-17

We've been Jumping off the Train {of Negative Thoughts}. Care to join us? Catch up here!

~Beautiful Girl, William Fitzsimmons {Lyrics}

xoxo, sam