September 10, 2011

New Home!

Hi friends, thank you for visiting with us. You may have noticed we moved! Our new address is http://samanthareed.org/. 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 (carrietomkins@windstream.net) 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

June 27, 2011

And All You Ever Do Is Change the Old from New

"He has a single relentless stance toward us: He loves us."
~Brennan Manning



The world's shaking with the love of God
Great and glorious, let the whole Earth sing
And all You ever do is change the OLD from NEW
People we believe that...

(Chorus)
God is bigger than the air I breathe
The world we'll leave
God will save the day and all will say
My glorious!

Clouds are breaking, heaven's come to earth
Hearts awakening let the church bells ring
And all you ever do is change the OLD from NEW
People we believe that...

June 21, 2011

I Will Restore Double

BREAKING NEWS!!!

Thank you for praying for my friends waiting on their dream to come a-callin'.

Iliaya and Nadia are home!!

The twins, and my friend's dreams, were birthed June 11
!



Rejoicing is now. But hasn't always been. Months of quarrelsome prayers, lofty in humanness, were raised to the heavens on behalf of my friends. Unfair unwarranted questions foamed at my heart... bubbled at my mouth.

I wanted to know why. Why do some whose very marrow aches for arms filled with baby goodness walk around empty-handed? When others who mortify at the remote potential of pregnancy have a crib full of little ones. Why are they last in line? How come others get a "yes" over and over and not them? Doesn't make sense in my mortal rationale.

Today I saw a glimpse of the reasoning behind it all. A recovery of celebrating pregnancy announcements--not theirs. A redemption of baby showers attended--not theirs. A restitution of hospital visits goo-goo gaa-gaaing over newborns--not theirs.

Let's be honest: rejoicing over others' dreams coming to pass can be painful when we're walking 'round with bruised knees and hearts struggling to keep our noses above the integrity line. Others cut us in line, move ahead-- and hearts get hurt. Pesky years of waiting eat the rope of patience, determination to believe, trust and yes, hope. A frayed end is clinched between blistered raw fingers, about to lose hold. Then God....

Then God recovers what's been lost. Redeems what's been stolen. Reconstitutes what's been eaten.


Yes, He does. He does. Believe it...really, truly, unfailing He does. And not just what's been taken. He doubles it. I saw this today when my limp open-handed friends received not one, but two, gifts. From a mama whose nest and heart weren't prepared for these birdies, but was prepared to let them fly to a nest and hearts that were ready.


Let these words blow life into the wee weak spittle of smoldering ashy hope that's left.

I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.
~ Joel 2:25

Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope;
today I declare that I will restore to you double.

~Zechariah 9:12

Did you catch that? Double. That's right. Double. Do you feel Him breathing new hope into your fire? I sure hope so.

Going Deeper
It's never too late for Him to restore, redeem and reconstitute. Do you trust that? Memorize and pray out of the two verse above, asking God specifically for what you would seek Him to double.

Do you struggle with bitterness of waiting and/or envy over others dreams coming to pass? If yes, pray for grace and forgiveness. Who can hold you accountable and help carry your load?

Join us on our Jumping off the Train {of Negative Thought} series! You're welcome here!



xoxo, Sam

June 20, 2011

When Dreams Come a-Callin'


I'm waiting with a friend for word if her and her husband's dreams of starting a family will come true. A nod or shake has its finger hovered over the 'dial' button, ready to deliver a 'yes' or 'not yet' on the end of the phone. We find out at midnight.

77 minutes to go.

Italians often answer their telephones, "Pronto!" {"I'm ready"} instead of "Ciao" {"Hello"}.

It's a posture of a prepared heart. Preparation reflects a heart daring to trust for a 'yes.' And hey, that's not always easy. Answers thus far haven't held the cure for the heart stricken ill from hope deferred.

52 minutes.

Pronto! A stance that looks in the Lord's eye, honest. No qualms quiver in her gut. "Why yes," she truthfully elates. "I've done what was asked to prepare to handle this dream coming true. Changes are bound to paint my life.

I have allowed my heart to be
refined {by His Word}
defined {by His character}
supined {in front of His throne}

to best be equipped to deal with these in
grace
patience
gladness
thankfulness
wisdom
joy."

Pronto! A place of open hands--empty after placing life-long desires of gender, age, name on the altar. Open heart--accepting double doses of love, humility, honor towards others' wishes and dreams. Open head--clear to process paperwork, shopping lists and a new balance of 'normal.'

Pronto! A place where we find
Thy light in my darkness
Thy life in my death
Thy joy in my sorrow
Thy grace in my sin
Thy riches in my poverty
Thy glory in my valley
~Valley of Vision

Pronto!
A place where hearts remain surrendered, come whatever the answer on the telephone is. Fluffed and warmed and nested for baby birds to cuddle cozy. Hand on phone, "I'm ready" falling off edge of tongue.

23 minutes.

Please pray for my friends and the Lord's will to come to pass. They're ready. I'll keep you posted.

Going Deeper
What dream(s) are you praying God will bring to pass?

Seek how He would ask you to prepare, so you can answer "I'm ready!" when He calls. {this may be very practical like waking up earlier or saving money. Or more spiritual like memorizing scripture or setting time aside to pray and worship.}

Write this verse on the tablet of your heart and mind. Tuck it in the recesses to refer to as you prepare. Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. ~Psalm 25:4-6

Join us on our journey of "Jumping off the Train of {Negative Thoughts}! You can catch up here.



xoxo, Sam

p.s. 9 minutes.

June 18, 2011

His Eye is On Your Dream

Some sit on your chest, pressing tenacity and perseverance. They grab your hands, loosening that which consumes and withdraws you from taking hold of them.

Others are wall flowers. Pleading dance card in hand. They dare a glance up, desperate for you to see, "I'm waiting."

There are those you stalk, sleep on their front stoop. Break and enter into their impenetrable fortress.

Still other dreams are miles away, pacing their steps toward you. Upon meeting in the middle, realization hits: you'd know that face anywhere. Every step toward this union finally makes sense.

Some dreams captivate us and come true with little effort
Some wait for us to take hold of them
Some block us out, making us work for their fruition
Some are so private, even we don't know they exist until we enter them


All have commonality of one thing: the Giver. He sees the heart that dares to rush into a dream headlong and rejoices when it comes true. His eye spies the soul a tad shy and scared to go after what it longs for and holds her hand encouraging. Without fail, the weary and frustrated remain in His view and care. And His glance does more than pass by the one who excitedly recognizes a discovered dream...He whispers delighted wisdom her way.

Not all dreams will come true. Not all dreams that come true will equate to easeful joy. That's just the way it can be. But one certainty is and was and will always be true: His eye is on you.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? ~Matthew 6:26


Words: Civilla Martin. Music: Charles Gabriel.

Early in the spring of 1905, my husband and I were sojourning in Elmira, New York. We contracted a deep friendship for a couple by the name of Mr. and Mrs. Doolittle—true saints of God. Mrs. Doolittle had been bedridden for nigh twenty years. Her husband was an incurable cripple who had to propel himself to and from his business in a wheel chair.

Despite their afflictions, they lived happy Christian lives, bringing inspiration and comfort to all who knew them. One day while we were visiting with the Doolittles, my husband commented on their bright hopefulness and asked them for the secret of it.

Mrs. Doolittle's reply was simple: "His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me." The beauty of this simple expression of boundless faith gripped the hearts and fired the imagination of Dr. Martin and me. The hymn "His Eye Is on the Sparrow" was the outcome of that experience.
~Civilla Martin

May 26, 2011

Hidden Joy is Calling... Will You Answer?

I'm not much of a peddler. You won't find me at the market, selling my wares. Anyone's wares, really.

Unless the stakes are high. Then my cart rolls urgently through town; I herald my offerings. "Healing. New life. Peace!" "Yours for the taking!" "Come one, come all! No one is exempt."

Friends, I'm sold out on your healing because the stakes are too high not to be. You've shared from your heart in comments, emails, and private messages. Getting to step into your ditch, winking at mercy, has been an honor. I see your hands, palm up, open for the Lord to take what needs to be let go of. Open for Him to give what needs to be received.

I want to share with you every opportunity to heal. And so I'm donning my sandwich board to let you know my friend Melissa is lowering herself into pain's ditch. Could it be your ditch she enters? Please pray about joining her online Bible study {and} taking part in the accompanying Conference Calls.

This study is not limited to sexual abuse survivors. It's for anyone who has
trembled with insomniac fear & anxiety
doubted God was real, present, caring
been wounded physically, emotionally, spiritually
conceded life will never be good, bright, hopeful

If you feel alone in your pain, friend... here are several friends ready to wrap arms around you; eager to help you out of the pit.

Here's a tad bit more about the calls. I'm praying for you...

Lord, please guide my friend as she/he decides her/his next step in healing. Thanks for taking their hand and leading them. We love You so much. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Call #1 June 13, 2011, 8 pm EST
Message: Why God Why?
Special Guests: Melissa Taylor and Stephanie Clayton

Melissa Taylor

Melissa was sexually abused at a young age. She graciously shared part of her story with us here. Melissa's been a speaker & writer for Proverbs 31 Ministries for eight years. As a sexual abuse survivor, she understands what is feels like to suffer and feel too scarred for a good life. Today, her greatest joy in life is sharing Jesus with others because she has learned first hand what He and only He can do, proving that healing is possible.

Stephanie Clayton

Stephanie is a survivor of sexual assault, and has struggled with depression and anxiety. This has led and fueled her passion and desire for every individual to find freedom through Christ. Stephanie holds a Masters Degree in Counseling and currently leads a survivors of sexual abuse group.

Call #2 June 27, 2011, 8 pm EST
Message: It’s Time to Go: The Faith to Move Forward
Special Guests: Dr. Kris Colangelo & Stephanie Clayton

Dr. Kris Colangelo
Even with many blessings in her life, Kris is no stranger to pain and fear. She has been a victim of relationship abuse, she has endured a lot of stress in her marriage, and she has endured the loss of two babies in utero. And yet, through it all, her faith has endured.

Call #3 July 11, 2011 8 pm EST
Message: How Can I Forgive: myself & others
Special Guest: Wendy Blight
, Author of Hidden Joy

Just days after her college graduation, she was attacked by a masked man hiding in her apartment. While Wendy physically survived, she lived the next decade in a prison of fear, despair, and hopelessness. God and God alone healed her. Her story is now an amazing testimony of God’s strength in weakness, His hope in hopelessness, and His healing in brokenness. Hidden Joy recounts her journey of transformation from a prison of fear to freedom in Christ and offers a step-by-step walk through God’s Word to find physical, spiritual, and emotional healing.

Call #4 August 1, 2011, 8 pm EST
Message: Connect
Special Guests: “Allison” and Lynn Cowell

“Allison” (name changed)
Allison's young daughter is the survivor of sexual assault. Eighteen months after her attack, at the age of 11, Allison’s daughter testified against her abuser. The mental and emotional effects of the abuse and subsequent trial led this young victim to suicidal ideation and an actual suicide attempt. Through it all, Allison and her daughter see God’s hand in her continued healing and growth into a strong survivor for whom He has such wonderful plans.

Lynn Cowell
Lynn is the author of His Revolutionary Love: Jesus’ Radical Pursuit of You and part of the Proverbs 31 Ministries’ speaker team.

Lynn’s desire is for every person to get that Jesus wants you! Jesus’ passion for His own is completely life altering and Lynn’s heart is to lead others to this depth of relationship.

Here are details about the calls:
Cost: $15

How do I sign up?
~Call Melissa at the P31 Office: 877-731-4663
~Order the calls at http://shopp31.com/conferencecalls.aspx.
~Send $15 payable to Proverbs 31 Ministries:
Proverbs 31 Ministries
Hidden Joy Conf. Call
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Rd.
Matthews, NC 28105

I hope you will consider joining these calls. They are designed specifically for you. If you have any questions, email Melissa or Angie at: MelissaTaylorQuestions@gmail.com.

xoxo, sam

May 24, 2011

Into Her Pain, Quietly

Muggy. Evening. Not even a slight breeze of mercy murmured. The stillness urged me: be still. Listen.

Knees kissing her chin, her eyes pleaded, "I need someone to crawl in my pit with me. Someone to help me out."

A lump in my throat responding to her grief. Press the escape hatch quick, before awkward mercy takes over. Obvious words lunged at me:

Time heals all wounds.
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
God's timing is perfect.
To everything there is a season.

But I wouldn't disrespect her loss with a walk-by. Wouldn't slap thoughtless words into her pit as I stepped over her pain. I try not to deal in slick grace if at all possible. You see, slick things don't stick.

A Samaritan traveling the road came on him.
When he saw the man's condition, his heart went out to him.

A word aptly withheld is often better than a word tossed care-lessly.

Comfort doesn't come in cliches. It comes in knowing we're not alone; we're cared about. It comes when the Word is coupled with deeds. "Let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions" {1 John 3:18}. Into the pit we're called. Into silence we wade.

He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds.
Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable.

The Good Samaritan did more than throw a nickel, blanket, or splash of water. He leaned down, listened to the need, loved the broken with what resources he had. He was the first in a line of others who helped the man in the pit get well. He stopped, stooped and stood next to the wounded.

That humid night with my friend, her journey of healing begun. Lowering myself into her pain, I crossed one leg over the other. In it for the long haul; in it for the long haul.

A meager offering from a willing heart: it is capable of great things.
And highly esteemed by the Most High. I let my arm linger, touching hers-- a reminder life begets life. Checked her hope levels, refilling them when low or dried up. Others made their way in. Tears were dabbed, monsters fought, mercy tucked under my friend, lifted her up and out. Onward to healing.

In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying,
'Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I'll pay you on my way back.'

Years later, my heart cracked open, pieces clattered out fast, like marbles from a jar. Flailing about, I slipped on them and fell headlong into my pit.

Gingerly, my friend picked her way down, leaving "chin up" and "better to have loved" at the surface. Toward my pain she leaned; she sat next to me quietly for months. One temperate morning, the breeze stirred slightly. The only thing between us, two mugs of coffee.

"You'll trust Him again, you know. You'll believe once more that He's always been good; never left you. You will. Someone once told me that in my pit and she was right. Time did help heal. I believe again; I trust." Mercy nodded at her and together, they wrapped their arms on either side of me. We began our ascent out of my pain. Time to leave; time to heal.

Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor
to the man who fell into the robbers' hands?"

And he said, "The one who showed mercy toward him."

Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do the same."
Luke 10


Going Deeper
This summer, Melissa Taylor is leading an online study of Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner by Wendy Blight. If you're looking for a friend to help you out of the pit, this is your chance! Click here for more info and to join.

Also, we'd love you to join us in our series of leaving the hurt behind. Jump on board by clicking here!

Are there pits in which I've reclused, not allowing in truth, help or healing? What do I fear will happen if I "go there"?

Stephanie Clayton's honest post is a hand extended to help you up out of your pain. Won't you reach up, taking a step out of the pain? Click here to grasp her hand of grace...

Who in my life has God called me to get in the pit with, as a vessel of healing and hope?

I {Sam} learned much about sitting in grace through Heatherly Sylvia's wise words. Click here to sit a spell with her post, Sitting Shiva.

~~~~~~
Appreciate all your wonderful comments along this journey. I'm growing because of YOU! If you're new here, we welcome you.

xoxo, Sam

May 23, 2011

Belittled

The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
~Phil. 4

Like a firefly trapped in a Mason jar. Stiffled, I peered out, watching others' dreams come to pass. My own on a shelf next to me.

Little by little, my happy-go-lucky heart flickered. Sadness cupped his hand over what little light was left as I acknowledged outloud the depths of my disappointment.

Extinguished. Exhausted. Expectant no longer.

“I'm so sorry your dreams are dashed,” my friend offered. “Wish I had known sooner how difficult this disappointment has been for you. Woulda been an honor to walk it out with you.”

“Thanks. But a broken heart is silly. Especially in light of others' pain.” Our friend's husband had just passed away. Who was I to be sad about a mere break up?

Silenced by unworthiness. Belittled by doubt.

Years of wisdom, scrolls of mercy, flashed in her eyes.

The beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them.
~Bonhoeffer

She took my hand and we journeyed back. To a time when she lost her children. And someone told her to check her pain at the door. To keep it in perspective to others' pain.

She took my hand and we journeyed back. To a time when the Lord ministered healing from the grief of empty arms and empty cribs. He rocked her tight, shielding her from the daggers of false words by careless hearts. Pain was acknowledged and given a name and sifted through, not simply tucked in a dark corner.

She took my hand and we journeyed forward. “Your pain is genuine. This valley is real and you have to walk through it to get out. Don't belittle your grief.

She granted permission to acknowledge the ache and loss. Drastically different than her own, yet no less honest. Not till that moment did I realize I was holding my pain at a distance, shunning it for perceived absurdity. I needed her words.

And while it's true that

It is wisdom that realizes:
I cannot expect anyone to understand me fully.

~Brennan Manning

We were created to at least give an effort to be understood. While our main hope and healing hinges on the Lord alone, it's vital we share our journey with others.

Is it perhaps time to ask for help out of your valley? The grace of others settling in the valley with us is needed at times. Counting stars during the long, dark night of our soul is more comforting with others beside us. The first ray of light often is glimpsed by them anyhow.

No one could hear the whole counsel of God in isolation.
~Richard Foster

Friend, no matter what other voices have said, your pain is valid. Seasons of pain come. And they also leave. Don't miss that last part. Pain is not meant to linger indefinitely. Often we need a trusted companion to walk us through it. Someone who will undo the lid on our Mason jar. And fly next to us, out of the valley.


Going Deeper
A few years ago I read Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner by Wendy Blight. Hope, joy, faith and trust were brutally ripped from her in a violent hour. She made her way through the valley she was pushed into and encouraged me out of mine as well.

This summer, Melissa Taylor is leading an online study of Hidden Joy. Friend, I pray you'll consider walking out of your valley with the girls going through this study. No matter what the source of your pain is, I trust you'll find hope and healing in this study. Click here for more info and to join.


Also, we'd love you to join us in our series of leaving the hurt behind. Jump on board by clicking here!


xoxo, Sam

May 18, 2011

Scribbled-On Dreams

Did y'all love Tracie Miles and her encouragement for us? I sure did! Her wise words encourage me as I jump off the train of negative thinking! Hope you're jumping too... if you're new, you can catch up here!

Today, another one of my P31 friends is joining us. Marybeth Whalen is a phenomenal author with an intense love of 80s music... what's not to love! Her passion and zeal for truth and hope inspires me. No doubt her words will lift you up too! Please check out any one of her stellar books or hop over to her blog...you'll love it!

Here's Marybeth!

“Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you have planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.” Psalm 40:5 (NIV)

Recently I learned that a book that I had given up on was miraculously going to be published after all. I was amazed at God’s power and His timing. I was ecstatic that He opened doors that I thought were shut forever. As I dug out the original notebook I had once designated to hold the papers and notes I would need for this project, I was shocked to find that almost every page in that notebook was scribbled on by my youngest child. Her artwork made every page unusable! I chuckled to myself as I closed the notebook and went in search of another one to use instead.

Later I reflected on my decision to hand over that notebook to my child. What had made me do that? I knew that it was because the project was, in my estimation, worthless, forgotten. The notebook represented something that would never be. It epitomized the death of a dream. Why not let my daughter fill in the pages with her toddler scribbles? I must have reasoned that nothing else would ever fill those pages!

And yet we serve a God who can blow new life into a dead dream. I had forgotten all about the book I once yearned to write. I had moved on in search of a new dream. But God had not forgotten. His plan was different—and longer—than mine. His vision was further reaching. His outcome never consisted of me writing my dream off as worthless and unachievable. Instead He wanted me to trust in Him even when the situation looked hopeless.

Do you have a dream that looks dead from where you are standing? Have you thrown in the towel, chalked your efforts up to experience and moved on? Just don’t move so far that God can’t bring you back to the dream when He is ready. Don’t fill in the pages of your notebook with hopeless scribbles and not give Him room to fill the pages with His Word, words of life and hope and vision. Yes, surrender your dreams—holding onto them lightly and always keeping His plans as your purpose, ready to lay down anything He asks because no dream is more important than Him. But also remember that God loves to bring about the unexpected, throwing us little surprise parties that bring joy to His Father’s heart.

My notebook now serves as a reminder—in childlike script—of God’s ability to overcome the impossible and open doors that were once slammed shut. I wouldn’t trade those scribbled-on pages for anything! Now I look forward to filling the pages of a new notebook with all new dreams. Dreams that were handed back to me when I least expected it.

Dear Lord, please help me to trust You when things don’t work out and I have to surrender my dreams. Help me to rest in the fact that You see things from a much bigger vantage point than I ever could. Help me to know that You always have my best interests in mind, even when You close doors I wanted open. And help me Lord to be ever mindful of Your power that is always at work—even when I can’t see it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Going Deeper
Do you have a dream you believe is dead? Spend some time writing about that dream in your journal today. Describe it in detail, and then ask God for His purposes to be revealed and His plans to be accomplished. Then spend time praising Him in advance for what He will do with your dreams.


Why do you think dreams are important to us? Do you allow yourself to dream? Have you allowed broken dreams to stop you from dreaming altogether?

Meditate on these verses:
Psalm 136:6, “Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.”
Psalm 105:4, “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.”

May 16, 2011

Faith Over Feelings

Hi friends, we're in for a very special treat today! My P31 friend, Tracie Miles, is joining us! When Tracie enters the room, she ushers in the peace of Jesus. There is something very sweet and gentle about Tracie, that I know you'll see reflected in her humble words. Please welcome her and pop over to her blog too!

xoxo, Sam


Here's Tracie!!

“For you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25:5b (NIV)

I spent months working on it, with big expectations and high hopes. But in the blink of an eye, it was crushed. This reality tore into my heart like a jagged knife, ripping my dream into tiny little shreds. Disappointment was so great; it was difficult to process my feelings. I had worked tirelessly on this project and now I was not only feeling disappointment, but rejection.

Disappointment soon turned to irritation, then resentment. I didn’t FEEL it was fair.

Why didn’t God answer my prayers? Why had He placed a dream in my heart only to allow it to crumble? Why had He let this happen? Why me?

I knew I needed to have a good attitude and not give up, but I did not FEEL like doing that at all!
Questions continued to pummel my brain. What is the use? Why try again? If God didn’t answer my prayer after all this time, why bother to keep trying?

You see, I allowed my feelings to overtake my mind, and let my FAITH take a back seat.

All I could think about was how this disappointment made me feel, instead of what God may be doing that my faith could not see. I felt things weren’t fair, without remembering God’s ways are best. I felt a longing for immediate results, instead of trusting God’s timing is perfect.

I soon realized my feelings were getting in the way of my faith. So I went to Psalm 25 (NIV), and allowed the following verses to wash over my spirit.

Verse 1, “To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul;”

I felt discouraged, unworthy, hopeless, rejected. So I poured my feelings and my soul out to God. And He listened.

Verse 2, “…in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.”

God reminded me to trust Him, not a desire or a dream. Not the world’s view of things. Not my abilities. Not my timeframe. Not my ideas. Just Him. I prayed about my enemies – intangible feelings such as self doubt, insecurities, frustration, and discouragement.

Verse 3, “No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse.”

Regardless of whether or not my desires become a reality, I will not be put to shame, because God is my God. If His plans coincide with my dreams, I know He will keep His eternal promises.

Verses 4-5a, “Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me,”

These words stopped me in my tracks. I began to think more rationally. Why have I been beating my head against a wall? Why have I been consumed with anxiety and frustration? Am I allowing God to direct my paths? God gently reminded me that He is the teacher; we are the students.

Verse 5b, “…for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”

If I put my hope in my own desires and abilities, I simply set myself up for failure. My only hope for joy and fulfillment comes from Christ alone. Hope can only be found in Him, not people, careers, husbands, children, church, financial success, a carefree life, or dreams that come true.

Disappointments will always happen. With God, however, we can turn those disappointments into God’s appointments to trust Him. The first step is exercise our faith over our feelings.

Dear Lord, You know the hurt in my heart and the sting of disappointments I have experienced. Please help me trust You, instead of being consumed by feelings. Empower me with a faith that is stronger than my emotions. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Going Deeper
Consider the disappointments you have experienced recently, and ask God to help your faith be more powerful than your feelings.

Unpack Psalm 25:1-5 and apply it to your situation, with open ears to hear God’s voice.

Are you allowing feelings to guide actions, or relying on faith to help you move forward?

Have you asked God how He can use your disappointments to strengthen faith in Him?

Psalm 78:7, “That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.” (KJV)

May 9, 2011

I'll Hold Out Hope Until Tomorrow, Tomorrow


There is only so long one's heart can stick up their chin & grin, twiddle-dee-dee'ing the sun will come out tomorrow before we become convinced the clouds are permanent. Day after day of unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick {Prov. 13:12}.

I'm keenly aware of this as my birthday approaches.

Normally I love my birthday. Cheerful wishes from hundreds (thanks Facebook!), cake and laugh filled parties, and sweet moments to look back and reflect on.

Last year differed. I turned another year older. Yet my dreams were still to be born. I prayed, pondered and petitioned for them to bloom. Days were gray and lonely, followed by nights of laying head on pillow with hopes unseen, murmuring a sleepy Tomorrow, tomorrow, you're only a day away. Yet each day turned into another turned into 365; nothing changed.



As I gear up to celebrate another flip of ye ol' calendar, the same dreams are incubating still. God's timetable hasn't matched mine. I've grown weary hanging on, come what may. Disappointment threatens to dive my protective mote; it stands at the ready to take my fortress of hope by storm. Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you. {Zech. 9:12}

Thankfully, wisdom faithfully speaks: His mercy and truth are the sieve our thoughts and emotions must be filtered through.

Dreams deferred don't necessarily equal dreams denied
Dreams derailed don't have to debunk belief

Belief that God is still good.
Belief He's in control.
Belief He has a plan.

Because He is and He does. I asked Him and He mercifully says, I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future {Jere. 29:11}.

So today, as I look on the horizon of 365 more days, I will hold my disappointment up to the truth and hold my hope more tightly. I will ask for courage to believe that all things work together for good. And I will not forget that He gave me these dreams and He is faithful to complete what He begins.

How about you? What dreams are you waiting on? How can we pray for you?

xoxo, Sam


Going Deeper
Lay out your dreams before the Lord, asking which are His dreams too or which might not be in His will.

What might He be asking you to do to position yourself for these to come to pass? Nothing changes if everything is done the same. Is it time to do things differently?

Filter your thoughts through this verse:
LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
{Psalm 16}

Jump off the train of negative thoughts with us! Catch up here.

He's not forgotten you. {The LORD remembers us and will bless us. ~Psalm 115}

May 4, 2011

A Train Worth Jumping ON!


My sisters (two biological and two "adopted") and I soared through my friend Wendy's book Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner: The Transforming Power of God's Story a few years ago... and we're still talking about it! You can imagine how excited I am then to share this exciting news!

Do you remember my friends Melissa and Wendy's honey sweet words shared with us? Mel breathed words of refreshment with her post Stained and Ruined. And Wendy ministered healing truths with her wise words in Do You Want to Get Well?

Well, great news! Melissa is leading an online Bible study of Wendy's book, Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner: The Transforming Power of God's Story, beginning the last week in May! There will be accompanying conference calls you don't want to miss!

To learn more about the study, please visit Melissa's blog. Everyone who signs up and buys their book through Proverbs 31 will receive a signed copy of Hidden Joy! To get a taste of what Hidden Joy is about, read a sample chapter here.

AND... enter today to win a copy of Hidden Joy on Melissa *and* Wendy's blogs!!

I so hope you'll join Mel and Wendy this summer in a journey to hope, peace, fearlessness and satisfaction in Christ. If you do, please let me know!

p.s. bonus! Stephanie will be a guest on Mel's conference calls!! {Read her guest posts You Can Heal Part 1 -and- Part 2}

p.s.s. We're still jumping off our trains of negative thought! Join us here... Thanks!

xoxo, Sam

April 28, 2011

Because When All Else Fails, Jesus Doesn't

Has your heart grown cold? Waiting and believing will ice the chambers of the soul without rays of warm hope.

I don't want to be naive here. Won't be surprised if hope has gone hey-diddle-diddle, eagerness running away with the spoon. It's not uncommon to turn from belief when every bite out life is sour staples, tearing up insides. Or when one bull horn too many has jabbed as we play the rodeo clown. Or when crickets are the only thing serenading... no direction, no proof in the puddin', no light at the end of the tunnel.

They say seeing is believing. Love says, "blessed are those that do believe and have not seen” {John 20:29}.

Because when all else fails, Jesus doesn't. And whether we feel, hear or see Him or not, the better choice is always to believe He will show up, come through.

Believe lazy cotton breezes will carry the hurt away
Believe fields of golden grass of innocence joy peace once stolen are yours to meander anew
Believe dappled flames of sun will lick the flames of His will for you ablaze

The fight to believe when proof has hitched it's wagon to another star wearies. Deferred hope sickens. That's why it's pertinent we go deeper into His love, His character, His Word.

I don't want to jeer at the goodness of God by portraying Him unworthy of tenacity. Won't mock His perfect plan by lobbing gnats as hand grenades to destroy doubts, instead of calling in the big guns. No, I will not give Love a bad name.

Instead I'll turn my cheek for the brush of the breeze. Sashe' in the tall grasses of grace. Turn my face toward the warm rays. During seasons of uncertain lengths of eclipses, I'll remind myself of the grandeur of His love I've seen in the light.

Friend, I don't know what you are waiting on. Job. Spouse. To see how this will work out for good. A child. Healing. Hope. Resurrection. I'm waiting on a few things myself. And here's what I know: Seasons change. Dawn follows; always. And even though we may not see His plan, He does. And it's good.

Do you believe?

Going Deeper
Sit before the Lord, praising and rejoicing over His character. {Good. Kind. Sovereign. Beginning&End. Gracious. Perfect.} Write out a list, adding to it daily. Next, seek grace for knowledge and understanding of His plans and perfect ways.

In what ways/areas have you ceased believing? Ask Him to reveal those areas and restore/renew hope. It's not too late to begin believing or to return from the fringes of doubt. Ask the Lord for help.

Jesus said to him,
"'If you can'! All things are possible for one who believes." Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!" ~Mark 9:20-25

Find a scripture to combat the areas you struggle to believe God is 'enough' over. Recite it outloud, post it on your mirror and fridge... until belief in Him replaces doubt.

Praying without ceasing for you. Thank you for journeying together!

xoxo, Sam

April 26, 2011

That's Not Why Ships Were Built

My toes tip on pins and needles around our accountants as it is. Fresh in from plowing the audit fields, glasses of sweet tea cast amber light around our lunch table.

His lips move, but words don't compute. I hear every other syllable but don't listen. I can't let go of deferred revenues, accruals, and doubts I chopped my work's finances to bits. I'm not listening to him, but the numbers punching within my brain. I remedy with a polite laugh. Nod of head. Move on.

But no. He's trained to catch what's missing; he's an accountant after all. The spotlight glares hotly. "You don't know what I said, do you?"

"Not a clue," hot cheeks tattle. I'm such a chump. Graciously he repeats, reassures me all is well with the audit. I let go of the spreadsheets and receipts, and listen.


Another inquisitive gentleman seeks to know if I'm listening to Him. Infinitely more vital are His voice and words. They're the melodies to which life's dance is set. Kindling feeding marrow's fire. Honey sweetening soul's hive.

We miss a beat when we're not fully engaged listening. Grow cold. Sour.

Jesus was "all ear" to the Father. This is true prayer: being all ear for God.
~Henri Nouwen

As each New Year dawns, I am "all ear" for His treasure map. I'm without a clue unless He speaks... unless I listen. What is Your will for me this year Lord?

He faithfully sets my course. Occasionally with a long manual, but mostly with a sentence or two. This year's directions: "Don't wait." To leave the port for the spot X marks, I must untether from the dock of doubt, the past, distractions. Briefly I linger as the breeze blows my way: I want change, but what if I fail, am shamed for trying, miss the way things use to be? Yet instinctively I refute.

A ship in harbor is safe, but that's not why ships were built.
~Anon.

The winds change, carrying this message: things will never change if you always do them the same way. Let go and listen. And so, with "all ear" my whole being bends into His voice. Moment by moment, wave by wave, His words navigate.

Half ears beget half lived lives. I want to be "all ear" and fully live. How about you? God's is the voice that gives hopeful futures, right instruction, wise counsel, lovely delights. His is the voice that sets free.

Old becomes new. Death becomes life. Lost is found at the sound of His voice. He's inviting you into a grand adventure. Won't you let go and set sail, listening to His directions?

Going Deeper:
Are there things you instinctively know need to be let go so you can listen? What practical steps can you take to let go?


What have you heard the Lord say recently? Do you feel you've listened to His whole message or only heard every other syllable?


Jesus takes leave to quiet places, void of people and things, in
Luke 15 to pray. Can we do the same? In a closet, bathroom, friend's home, park, church sanctuary?

Thank you for biding time with me as seasons & our lives change through His words and Word! If this is your first time joining us, we're in the midst of Jumping off the Negative Train of Thought. Welcome!

xoxo, Sam