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
~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:

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


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.

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'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