“I can’t breathe”

“I can’t breathe,” the police are on my back
won’t leave me alone, it’s cause I’m black.
I didn’t do nothing, yet they’re out here again,
claiming I’m criminal, wanna take me in.
“I can’t breathe,” they’re holding me down,
head smashed to the pavement, in my own town.
Family is watching, my neighbors too,
helpless we are, there’s nothing to do.
“I can’t breathe,” I cry out, with barely a voice
It’s cause I’m black, and not by choice.
Too many brothers been locked away,
The new Jim Crow, taking it’s place each day.
“I can’t breathe,” locked up in my cell,
A cage ain’t no place for a man to dwell.
Protect and serve they claimed as their oath,
But not street people and the brotherhood both.
They’ll lie, cheat, and steal to protect their name.
Yes, some police kill without any shame.
“I can’t breathe,” in a system holding me down,
It’s unjust how they watch the black people drown.
Filling those high walls with the poor minorities,
“I can’t breathe,” won’t someone listen, please!!

I encourage you, “Let your gentleness be known to ALL men…” Philippians 4:5

In memory of Eric Garner and his beloved family.

I Can’t Breathe


Father Time, Time is the Fathers

My heart is filled with thanksgiving as I stand in my warm kitchen, making my youngest son his favorite egg dish. I take a moment to look out the window over the wintry landscape. The brown deer running up the hill, along the deep tree line, stands out against the white fallen snow. I am so thankful to live where I do.
My mouth opens in praise as I thank God for providing our home, the land it sits on, the wildlife that shares it with us, as well as the family who owns it and that have adopted us as their own. I praise God for having not only heard my prayers, but for being so attentive to my heart to also provide the things of His creation that I most adore. I began to speak of His overwhelming grace, and give thanks that my name, Samantha Grace, is a constant reminder of how abundant grace is in my life. I open my heart to receive this great gift He bestows to me.
But as I stood in praise, thanks, and grace, I also confessed how I want to live more for Him. I began praying, “God, please forgive me, and help me to redeem the time. Help me to manage my time better.” My lips were silenced as I softly and gently heard, “It’s not YOUR time.” My prayers and confession immediately changed.
I know this to be truth. Many times I have surrendered all to Him, and many times, one by one, He unveils areas in my life that I falsely believe to be surrendered. Time, is His. HE called me here for good works and purpose. (Ephesians 2:10) I don’t desire to walk around in my own will, wasting precious time. I want to be completely consumed in His will, redeeming HIS time.
I encourage you to step back a moment and ask God to reveal if you are redeeming His time, or taking it all for self.

Gods time

Always in love and encouragement,

Spread Cheer

Encouragement. This was the initial desire that moved me to start a blog. I know it’s been many days since I’ve shared encouragement here. But today, I need release, and my best release comes through my writing.
Twenty years ago today I was encouraged by my beautiful, 33 year-old, mother to stay after school and participate in my schools basketball  cheerleading tryouts. My mom loved that I was a cheerleader, and encouraged me often to cheer at home, for her. I remember some pictures she took of me in my middle school cheer years. They have since been lost in all the change. She was a proud cheer mom.
As I sat, waiting for tryouts, chatting away with my friend Jill, I was called to the principals office. Odd, I thought. With a serious face and fairly somber voice, I was told I had to ride the late bus home. I tried to explain that I was waiting for tryouts at my mothers request. But the verdict remained, I was to go home.
I huffed in anger back to my friend, where I complained and pouted. I begrudgingly got on the late bus, leaving behind my friends, the cheerleaders.
We lived about a mile from where the bus dropped off, as our 4th and most recent move led us  out of the district. With sympathy from Mom and the school we were allowed to ride the bus, but it was our responsibility to get there. This afternoon our neighbor was waiting to pick us up. This was not terribly unusual, she sometimes picked up the younger kids from the late bus. What was unusual on November 2, 1994 was the amount of cars parked out in front of our house. When I saw those cars my stomach was instantly sick. My grandma, who was suffering greatly from Lou Gehrig’s disease, was living with us at the time. I think the consensus in the car was something terrible happened to her. But I felt something different. I vocalized that with a, “Mom” as I opened the door of the still parking car. I jumped out and ran inside that house to see my moms family sitting around our dining room table. Their faces red and wet from crying. I myself felt the wetness roll down my face. No words were necessary. My mom was gone.
The events of that day are seared in my memory. It was a day that would drastically change my life.
Remembering her this day, twenty years later, I can still hear her voice. I can hear her encouraging  me to keep being the cheerleader. I don’t need a uniform, I have the heart and a voice. Today, there are so many people in need of a cheerleader. I commit to being just that, if only for one person in need. Encouragement, like despair, is contagious. What will you spread? 
On behalf of my encouraging mother, I encourage YOU, go spread some cheer!
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:2 (NKJV)

Ragdoll Made Whole

My oldest son has a stuffed dalmation puppy that he loves to carry around. Five years ago when my son received this dog as a Christmas gift, the stuffing was full and firm. “Slinky Kawasaki,” (my son has a way with names, hopefully MANY years down the road when he gives me grandchildren he won’t be naming them after things he likes) was able to sit strong and tall as his puppy friend. His “fur” was bright white with distinct black spots.
But, over the years Slinky has become a bit more ragged. He’s been thrown around, left in the dirt, squeezed and battered a bit by a boy who loves him. Poor Slinky, though still incredibly loved, has been worn down by life. He can no longer sit strong and tall, his head flops to one side. His “fur” is  dull white, and some black spots may not be an original.
I think of myself when I look at Slinky. Many years of life had left me as a ragdoll. Though I was loved, I was battered and worn. I tried to patch myself up, taking drugs, seeking attention by wearing provacitive clothing and boat loads of makeup. I thought putting these patches on might hide the worn out girl I really was. Then, in a moment of utter darkness and only one option left unexplored, I put on Jesus. I made an appointment with the great physician. He’d kept His schedule clear, specifically waiting for me. He took me in, opened me up, and gently began to pull out the old stuffing. He washed away all my dirt and made me clean. He restored me with brand new stuffing and put me together exceedingly better than before. I don’t need, nor want, any patches now. I am whole.
“Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.” Acts 3:10
I want to encourage you today, if you have been feeling like a ragdoll, I know a great physician. He is better than any cosmetic surgeon, therapist, or drug. His name is Jesus. He is standing right next to you, loving you, waiting for you to invite Him to restore you wholly and Holy. His schedule is emptied specifically for you. He is able, He alone is able.

Lighting up my mountains

If we were all to stop for a moment, turn around, and look at the path behind us, would it not look similar? We would all see fields of beauty; roses of a wedding day, lilies of child birth, strong, tall trees of family, friends, and mentors. We would all also see some mountains. Sure, they may have different names and heights, but we all have those dark, rocky peaks.
I’ve recently wanted to spread the light from my fields of beauty to the entirety of my path, including those dark valleys and skyscraping mountains. They’re behind me, which means I’ve conquered them. They are a very large part of me. Why not cover them in light?!
I had that very opportunity at a tea and testimony meeting with some fellow moms.
I’ve only shared my testimony once before. That was in Nicaragua on a mission trip, where I already KNEW some of those girls knew my mountains by name. It’s always somewhat frightening to stand before a crowd, all eyes and ears on you, and be an open book. But, standing in front of a crowd, all eyes and ears on you, without knowing if anyone there knows your mountains names..multiply that fear by ten.
I know I’d been led to share. I knew purpose was walking ahead of me, almost invincibly. But, I stood in front of that crowd and got naked. I encouraged them to do the same. Take off your shirt of shame. Drop those busting britches of self condemnation. And when you’re completely naked, turn your eyes to Jesus who made you. Turn to Jesus who is lovesick for you and calls you worthy. Turn to Jesus who spread wide his arms on the cross to die for you in His unshattering love.
After I finished speaking, I felt worse than before. I could feel the heaviness of incline underfoot. I didn’t say all the things I wanted to. It was too heavy for a morning of tea and fellowship. All of a sudden I had found myself in the ring, and I was kicking my own butt. Imagine walking by someone and watching them body slam themselves. That was me. Throwing myself down on the colorful flowers I had just planted in my field of beauty. Crushing the stems of courage. I laid on that bed of flowers and turned on some Brene Brown.
“Yeah, it’s so scary to show up. It feels dangerous to be seen. It’s terrifying. But, it is not as scary, dangerous, or terrifying as getting to the end of our lives and thinking, what if I would’ve shown up? What would’ve been different?”
I showed up. As dangerous and terrifying as it was to be seen, naked, I showed up. At that moment I was able to stand back up. I thanked God for allowing me to shed light on my mountains.
As we celebrate the death of Christ today, remember why. Because He LOVES us. Love yourself! Love others! We are ALL worthy, even with our mountains.

Time, I let thee go…

I’ve been struggling with time lately. Trying to control it even. The things I am not courageous enough to face, I avoid like the plague, convincing myself that a later, better time will come. The things my heart desperately desires, I attempt to rush and force to happen prematurely. There lies a wicked combination of the two, which may be most frightening, and damaging to me. Ya know, the hearts desires that I’ve worked diligently toward, yet seem to terrifying to receive with arms wide open and so I turn away from it.
I spent this past Sarurday interacting with some residents of a local assisted living home. I noticed that all of them talked either about their future, or their past. They were focused ahead, on the return home, or the home left behind, only to be seen in visions of memory.
It broke my spirit and encouraged me to embrace the day.
Each day is a gift, a journey, with moments to be seized, and lessons to be learned. I’ve realized that today sets me up, prepares me for tomorrow, and matures me from yesterday.
How many blessings have I already missed because I’ve focused ahead, or behind? Today, that doesn’t matter. What matters, is my choice to be immersed in today. Today, I will choose to trust in the truth of Gods perfect timing. Today, I choose to praise both what is, and what is not. I will live the blessings of today, trusting my faithful, good God for the blessings of tomorrow!