Lost in a world I don’t belong, I’d sought for pleasure and sought for peace
And where I looked, temporary was found
Nothing seemed to stick around.
Things I gained, things I loved, rapid changes, loss and pain
Oh how tired the chase made me.
Until I was lost in the darkest of seas.
With nowhere to turn I had to look up, but when I looked up, was directed within
to a hardened dark place that my heart used to be
I praise You my constant for ever-changing me.
Continue to “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10
I love music. It would be very rare to enter my home and not be greeted with the sound of song. I love singing as well. It would be very rare to find me working and not hear my vocal chords dance. My boys recognize this and delight in turning the stereo on for me. My oldest son, Deegan, took delight in informing me that I don’t know the words to all the songs, and sometimes I “get them wrong.” I had to laugh at his bold insight. I also had to confess, indeed I do get them wrong sometimes, I am just “not perfect” I said.
Simultaneously my boys sang, “Yes you are!”
As my Spirit leapt inside me, I saw the love God loves me with. Just as my kids see me as perfect (for now), so my Maker does also (always).
Sure, I sometimes get the words wrong; I make mistakes. But the love that abounds for me exceeds all that, and they never meet. They are as far as the East is from the West. (Psalm 103:12)
I also saw forgiveness. I am forgiven for being imperfect. I don’t have to dwell on the mistakes I make along the way. I don’t have to live in condemnation or fear. (Romans 8:1) Because though I get it wrong sometimes, I am perfect in His sight. (Colossians 1:28)
His sight is all I want.
Be encouraged this day my friends, you too, though you get it wrong sometimes, are perfection.
“God doesn’t make junk.” Ethel Waters
He makes perfection.
PS. He made YOU!
I love country driving.
Tonight was the perfect night for some. The sky was sending small, gentle drops. The last light of day was loitering about. I was in unknown country. I wanted to explore.
The part of town I am familiar with, is the prison and its surrounding block. It is a marvelous sight, but the life behind the marvel is daunting. I wanted to discover the country outside of those walls. I began to drive, turning up one back road I once was acquainted with. (I had slept in its corners one night in my car.)
I turned up the music and opened the sunroof. The trees along this country were thick and green. Farm fields were freshly laid with manure, the rows of beauty overpowering the smell. The farmhouses were picturesque. I was lost in the awe of it all. Gorgeous.
Before I knew it, I was deeper and deeper in the country. I loved it, but I wanted to be able to make it back. Cell service was sketchy. I began to fear, but for a moment. I was calmed with these words, “Don’t worry, I’ll get you where you need to go.” I said, “AMEN!”
I kept driving, relaxing in the beauty. My soul resting. Before I knew it, I was where I needed to be.
That drive, with all the favor of beauty, was a blessed reminder…I can be in foreign country and not fear. I can rest, trusting in Him to get me where I need to be. I am on the safe road. I don’t have to know where I’m going. I might have a dirt road or two. But, I don’t have to worry…I’m going where I need to be.
Bible Reading: Isaiah 55:8-13
I am known for being swept away in hope. Hope is exceptionally beautiful. Hope swoops in on a day of weakness and lifts you up in the strength of it’s arms. Hope floods the dreary darkness with untold wattages of light. Hope is a blessed friend.
As such a lover of hope, I’ve learned an invaluable lesson- be mindful of what you put your hope in. I, more often than not, was putting my hope in MY thoughts and in MY ways. This would carry me only so long until I was once again dropped in the gloomy darkness, sobbing, and wondering how I’d made it back to this place of despair.
That is until I found a far more brilliant hope, evermore beautiful than I’d known. It goes a little something like this, “O Israel, hope in the LORD; for with the LORD there is mercy, and with Him is abundant redemption.” (NKJV) I like how the NLV says it, “O Israel, hope in the LORD; for with the LORD there is unfailing love. His redemption overflows.”
I remember hoping for the great love of my life to swoop in and carry me away forever. I even put my hope in a specific person to fulfill that love. My hope was in MY thoughts, and so I made my own ways. My ways were not always pure, and sometimes my ways compromised my own deep, internal desires. My hope betrayed me. My hope was false.
It wasn’t until I recognized this, and I repented and surrendered, that my hope was redeemed. The unfailing love of my merciful Father swept down and delivered me to the arms of the great love of my life. NEVER did I think I would fall in love the way I did, but, His thoughts are not my thoughts, nor are His ways my ways. How I praise Him for that! Today, I am loved so greatly, and without compromise or impurity. I am loved with the love only God bestows.
My encouragement is this, you WILL face heartache, trial, and tribulation, BUT when your HOPE is IN THE LORD, it won’t, it can’t, betray you! “So shall My Word be that goes forth from MY mouth; it shall not return to Me void.” Relinquish your own ways, renew your thoughts, and hope in the Lord. “For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace..” This is where I want my hope. Amen.
“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
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.
Always in love and encouragement,
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)