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.
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)
You are able. This I know.
May in my life, Your plans grow.
I am weak. You are strong.
I’ll wait on You, my whole life long.
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.
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.