Running for Sunrise

Part of the White Rock Trail

Part of the White Rock Trail

On Sunday morning, John was up and ready at 4:30 AM so I decided to do my long run of 7 miles for the day. I started at 5:00AM. Since it was still dark out, Jeremiah followed close behind me in our SUV. Running that early just isn’t fun to me. Everything is closed. No one is around. And I longed for sunlight.

No matter how far I run, I always run on Swiss Avenue, a well-known street in Dallas lined with historic mansions. I pictured everyone snug in their beds. Past Swiss Avenue, I jogged on the sidewalks of Lakewood, a charming area where my final destination would be. On the left in the distance, I saw a few workers at Whole Foods getting their day started. I smelled doughnuts from a local shop, reminding me of my intense hunger pains. Past the neighborhoods, I reached White Rock Lake where I had around 3 miles left.

At last, the sun  pierced through the clouds- bursts of bright pink and orange. Fishermen were out for their morning catch. Cyclers, walkers, and runners breezed by- sweaty and short of breath just like me. The light I had longed to see had finally arrived and it was beautiful. It gave me a new burst of energy to finish what I’d started.

There are days where I sense darkness, that I’m in a valley and I just long to be with Jesus and to be at home in heaven. This is not at all to say I don’t love life. I absolutely do. God has given me fullness of joy in His presence. I love my husband, my son, family, and friends. I’m overwhelmed all the time by God’s grace and goodness in my life. And it’s depressing to think about dying one day. But I still have days where my heart longs for my eternal home in heaven- where I’ll be healed from the brokenness of sin within me and restored to God’s perfect image.

At the end of 7 miles and wanting to eat a dozen doughnuts, I was encouraged that in Christ, there is no darkness at all. He is the light and gives light to everything. He alone is what our hearts are chasing after.

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Marriage Interview w/ Dave Ramsey

Brian & Phil with Dave Ramsey

Brian & Phil with Dave Ramsey

This morning, I walked into my office and to my surprise the book The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey was on my desk. I giggled under my breath because my boss Brian and our VP of Video Production Phil were just in Nashville last week to interview Dave Ramsey himself.

I opened the flap and there it was. Dave’s signature in black ink that said To: Samantha. Romans 12:2: “Transforms!”

For a Monday morning just barely awake, this was the best gift ever. Dave had given Brian and Phil some books to bring back. Brian knew how much I loved Dave and the impact he’s had on me and Jeremiah with finances. Through Financial Peace University, Dave’s helped bring us into the light in understanding money and making wise decisions. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ve seen parts of our journey in beating debt. (also more posts under the Finance category).

Dave’s interview will be featured in a DVD series we’re creating at Bluefish called Marriage: Built to Last. Dave’s story along with Kurt Warner and Josh Hamilton are the high profile interviews a part of the series. Chip Ingram is going to do the biblical teaching in the series and we’ve shot around 20 real-life marriage stories. Maybe I’m biased, but I think this series is going to be one of the best marriage resources out there and I think you should get it whether you’re married or not!

I can’t wait to see the rough cut of Dave’s interview and to dive into this book.

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Article: Vulnerable & Unashamed

courtesy of

I was reading an article on Ungrind the other day that I’ve fallen in love with. It’s called Vulnerable and Unashamed by Christin Taylor. I was immediately drawn by her writing style, use of metaphors, the pictures she paints with words, and her authenticity.

Many of us have experienced moving to different cities, finding new friendships, and the whirlwind adjustments that go with that. Some of us struggle to allow other women into our souls for the fear of being wounded, rejected, or just “known.” We’d rather let them skim the surface. But God didn’t create us for shallow women friendships- He wants us to be known into the depths- scars, bruises, insecurities and all.

Here are a few sneak peaks into Christin’s article:

Movies and love songs croon about a desire to be seen and accepted by the men in our lives, but here is a deep down truth, a hidden knowing: husbands, boyfriends, and babies cannot satisfy the extents of our relational needs. Women’s hearts are vast and we need the love, the friendship, the intimacy of other women.

I’ve been so busy trying to keep myself from the pain of making new friends, the pain of loosing old ones that I’ve neglected to see the power of that pain. Maybe I’m supposed to let these relationships peel away the dead skin on my heart. Perhaps I’ve gotten too comfortable, been too self-absorbed, and the burn of vulnerability does a scrubbing work on my soul. I go in tan, I come out bright pink.

In order to engage in the intimacy of women friendships it means letting each other close to the fleshy part of our hearts, and that means sometimes getting snagged.

Check it out on Ungrind!

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Worship with Ginny Owens

5067_632353611688_55713931_37132356_5936979_nThis past Sunday, Ginny Owens surprised us at church and led our worship. Everyone who loves Christian music, knows Ginny Owens. During the past ten years, she has sold nearly a million records and performed more than 1500 concerts, including sets at prestigious events like Lilith Fair, The Sundance Film Festival, and the White House (

Even though she became completely blind when she was two years old, she mentioned how she’s chosen to allow God to use what she calls shortcomings or “thorns” in the flesh, for his glory.

I really resounded with her words. I often let God know how I can’t do certain things because of this or that. But I really think, like Ginny, that God wants to take those very things within us that we have insecurities about. And He’s not looking for great spiritual giants who have it all together, but more so humble servants willing to admit their weaknesses. I think He does this because He makes Himself strong in our weaknesses and imperfections.

While Ginny was packing up her CDs and belongings before catching a flight out, my son John and I got a chance to meet her. He cooed in her ear and her face lit up.

Her vision for God is the kind of vision I want in my life.

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Michael Jackson’s Dash

the-jackson- Jackson’s Thriller album was released the year I was born (1982) and it was in my elementary years in South Carolina that the king of Pop ruled the world. In the third grade, I remember dancing with my friends to the songs “Black or White”, “Billie Jean”, and “Beat It.” I remember the lines and beats to this day. I remember the particular inappropriate, awkward move that he displayed on stage once… that my classmates would try and imitate! (you know what I’m talking about!)

Regardless of the good and bad in his life, I remember Michael during my childhood so those were good memories of him for me. I lost track of him completely after that and I didn’t care much about him. Today, I’m amazed at how for so long, not much was said about him but all of the sudden since his death, the world is texting, twittering, emailing, and calling all those they know in shock. And I don’t know if it’s just because of his unmatchable talent, or how we associate our memories with his music. It takes us back.

The one thing I noticed about his death yesterday is the dash between 1958-2009. A simple dash yet so critical. The dash represents his life and what was done in that time. The dash compared to eternity is so tiny, like an ant in a mountain of sand. I thought about my life and that some day I too will have a dash- whether I want one or not! God’s word says that every man has his appointed time to die. We cannot ignore the reality that death will come to us too one day. We cannot ignore the reality of heaven and hell and the consequence if we do not choose to accept Jesus Christ, God’s son as our personal Lord and Savior. How we live on earth does impact us when we die.

I don’t know where Michael truly is now, only God does.

But because of the seriousness that’s involved in his dash, I’ll never forget the day the king of Pop died.

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Finances, Debt, & Freedom

piggy20bank1It’s been far too long since I’ve posted on finances. Can you tell the very word makes me nervous? Maybe it does for you too especially in our economy’s present condition. Well the good thing is that for us, right now, things are going really well.

Jeremiah and I are down to $1,000 left on his school loan and around $10,000 towards our car. A year and a half ago, we were about 30-40K in debt. Now, we’re $11,000! Jeremiah has mentioned how simple it would be to pay the whole car off in a matter of months but with the season of life we’re in (with him in school, internship, ministry, etc.), it’s best to wait and chisel away at the debt as we can.

We would not be where we are without the help of Dave Ramsey and my Mom spurring us to take his 12 week class- Financial Peace University. Finances is just one of those things, like sex, that not too many people discuss and many families don’t talk about growing up. So the result: ignorance. And it’s bliss. I’ve been there.

I’ll never forget a few months ago when our community group at church sat down and we went through each couple’s budget- every detail from car maintenance to cosmetic allowances. I hadn’t done that with anyone, ever in my life. But something about it was so freeing. There was accountability there and we knew we had each other’s best interest in mind. Our goal was to steward whatever resources God had given us the best we knew how.

Even now, I admit the struggle to constantly be aware of what I’m spending. What I’m saving, etc. It’s not easy or always black and white to know what God would do in this or that situation. But I do know for sure, that plummeting away at this debt is bringing him glory. It’s getting us farther away from bondage and closer to freedom.

We can’t wait for the day to call Dave Ramsey’s radio show to say, “WE’RE DEBT FREE!”

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Who He is- what i’m not

Lately, I’ve been realizing just how much I don’t care to be known in the world. (Don’t worry this won’t be a depressing post.)  Don’t get me wrong– it would be really amazing to be on TV or have my name written across a book (especially because I want to author my own book one day) or to be rich and famous. But I’m guessing that somewhere down the road, I would end up empty. So while I know my flesh desires those things here and there, I can honestly say in my spirit that I just don’t care.

What I do care though is about making Jesus famous. It’s a worn out cliche among the Christian bubble, but what it really means is desiring to reflect who Christ is in all of life. It’s no easy task to figure out exactly who He is, but He’s given us His Word to help guide us.

In the Bible, I see how beautiful, perfect, loving, tender, merciful, gracious, and faithful He is. I see his humility in the way he dealt with people. How he not only healed the sick and the blind, but cut to the core of a person’s heart. I see how he rebuked pompous religious leaders and people in his day who were self-righteous. I see how much pain he endured on the cross to save us. I most importantly see His love for all people and how he met them right where they’re at.

Jesus’ life also wasn’t about making a name for himself, but for his Father. He didn’t manipulate people to get what He wanted. He wasn’t concerned about the affairs of this world, but about doing God’s will. I’m so challenged by his life that sometimes it’s overwhelming. I’m so messed up (most of the time).  I struggle with attitude. I struggle with pride. My thoughts aren’t always pure. I don’t always love people. I often want my way only. All in all, I simply love me. It’s a total tragedy.

But I wasn’t created to make myself glorious. No one stands in front of the Grand Canyon and says, Wow. I’m so beautiful.

I was created to make God glorious.

I think that when we truly grasp what we are not, and what Christ is, that we fall on our knees in humility and wonder why in the world we keep trying so hard. We let him take the reins and work through us. I think that’s what He was getting at when he said:

I am the vine. You are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. – John 15:5

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A Father- the Family Shepherd

1123144_walk_on_pierI’ve heard it said that a father is the family shepherd of the home. I just love that title. By God’s divine order, the father is head of the house. His role is to tenderly lead and guide his family like a shepherd would for his sheep.

The great truth however, is that a family shepherd isn’t perfect. He’s an imperfect man who follows a perfect God. He isn’t afraid to confess his sins or when he’s screwed up because his ultimate goal and desire is to love and fear God. His ambition is to genuinely live out his faith in front of his wife and children.

When I first got married, my husband asked me one day, “How’s your heart?” Those words really caught me off guard—I’d never been asked that before or at least asked in that way. But knowing that my husband cared about my heart meant the world to me. Three years later, he’s mentioned his desire to make sure our newborn son John, will know in the future that he can bring his whole heart before his father. And that John will have that security knowing it will be protected.

Proverbs 20:5 says, The purpose of a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out (ESV).

It’s the business of a father to draw out from his wife and children the deeper matters of the heart. While this takes time and some humility, his role is to draw this out so there will be healing, love, respect and harmony among his family.

If you’re a Daddy on this Father’s Day, remember that you are the family shepherd and what an awesome role that is!

Thanks for all you do and Happy Father’s Day!

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Romance and Realism

It might seem cheesy but I’m listening to my Pandora Radio and Bryan Adams just started singing “When You Love Someone”… you know the song that goes “you’ll shoot the moon. Put out the sun… when you love someone.” It popped up on my Josh Groban radio and all the sudden it’s playing romantic songs. (I didn’t think I was a hopeless romantic… really). But you know there are times when my heart longs for romance. A definition of romance, out of the many is:

to invent or relate romances; indulge in fanciful or extravagant stories or daydreams.

I romance about walking on the streets of Italy, breathing the air, tasting the food, and experiencing a different culture. I dream about being somewhere different than here- on the turquoise blue ocean, basking in the sun. I daydream about peace and living in a world that is perfect. I create stories in my imagination of what heaven will be like and the house that Jeremiah will live in next to mine. I often allow the beauty in music to wash me away to an unfamiliar place.

Romanticism though, is the opposite of realism. The world as it is- Imperfect. Sinful. Ugly. Struggling. Destructive. Relationships as they are- sometimes hurtful, filled with conflict and strife. Not really the world we want.

But I know God gives us glimpses of what our hearts truly long for. Because He wants us to see there is something more than this life- It’s a life lived in perfect harmony with Him. A life lived with him forever where there will be no more tears, pain, and war.

For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.   – Revelation 7:17

When I start daydreaming again, I want to be more reminded that God is enough and that one day, those things will be attainable. But for now, they’re on hold… until He returns. And when I daydream of what my heart craves, I’m ultimately longing for the one thing my heart was created for… to love and worship God.

Well now my Pandora Radio is on to playing Michael Buble’s, “Dance for Me.”

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My Surrender Anniversary

Today is what I call my “surrender anniversary.” The story goes like this… as a young girl growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, my Mom brought my sister and I to church every Sunday (my Dad at that time didn’t want anything to do with “religion” at that time). So she was faithful in bringing us and when I was six years old, our pastor Jack came over to my house. His purpose was to tell me more about Jesus- that He died for me and that I was a sinner in need of a Savior. If I believed and accepted him, I would have eternal life and would be saved from a life spent in hell.

In that moment sitting in our living room, I remember it as clear as day and I accepted “Jesus into my heart” that day. I truly understood that God was Creator and that I had some sin issues (ie. I stole a few lollypops from Eckerds drug store). I needed him and I desperately wanted to go to Heaven. That day I truly believed.

BUT… still being so young and as I headed into my elementary and middle school years, I kept thinking I had to do “good” and that if I messed up, God would be mad at me. I didn’t quite get the relationship part. I’m pretty sure I rededicated my life about 10 times at youth camps and Sunday services.

High school came and I dabbled in a few things that were keeping me from having the life God wanted. There were sins blocking my path and I knew it. One summer as a sophomore, I took significant trips back to back (that my parents graciously gave to me) that were milestones in my life. One was to Frontier Ranch in Buena Vista Colorado with Young Life and one was to Panama City Beach, FL with my youth group. Both trips showed me so much about life and God. One night in Florida, a youth speaker at our conference spoke on “Surrender”. I had never heard the word and didn’t know much about it, but the words he was saying shot straight to the depths of my heart.

So I asked my pastor David and he explained it me like this, “It’s giving God everything in your life and letting him take full control. As if to say, I’m done. I surrender.” At that moment, I got it. I knew I didn’t have a surrendered life. Jesus was not LORD of my life (He was just there). But I wanted him to be. So that night I allowed God to take my mess and turn it into good. It’s not that I wasn’t saved or didn’t believe at age 6, it was just all a part of this process that God was doing. And it wasn’t like I was going to be perfect right away. God just knew what my heart’s desire was and He was going to help me in this idea of making him first in everything in my life.

That was June 16, 1998. The date is marked in pink in my Bible to this day. Every year, I try and take the day to reflect on what God did in my life and to see where I’ve come from. His grace changed my world and the lens in which I saw him. And today my love for him is wider, as I see all that I am not and all that He IS.

His grace extends to all of us, no matter where we’ve been. And his grace holds us for future things to come.

Thank you Lord, that you are an awesome God.

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