Making Sense of a Senseless Act: Church Shooting in Texas

After another recent horrific tragedy this week, we are reminded of many things. None of us are promised tomorrow. You never know what the next day; let alone the next hour will bring. But, many want to know where God was in the midst of this disgusting event that occurred at a Texas Baptist Church this week. Why didn’t God stop the shooter? How could He let all of those innocent children and adults die? Isn’t God supposed to keep all of this bad stuff from happening?

People are angry. People are scared. People are grieving. People are already pointing fingers at everything from gun control to the lack of reporting from the military court marshal and the way the government works. More importantly than anything right now are the families at the center of this nightmare. I read this morning about one man who lost eight family members including his pregnant wife and three of his children (four include the unborn child). My heart breaks every time I see a report with new information as we watch the stories continue to unfold of families touched and a small, loving community so confused by it all.

So, how does one make sense of this? I was reading posts yesterday from people claiming that “these people don’t need more prayer, but they need gun control.” On the contrary, these families are in desperate needs of prayers for God to overwhelm them with His peace and comfort. We can’t expect unbelievers to understand how one can feel a peace among this great loss. We live by faith, by things that are unseen. We hold tight to the truths of the Scriptures and the hope that one day we will all see each other again in heaven as God has promised to those who believe in Him.

These are a few scriptures that come to mind today as we ask God why this happened.

John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me,  you will have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart, I have overcome the world.

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted

Isaiah 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord‘s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

Lamentations 3:31-33 For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.

Isaiah 57:1-2 The righteous man perishes, and no one lays it to heart; devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from calamity; he enters into peace; they rest in their beds who walk in their uprightness.

I could go on and on with the words Christ gives us about these times. We know that we live in a sinful world. We know that because of the sin of man, we have to deal with the evil that occurs daily. But, we also know the goodness of our God and that He was right there in the midst of that church holding onto each baby, child, teen, adult, and grandparent. How can the pastor and families find the strength to go on? If you have read their words after this happened, you will see a strength like no other. Because their strength comes from the Lord; not human strength. I don’t know if I would be the same right after the loss of my child, but I do know that the Lord would have to give me the courage and strength to move forward. A day at a time.

We can’t always understand why people do what they do. We live in a very dark, depressed, angry, and selfish world. It is for this reason why we need to draw closer to the Lord even more so. None of us are promised tomorrow. This could happen at any time or maybe a health scare, car accident, injury, or a violent act against you or your family member. The question is… do you know Jesus? Do you have the hope that these families have that one day they will be able to see those lost in heaven? If not… I pray you will seek Jesus today. Find His peace and His love that is more than this ugly world could ever offer you. We need you more today than ever Jesus!

Dear Samara – New blog/podcast coming soon!

Oh my goodness! Have you ever had a frustration or situation that you really needed to talk about, but also didn’t feel like you could because it was super personal?

We are talking marriage issues, parenting questions, relationships, dating, sex, peer pressure, etc…
I’m going to be starting a blog and eventual podcast called “Dear Samara” where I will be taking every day questions and responding to them via my website. I have already received so many private messages concerning family and marriages and would love to be able to take what we discuss and share it with others who can be encouraged through it.

Eventually, I will have guest speakers, bloggers, and counselors who have a testimony to share from their own life or profession. Submissions to “Dear Samara” can be sent via my CONTACT ME button. Click HERE to send a question or situation.

To the Tired Mom…

To the tired mom… what you are doing MATTERS! Keep pressing on. Spend that quality time with your family now. The chores will ALWAYS be there, but our kids won’t. It is normal to feel like you are falling short, but I promise you this… your children notice those little thoughtful things you do for them and one day they will thank you. For now, stay strong in the Word. Stay on your knees in prayer. Build up and protect your army at home and raise them up knowing Jesus.

Yes, they may stray no matter what you do, but they will have a strong foundation that they cannot deny. This world is a powerful force pushing our children away from TRUTH. Isn’t is amazing the amount of grace that God gives us through parenting? Pour that grace over your family like you are pouring gravy all over those morning biscuits lol. Let that grace soak up and reflect the grace that God gives us every day.

You are important. You are loved. You are amazing. Keep up the good work! He who began a good work in you will be FAITHFUL to complete it.

Living a Life of Faith – A Message of Hope

Once upon a time there was a little girl. She was just 7 but came to realize that she was missing something BIG in her life. She gave her life to the Lord, but didn’t quite understand just yet what that would mean for her life later on.

As she grew, this girl became a teen. She always felt different than what she saw around her. She didn’t seem to “fit in with the crowd”, but she was ok with that. She grew in the Lord, but still didn’t know how much this would impact her life later on. Even at a young age she didn’t know a stranger. She loved to smile and give hugs.

College, marriage, and babies came next. Life was good. Until one day her life was turned upside down. She went from one way of life to a single mom of 2 in what seemed like a split second. No one could console her, but there amidst the chaos she found peace in her relationship with the Lord.

She was reminded that she was strong. She was reminded that she could conquer even this hardship when it felt like her world was crumbling.

And she did.

God honored her with a new beginning later on and blessed her with more children. Still she always knew God would use her in a different way. Still she felt like she was made for more.

She continued to ask the Lord to lead her in all she did. Many times this meant learning from failures, but then her faith grew even more despite the failure.

As she grew older she came to realize that God wanted her everything. Even her security and her comforts in the little things. She took a step of faith and gave up her work to stay home. But God blessed her family. He brought them through hardships because they remained faithful to Him.

Then one day, God decided it was time for more. Would she be obedient even when others might think she is crazy? Would she be BOLD even when it wasn’t the “normal” thing to do?

With the support of her hubby and God’s promises in scripture she remembered “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Today SHE (yea it’s me lol) is living a life full into FAITH and promises of the Lord. No, I have no idea what tomorrow holds.

Nope, I have no idea sometimes how the bills will get paid or how God will provide the needs for HIS plan for this cafe ministry. But, I do know that He has given me a mission and I’m to see it through.

The Harvest Cafe is my challenge for this time in my life. I am not qualified. I may fail at times. I may have to learn an entirely new field of work. But, God sees a willing vessel and I want Him to use me NO MATTER WHAT!

I know my story may come across cheesy and that’s totally fine by me because like I said I’ve never been any part of “normal” as far as the world goes. But, I really want to encourage YOU to step out and live a life worthy of the calling He has for YOU!

Be BOLD and stay strong in the Lord no matter how old you are. He has great plans in store!!!

The Harvest Café – Support Christian Business

Well, today has been incredible for me. Sure, I could sit here and tell you the frustration of saying “no we aren’t even close to being open yet” or I can tell you how God continues to work and is leading step by step. For me, this has been the biggest journey of faith so far. Every day, I wake up not having a clue about what God is about to do, but I continue to anticipate great things.

If you have missed the story of how this journey began, let me go back a bit and fill you in. It’s an amazing story of how God is moving today and will use you when you are being still and listening.

First of all, last year, my husband and I decided to take a leap of faith and have me stay at home full time. I quit my nursing job and we have been taking it month by month as God has provided our needs. In November, a few months after retiring the day job, my “mommy mobile” was hit by a car that ran a red light and was totaled. God protected me and my little guy and we were able to walk away without injury. The car on the other hand had to go.

Shortly after, I found a replacement and went to pick it up. It was on my way home from this trip that God spoke to me in the quiet. He burdened me with the pain, depression, and the lost people in my community. We live in a very small town in the Blue Ridge Mtns of North Carolina. Our county is #1 in the entire state for suicides. I’m not originally from here, but have seen it first hand since moving here seven years ago.

I was in tears over the need for Jesus in this place and God laid it upon my heart to open a café and reach out to the community through it. It won’t be just a place to eat, but where people can be ministered to whether through prayer, music, or support. Our café will be used for other reasons such as Bible studies and group meetings for those who are hurting, fighting addictions, etc…

We have been on this journey now for 6 months and from the beginning I knew that my husband and I could not do this on our own. We live paycheck to paycheck like many out there today. Even though it seems impossible that God could allow us to start the café, I know that HE will provide for the every need. I sat in the empty building this morning with K-LOVE blaring on the radio and wrote out prayers for a few hours. I taped them on the floor and plan to print out many more before the floor is laid next week.

I want The Harvest Café to be a place where the Holy Spirit shines through. Where people can come and here the name of Jesus. Where people can come to have requests lifted up. Where people can come to hear about what Jesus did for us. I want people to come and feel the compassion and love we have for others and to understand that with Jesus we have all kinds of hope and peace.

I feel so unworthy to be called to do this. I am a nurse. I am a mom. I am no one special. But, in God’s eyes I’m robed in righteousness. I’m a child of the King! I have been through many hardships in my 34 years here on this earth and I want to use my story to reach others. I feel like if I don’t get face to face with people more then I won’t have as many opportunities to share.

Sometimes we simply need to break out of the walls of the church and get into the community and minister. Jesus did this. He was always moving and doing. He was surrounding Himself with all walks of life. He wanted to be their friend and show them that life could be so much better than they thought.

So, this is the core of The Harvest Café.

We are waiting for the renovations to be completed and when we are handed the key we will be ready to move forward with equipment, electrical and plumbing needs. I know that when God is ready He will move. We ask for your prayers and support as we move each step of the way. If you feel led to support us, I have opened a Go Fund Me page or you can mail support to PO BOX 1115 Jefferson, NC 28640.

Please keep in touch! We love hearing from people all over the world in support of what we are doing. I pray today that God would move in a mighty way. Here is a picture of one prayer card that went on the floor today. My desire is to cover the entire floor with prayers before the wood is laid next week. If you would like to add a prayer, feel free to type it in the comments and I’ll print it out so you can be a part of this. God is so good! Thanks for your support!

prayer card

With God All Things Are Possible!

You know when you have a dream and it seems SO far out of reach that you don’t even know if you should go for it? Maybe you don’t want to get started and feel defeated if it doesn’t work out or maybe you just don’t have the faith to move forward. I want to encourage you today… If this is something that God has laid on your heart then MOVE FORWARD!

Believe me!

I’m a planner. I want to know everything about how things are going to happen, when they are going to happen, how it will be paid for, that it will work, etc… Where’s the faith in all of that? If it’s a desire that God has given you and He is leading it from the forefront then walk by faith my friend!


with God all things are possible


I can tell you that it will be your biggest blessing when you follow God’s direction for your life. Yes, you may have no control and no clue what’s to come, but I know that God works all things to the good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. When I put God before anything else in my life, I am amazed at His response to my obedience. He simply wants us to be followers of Him.

For me, this is exactly the road I am on right now in my life. God has given me a clear and direct mission to open a Christian café in my small town. Sounds like a big task right? Well, it is! You see, my husband is a local associate pastor of a church. I took a leap of faith last year and quit my nursing job to stay home full-time with our family of five kids. We were COMFORTABLE where we were. We could pay the bills. We could go out to eat when we wanted. We could buy clothes when the kids needed them without feeling the need to check the bank.

When we took that step and I quit my job last year, we had no idea what God was going to do. It has been the hardest time yet the most rewarding time in our lives. To be so dependent on the Lord for all provisions is so fulfilling. Does that mean you should quit your job? No way! We just knew this was for us.

So now, here we are on a mission. Trying to open a café and provide our community with healthier food options, a friendly place to visit, but also a ministry to win souls for the Lord. In a town that is the HIGHEST suicide rate in all of North Carolina with so much depression both mentally and economically, it’s time for a positive change and positive impact.

So for this little North Carolina family, we are continuing our walk by faith. Can we go out and totally get this started on our own? No way! We don’t have the means to do it. But, I know a God who will! I don’t know how, but by faith I believe.

Don’t be held back because of your own doubt and lack of faith in the Lord. He is all-powerful. He is all-knowing. He can do what we call the impossible. Go forward with confidence in that!

If you want to receive my updates as we move forward on this journey, you can subscribe by email on the home page. Also, we have opened a Go Fund Me page to raise support to get started. If you feel led to give, please click on this link.

Encouragement for Blended Families and Stepparents

If you had told me 10 years ago that I would be a divorced mom of two to later remarry into a family of 4 I would have told you that you were crazy! I was content with my life in Florida. I had just had baby #1 and sure we had our marital issues like anyone else, but never would I have imagined what was in store for my future.

It’s easy to look around at others and see their hurt, but not truly understand what they are going through. Hurt can comes in form of death, divorce, a traumatic event, and more, but until it changes YOUR life sometimes we just don’t get it.

So, let’s hop to 2008. That was a MUCH better year for me. After single parenting, I met and married Steve. He had two children of his own from a previous marriage and had gone through the same life’s pains as me. For a time, I remember crying out to God asking if anyone would ever want a woman with two small girls and a ton of baggage. Of course, God showed me that He did have a plan for me and it came much quicker than I expected.

Steve and I married in June 2008 after a short engagement. After all, we had both been married before and there was no point in prolonging what we both new we wanted. Our dating life consisted of dinners with the six of us around the dining table at his house, giving the kids baths, watching TV, going to the park and on occasion we would go out just the two of us. If dating with four kids didn’t work then, we knew that it wouldn’t work in married life.

I’m not going to get into all of the details and events that happened next just yet. I’ve got to save some of that for later 🙂 However, being a stepmom has been by far one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had and one of the biggest emotional roller coasters in my life. I know what it’s like to feel like you don’t have a place in your own home. I know what it’s like to feel like a third party. I know what it’s like to feel like you don’t have a voice.

I can also tell you that being a stepparent and raising someone else’s children can be very rewarding. It takes time and a lot of patience, but when you push through all of the trials and start to see changes happening it’s exciting! There are many mountains to climb and many valleys to walk through, but with my own story I have seen over and over how God has been with me each step of the way. You can’t force someone to love you. You can’t make it happen on your own. You have to wait and allow God to work on everyone’s hearts.

I recently published my first blended family devotional and I would love to share it with you! Click this LINK and check it out! It will walk you through my own personal story and struggles and teach you some basic principles along the way. I also have a Facebook page for blended families that I’ve started so Steve and I can meet new families, give support, and encourage others. Click HERE to connect with us!

Stay tuned for more of my story.

Broken To Blended

Broken To Blended – Now Available

I am so thrilled to announce that my first book is now published and available! Broken To Blended: Encouragement For Blended Families is a devotional/journal for those parenting children other than their own. It is difficult enough dealing with issues in marriage and family, but when you throw in the complexities of blended family life, issues can escalate.

Sammi final cover

There are so many emotions involved. There are so many PEOPLE involved in your life that sometimes you feel like you don’t have a place in your own home. This book takes you through my own life. The REAL and RAW parts and I am able to share how I came from brokenness to my own blended family. There is no sugar coating the issues in family life.

I want people to understand that there are so many people who can relate to their struggles and find encouragement from scripture and prayer. So, with that said… please share this with your family, friends, or anyone you know who may be feeling a little lost or hopeless in their own situation. I promise you they will receive a blessing after going through this 30 day devotional.

The book is now available on Kindle or Createspace. Click links to view. Also, it will be available on by the end of the week!

My Health Journey 2015 – When Discouragement Kicks In

Have you ever worked so hard towards something only to be sideswiped and thrown off track?

That totally happened to me the last few months with my health. Last year, I was able to work off 31 pounds that had “stuck” with me after my last child’s birth. Before starting my Beachbody program, I was very discouraged about how I felt, my energy level, and my body. I didn’t recognize the person in the mirror and I felt my confidence fading fast.

After building my strength from the inside out, I discovered new ways to care for my “temple” that God gave me. I learned how to build a healthy routine and exercise at least 4-5 days a week. Then, a few months ago, I was hit with a major hormonal imbalance. I’m not talking a little PMS… I’m talking about feeling like a totally different person.

Mood swings like no other.

Hot flashes.

Crying all of the time.

Female issues.

You name it… it was happening. So the doctor decided I needed the dreaded hormones to help me get back on track. Unfortunately, I have a history with medication and I never respond well. I knew what was going to happen. Migraines, weight gain, irritability, and anxiety. It happened every time in the past. Why would it be different now?

So, literally within 3 days of starting the medication, I went from one extreme to the other. The tears didn’t stop. If anything, I cried more. Within 3 week, I had gained 12 pounds which was mostly water weight. I slept all of the time. I had no energy. I felt like the same person I was over a year ago.

I had to make a change. I couldn’t do this to myself again. I stopped the medication and it took WEEKS to feel myself again. My poor hubby tried to work with me, but he knew that it was out of my control until the medication was out of my system.

That brought me to the beginning of this year. When you feel like you’ve taken 10 steps back it is overwhelming. My motivation was gone. It was like I didn’t know how to start over.

One day I literally woke up and said “that’s enough Sam!” No more pity party! No more making excuses. It’s time to get serious again. You KNOW you can do it so just make it happen.

I decided to order a program that I always told myself I could not do. You know, we are the worst critics of ourselves. It was easy to say “that’s too hard for me” so that’s just what I always said. But, now I took a step in the right direction. I ordered Insanity Max 30. It’s a Tabata style workout program that has a complete modifier throughout. As intimidating as it seemed, I actually LOVE the program.

So, I want to share with you my results as I go and have more accountability with my online friends and followers. Here’s what’s going on so far:

Days 1-5: Lost 4 pounds and started to watch everything I eat. I’m back to high protein and low carbs since I tend to crave breads and sugars. I’m eating “clean” and drinking a gallon of water daily which has brought my energy back to normal. I have been replacing a meal a day with Shakeology which is my daily vitamin source. I don’t need a multivitamin with this natural shake.

I’ve found that I do better with my workouts later at night when everyone is asleep. I’ve never been a morning person and found that my endurance is better in the evenings.

I am excited to share this journey with you. I know there are so many people who are just like me. You tell yourself all the time what you can’t do instead of pushing forward and going for a big goal. I know that I can do things that are hard. I know that I can push myself through these issues I’ve been having and prove not only to me, but to others that it is possible.

Can’t wait to share more results as we go through this 60 day program. If you want to join my accountability group, click HERE to fill out the application. Together, we can reach our big 2015 goals!

The Harvest Cafe – God’s vision and provision

I HAVE GOT to tell you an amazing God story today! Over the last few weeks, God has spoken to me in ways He never has before. It is a very rare occasion that I get to sit quietly. Silent. Praying with no distractions. Able to listen for God to speak to me.

So, let me go back in time a bit and share a long time dream of mine. I’ve always wanted to own my own small business. You know, the kind of place people can come into and you call them by their name and make them feel welcome. The kind of place that people could come in from nowhere and learn that there is a God. The kind of place where someone could come in and ask for prayer. The kind of place where my kids could have their first jobs.

For some time now, I have been sharing my heart with my husband. I felt like this was something in the future that God would allow us to do, but had no idea really what was in store. That’s where it always gets exciting. You never know God’s plans! You simple hang on for the ride.

Now, move in time to 3 1/2 weeks ago. Our family had hit some major mountains with lots going on. I always feel warfare when I know God is about to do big things in our lives. I had just been in a major wreck a few weeks prior and my suburban was totaled. Levi (my 2 1/2-year-old) and I were blessed to be able to walk away from the scene after a car ran a red light and hit us. God had his hand on everyone that day. So, here I was headed home from Wilkesboro, NC after getting my “new/used” car.

Levi was in the backseat sleeping and I enjoyed my quiet ride. There, in the silence, I felt an overwhelming need to focus on something Steve had told me that same week. He mentioned someone had a building they wanted to donate for a ministry. The thoughts of that building were spinning in my mind and I simply could not think of anything else. I thought that maybe God wanted me to take this dream of a small business and turn it into a ministry to fund mission’s projects.

I thought He was telling me to use this space and do something for Him. I felt as if the Lord was saying “do this now.” Of course, I had to act right then. I called Steve immediately and shared this. I said, “Steve, I really feel the Lord is telling me this!” I started working on the vision immediately. I called a few people in my church who are heavily involved in missions and shared my vision. I also phoned the man who offered the building. I wrote down everything that came to heart. I prayed over and over that God would swing this door wide open or slam it shut so I would know what to do.

Later that day, I received a call from the gentleman who offered the building. I was so excited sharing my heart, but then came the news. He couldn’t donate the building. He co-owned it and didn’t have the ability to do that. Somewhere along the line there was a miscommunication, but that was the answer I needed. Door shut.

This was a Wednesday night. I went to church not really feeling defeated, but sad it didn’t work out. I knew that God was speaking to me and I knew maybe this was a test to see if I would pursue what the Holy Spirit was telling me to act on. I went to class that night and sat there telling my friend that the plan didn’t pan out. As I was sharing the story, another friend came in and overheard the conversation.

What I didn’t know is that my husband had seen him on top of a building in Jefferson the week prior and had stopped to ask him about it at church. He said “Hey man! What were you doing on that roof?” Our friend Jon said, “you won’t believe what I’ve got to tell you!” He went on telling Steve that God woke him up in the night and gave him a vision of what he was supposed to do with a building for auction in town. He said he wrote down what he felt led to do, but at the same time wasn’t sure how in the world he would get this building since the biggest contractors were also bidding on this vacant building.

He said he put his bid in on the building like everyone else. Then, he got a call THAT DAY (Wednesday) and was told to “come pick up your keys.. you got it!” It was a miracle in itself that he won the building and now he knew what God led him to do.

Now… follow me back to that classroom at church that Wednesday night.

So, there I sat, telling Jon (the new building owner) what I felt God had placed on my heart that day. He then told me his story he had shared with my husband. He said “do you know what God wanted me to put in that small building? A café” I got goose bumps sharing with him my vision. We went right after church and looked at the space.

I looked around and my fleshly self said to me “you forgot something… you have no money!” After a while, Steve and I looked at each other so excited about the possibilities, but reality was the money was just not there. I said to Jon, “there is just one thing wrong with doing it this way… there is no money.” What Jon forgot to tell me at first was that there are grants available to help people start businesses. Just the idea of this was too much to handle. I simply could not sleep that night. Steve and I laid in bed dreaming of names and how we can use our own place as a ministry for this community.

I knew that no matter what, if God wanted it to happen He would make it happen. I knew that He would do it in such a way that you would KNOW that HE did this and not us on our own.

Fast forward to Christmas week…

I want to share with you everything God has done thus far:

– provided grant money we are applying for to help with start-up

– provided FREE dining tables and chairs that I get to pick up next week

I am praying over specific needs that are the most costly and I know that He will once again make it happen just like the rest.

I know this is such a long story to share, but I want one main thing to stand out more than anything. IF GOD WANTS IT TO HAPPEN, HE WILL MAKE A WAY! Can I get an AMEN?

I want to be His vessel. I want to be used by God. I must make myself available to Him and LISTEN when I feel the Holy Spirit beckoning me. Please pray for us in this new adventure. God is so good and even though I have NO CLUE as to what is coming, I know more than anything that He is faithful and good. So for now, we are just hanging on for the ride 🙂


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