*Conditions Do Not Apply

asteriskUnconditional love: affection with no limits or conditions, complete love. (Dictionary.com)

God loves you. Unconditionally. Forever, no matter what. You can’t make Him unlove you, ever. I love how the Message Bible translates Psalm 103:12.

As far as sunrise is from sunset, He has separated us from our sins.”

He has wiped them away, given us a fresh start. You don’t need to beat yourself up about a that mistake you made last year. Don’t punish yourself for your past wrong doings. God has completely forgotten about them. He sees you as His pure, perfect child.

Don’t let yourself get caught up in the *conditions apply mindset. The love of God doesn’t come with any catches. He just asks us to trust Him completely and know in our hearts that His plans are always better than ours.

“For God so loved the world, He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NIV)

It doesn’t say “that whoever is perfect,” or “that whoever doesn’t have tattoos and piercings,” “that whoever hasn’t committed a crime,” “that whoever feels worthy.” Because of the Cross, because of the Blood, four nails, a crown of thorns, unimaginable pain, we’re all worthy of His love. Don’t continue to kick yourself for something God forgave you for a long time ago.

Whoever: whatever person, any person at all.

Any person at all.

God loves you, forever and always. To the world, we’re flawed and sinful. To God, we’re perfect, pure, and holy. Just put your life in His hands and trust Him completely, you won’t regret it.

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Thankfulness Journal Challenge!

be-thankful

November, the month that my Facebook feed is flooded with “30 Days of Thankfulness” posts. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! I LOVE seeing what each of my Facebook friends are thankful for. But why only in November? We should be thankful EVERYDAY of the year. Not just one month out of the year, or only on Thanksgiving day.

What if everyday, for a whole YEAR, when we wake up in the morning and before we go to bed each night, we chose one thing that we’re thankful for and write it down in a “Thankfulness” journal. I bet by the end of that year, we’d each realize how blessed we really are and we’d probably even be happier people! OR, each time you find yourself complaining about something, find something in the situation to be thankful for. That would probably be a tad bit more difficult for most of us, wouldn’t it?

Even when we might have legitimate reasons to complain, there are always many reasons to be thankful as well. It’s just a matter of how you look at things.

Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day. 

~Robert Caspar Lintner

So, will you join me for 365 days of thankfulness? I’m not gonna lie, I’m really bad at keeping up with “daily” reading/writing habits, but I’m going to do everything in my power to remember to keep this one up! Share this with friends, in fact why don’t you let THEM know how thankful you are to have them in your life. It doesn’t have to be big things, just BE THANKFUL! 

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.

~Psalm 100:4-5 (NKJV)

Thankful

Psalm10045copy1-1024x820

 I’m so very thankful

for each blessing that You give

So thankful for Your guidance,

for the life I have to live

Talents used to praise You

bring glory to Your name

You fill my heart with so much joy

these words cannot explain

I’m thankful most of all

for the blood You shed for me

Your selfless, love filled sacrifice

the blood that set me free.

~Amanda N. Sams

November 24, 2013

Your Dream isn’t Necessarily God’s Reality!

A.W. Tozer

Sorry to break it to you ladies and gentlemen! Just because YOU have your heart set on a path for yourself, it doesn’t mean God is in agreement. But believe me, God’s plan for your life is so much better than anything you could ever imagine for yourself!

“But I want…” “Why can’t I…?” “Do I have to…?” The one that sticks with me is “I could NEVER do that! I’m not good enough.” or “I’m not qualified for that!” I’m not sure who’s credited with this quote, but it sticks with me… “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” If God only called the qualified, I’m pretty positive that NO ONE would be qualified enough to accomplish the tasks He has set out for each of us in His will for our lives. Without His grace, love, and guidance we really can’t do anything. Let me share how He’s been working in my life over the lsat few years and maybe you’ll see what I mean! 😉

When I started high school, I had NO IDEA what I wanted to do with my life after I graduated. There wasn’t one area of my life that I excelled at and could make a career out of. I was super quiet, got average grades, and at that point really just planned on taking a year off after high school to get my life figured out. Then, at band camp the summer before my sophomore year, something sparked inside of me and I decided that I wanted to make a career out of my music. So, I quickly started taking lessons, I was blessed with a teacher willing to push me farther than I thought I could go and keep up the momentum to make up for the lost time.

Three years of clarinet lessons, a crash course in music theory, some piano (HA! Definitely not a strength of mine…) and two years of choir later, I made it into my music program of choice. Through many auditions, recital performances, lessons, piano quizzes, I was a ball of nerves. (There’s a reason I wasn’t a performance major, my nervousness was it.) Long story short, I made it through the first semester, came home for Christmas break and ended up absolutely dreading going back.

HOMESICKNESS. DEPRESSION. STEESS. Basically I was an emotional mess! So when the end of the second semester FINALLY arrived, I went in to play my jury, (basically a huge final playing test that lets music majors move on to the next level of classes, if passed.) feeling pretty confident…

Scales.

Prepared piece.

SIGHTREADING.

Oh shoot, sightreading… another one of my weaknesses. (Ironically, I’m pretty good at it now. I have no idea how that happened…)

In the end I failed it, came home for the summer and decided that it just wasn’t in the cards to go back the following Fall.

Now, I had to figure out something else that I liked well enough to make it into a career. Easier said than done. I dabbled in photography, overpopulated field. Business Administration? Pretty flexible, but I’ve heard it’s like watching grass grow, so I’ll pass on that one too. Okay, now what?

You see, the Lord used this time to draw me closer to Him and really begin to work in in my life to help me become the woman I am (and am still working on becoming) today! He uses our rough patches, valleys, good days, and bad days to shape us into Godly men and women who reflect His love into the lives of others.

I thought the calling for my life was to be a middle school band director, now I look at my life now and then look back at that thought and laugh. Really hard. (No offense to all of you middle school band directors out there, you are superheroes, really!)

Where am I at now in life? Well, for now I feel drawn to a career in Christian counseling with a concentration in drug and alcohol abuse/addictions. I’ve found my place musically, playing clarinet at church with a beyond amazing piano player by my side, singing on praise team, and teaching clarinet lessons. I have a wonderful Monday through Friday job that allows me to stay as involved as I am with my amazing church, and I also just recently started teaching Sunday school. (That last one is a shocker even to me, never in a million years would I have seen that one coming! Thy will, not my will, right? 😉 ) I’m exactly where God wants me to be as He continues to work in me and through me and I’ve never been happier!

So, after all that, what am I trying to tell you?

Wait on God.

Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.

~Psalm 27:14 (NIV)

God’s way is better than your own.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
 As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

~Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)

Trust Him completely with your life.

Never say never. (Although it holds a lot of truth, I cringe a little every time that phrase gets thrown around because of it’s affiliation with Justin Bieber… seriously.)

God works in mysterious ways, never doubt His faithfulness.

And hang in there, God knows what He’s doing, I promise!

Jesus and a Bunch of Preschoolers

Jesus with Children I know, I know, the titles of my posts are getting weirder and weirder. I haven’t completely lost it though, I promise!

As I was hanging out with Jesus this morning before work, (I’m an assistant teacher in a beginning preschool classroom. Hence the title of my post… 😉 ) having a conversation with Him about the day I had ahead of me, I realized that a lot of the time us Christians act kind of like grown up preschool kids. I look at how most of my kiddos act on a daily basis and see a good amount of those same behaviors mirrored in the Church as a whole. There were three that jumped out at me:

1. We tend to whine and cry when things don’t go just the way we want them to go. 

Much like my preschool kids, (or any for that matter) who whine, cry, and throw fits when they don’t get what they want, or get to do what they want, we tend to do much the same. Calling out to God when something didn’t go the way we thought it should or wanted it to. Instead of trusting in His plans and that His way is infinitely better than ours, we blame Him, complain, and maybe even kick and scream when things don’t go our way. (Okay, I’d hope there’s no kicking and screaming going on, it’d look a little silly to have a full grown adult on the floor pitching a fit… ha!)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.”

~Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

“Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

~Psalm 37:4 (NIV)

“Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.”

~Psalm 37:7 (NIV)

2. We’re all a giant mess!

I’m constantly going behind my kiddos and either picking up toys that they’ve left out, wiping up spills, washing off their faces when they manage to get half of their lunch smeared all over it, etc. Jesus is constantly going behind us with His grace and cleaning up the messes we make in our lives. Cleansing our stained garments with His blood and making them white as snow. We may not get our lunch all over our faces, or leave a trail of toys behind us, but we are definitely messy!

3. Do we honestly spend enough quiet, one on one time with God?

Do you ever look back and wish that you could take back all of those naps you didn’t take, or fought hard to stay awake through in your preschool years?

ME TOO.

My preschoolers usually fight tooth and nail to take a nap. Are you doing the same when it comes to spending quality, quiet, one on one time with Jesus?

It’s not exactly the same as taking a nap, but it’s even more rewarding. How much quiet time do you spend with God on a regular basis? I know the moms out there love it when their small children will nap for even a short while so they can get things done in peace! Well, God wants us to take time out of our day, even ten minutes, to talk to Him. He wants to reveal things to you and begin working in your life and blessing you more than you can imagine! Just like moms can’t get much done with young kiddos up and running around the house like crazy monkeys, God can’t get much going in our lives unless we talk to Him, pray, read His Word, and be fully connected with Him and His voice.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” Sheep

~John 10:27 (NIV)

“I wait quietly before God,
for my victory comes from him.
 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will never be shaken.”

~Psalm 62:1-2 (NLT)

Be Still

Be StillBe Still

 

Be still my soul

and wait on God

His timing will never be wrong

 

Be still my soul

His way is right

It’s waiting that makes one strong

 

Be still my soul

the time will come

To see what He has in store

 

Be still my soul

until the day

That He finally opens that door.

 

~Amanda N. Sams

August 31, 2013

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.”

~Psalm 37:7

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Matthew 7:7-8

“Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.”

Psalm 27:14

Praise Him Always

image

I cry out to God
through each trial I face
I seek out His love
and His mighty embrace

I pray for His guidance
His light on my path
He walks right beside me
It’s His hand I grasp

He listens intently
through each bump in the road
He’s ready and willing
to lighten my load

I’ll praise His name always
through the thick and the thin
because I’ve read the ending
I know that God wins!

~Amanda N. Sams
August 9, 2013