Song Of The Week ~ STAND by Donnie McClurkin

I wrote a post about Whitney Houston last week and I believed it would serve as my final farewell.  But one of my favorite gospel singers sang a song that was so appropriate as a farewell to Whitney Houston.

Pastor Donnie McClurkin’s lyrics truly saved me at at time in my life when I felt all hope was gone when my life was at its most difficult and all the lies I told myself to try and cope with being raped rapidly began to unravel.  Pastor Donnie McClurkin was raped at the age of eight by his uncle, his family was ravaged by domestic violence and drug abuse, but he went on to do great work to help people with healing their lives.  I found strength in these words and it reinforced what I knew in my heart but couldn’t reconcile in my head — “You just stand when there’s nothing left to do. You just stand, watch the Lord see you through.  Yes, after you done all you can, you just stand!”

Whitney Houston’s life was full of ups and downs just like everybody else’s, her down period was more notable than most but she stood and held onto her roots and her love of GOD.  There s a lesson for me in this song.  There was a lesson for her in this song.  Sometime in your life there may even be a lesson for you because after you’ve done all you can — you just STAND!

STAND ~ Lyrics

What do you do when you’ve done all you can

And it seems like it’s never enough?

And what do you say when your friends turn away

And you’re all alone, alone?

Tell me, what do you give when you’ve given your all

And it seems like you can’t make it through?
Well you just stand when there’s nothing left to do

You just stand, watch the Lord see you through

Yes, after you done all you can, you just stand
Tell me, how do you handle the guilt of your past?

Tell me, how do you deal with the shame?

And how can you smile while your heart has been broken

And filled with pain, filled with pain?

Tell me what do you give when you’ve given your all

Seems like you can’t make it through?
Child, you just stand when there’s nothing left to do

You just stand, watch the Lord see you through

Yes, after you’ve done all you can, you just stand

Stand and be sure

Be not entangled in that bondage again

You just stand, and endure

God has a purpose, yes, god has a plan!

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Song of the Week ~ We Found Love (Cover by Boyce Avenue)

I love music and it touches me in the strangest ways and at the strangest times sometimes. The melodies evoke emotions and memories of times long since passed.  Music is the pulse of my life.  I love popular music, acoustic music, gospel music.  Honestly, I love a little bit of everything!

I am always attracted to the words of a song.  I wonder what the writer was thinking when I hear it.  I often try to avoid seeing a video to a song until I have gotten a grasp of its lyrics because I find that video treatments often don’t match the song.  I had the pleasure of hearing WE FOUND LOVE by Rihanna as an acoustic cover version of the song by Boyce Avenue and I am so glad that I did!  This stripped down version truly touched my heart.

I had forgotten all about Boyce Avenue’s version after Rihanna’s synthesizer infused original version hit the airways and the seductive drug reference filled video hit the video channels.  I watched a behind the scenes show about the making of the video where she said,  “Love is unexplainable, intoxicating and illicit just like a drug.”  She went on to talk about the good and bad sides of love and the feeling of being out of control and how sometimes we need to release the very thing that we value and love in order to love ourself.  To say that I was dumbfounded was an understatement!

Flash forward two months.  It is Sunday morning. January 29, 2012 at my Church’s Bring A Friend to Church Day.  The theme is the “Power Of Love.” The message was about finding a place of love during difficult times.  It was full of hope for the hopeless, spiritually broken, and those that needed to reconnect to the power of the cross and reconnect with GOD.  The message spoke of promises of forgiveness and new life.  Communion was served and the chords of the piano began to play and my favorite soloist began to sing:

“Yellow diamonds in the light and we’re standing side by side”

By the time she sang, “Because the way I’m feeling I just can’t deny. But I gotta let it go.”  I was in tears.  I never thought of this song in this context but it was a beautiful call to the altar to restore people’s hopes and dreams.  A call for people to release addictions or hurt and pain from their past.  I was uplifted in a way that I have never been before while listening to this song.  It took on a whole new meaning and its one that I am going to keep in my heart this week and beyond.  Like I said, music can soothe the soul, convict the heart, and release the past.

We Found Love LYRICS:

Yellow diamonds in the light
And we’re standing side by side
As your shadow crosses mine
What it takes to come alive
Because the way I’m feeling I just can’t deny
But I gotta let it go

We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place

Shine a light through an open door
Love and life I will divide
Turn away cause I need you more
Feel the heartbeat in my mind
Because the way I’m feeling I just can’t deny
But I gotta let it go

We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place

Yellow diamonds in the light
And we’re standing side by side
As your shadow crosses mine
What it takes to come alive
I because the way I’m feeling I just can’t deny
But I gotta let it go

We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place

20 Things I’ve Done In My Life ~ Gratitude Journal

GRATITUDE JOURNAL ENTRY #1 for 2012

I have had a great forty+ years of living and I’ve done some pretty awesome things. There are tons more I’d love to do, but this is not a bad list of my top twenty life highlights for my gratitude journal!

1. Married to a wonderful man.

2. Completed my Masters Degree just before I turned 40 years old.

3. Became a Certified Meeting Planner.

4. Gave birth to amazing children.

5. Became a Soccer Mom.

6. Traveled to: Paris, France.

7. Went Parasailing in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico.

8. Sang a solo in front of 3000 at a conference.

9. Walked in a 5k race.

10. I was told by my favorite author, Mr. E. Lynn Harris (R.I.P.) “You have the name of an author!”

11. Danced the night away until I had blisters on my feet.

12. Saved someone’s life by performing CPR.

13. Rescued two children out of a burning apartment.

14. Raised $300,000 to renovate a preschool.

15. Voluntarily read through the entire bible.

16. Had an article published in a magazine.

17. Breast Cancer Survivor.

18. Rape Survivor.

19. Written a book on helping children who suffer from the impact of trauma that is currently being edited for publishing in the Summer of 2012.

20. Made the decision to take back my life and get healthy!

NO EXCUSES! ~ I Won’t Complain

This video made me think of my Song of the Week. A few weeks ago one of our Pastors showed us this clip called NO EXCUSES during our Worship Service. It stayed with me and it really made me reflect on my life and the excuses I’ve made for not taking chances and not living up to my full potential.

It is so easy for me to get caught up in all of the negative things around me.

The economy is failing, my youngest son is struggling in school, my daughter is excelling in both academics and sports and the costs to keep her engaged are rising, my oldest son is preparing to attend Santa Clara University or Loyola Marymount next fall. On the health front my Mom’s recurrence of Breast Cancer is a downer. I assure you the litany of things to complain about is as long as my arm, but I won’t waste the energy! My energy will be used to learn the lessons that GOD has put before me to learn. My energy will be used to help someone who is in need and has less than me. My energy will be used to praise GOD for the simple things he grants me and to praise him for the love of my family, friends, co-workers.

My Song of the Week is I Won’t Complain

“GOD has been good to me. He’s been so good to me. More than this old world or you could ever be. He’s been so good to me. He dried all my tears away, turned midnights into day. So I’ll just say Thank You Lord …”

What is burdening you today? Are you focused on the problem or the solution? What is it that YOU really want to do with your life? FOCUS — NO EXCUSES — JUST DO IT!

Song of the Week — OPTIMISTIC by Sounds of Blackness

Wow it’s Monday already! So many things to be grateful for. So many things to appreciate that people have done for me. So many reasons to keep my head up and be

OPTIMISTIC!

The economy has definitely taken a bite out of my livelihood, my personal finances and my daily way of living. When people lose their jobs they don’t need childcare and when people don’t need childcare — I have an employment problem.

Just two months ago, I sat in my Town & Country with airbags deployed all around me and the engine and other car parts from under the hood sitting at my right hand inside of my demolished van. I was banged up, bruised bit not broken! My van was totaled but I survived.

My job was eliminated due to low enrollment, and I was offered a lower position with much less pay. A couple of weeks later I had a panic attack as I approached my new car and was about to get in to go to my job. My employers were less than understanding and I was extremely frustrated as I finished my last days of my employment with them but I survived and I got a better, higher paying job.

Live has not gone like I planned this summer but I kept pushing harder. I kept things in perspective. I suffered with unimaginable pain, but I took each day to remind myself that I’m still here. It was my optimism and faith in the midst of sorrow, chaos, and uncertainty that ultimately prevailed and led me to a new job, a new car, and a new understanding of who I am and how much I could bare. I know on the days when I didn’t have the strength to get up, it was GOD who carried me. It was GOD who kept food on our table, and friends at my beck and call.

It’s so easy to get bogged down in sadness, but we have to hold onto our dreams and keep our vision while remembering who we are, what we are capable of, and most of all remembering WHO we belong to! We were created to live in the winner’s circle, regardless of how hard our reality seems.

You can win, as long as you keep your head to the sky. Be OPTIMISTIC!

Love,
Sammie
xoxoxo

OPTIMISTIC Lyrics
Keep, keep On…. Never Say Die….

When in the midst of sorrow
You can’t see up when looking down
A brighter day tomorrow will bring
You hear the voice of reason
Telling you this can never be done
No matter how hard reality seems
Just hold on to your dreams

Don’t give up and don’t give in
Although it seems you never win
You will always pass the test as long as you keep your head to the sky
You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky
You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky

Be optimistic

If things around you crumble
No, you don’t have to stumble and fall
Keep pushing on and don’t you look back
I know the storms and strife
Cloud up your outlook on life
Just think ahead and you’ll be inspired
To reach higher and higher.

You’ll always do your best
If you learn to never say never
You maybe down, but you’re not out.
Don’t give up and don’t give in
Although it seems you never win
You will always pass the test as long as you keep your head to the sky
You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky (you can win child!)
You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky

Be optimistic
Don’t you let nobody stop you…..
Be optimistic
You can win, Yes
Never say die….

10 Ways to Support Parents After the Death of a Child

The loss of a child(ren) is life changing.  There is no greater sorrow one can experience. The loss of a child is like a sucker punch to the throat, its takes your breath away, it aches to breathe and it hurts to swallow.  It doesnt matter if the child died in the womb, during birth, in a tragic car accident or at the will of a random bullet meant for the local drug runner or gang member — it just fucking hurts!  There is no way to compare the feelings of such loss based on the circumstances of the child or children’s death.  To try and assign the weight or a degree of pain to a parent for the loss of their child is asinine. It seems unfathomable that people attempt to do this but I assure you that they do!  The love a parent has for a child who dies is unconditional, profound and lasts an eternity.   Such loss can leave family, friends and a community speechless, stunned and scrambling to find peace and understanding that may never come.

If you are looking for ways to support someone who has lost a child here are a few suggestions.  Please note that there are hundreds of things that people can do to help, but these are my simple ways and they will not be the answer to healing the depression, grief and overwhelming feelings of loss that a parent feels.  These are just ways for you to acknowledge this loss and show that you care.

1. Acknowledge The Parents Loss

Lift them up in prayer. Send them your positive energy. Send them a card, flowers or a monetary donation if there is a burial or scholarship fund set up in memory of the child/children.

2. Listen To Them
Listen to the parents as they talk about their loss or memories child/children. Allow them to share their feelings with you.  Offer hugs and a pair of ears to help ease their pain.

3. Cook A Meal For Them
After such loss it is easy for parents to be overwhelmed.  Offering and preparing a simple meal can help them with self-care and will provide them with the nutrition they will need to deal with their loss.

4. Invite Them Out To An Activity
Invitations to get out of the house will probably be declined but keep asking!  The goal is to get them out to participate in an activity, preferably an adult activity without children present.  Invite them to your home for cards or a board game. Ask to meet them at a coffee shop, or ask them to take a walk with you at a park.  Keep asking them, don’t barrage them but ask them at least once a week.

5. Plant a Tree in Memory of the Child
Call the Arbor Society or visit http://www.arborday.org and pay to plant a tree in honor of the child.

6. Make a Donation
Donate to a local school that they attended, a charity that helps children, or the Pediatrics Department at the local hospital in honor of the child/children. In these tight budget times, donations are needed and what better way to honor the family than to remember their child by helping another child.

7. Ask them, “How Can I Help You?”
Ask them if they need you to do anything specific for them. Tell them that you want to help them.

8. Speak Out For Children!
Become an advocate for children.  Speak out against community violence, talk about children’s diseases or become an advocate for change to protect and enhance the lives of children.

9. Offer Resources To Help the Parents, Family and Community to Heal.
Attend a grief support meeting with your friend.  Ask a grief counselor to meet with the family or community if necessary so that people can begin to process their feelings.  This is really helpful when children die after long illnesses or under violent circumstances. Children touch a community and sometimes it’s the community that needs to heal.

10. Just be there for them.
Finally, I say it’s just so important to just be there for the parents.  Let them know that they are not alone. Let them know that they are lived and cared for.  Let them know that YOU are there and you share their loss.

If you know someone who has lost a child or children please be present for them and comfort them as best you can. You may feel there is nothing you can do for them, but being there for them can and often does mean the world to them and it can truly help them begin to heal.

New children after the loss of a child /children, is a blessing but it is never a replacement of those who are gone. This article was written because I am feeling the need to give a special thanks to those who’ve helped and a wonderful Congratulations to my friend Lani and her hubby and the impending birth of their child after losing their child.  I know Silas is watching over his sibling from heaven.

Song of the Week — YES by Musiq Soulchild

Music has the power transcend you from your current mood and transport you to a magical place or carry you away to a great memory from your past.  Music’s influence and power are so profound in my life that I am truly honored to pay homage to the songs that have influenced me, carry me through difficult time or plain just make me forget my age and make me shake my tail-feather!

Enjoy as I begin to take you on an eclectic musical journey.

Love,

Sammie

I just saw this video this morning and I was absolutely floored! I always loved the song but seeing this video through the eyes of a woman who has lived with cancer — it is just mind-blowing.

The intimate relationship between partners dramatically shifts once cancer enters the picture. It is not just a journey for the woman with breast cancer, it affects everyone surrounding her — but most especially her partner who usually silently struggles with her while battling their own fears, insecurities, feelings of loss and uncertainty. Some relationships don’t survive cancer but for those that do, it is truly a blessing to know “The answer is yes, I’ll still think you’re beautiful…”

“Yes” Lyrics by Musiq Soulchild

Let me get this out the way
so there ain’t no complications
later on for us, no
Look, I know things don’t stay the same
People grow and seasons change, but
when it comes to love
don’t you feel like
you ever gotta worry about
my feelings changing for you all the time
’cause when I say I’m here
girl, I mean it.

So when the world and the odds are against us
you won’t have to question,
The answer is yes.

When 2 or 3 years from now
you start having some doubts
about if this love will last
The answer is yes.
I’ll still think you’re beautiful
’cause I’m more attracted to what’s inside of you
You don’t have to guess,
The answer is yes.

‘Cause I love you
All I care about is your happiness,
so the answer is yes.

People just don’t stick around (no)
build you up and let you down, but
I’m not one of those, no (girl)
I understand that you’ve been burned (before)
Honesty is what you deserve (so much more) yea
and so that’s what I’m giving you, girl.

So when the world and the odds are against us
you won’t have to question,
The answer is yes
When 2 or 3 years from now
you start having some doubts
about if this love will last
The answer is yes.

I’ll still think you’re beautiful
’cause I’m more attracted to what’s inside of you
You don’t have to guess,
The answer is yes.

Now, if you ask
will I go (no)
when you need me most (no)
the answer is no
I’m dedicated to what we have
but will I be here
the way that I promise
I’ll say with no fear
The answer is yes.

When 2 or 3 years from now
you start having some doubts
about if this love will last
The answer is yes, and
I’ll still think you’re beautiful
’cause I’m more attracted to what’s inside of you
You don’t have to guess,
The answer is yes.

When 2 or 3 years from now
you start having some doubts
about if this love will last
The answer is yes
I’ll still think you’re beautiful
’cause I’m more attracted to what’s inside of you
You don’t have to guess
The answer is yes.

Reflection on 9/11 — It Seemed Like Yesterday

It seemed like yesterday. I waddled my seven month pregnant self down the hallway to the bathroom while my family slept over at my parents house and I heard my Dad gasp at 5:55am PST. I quickly asked what was wrong as I peaked into the living room and my Dad looked stunned. “There was an accident in New York City,” he said. Nature called and my unborn daughter pressed upon my bladder and I rushed to the bathroom. I had heard what my Dad said, but I was not prepared for what I saw when I came out of the bathroom.

My Mother was awake by then, preparing morning coffee for my husband and my Grandmother who was visiting us from Chicago. I sat down on the couch of my childhood home and gazed at the television in terror. The first tower had been hit at 8:48am EST (5:48am PST) by a plane and the building was engulfed in flames. I stared at my Dad and he shook his head and I knew exactly what he was thinking. He was a Civil Engineer and the look on his face told me that the building would not stand very long and the survival rate for anyone above the point of impact was pretty grim.

I held my stomach tightly and cried. Dad called his office and asked if they needed any help, he was quickly informed that all non-essential government offices were closed until further notice. The television was now showing live video of the carnage of the North Tower and in a blink of an eye — we witnessed a plane strike the South Tower at 9:03am EST (6:03am PST). I shrieked in horror and I knew my normal American life would never be the same! “This is a terrorist attack,” I said and my Dad quickly agreed. Again, he called his office and said that he was ready to be deployed to New York if necessary as he watched in disbelief.

The next few minutes were filled with an absolute obsession for news. Images streamed live on the television. Theories were discussed around the cocktail table and the entire time my soul cried out, “THIS IS WAR!” By now my husband was awake. There was talk of our family moving to Canada because of his dual citizenship. My Dad talked about the building materials and composition and the amount of time it would take for a building of that size to fall based on the impact of the planes, the flames that now engulfed the building and the design and fire safety regulations and then it happened just as my Dad predicted, the South Tower fell at 9:59am EST (6:59am PST).

THIS IS WAR!, I thought. I ran to the guest room and kissed my children and I stood against the wall and slid to the floor as I held my belly, cried some more and told my daughter, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you will be born into this craziness!” All of my hopes for my children changed in that moment. Every dream I’d ever had for them disappeared and all I could pray for and think about was their safety. I cried for the loss of my children’s innocence. I cried for the loss of my own security. I cried because something this terrible and life altering had happened on American soil and in MY LIFETIME! “THIS IS WAR!” I thought again and again and again!

The days that followed 9/11 have been filled with: mourning, triumphs, resilience, loss, memories of love, anger, celebrations of heroes and life, patriotism and of course war for America. The towers have fallen and World Trade Center’s lights have dimmed and been replaced by a beautiful 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero where ashes once remained. Today 9/11 is a day of National Service and a day that I will never forget! Even though I did not know anyone that died in the Twin Towers, I mourn for each and every one of them. I grieve with their families. I cry for the children that have never meet their Dad’s because of this tragic day when our world stopped. I thank each and every first responders that ran into the Twin Towers to save someone when everyone else was running out. I thank every American that took up arms to defend our country and our freedom. But most of all I thank each and every American that banded together to help their neighbors, to help the affected families and to help our country heal!

Defying Gravity


(Glee Version featuring Chris Coffer and Leah Michelle)

Last week seemed to have a recurring theme for me and those around me online and offline. Many of us dealt with FAITH! We either tempted it, my online friend @SharonDV did the CN Tower Walk in Ontario, Canada and survived. Alex @L8enough struggled with faith, My friend/Sister @MOMmagRocks as we begin to challenge ourselves to get out of our comfort zone and do something DARING! Finally, I literally verbally fought with someone I love because of my faith (I assure you it wasn’t my finest Christian moment).

This week has been an incredible week for each of us, but when I look back at it I hope Sharon, Alex, Tamara and J know that they are loved beyond anything they can humanly measure. I hope that they continue to challenge themselves and continue defying gravity and press forward with the courage and questioning that inspires so many people. We are each evolving, growing, clinging to and testing our FAITH. Life can be a bumpy journey but I’m so glad to have met each of you as I have traveled along my path.

Defying Gravity Lyrics ~ from the Musical WICKED
(Melody Sung by Idina Menzel the first wife of MY HUSBAND Taye Diggs — LOL)

Something has changed within me,
Something is not the same.
I’m through with playing by the rules
Of someone else’s game.

Too late for second-guessing,
Too late to go back to sleep.
It’s time to trust my instincts,
Close my eyes and leap.

It’s time to try
Defying gravity
I think I’ll try
Defying gravity
Kiss me goodbye
I’m Defying Gravity
And you won’t bring me down…

I’m through accepting limits
‘Cause someone says they’re so.
Some things I cannot change,
But till I try, I’ll never know.

Too long I’ve been afraid of
Losing love I guess I’ve lost.
Well, if that’s love,
It comes at much too high a cost!

I’d sooner buy
Defying gravity.
Kiss me goodbye,
I’m defying gravity.
I think I’ll try
Defying Gravity
And you won’t bring me down.

I’d sooner buy
Defying gravity.
Kiss me goodbye,
I’m defying gravity.
I think I’ll try
Defying Gravity

And you won’t bring me down.
Bring me down!
Ahhahhoahh

The Photo Session of Sammie Love (#trdc)

I entered my favorite local hotel with my bags. Checked in, and entered my room. My nerves were beginning to get the best of me. I pulled out the champagne bottle and strawberries that were set up in the room to try to relax.

Knock, knock, knock!

I breathed deeply and thought ‘What am I doing?’

I went to open the door for Chloe and Margo and my heart was palpitating.

“Hi Darlin’,” Chloe squeeled, as she gave me a huge hug and a kiss. Her hand lightly touched my hair and the room suddenly turned electric. “This is Margo but her friends call her Voila!”

Chloe, Margo and me spent the next three hours together with a camera, lights, and make-up creating The Naughty Girl Session Of Sammie Love, a set of intimate photos as a gift for my husband and a final picture entitled Embracing My Scars, which was used as a photo for an article that I’d written about being a rape and breast cancer survivor.

“Smile for me Sammie!” Click.

“Tell your hubby to come here!” Click.

“Make me wonder what you are thinking right now.” Click.

What Chloe revealed through her camera was the beautiful me that I had never really seen. This version of me was youthful, carefree, brilliant, sensual and sexy. I hadn’t seen that image of myself in quiet some time. I’d lost her after getting caught up in my life as a survivor, wife, mother, friend, employee, student, boss, writer, parent advocate, champion of children and lover of all things sweet!

The beautiful woman that Chloe captured on film was the woman that I was rediscovering on a daily basis, and this woman had spent years caring for others but finally decided to make it a priority to take care of herself.

When the Naughty Girl Photo Session of Sammie Love ended, I had bonded with two new friends, discovered the sensual woman that was hidden deep within me, and I walked away with one hundred and five: fabulous, amazing, sensual, thought provoking, reflective pictures that captured moments of my life for myself and my husband. I am inspired by my photos daily and the photo in the header is one of my favorites. Special thanks to Chloe Jackman and Margo Cristein of Lovely Me Photography – San Francisco www.lovelymephotography.com for helping me find my sexy!