About Tina Samples

Tina Samples is a Colorado-based writer, speaker, and worship leader. She keeps busy serving alongside her husband, Dave, who is the lead pastor at Grace River Church in Windsor, Colorado (www.chasingrace.org). She has two sons, one daughter-in-law, and baby on the way. Her book, Wounded Women of the Bible: Finding Hope When Life Hurts, was released July 2013. Tina’s publishing credits include Guideposts; Extraordinary Answers to Prayer: In Times of Change and Unexpected Answers; Angels, Miracles, and Heavenly Encounters: Real Life Stories of Supernatural Events; and The One Year Life Verse Devotional. She has also contributed to The Secret Place devotional magazine, as well as Quiet Hour magazine. Her articles about music therapy have appeared in the Colorado Baptist News. Join Tina online at www.tinasamples.com or link with her via Facebook (TinaSampleswriter) or Twitter (tinasamples).

Failure to Freedom

DSC_0486Last year I flew with my co-writer and friend, Dena Dyer, to Indiana for a television interview. The Harvest Show interviewed us about our newly released book Wounded Women of the Bible. This was my first television interview and I had no idea what to expect. The night before, Dena and I walked through thoughts and questions, so I felt ready and prepared.

Our host helped us feel comfortable in every way. Once I stepped onto the platform, beneath the lights and cameras, I sank like a marshmallow in the heat of the sun. Someone should have blindfolded me or thrown a towel over the monitors.  I didn’t like my appearance on camera and fidgeted too much. I had too many pillows behind my back and stuck out like a sore thumb. Dena sat proper and polished while I sat like a huge lump on the couch. I smacked my lips and swallowed hard. I even needed a trip to the bathroom.

Dena’s eyes and beautiful smile said, “Stop fidgeting.” Confession: My thoughts not hers. I looked around for a brown paper bag, feeling I might hyperventilate, but then came the questions. I knew these stories. I spent twelve months writing about these particular wounded women in the Bible. I could share in-depth thoughts and notes on each one. I was ready.

The host said, “Tell me about Ichabod.”  Ichabod who? I completely froze. Blank. Nothing. Empty. I grasped at something to say. I couldn’t gather my thoughts or remember that Eli was Ichabod’s father-in-law. As if an eternity, a long pause of silence fell. I had no idea what came out of my mouth after that moment. Before long it was over and I drooped off the stage. Needless to say, I wasn’t pleased with my first television interview, but so grateful to have had the experience.

After Dena left the hotel to fly home, something hit me – I felt despair, inadequacy, and insufficiency. I would be lying if I said tears weren’t involved in that moment of self-pity. While packing, I turned the television on and flipped through the channels to find something to cheer my mood. I stopped on a well-known female pastor. The first words out of her mouth were, “Listen! God uses people all the time who have no idea what they’re doing!”

My heart leaped and the words slapped me in the face – starting with “Listen!” Leave it to God to reach through our self-pity and grab hold of our collars. I was reminded that life is full of experiences and God uses “the least of these.” If I hadn’t heard those words that day, I may have carried my feelings of despair (among others) home, placed them on a shelf, and allowed them to identify my character and abilities. God recognized my “stinkin’ thinkin'” (as my friend says) and burst forward with one bold statement: “He uses people all the time who have no idea what they’re doing.”

Sometimes we have those frozen cloud crowding moments when our mind appears broken. God understands and desires to free us of anything the enemy may hold over our heads. All we have to do is be willing to step into Him and God will teach, grow, and strengthen us, even when we feel like we have no idea what we’re doing. God takes our offerings and uses them for His glory.

One other word of affirmation from God came when my husband, who is one of two men on Sheila Walsh’s launch team for her new book, shared a story she wrote. In her book, Sheila shares a story of one particular television interview. My mouth dropped as it mirrored mine! (But you’ll have to wait and read the story when her book comes out). As if what God shared through the television wasn’t enough, He said, “You see, Tina, even the big girls start out in similar places.”

Let me encourage you to never give up, push through those feelings of failure, and move forward with God at your side. God turns our failures into faith walks when we trust He can use every part of what we offer Him. May this year be the beginning of great things, especially allowing God to free you, and you freeing yourself, from any past failures.

A new dawn awaits.

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A Season of Purpose

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life1largewebDo you ever feel lost in the cracks of everyday routines or shuffle down roads that lead to no end? Sometimes life can feel burdened as we push to understand our purpose.

My nephew was born with a burden. His diagnoses of cystic fibrosis devastated the entire family. The disease clutched and tore at his body. He hated taking meds or enduring beatings to the chest. His only desire was to live life as a normal young man.

Whether from the illness or just being young, he struggled to understand his purpose in life.  His biggest questions became, “What did God call me to do?” and “How can I do it in my condition?”

Thomas had a knack for bringing joy into people’s lives. He loved fun. He tried attending college but never finished a semester due to hospitalizations. In between his hospital visits, he continued to find his way on campus to socialize. As time passed and his illness progressed, his friends came to him in the hospital. He encouraged them to step out of their comfort zones, even having one play her tuba in the hospital (something he laughed about for a while). When the hospital chaplain came to visit, Thomas got out of bed and walked the rest of the rounds with the chaplain. He encouraged others going through difficult times.

When friends became discouraged, Thomas quoted scripture, encouraged, and helped build their faith. He listened, ministered, and touched lives – still he struggled with finding his own purpose.

Perhaps you’re struggling to find purpose in your daily walk. Maybe your passion is to write, become a famous author, or work toward other goals that appear unreachable. Do you feel discouraged because your heart resounds, “This is it! This is my calling!” yet time and again nothing happens?

King David said to his son Solomon, “Acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought.”  ( 1 Chron.28:9 NIV) Serve God with a willing mind? What does that mean? It means “desiring, delighting in, having pleasure in” whatever God asks of us rather than focusing on our wants and desires. Something magical happens when our hearts line up with God’s heart. We find we really are finding purpose. God’s desires become ours.

Thomas died this past year at age twenty-three. Though Thomas walked in purpose that season of his life, he, at times, couldn’t see it. He never made it through college, received his music degree, or led worship in a church as his heart desired. But when he sang, his low bass voice echoed through every nook and corner. I believe the heavens rejoice at Thomas’s rendition of “Long Black Train.” His last year, he couldn’t do things most young men his age could do, but Thomas never gave up on seeking God and serving Him with wholehearted devotion. I have no doubt the moment Thomas stood before his Lord, he understood exactly what his purpose on earth was all about.

strong1     My friend, keep moving forward with your passions and desires, keeping God in the center of each one. King David didn’t get to build the temple because God chose Solomon for that purpose. However, God used David to achieve so much during his lifespan. Whatever you’re doing, know if God is walking with you, He is fulfilling your purpose. Hold on to hope, stay encouraged, and from the words David shared with his son, “Be strong and do the work.” ( v 10) In the end, you might find your greatest purpose is pleasing God – that in itself is more fulfilling than any other. And at just the right time – God delivers your greatest desire.