QUICKSAND

QUICKSAND 

She had crashed and burned, but somehow she didn’t die.

For a while she could only just sit there, and wonder why?

One day she had an epiphany, though, about that man.

He was like an ostrich with his head buried in quicksand.

So immersed he was in the days of his past

He couldn’t see that quicksand foundations just don’t last.

For her, she was born to soar above and yes, to fly!

She didn’t just want to hover, she wanted to fly high.

Would she, rising from the ashes of what was once love

Stay in that empty nest, or would she rise up above?

Would she be like that azure feathered blue bird,

And sing aloud the sweetest songs ever to be heard?

Would she be more like the little hummingbird

Whose faith knows impossible is nothing but a word?

Or would she be like the noblest bird, a majestic eagle,

Whose attributes can only be best described as simply regal?

No, she’d be no ostrich, bluebird, eagle or hummer,

For she longed to march to the beat of another drummer.

Her survival had left her with feathers like a peacock,

Beauty from the ashes, and strength as hard as a rock.

As she took flight, she saw him struggling, way down below,

And down, down, farther into the quicksand did he go.

He could not escape, though he had definitely tried 

But she had to leave behind the buckets of tears she’d cried.

It was a gorgeous day, favoring a new adventure,

And no more would she be tied to his tragic indenture.

The warm Winds of Change began to blow in her direction,

And with it they carried a change of her affection.

In the best epiphany she had ever received

She recognized that her heart was now relieved. 

She was free to do and be and see and become anything

All she was leaving behind a bittersweet memory thing.

Up, up, up, she climbed, higher and higher still

And glanced back once as she reached the crest of the hill.

What was that she saw sinking in QUICKSAND?

Was it an ostrich or someone who didn’t understand? 

Sighing, she shook her head in one last poignant goodbye,

And with that, the indomitable Phoenix really began to fly!

– Lou Lehman Sams

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CAGE OF ACQUIESCENCE

CAGE OF ACQUIESCENCE

It was a gray Sunday afternoon in the Fall of the year, the sky was pregnant with cotton candy clouds, & there was a slight chill on her face when the Epiphany burst forth on her, like crepuscular rays from a cloudbreak. She looked down at her wrists & her ankles, & was amazed to see that they were unchained, that every single link to past disappointments, hurts & fears had finally been broken, & she felt the balm of forgiveness that can only come from above bathe her wounds like a powerful healing salve.

 Then she realized that, not only had her chains been broken, but that the door before her, the one which was opened with a key to her present, stood wide open, & that all she had to do was walk through it toward the road to the future which was just up ahead, steeped in a light far brighter than she had ever imagined. Slowly, she took a tentative step, but then she stopped, turned, & waited for him, as the deep compassion which enveloped her heart like a cocoon was tightly bound, & prevented her from leaving without him. But he took a step backward into his past, rather than one towards her, & her Epiphany revealed that, though God breaks every chain that binds you, it is up to you, & you alone to walk through the door to escape your prison cell.

 Rather than follow her into the light of day, he retreated into the darkness, where she was disheartened when she saw him deliberately pick up his chains & close the shackles back shut. He was too weak to flee the bondage of submission, & years of acquiescence had desensitized him to the joys & opportunities that were his for the taking, if he would just find the courage to break away. In his brainwashed existence, he believed that it was better to sit there, like an obedient puppy awaiting a command, than to think or feel things for himself. He had rather feel the pain & hurt of their friction than risk leaving them behind, & she felt the sting of a thousand sadnesses prick her spirit.

 But she had taken a step forward, & she knew that, once one has tasted Freedom of the Soul, anything else is just too bitter to swallow & very unsatisfying, as well. And she knew that she was finally free to love without exception, to be loyal without doubt, & to commit without reservation. 

So slowly, she walked out of that prison cell – it was far too small for more than one person, anyway. She felt the sunshine on her face for the first time in months, & the wind whisked away the sorrows that had taken their place like a heavy mantle that was too cumbersome to wear any longer. She turned once, intending to wave good-bye, but his chains were too tight, & she knew he was unable to reciprocate the gesture. Part of her wanted to stay there with him, to comfort him in his hour of misery, but her Life was beckoning her to go forth & explore & partake of the adventures that the Universe had set aside just for her. 

The single tear that silkily slipped unbidden down her cheek contained all of the remaining hopes she had carried within for so long, but when finally it splashed onto the ground at her feet, like a raindrop from a celestial sky which cleanses & washes away past regrets, she felt unburdened at last. A gentle breeze tickled her wings, & she knew, at that moment, that she was born not just to walk out of that cell, but to run, & yes, to fly. And fly she must, for to stay one instant longer in that place would have meant a return to prison, & she was tired of the confinements of the guilt, misery, & fears of each of them that had paralyzed her for far too long.

 Like a baby bird preparing for its first solo flight, she hesitated, then spread her wings, & off she went, into the expansive, limitless horizon of the sky, which was now the deepest cerulean blue, as that same wind which had blown away her cloak of worry had pushed the clouds away. As she began to soar, she looked down, & saw him there, still in his cell, chained to his past, & she offered up a little prayer that the next time God allowed his chains to be broken, that then he would, somehow, find his courage & thus his way out of that cage. She did not know what he would do, should that ever happen, but she did know that some people are afraid of the wind beneath their wings, & prefer instead the safety of the floor of the cage beneath their feet. 

But she was thankful that her own time had come, for she could never have flown so high with the chains of the past weighing her down, & oh, what a view she had now!! She could see things in ways she never had before, could see what treasures lay in wait atop the mountains she wanted to climb, as well as what lay on the other side of them. And, being unfettered, she was happy, for there were many roads from which to choose, & now she could actually see the choices that she had. She looked forward to, whenever she decided to do so, scaling the peaks that presented themselves in the near distance. But for this moment in time, she simply chose to FLY!!! And that is what she did!

– Lou Lehman Sams 

December 2014

FLY HIGH, BUTTERFLY

This morning, I am contemplating change. Both good & bad. The good changes are personal & professional ones. The bad changes are the things like wildfires & tornadoes. 

Like many others, I have written things about butterflies as symbols of change, growth, & metamorphosis. We all know that the caterpillar has to spend time inside a dark, uncomfortable cocoon before it can complete its transformation, after which it is more beautiful, & free to fly. I recall seeing a butterfly outside my hotel room window on the 14th floor of the Park Vista Hotel in Gatlinburg, two years ago, & I marveled at that, because I had no idea that they could go that high!! I do not know if it is the season for butterflies up there right now, but if so, I hope that they were able to fly higher than the fires! 


You know, I have never heard of a story of a butterfly, once it flew up into the beautiful blue sky, the feeling of the warm air beneath its wings, the warmth of the sunshine on its little antennae, never once have I heard of one of them crawling back into its cocoon!!! Wonder what would happen to them, though, if they got scared, decided that they were afraid of heights, or just felt uncertain about their abilities, & crawled back in there? I am pretty certain that the cocoon, though tight, cramped, & uncomfortable, provided them some sense of security, nonetheless. However, I also am confident that they would probably die in there, without fresh air, water, & the right kind of sustenance. 


At some point, a butterfly’s destiny is to FLY! To shed that cocoon which restricts them from being what they were designed to be, which is beautiful & free!! No, butterflies, with their tiniest of brains, are smart enough to know not to return the dark cocoon, once they have found escape from it. For if they did, they would surely languish & die there!!! And they would not be able to fly above that fire, for sure. 


Why, then, do people do that very thing? Abuse victims return to their abusers. Unhappy spouses reunite with those who have cheated on them time & time again. Drug users return to their addiction. Recovered alcoholics fall off of the wagon. Kids quit school. The list goes on & on. 


You were not born to live shrouded in darkness. You must not return to that which holds you back in life once you have escaped from it. The cocoon had its place in your life, but once you break free, you are supposed to fly!!


So go ahead, don’t look back. Escape the fires burning all around you. Flee from the negative things that are keeping you down. Step out into the sunshine. Feel the wind on your face. Soar above it all!! 


To keep the world from seeing the butterflies’ beauty by remaining in that cocoon is against nature. And so it is with you. Fly, Butterfly, Fly High!!!


– Lou Lehman Sams 


“Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things have passed away; behold, all things are made new!” – II Corinthians 5:17

KEEP THE TISSUES

Pass the tissues,

They’ve got issues, 

But their issues are not mine

Tired of walking that fine line

Between compassion

And consumption.

Sometimes all there is to do

Is take my hands off of you

And slowly walk away

The only day is today.

Promises of a a dream

Remain to be unseen

But I will reclaim,

Today in Jesus’ name!

So take your issues

Along with those tissues

And stage left do leave –

No more to you I cleave.

Yes, I wish you well, 

Though you’re in a living hell,

It’s too hot there for me.

No more of me you’ll see.

You can keep the tissues,

Along with your issues.

I don’t need either any more.


– Lou Lehman Sams


FEAR OF LOSING CONTROL

Fear of Losing Control

People are AFRAID to surrender because they will lose CONTROL. But LETTING GO is the only way to really CONQUER FEAR, & getting rid of fear is when you actually GAIN CONTROL of your life, because it is then that you FIND FREEDOM to truly LIVE. Funny, what a PARADOX this is, because it is backwards from what we believe. 

We THINK that if we stay in that miserable relationship, we can control the outcome by controlling the person; however it is when we let go of the toxic people in our lives that we find the freedom to be with those who make us happy, & the ones who make us happy are the ones who love us enough to let us be ourselves. We convince ourselves that if we change careers or jobs that we will lose control, because we will have to learn something new & leave the familiar behind, but it is when we step out of our comfort zone & the things to which we have clung, but which we have outgrown, that we allow ourselves to be open to new, exciting, & daring adventures, & it is those adventures that provide us a chance to figure out who we really are, thus giving us control. We assume that if we do not tell our children what to think, feel, see, do or be, that they will mess up their lives, but in reality, when we do not allow them to become who God inspired them to become, that is when we mess up their lives for them. We imagine that if we do not fold the towels, take out the trash, or cook the roast beef the same way that we always have done, that the outcome will be undesirable, forgetting that perhaps there might be more space in the closet, less litter on the street, or a much more savory dinner if we will but surrender our old ways to new ones. 

Letting go, surrendering, & losing control, are difficult things to do, because we conjure up illusions to support the need for us to be in charge, & our fears prevent us from true freedom, wherein lies peace. We can frantically fight the waves until we are totally exhausted, yet find ourselves in exactly the same place in which we started, or we can calmly ride them & not only enjoy the ride, but end up in a tranquil spot, safely back at the shore. I have done all of these things. I have no regrets, but if I had it to do over again, I would have had more trust in God to protect my babies & left a most miserable existence far sooner. 

Sometimes clarity only comes after the storm has died down. If only I could have seen then, what I see now. But I did the best that I could do at the time, given my understanding of life & the situation. Since then I am proud to say that I have conquered many fears: I was afraid first & foremost of not doing my best for my children, but also I was afraid of potential illness, of being alone, of falling, of crashing, of lack of financial resources, & yes, of rodents. And since that time, I have been each & every one of those things at some point or another in my life, but I have survived every single day of my life. Once I finally had enough sense to let go & conquer my fears, I have found that is where I gained control of my own life, & that, my friends, is all we are really called to do. 

God created us each with our own unique gifts, callings, & desires, & whenever we allow the issues of others, the demands of controlling people, or the fears of failure to rule us, we are chained to those things. It is time to break free, to lose the chains that bind us to addictions to the past, to toxic people, to substances, & yes, to the addiction of the need to be in control. Freedom lies in letting go. Peace lies in freedom. Gravitate towards those that love you, not the ones that control you. Turn towards the challenges that excite you, not the ones that weigh you down. Choose to be in the relationships, jobs, or places that make you happy, not the ones that make you miserable.

 When you live in misery, fear, or under someone else’s control, you are not in any shape to live out your life according to God’s plan for you. Just as a fish cannot thrive if it is constantly pretending to be a dog, neither can you thrive if you are constantly pretending to be happy. Conquer your fear of losing control by letting go – I’m looking forward to finally seeing the “real” you – the person you were destined to be!

– Lou Lehman Sams 

Waiting in the Presence of Saints

Back in the day when I was a Dental Hygienist & managed a dental office, people would sometimes schedule appointments for cosmetic dentistry. Perhaps they needed a crown or veneers on one or more teeth. They wanted these things in order to protect their teeth or to improve their appearance, & self-esteem. The dentist I worked for did a good job with cosmetic issues such as this, & the end results were usually very esthetically pleasing, with the patients being happier & more content. They were able to chew their food better, or smile more easily, or express themselves in a more confident manner, or sometimes, all of these. However, there was a PROCESS involved in getting to this place of satisfaction. That entailed getting a shot – ouch – did I say that word out loud?!? To re-phrase, they had an injection of anesthesia to numb the affected area, so that they could not feel the pain that was about to ensue as a result of drilling out tooth decay, removing bits of tooth, or filing & smoothing rough surfaces. They had to lie prone in an uncomfortable position, & be totally still for a time that was undetermined by them. They could not even get up to go to the restroom unless the dentist was at an appropriate stopping place, for fear of messing up the procedure. They had a bright light shining down onto their faces, so that, while the dental professionals could see everything going on with them very clearly, they could not see very well themselves. And since they could not turn their heads without being instructed to do so, they could not even see everything that was going on in the room around them. Sometimes they had to make 2 or 3 visits in order to get everything done. At those times, they were given temporary crowns, ones which were only a facsimile of what the real crown would look like. The patients would get tired of holding their mouths open in such an awkward, uncomfortable & unusual manner for such an extended time. Some of them were so very fearful of the entire process that they were given nitrous oxide, a.k.a. laughing gas to help ease their anxieties.

But the choice to have the procedures done was always theirs – they were not forced into the chairs, tied down, or held down by chains. They could have, if they really wanted to do so, gotten up & walked out at any time. But they made a choice, these adult patients, to be still, & let the doctor do his work. They trusted him to do a good job, in as short a time possible & that they would be pleased with the end result. And sometimes they had to wait for extended periods of time in the outer waiting room, just to get in & have the procedure begin in the first place. But they did wait. For they wanted what the doctor had to offer them. They wanted to look & feel better. Once in a great while, there would be a patient with an abscessed tooth or something who did not follow the doctor’s prescribed treatment. What right did that patient, who refused the antibiotics, who refused to have the decay removed, who refused to allow the doctor’s hand to work on him, what right did that patient have to complain when they eventually lost that tooth? In my eyes, they had no right to complain at all.

No patient in their right mind would have squirmed, wiggled, or otherwise wrestle while the doctor had his drill actively engaged inside their mouth, for they knew that to do so might cause him to slip & cause them further harm. And I had occasion to act as the doctor’s assistant on procedures ranging from cosmetic improvements to oral surgery. No one ever enjoyed any of these uncomfortable experiences. And I hated that for them, but I tried to be as reassuring as possible to them while they were being worked on. No one ever begged to get onto the calendar, wished for a cavity, or volunteered for surgery unnecessarily. Going to the dentist was, for most people, considered to be an unpleasant experience that they would just as soon avoid at all costs. Yet still they came.

They sat as still as possible & allowed the dentist to do his work. Most of them did not speak unless spoken to, for that meant further delay in getting through the procedure. They were never left unattended, as either the dentist or his assistant or both were in the room with them at all times. One of the jobs of the assistant was to reassure the patients, & for those who were really anxious, sometimes this meant literally holding their hand while they were being worked on. The patients could not see everything going on around them – the times the assistant turned her back on them to mix a bonding compound, or when the drill bits were being changed out, or when an x-ray was being developed. But they could hear sounds, were cognizant of activity, & knew things were being worked out on their behalf. They simply trusted that the doctor knew exactly what he was doing. They listen for his directions about what to do next – which way to turn, when to rinse, how wide to open, etc. And they followed his directives without question.

So why then is it that we have such a difficult time sitting still & letting the Great Physician perform His work in our lives? Perhaps there are times when He must make us lie still, be uncomfortable, or be temporarily blinded by something external in order that He can remove decay, transform something ugly into something beautiful, or smooth off rough spots within us? Perhaps we are made to feel numb about something that has transpired in our lives because otherwise the pain would be far too great for us to bear? Perhaps we are not supposed to see every little movement that is occurring around us on our behalf? Perhaps …

I have always been a very good patient – in the physical realm. I guess that is because not only was I a dental health professional, but so was my aunt & my mother, so I was trained at a very early age that things will go a lot more smoothly & quickly & comfortably if you will lie still when needed & just relax & trust the doctor. Why then, do I have such a problem with this in my spiritual life? Why do I have such a difficult time when I feel God working on me? I KNOW that the end result will be a new, improved, & better me. Yet I squirm. I wiggle. I protest. I get impatient with waiting. At times I even get up out of that chair & start to head out the door before the procedure is completed.

I hate that bright light shining down on me, exposing all of my flaws! I abhor being confined. I detest being still for extended periods. I dislike not knowing what is going on around me. I deny that I have decay that needs to be removed.

But I know that I will not be happy with the end results if I do not allow him to finish. I know that, if the decay is not removed, excessive pain will result that will eventually cause a part of me to die. So I endure that discomfort. I listen for directions.

Yes, sometimes I misunderstand those directions. Sometimes the anesthetic wears off enough that the pain brings tears. Sometimes I get really, really frustrated with having to lie there for so long, thinking about all of the other things that I want to be doing. At those times, a soothing voice calms my spirit, or a warm hand clasps mine, or I feel a gentle squeeze on my shoulder. Sometimes those things are from the Master Himself. But when He is busy preparing things on my behalf, sometimes it is His “assistants” that help me through.

I am so very thankful for all of the Godly men & women that God has sent to me to help me be still, keep calm, & be quiet when I was having a hard time doing so by myself. For the ones that dried my tears & reassured me that everything was going to be all right. For the ones who sat in that Waiting Room with me, until it was my time to be seen, & for the ones who were assigned the task of helping me through the procedure.

Yes, waiting is very hard, especially for someone as active & hyper as me! My best advice for waiting? Surround yourself with the presence of Godly people who will wait with you as you trust in God to make the restorations you need in your life. But wait on the Lord – He knows what He is doing. Trust Him. The end result is worth the wait.

And if you know someone that is being told to lie still while God is working? Perhaps you can be the one that waits with them. Pray with them. Talk to them. Listen to them. Pray for them. Reassure them. Soothe them. Distract them. Most of all, just be there to wait with them! Be present for them!!

“But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;
I trust in the mercy of God forever & ever.
I will praise You forever,
because You have done it:
And in the presence of Your saints
I will wait on Your name, for it is good.”
-Psalm 52:8-9

~ Lou Lehman Sams

Red & Yellow, Black & White

My friends who are of different ethnicities, races, religions, etc. than me know how much I love them! So before anybody goes hating on me for this post, please remember that, & read the whole thing. I, like many in our nation, have been much in prayer over the events in Ferguson. I just hate that people are always looking to throw out the race card without looking at the bigger picture. Did the Grand Jury make the right decision? That I truly do not know. I was not there. My “facts” have been spoon fed to me by a media whose purpose is to create ad revenue in order to ensure their paychecks. Perhaps the jury did make the right decision; perhaps they did not do so. I do have a personal opinion based on what I have seen, heard & read, but that is not the point of this post. What disturbs me the most is that some, but most assuredly not all, of the people who believe that justice has not been served have taken this as an excuse to do outrageous things – acts of crime & violence that are illegal & immoral.

We live in the United States of America – a great place where people are free to believe whatever they choose; however that freedom does not include violating the rights of our fellow countrymen just because something does not go our way. And if any of the folks who are bashing others with hate speech & worse are Christians, well maybe they should read the Bible which says, “Be angry & do not sin.” Righteous anger is some times justified. Inciting riots & looting with hate speech is not.

Yes, minorities in our Country have for generations had tough times & unlucky breaks. They have had to fight against discrimination, hate, & misunderstandings & endure many things that the average person did not have to experience. But no one, & I do mean no one makes it through life without trials & tribulations. When I was in my early twenties, I was one of only four commercial real estate agents in my area that was female. I was up against the Good Old Boy System. Sometimes it just did not seem fair. I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. My home life growing up was dysfunctional. I had many disadvantages to work through, but the key word is that I WORKED THROUGH them! I worked to earn the knowledge, trust & respect that experience merits. I did not use my disadvantages as an excuse to get on welfare, to create angst against the male gender, or as an excuse to commit crimes. And the advantages I gained by rising up through the ranks by the sweat of my brow far outweighed anything I would have had, if I had not learned how to overcome the discrimination of not only being a female in a man’s world, but also being one who came from the simple & humble beginnings of having a Dental Hygienist for a mother & a fireman for a father.

So while I understand how some of my friends who are minorities may be upset by their perception of the turn of events in Ferguson, what I do not understand is the other people, the ones who live there, who are using this as an excuse to break laws, hurt people, destroy things, etc. My grandmother was right about one thing when she quoted the old adage: “Two wrongs do not make a right.”

That old children’s song keeps winding it’s melody through my mind today: “Red & yellow, black & white, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world!” Indeed. Now, if those little children will just LISTEN to the song & realize how precious they are, not only to Him, but to each other.

~ L.L.S.