Life.

“Out of your pain births a purpose. Out of your misery births a ministry. Don’t be so quick to run from the struggle.” – J. Scott Samarco

The struggle is real. We must confront reality. Not in a sense to make ourselves feel inadequate or unworthy but more so to understand that there is a battle and this battle is real.

We have to continue to push, fight, and battle to overcome adversity. Adversity is interesting. So often, adversity is viewed as being negative. To me, adversity is a tool to help us grow in character and in stature. Being able to take on adversity allows for the human mind to be stretched and challenged. This stretching, these challenges, help us gain a perspective that not everything in life is easy. I’ve heard many people say, “if it was easy, everyone would be doing.” Right!?

Life has a special meaning toward those individuals who understand their purpose. Cliche, true, whatever, I like it. For those who do not understand their purpose, life tends to constantly be challenging. More so mentally than anything. When one does not know or understand why they are here on this earth, they begin to question their value and what they can bring to the table. This questioning, usually leads to self esteem dropping, lack of self worth and a lack of confidence.

There are no quick fixes or points that say, if you do it this way everything will work itself out. I believe the main focus behind my thought process here is understanding we are all in a process. This process that we are in, is guiding us and helping us discover just what it is we should be doing. A constant message I share with myself, is to continue to embrace the process, to not let up, to work through the frustrations and to not beat myself up over my shortcomings.

I cannot be perfect. I can however, strive for perfection. Even with my striving I have to understand that I will fall short. With falling short, I know there are many lessons to be learned. These lessons help me stay in reality, all while pushing to be better daily.

I’m thankful for my journey in life and I know every pain I’ve ever felt, every misery I’ve battled through, it is all being used to shape and sharpen my calling in life. Whether we figure this out in our twenties or late fifties, we each have a role to play in this world.

God wants to use us for a purpose. Believing this is a great starting point. Happy 6 months!

This One Is For You

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As I lay awake, nocturnal as you would say,
I sit here and listen to your thoughts.

You were free spirited, exploring life with your words.

You meant well,
But well, life didn’t mean the same.

You understood how to balance the unbalanced.
To continue to move forward at all cost.
You knew that if for one second, if you gave up,
Hope would do the same.

As the heart aches, the heartbreaks,
And yours broke and bled.
You were not afraid to be you.
You could care less how others judged you.

So much pain you endured.
So much weight you carried.

Darkness crept in, and your light kept shining.


You are a beast.
Creative.
Inspirational and wicked with the words.

Your words were motion on a canvas,
Moving to its beat.
You expressed your art as apart of your soul.
You let us in.

Now it is time for you to fly my baby.

Your beauty has now grown its wings.
You fly high, and you soar.
You love from above.
Your radiance glows,
And as the wind blows,
We are reminded you are among us.

You taught us how to love.
You taught us how to smile bright.
You showed us that energy is your light.
You let us know we are to fight.
So now it is only right,
That you my friend, hold on to what is right.


Samarco blood.

We bleed for you.
We cry for you.
We feel all your pain, and we cry.

We cry even more.
And we allow our tears to be filled with your memories.
Each drip is for you.
And these buckets that are filled,
We wash away the bad.

May His angels carry you through,
And bring you through the gates,
Turning you away from this dark and dying world.

Enjoy the journey to your new life.
While we are here,
We will keep on painting what you left for us.

Our canvas is our life,
And our brush are our actions.

We paint, we move, we sing, and we dance.

Because this one,
This one is for you.

Love you, Aunt Frances!

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The Samarco’s are On the Move

 

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If you follow myself or my wife on social media, you would know by now that we recently moved from Michigan to Indian Land, South Carolina. You are probably thinking where? I know right, I thought the same thing. We usually tell people we moved to Charlotte, NC. Indian Land is a suburb of Charlotte. I know you are thinking why the big move? Well…

The Back Story:

First, let me give you some back story to this transition. I am not sure where you are in life or what season of life you may be in, one substantial thing I believe about life is this: God will put you exactly where you need to be. Where you need to be may be for a short season or a long season. Either way, the key is to be obedient where He has you, to serve Him faithfully and allow Him to use you to be a blessing to the community in which you reside.

My last post, When It Felt Like Everything Felt Apart is a great segway to this post you are reading. I would encourage you to take some time and give it a look. 2011 was a tough year for me.

In March of 2011, I had just finished playing semi-pro ball for the East Kentucky Energy. We made it to the final four in the ABA. To go to the final four, we had to play a team from Michigan (my home state) in the regional championship game. Of course, we won. I could not let a team from my hometown show us up  🙂

In November 2011, I decided to move to Benton Harbor, MI to continue to pursue my professional basketball career with the Lake Michigan Admirals, the team we beat in the regional championship. The Admirals had moved to a new league called the Premier Basketball League. I thought if I go there for a season, this will lead to opportunities to play ball overseas or in the NBA D-League.

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The decision to head to Benton Harbor honestly was the only thing I had going for me. I wasn’t ready to give up the dream of playing basketball and work a 9-5. I just couldn’t see myself doing that again. So basketball was my only option.

As you read in my previous blog, 2011 was a valley. Little did I know, moving to Benton Harbor, the valley would continue. I was struggling playing with the Admirals. I got to a point where I was contemplating moving back home again with my Mom and starting over from scratch. At this point in my life, I had been walking with God for 6 1/2 years. I began to think to myself, maybe basketball isn’t going to work out the way I hoped it would.

Toward the end of 2011, I began to sense God calling me to go into ministry. I did not know what this meant but I was excited to begin to explore what God wanted to do with my life.

(I documented this season of my life on my Youtube channel: Click here to see them – > J Scott’s Video Documentaries )

My Journey to Ministry: 

December 31, 2011 I found myself at a New Year’s Eve service with friends. The minister there was a guest from Atlanta. She was a gifted speaker. Toward the end of service, she had asked me to stand up. She begins to say to me: “Young man, there is a huge call on your life. You may not even know it, but others have been watching your walk with God. You are a leader, and God wants to use you. Continue to press in and see what God has to offer.” Wow right?

Entering into 2012 was a season of intentional prayer. My biggest prayer was this: “God, show me the way and open the door for me to walk in so that I can do the work that You’ve set out for me.”

It was March and my team and I got invited to an after school program called, School of Hope to read to elementary students from Benton Harbor. Little did I know, God had a divine appointment waiting on me. The place where we were reading was run by a non-profit organization called, Mosaic CCDA and the founder (Brian Bennett) who started the non-profit walked in while we were there. Brian is also the lead pastor of Overflow Church. He and the owner of the Admirals were having a conversation and one thing led to another, I was introduced.

Two weeks later, we were having lunch together and he offered me an internship to work with the youth in the inner city of Benton Harbor. Without ever visiting the church, I gladly accepted. I knew this opportunity was an answer to prayer. It was the door I had been praying for to pursue my call to ministry. April 30th, 2012 my journey began with Overflow.

Myself and Pastor Brian

Myself and Pastor Brian

My Journey with Overflow Church:

Beginning my journey with Overflow Church, I did not know what to expect. I was just excited to serve and begin to learn what ministry is all about. My hope was to be able to serve God, the church, minister to youth, lead and impact others along the way. I had to learn quickly that you have to be careful what you pray for. Before I knew it, I was in graduate school at Wesley Seminary, teaching as an Adjunct Instructor and a life coach at Lake Michigan College, coaching basketball for Benton Harbor High School, playing basketball for the Admirals, a youth leader, mentor and working part time for Overflow as the Young Adult Pastor. Talk about hitting the ground running for the Lord!

Life seemed to be going fast paced for me. My leadership was growing at an extremely fast pace. God was moving. Students and young adults were coming to the Lord, lives were being transformed and on top of that, I was creating life long relationships. By December 2013, after 21 days of fasting and praying, I became the youth pastor of Overflow Church and joined the staff full time.

I am truly thankful for my four years with Overflow Church and for the leadership of Pastor Brian. He truly pulled me under his wing, mentored and discipled me. I will forever be grateful for our weekly Thursday morning 9am meetings where as Proverbs 27:17 says, “iron sharpens iron.” God used those meeting times to grow my walk in the Lord and to grow me as a leader. Love ya brother!

Love and Marriage!? 

In the midst of my journey in Benton Harbor, I got engaged May 24, 2013, and married a year later May 24, 2014. You can read the love story of my wife, Jasmine and I here: J Scott and Jasmine’s Love Story. It is a pretty good story if I say so myself.

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How I got to Indian Land, SC:

I know you’ve been waiting for the answer to how my wife and I got to South Carolina. I thought you would be interested in the back story first.

Toward the beginning of 2015, I began to sense that my wife and I’s time in Benton Harbor was coming to an end. I did not know if we would be leaving in 2015, 2016 or in a few years. All I knew, I needed to begin to pray and process with people I trust and that had a lot more wisdom than me to help me discern what the future may look like for the Samarco’s.

Having this transition in the back of my mind, I thought God would be leading my wife and I back to the metro-Detroit area near my hometown Ypsilanti. Well, God had different plans.

Two years ago, myself and a good friend of mine went to a youth conference in California put on by UYWI. (sidenote: this is the best youth conference around). Last year, my wife and I went back out to the conference.

Prior to going to the conference, each participant that registered for the conference got drawn into a contest. The contest was this: Whoever name is drawn will have the chance to sit down with a speaker of their choice. Somehow I ended up winning! Crazy right!? So out of the 5 speakers that were listed, I knew 3 of them and the other two I’ve heard about. One of the speakers that I wanted to get to know and talk life/ministry with was, Pastor Derwin Gray. Pastor Derwin leads a multi-ethnic, multi-generational, mission-shaped church called, Transformation Church along with a lot of other Gospel-centered leaders.

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Having lunch with Pastor Derwin at UYWI

While having an amazing lunch conversation with Pastor Derwin, I was able to meet Erick Hodge, who you do not see in this photo because he is the one holding the phone. Me and Erick got cool. I ended up attending another conference in August that Pastor Derwin and Erick were attending. Me, Erick and another friend ended up having dinner. At this time I heard of a training Transformation was doing at their church in October, called The HD Leader based off PD’s recent book on what it means to live a multi-ethnic life, and how to create a multi-ethnic, gospel-centered, mission-shaped church.

I told Erick I would be attending and he said I could crash at his place! I came down to TC in October and had such an amazing time. I was blown away by what God was doing through the church and the people there. In the midst of my time at TC, I learned that their teen director position had just opened up. Instead of jumping at the opportunity, I first wanted to pray and discern with my wife if this is something we should pursue…

After praying and talking with my wife, we went forward. I began going through the interview process. As I was going through the process, I believe God began to make it clear that this would be an amazing opportunity. Of course, God already knew the outcome. After 4 months of prayer, fasting, interviews and a visit to Transformation, God opened the door for my wife and I to have the opportunity to move to the south and for me to join on staff as the Teen Director of Transformation Church. Crazy cool God story right?

The Journey Continues…

P150587_14zSo here we are! Excited for this next chapter. Trusting God in this process and thanking God for the journey. I know He has great things in store for us and all of the teens at Transformation Church. I am anticipating God to do some really big things!

I recently ran across Psalm 20:4 that says, “May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.” 

My desire is to continue to serve Him wholeheartedly, passionately and faithfully. My plans are to simply share the Gospel in simplistic as well as creative ways to reach people for the Kingdom. May God’s perfect will be done in our lives.

P. S. Keep us lifted up in prayer as we get acclimated. Also, pray for my Overflow fam, all of the students and our family back home in Michigan. Thank you! Love each of you!

When It Felt Like Everything Fell Apart

When it felt like everything fell apart

The battle.

It was the year 2011. My life was slowly beginning to fall apart. I had lost some close friends I trusted, was lied to by multiple people, lost a job, lost one of my best friends to a tragic death, and I had moved back home with my mom and was sleeping on the couch and in a bed on the floor in the basement.

Everything seemed dark to me. I wasn’t questioning God and wondering why I was going through this valley. I understood life is not perfect, and everyone at some point has to go through something tough, I was just wondering how long the dark season would last.

I don’t know about you, but when I am in darkness, my heart, my thoughts and my emotions seem to be off. My heart is usually heavy, my thoughts are distorted, and my emotions aren’t as controlled as I would like them to be.

So what did I do?

I got away…

The summer of 2011, I spent in another state with one of my closest friends. I had saved up some money before I lost my job. I just needed to get away from home, gather my thoughts, think a lot and begin to work on what my next steps would be.

We can only be in the valley for so long. At some point, we have to come back up.

Feeling lost, out of place, not significant and wondering when a change was coming, I decided I would not complain and mope around. Instead, I would fight back. Yes, the universe and my world were dark, but there is a greater power in me that is capable of shining light.

I needed God to begin shining His light!

My friend that I was staying with in 2011 summer, I remember attending a church service with him. I don’t remember what the minister was saying; I just know I got extremely emotional and began to cry. I remember my friend looking at me in disbelief and shock as if he’d never seen a “grown man” cry.

At this moment, he didn’t judge, or tell me to suck it up. Instead he asked was I okay and just put his arm around me (I guess he gave me a bro hug).

I just needed support. I was grieving and mourning for months. The weight of the world and all of my thoughts got too heavy for me to carry alone. So I just cried. I let it out and released everything. I’ve learned that crying is good for the soul and as ET the Hip Hop Preacher once said: “Don’t cry to quit. Cry to keep going.” That’s what I was doing.

The darkness began to fade away, and I knew one day God would allow the light to get brighter.

All felt lost and apart but having friends and a God that cares, I knew there was hope. 2011 was one of the worst years of my life. Tough as that year was, I needed to go through it. My valley experience in 2011 allowed me to see and feel what it is like to do life alone. I’ll end with this: Life is not meant to be experienced alone.

From the bottom of my heart. I love you. I thank you for reading this. God is good even when it feels like everything has fell apart.

Summer 2011 in Memphis, TN

My best friend’s brother and Unc at the funeral.

 

In the Next and In the Now

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In the Next:

In the book of Joshua, found in the Bible, chapter 1 begins with Joshua having to step up quickly and lead a new generation of people into a land that God had promised to his fellow leader Moses. In verse 2, God says to Joshua, “Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan into the land I am giving them.” Then God goes on to say in verse 3. “I promise you what I promised Moses: Wherever you set foot, you will be on land I have given you.” What a promise!

Joshua immediately had to step up and lead. There wasn’t much time to be stuck in emotion, throw pity parties and wonder if he could do what God was commanding. Joshua, at this moment in time, is dealing with transition here and not all transition is easy. I am sure he was comfortable in the position He was in, as a counterpart to Moses, his right-hand man.

There comes a time in our lives where God calls us out of the comfortable zones we love to operate in. When God said, “Moses my servant is dead,” God is telling Joshua, there is no longer time for you to be comfortable.

The Land of the Unknown:

Obscurity, a word I have come to know throughout my life. Not knowing what is in the land to come but trusting that God is leading me there. This place of the unknown is an interesting place to be. A place where Joshua finds himself. In verse 5 and 6 God says, “No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as long as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you. Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to posses all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them.” God continues to give His word, His affirmation and His promises to Joshua.

What timely words for Joshua to hear. With all of the new responsibility, his new role, people to lead and win over, God pauses Joshua in his tracks and lets Joshua know you are not in this alone. So often in The Land of the Unknown, we think we are alone as if God would abandon us the moment we step foot in an unknown land.

How foolish are we to think this way? Our thinking can be such human conditioned responses. We should know God will not set us up to fail and maybe for a moment Joshua thought this way. Then hearing the words of His Father let Joshua know, he didn’t have any business to think that His God would not be with Him in the next phase of his life.

In the Now:

This is my command: “Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Hallelujah! As Joshua moved forward, He walked with a sense of purpose and dignity knowing His God was in complete control. Joshua walked with an assurance that He would not fail because His creator with all power and might was on his side.

Joshua was now leading and taking people on a journey they had not been on before. With transition, new leadership and new territory there comes a birth of new excitement. Joshua knew he had to step in, affirm, speak words of encouragement and peace to the people he was now leading. He had to let the people know everything is going to work out, and they would walk into the promises of God.

Conclusion:

I have learned in my 28 years of life; there is a great peace that God gives. I’ve also learned, when it is time for God to take someone to their next level and destination there has to be a step of faith. As we take a step of faith, we have to walk in the same peace that was given by God. As Joshua did, he had to trust God through the process of transition and the process of the land of the unknown.

God is the God of the next and the now. Wherever you find yourself today, whatever is on your plate, trust the God of the next and the right now, for He is in both and He is leading the way.

P.S. – Here are a couple of action steps and some friendly reminders:

  • Trust Him.
  • Obey.
  • Do what He asks of you.
  • You are right where you need to be.
  • God has your back!

Be #BetterThanYesterday in 2016

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#BetterThanYesterdaySimply means to let go of yesterday’s struggles and move forward, toward today’s success. 

Being #BetterThanYesterday begins by analyzing what is not working for you. There is something you do every day and throughout the week that causes you to struggle. Being aware of this habit and/or struggle is right where you need to be. As you move forward, know that change will be required of you.

Having a #BetterThanYesterday mentality, means each day you are being your best and you are living your life not stuck on the woes of yesterday.

Letting go of yesterday’s struggles is not as easy as it may sound. You and I both know, shaking a bad habit, creating change and beginning a new habit takes some sacrifice, dedication and accountability.

I truly believe you possess the will power and the desire to become better. As you move forward in your transformation journey your progress will come by, knowing the plan, working the strategies, executing the plan and enjoying the process of becoming the best you.

One of the biggest lessons I learned in 2015 was this: people who lack accountability, struggle in the areas they need to grow the most in. When people you trust know what areas you struggle in, not only can they speak words or encouragement but they can call you out when you are slacking.

 A great lesson of change is for you to create a circle of trust with people that have a #BetterThanYesterday mindset. 

Imagine how great you can become when you have people in your life chasing greatness with you!

As you know, 2015 is coming to a close. If you are like me, you find yourself reflecting back on the year. I enjoy and look forward to the last week of the year. I use the last week of the year as a reflection time, to look over my 2015 goals, challenges, victories, losses and memorable moments. This is a great way for me to establish momentum and to know what I am working toward for the new year.

My friend, be inspired, be encouraged, you made it through another year. Whether this year was hell or heaven for you, you are still here moving along in the journey. Don’t give up the fight of becoming the best you. There is still a lot of fight in you. You were created with a purpose. As you continue in your journey, your purpose will be used to bring major impact to this world. I am counting on you!

Here is what you can look forward to in #2016 from me:

  • Challenging content
  • Consistent and timely blogs
  • Authenticity and Relevancy
  • Bigger risks
  • A #BetterThanYesterday ebook
  • 21 day challenges
  • Cool #BetterThanYesterday gear

P.S.

Here is a #BetterThanYesterday video from yours truly. Enjoy!

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Help support the #BetterThanYesterday movement by getting a #BetterThanYesterday t shirt for #2016!

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Click this link to purchase your t -shirt. Thanks in advance! – > #BetterThanYesterday T Shirt

My goal is to get 100 people to purchase a t-shirt in 30 days. Considering helping this become a reality by purchasing a shirt.

P.S.S. Don’t forget to share in the comments what you are looking forward to in #2016. Lets be great together!

 

You Have To Believe In Yourself

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The lack of self confidence, the pressure to perform at a high level, life beating you up, all of this can make it extremely hard to have a strong belief system. I am here today to say, it is time for a shift in our lives. You and I have the greatest opportunity in the world to make a difference. Wherever you are on this earth reading this, it is time to take our self confidence to another level. There is no more time for you and I to say we cannot do something. There is no more time for taking the back seat to life. We have to believe and the time to start believing is now.

Throughout my life, I fought against myself. In fact, my biggest competitor has always been the person I look at in the mirror each day. Some of my friends would say to me, “J Scott, you are your biggest critic and you’re too hard on yourself.” I appreciated my friends sharing this with me but what they failed to understand, I had to be this way. There were many moments throughout my life where people didn’t believe in me. People told me I couldn’t do what I was wanting to accomplish in life. I had to dig deep inside and find self motivation and an inner drive. I had to find a way to believe.

“If you don’t believe in yourself, then who will?” – J Scott

I don’t know where you are on your journey in life. What I do know is at some point you and I both battle with having the confidence we need to be who we are suppose to be. I have come to learn and understand, when I have great confidence in myself I usually do a much better job compared to when I lack confidence. I may not be the best speaker, the best teacher, the best leader, but the fact I believe in myself, helps me to understand that I can be confident in who God made me to be. I do bring something valuable to the table, I do have something to offer, I am worth listening to.

Confidence is something I believe God wants you and I to have. If you think about it, usually, lack of confidence stems from having fear. God did not make us to live life on earth in fear. He has given us power to overcome our fears. Imagine, if you and I became a fearless warrior toward our passions and gifts. Imagine the lives we can touch. Imagine the people we can help grow and overcome their fears. I’m getting excited knowing the possibilities that are heading our way all because we have decided to believe in ourselves.

Here are 5 ways you can start believing in yourself:

  1. Write down your fears.
  2. Write encouraging notes all around your house.
  3. Tackle something you’ve been afraid to do.
  4. Get around people who are immersed in self confidence.
  5. Tell yourself every morning, “I can and I will accomplish what I set out to do today.”

“More self confidence and less self condemnation.” – J Scott

P.S. What are some ways you have built confidence in your life? Leave a comment below and don’t forget to share this on your social media with your friends and family.