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Life is a journey

Birth is a beginning and death a destination

And life is a journey

From childhood to maturity

And youth to age,

From innocence to awareness

And ignorance to knowing,

From foolishness to discretion

And then, perhaps to wisdom,

From weakness to strength

Or strength to weakness,

And often back again.

From health to sickness

And back, we pray, to health again

From offense to forgiveness

From loneliness to love

From joy to gratitude

From pain to compassion

And grief to understanding

From fear to faith

From defeat to defeat to defeat

Until, looking backward or ahead

We see that victory lies not at some high place along the way

But in having made the journey, stage by stage, a sacred pilgrimage

Birth is a beginning

Death a destination

But life is a journey

From birth to death to life everlasting

Author unknown, from the prayer book of the Shiva of my friend.

Baruch, my friends, Baruch

(Blessing, my friends, blessings)

SB

Featured

Who are you and what breaks your heart?

The answer to the question is an important one and is different for every person. Within the answer to this question lies the desires of your heart, and where you can begin to find your purpose.

Who are you and what breaks your heart?

Who are you and what breaks your heart? I first heard this question a few years ago as a challenge from our youth pastor. Along with the other adult sponsors of our youth, I searched deep within myself to answer the question.  The answer to the question is an important one and is different for every person.  Within the answer to this question lies the desires of your heart, and where you can begin to find your purpose.   It took me several days to fully craft my response.  Over the next several years, I returned to the question as well as my answer, sometimes tweaking the verbiage, but never the message.

I am a musician, an engineer, a mentor; my desire is to leave things better than I found them; I am a sister, daughter, wife, mother, aunt, friend.

Suicide breaks my heart; cancer breaks my heart; human trafficking breaks my heart; seeing people make bad life decisions breaks my heart.

I am thankful for the One True and Living God who saved me from myself and, through His Son Jesus Christ, has saved me from my sins.

I am confidently persistent, boldly creative and passionately determined that I may inspire others to live a life that ultimately matters.

I am a believer in Jesus Christ and a firm believer that God has a plan for every one of our lives.   In my young life, I struggled to find that purpose.  Once I found it, I developed a passion to help others find their purpose in life as well.

This blog is a collection of life experiences, probably some past and some present, designed to connect with you on your life journey, to help you ultimately live a life that matters.  My sincerest prayer is that through my words, you are drawn into a deeper relationship with the One who can fulfill your purpose in life.

Blessings,

SB

 

Are you going to trust Me?

Over the past eighteen months, events in my personal life have been filled with more drama than a Hallmark move. Just as I declared my 2018 word of the year WAIT, God blesses me incredibly with some answers to prayers that were 12 years old, and some that were nearly 30 years old!

Part way through the year, I heard the inaudible but unmistakable voice of God ask me, “will you still trust Me when it gets really bad?”

I answered instantly, “yes, of course, Lord,” and instantly knew I was in for some rough water. I had no idea what would unfold, but in that moment, I knew God was preparing me for something big, and I knew that He was asking if my faith was strong enough to sustain me when things got “really bad”.

It’s taken a lifetime to grow my faith. Truth be told, in my young life, my faith really wasn’t very strong at all.. I was angry with God for taking my daddy when I was young, and it took me years to trust that God had a plan. The process of developing spiritual grit happens over time, by going through trials and learning to trust God to provide and deliver. As I reflect on my spiritual growth, in hindsight, I can see that I grew the most when I went through the fire, when all I had left was to rely on God. There were plenty of times throughout the process where I couldn’t feel Gods presence, and didn’t seek His Word for comfort, and relied on my own strength and abilities to get me through the tough times.

The battle I found myself in late last summer was a doozy… and included physical battle for my dear friend’s health as well as spiritual battle from other Christians (yes, even Christians can be ugly to one another) and my own doubts and fears. There were moments during this battle when I confessed to God that I didn’t know if my strength could last, and I found myself in unknown territory where I literally could do nothing but pray. For once in my life, I was completely powerless to change the circumstances of my tiny microcosm, and found the absolute only thing I could do was pray. I knew with my head that I trusted God, but quite honestly, I had to be reminded of God’s faithfulness to His people more than once.

God is leading

During my battle, I turned to scripture, and studied how God used Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, and literally parted the Red Sea so the Israelites could cross on dry land when their enemies were in hot pursuit. He literally provided a way when it seemed they were out of options.

Miraculously, God intervened and provided grace and healing to my friend, and brought healing to other areas of my life which seemed impossible.

Wednesday What If

As we entered 2020, I declared my word of the year PRAY, as I learned so much about true prayer when I could do nothing but pray. To be clear, God wants us to pray.. He wants us to converse with Him, and He wants to reveal Himself to us through prayer.

In the past two weeks, I have been haunted by the question, “will you trust Me when it gets really bad?” I couldn’t help but think He was preparing me then, and now, to trust Him completely. I have a calm peace about all that is happening across our globe right now, that can only be explained by the presence of God. I know that God will deliver His people. He always has… and He always will.

I don’t know the extent of “really bad”… either for me personally, or for us as a society. All I know is that I will trust Him…. and I will pray. When I am completely powerless to change my circumstances, I will trust God for everything.

Be blessed, my friends.

SB

Psalm #3

New International Version Isaiah 26:3
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

The peace I feel right now comes from knowing that the God of the universe is my Savior. He has forgiven my sins, and cleansed me. He is my ultimate healer and my coming King. I know that someday I will spend eternity with Him in The Heavens He’s created.


New Living Translation
Isaiah 54:10 For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,” says the LORD, who has mercy on you.

Oh Lord, my God, I will trust You to deliver us prepare our hearts for what You’ve called us to be. Bring healing to our land and our world, turn our eyes toward You. I pray that You will give people an opportunity to ask forgiveness for their sins and put their trust in You alone. If I can be part of that process, equip me with the right words to say to show others what You’ve done for me.

Guide me in all decisions, refine my heart to love You above all else. Prepare me and help me prepare others for Your coming.

In Your Holy name I pray.

Psalm #2

Precious Lord, You alone are worthy of our praise… You alone are our Hope, an ever present help in time of trouble.

In You, I find my purpose. You’ve given new life, breathed breath into dead lungs, brought light to the darkness, created ways where there were none, restored broken hearts, restored minds, given second and third and fourth chances to us, even when we can’t fully understand Your sacrifice. You have been merciful to the most undeserving, those who have trampled Your name under their selfish feet.

You’ve allowed me to grow in Your ways, and refined me by Your fire, allowing my trials to strengthen my faith in You.

I trust Your sovereign will, Lord, and trust that You will bring all things together for good to those who love You.

Use me, Lord, the story of my redemption and transformation, which You alone have allowed. Let that story be shared with others who will hear and come to know You.

Help me to hold loosely that which You’ve given, knowing that You will always provide all I need. help me to align my desires with Your plans.

Lord, I bring to you my loved ones who don’t know You personally… I pray that You would give them a desire to know You, that You would prepare their hearts to learn about You. Open opportunities to share Your goodness with others, helping me to always be ready to obey you. Forgive me when I sin against You. Help me to be real with others. I pray that they would see You through me. Help me to honor You with all I think and do. Continue to refine me to become the person You’ve intended, and help me to love those whom You love.

Heal our land, heal our hearts and minds. Bring healing to others where healing is needed, restore that which needs restored, and refine which needs refined. In Your Holy and precious name I pray, amen

Listening

3 am… east coast time. Been laying awake in my bed for an hour so I finally get up to make a cup of tea.

In the quiet darkness I pray, as talking to my Father brings comfort. The house is eerily quiet despite its inhabitants… as it has been throughout the past days.

I listen for my Father to tell me everything will be ok. And I know it will. I wrestle with decisions being made by others, some outside my control and some within my reach, hoping and praying that those making them are seeking God’s council and listening for His guidance.

In three short weeks, our lives have completely changed.

In my head, I hear the lyrics to “Go rest high upon the mountain…. your work on earth is done”. My daughter and I recorded it at the request of a friend, still grieving the loss of her brother… yet I can’t help but wonder if the haunting harmonies are deeper.

Half-way through week two of a voluntary “work at home”, with a home that is fuller than most, I feel eerily isolated. As coincidences go, my son brought two friends and a girlfriend home with him on spring break this year. As news about Coronavirus broke just before their break started, his school, located 1,000 miles from home, suggested students bring all their school materials home on break in the event they’d have to finish school online. My daughter’s university gave the order for students to move out, so she and her roommate are here as well.

My work, for a medical device manufacturer, has never been busier, as demand for ventilators and other hospital ICU equipment soar. I’ve been asked to do my job from home, and have spent the past week and a half with a headset and my computer 8 or more hours a day, sitting by myself in my bedroom. It’s eerie to be honest.

In the evenings, I’ve been teaching piano lessons, which have all resorted to FaceTime or Zoom, everybody’s favorite new ap. While others post about their hibernation projects, I find no time to tackle mine.

Connected yet isolated. I’ve felt compelled to ask those in my care how they’re doing… to make sure their emotional needs are being met, with little regard to my own. I’ve inadvertently neglected some while trying desperately to make sure I didn’t. Connected yet isolated… in this strange time where the term “social distancing” has become commonplace

Lord, I’m listening,

as a million thoughts run through my head.

I hear politicians and leaders speak nonsense, ebrazened by the chaos abounding,

I see others’ with fear of drowning, fall prey to hype and dread

Lord, I’m listening,

Let me hear Your voice instead

Stay connected, my friends. isolated but connected…

SB

My psalm…

Good morning, precious Father. Lord, I bow before you, in this present pestilence, knowing that You are the same today as you were yesterday, knowing that You’ve created me and love me… and will rescue me. To remember my years of darkness before I really knew You is to remind me of all that You’ve done for me, and want to do for others.

I trust that You hear me when we converse, as I listen for Your voice in my heart, I know You are here and I feel Your peace amidst the chaos. Thank you for Your peace.

Thank you for teaching me to love like You love. Fill me with compassion for those who are afraid, for forgiveness for those who mislead, or worse, take advantage. Let Your peace fill our land and Your world.

In this time of chaos and confusion, Lord, let it be Your voice we hear, Your voice that guides. I pray Your protection on our country, it’s leaders, those who are making decisions that have lasting impact on our physical, financial, emotional health. Let those decisions not impact our spiritual help, except to bring others to a place of spiritual journey, seeking You. Let them find You and be blessed by You, that they, too, would see Your mercies and goodness.

Find Your people tender and loving, sharing The Gospel of your Son, Jesus, who was humbled and crucified on earth so that we’d have a way of salvation, a pardon for the sins we’ve committed, so that we would be reconciled with You forever. Give us courage to stand strong in the face of uncertainty and criticism. Give us wisdom to act, encouragement to help others.

I’m so very humbled by Your blessings, and all You’ve provided. May every thing You’ve given be used for Your glory alone. May the work of my life reflect Your beauty.

Forgive me for all of my shortfalls, for all of the times I’ve sinned against You, sometimes willful disobedience and sometimes careless. Cleanse me again, and refine me in ways only You can, for Your purpose. Use me, Lord, to fulfill what You’ve asked of me.

Forgive our land, Lord, forgive the corporate sins we’ve committed and restore our core to the God we trusted. Protect our resources, heal our bodies and our hearts, fill us with love for one another.

Love You forever, my Lord and Savior, Sanctifier and Healer. Amen

Jehovah Jireh

Good morning, friends! Many of you know how much I love dreams, and look for God to speak to me in my dreams.

Over the past week or so, I have been wrestling with some big decisions. I am confident that God has a plan, and I’ve seen incredible miracles unfold before my eyes, so I know He is capable of providing a way when it seems there is none.

Last night, in my dreams, the phrase Jehovah Jireh kept coming up, over and over again. I awoke with a comfort that He will provide.

The phrase comes from the account of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22

Abraham Tested

 The Sacrifice of Isaac 221 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here am I, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” 15 And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” 19 So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba. And Abraham lived at Beersheba.

Genesis 22:-19 | ESV

In a blog by Tony Evans,Tony Evans Jehovah Jireh, Tony talks about trials we go through while on Earth… trials that God uses to prepare us for something He has planned. In this blog, Tony talks about the importance of Abraham’s immediate obedience to God’s command, even though it seemed crazy.

Are you willing to obey what God is asking you to do? Halfway? Someday? Abraham obeyed immediately, and then God provides.

I don’t know what God is asking you to do today, but I would encourage you to obey immediately.

A little over a year ago, God asked me to share my book Masquerade with the very person who, in the book, I shared had hurt me deeper than anyone else had ever hurt me. My immediate response was “no way! I’m not doing that, God!” Again, a few days later, I felt a prompting to send the link to the book. Again, I said, “no. I’ve done everything else You’ve asked, God, but I’m not doing that.” The third time, a few days later, I felt God prompt me to send him the link, I obeyed. As I sent the link, I literally thought, “God, I hope you know what you’re doing.”

As if there is any doubt God knows what He’s doing. He does.

If you think you’re not worthy of Him, or your past is so ugly that it can’t be changed, think again! God can make the foulest clean! Do what He’s asking you to do… today. Trust Him. He’s waiting to bless you beyond your wildest dreams. He’s looking for your complete surrender and obedience to Him.

Be blessed today, my friends.

SB

The Counselor

In discussion with a friend, I made a suggestion that they consider meeting with a counselor to help them sort through some things they are going through… their answer?

“God is my Counselor… and I talk to Him all day long.”

It struck me funny, in my year of PRAY that I didn’t immediately suggest or even think that. Ironic? Had I become complacent? Is there ever a time when God couldn’t counsel us better than an earthly thrapist?

Of course, I believe God can use others to bring healing, but is there any better Counselor than the Lord Almighty himself? Therapy with Jesus… again

The irony is his statement is that I, too, talk to God all day long.

I was reminded of a “note” that I wrote on Facebook nearly 10 years ago that, when posted, stirred up a hornets nest of controversy. In the note, I quoted Dr Siligman of the University of Pennsylvania. In his book, Learned Optimism, Siligman suggests that depression is merely the result of wrong thinking. “Depression is caused by conscious negative thoughts. There is no underlying disorder to be rooted out… there is no childhood conflicts, not our unconscious anger, or even our brain chemistry. Emotion comes directly from what we think: think ‘loss’ and you feel sadness. If you change these habit’s of thought, you cure depression”

“Scripture memory is our most powerful tool in changing our habits of thought, and the internalized truths of God’s work keep us mentally healthy.”

When I posted this note to my Facebook page, I had an immediate negative response from a girl who had struggled with depression her whole life who vehemently argued with me that God could do anything to change her depression. She spoke to me as if she were the authoritarian on depression, as if I had never experienced it. Whew! The hate comments that followed!

The reality is, though, that I HAVE experienced it… I spent years of my life victimized by the loss of my father and blaming God for it. I know what a wreck I was before God rescued me… i know that I was absorbed with self pity for my circumstances. I know that I allowed negative thoughts to overrun me life, to the point I considered suicide on more than one occasion. I knew depression well, like an old friend.

I also know the transformation that’s taken place in my life since I surrendered my life to the lordship of the Counselor. I know the healing that’s taken place, and the boldness He’s given me to reach out to others to share with them what He’s done for me.

And really, that is what we’re called to do… to share what God, the Counselor, has done for us. What He’s done for me, He’ll do for you.

I share some of my journey in my fiction book Masquerade , though thinly veiled in fiction. I am beyond grateful for the Counselor, who not only saved my life (literally and figuratively) but gave me a passion to help others find what I’ve found.

Yes, I agree that God is the Counselor. But I am interest in your opinions of earthly counselors… please feel free to comment back … have you had good experience with counselor? Have they helped? In what way? What advice would you give to someone looking g for a counselor?

Be blessed, my friends

SB