Drinking from the saucer!

Several years ago, while having breakfast with my kids at a local diner, an older gentleman sat at the counter to our left. We made eye contact, and I said, “Good morning. How are you?” He said, ” I am drinking from my saucer! You know what that means? It means my cup runneth over with blessings!”

What a joy that man had in his heart! He was living life to the fullest! He later mentioned to us that he had been given the greatest gift there was… the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. He wasn’t ashamed to admit it, even to strangers he met over breakfast. He didn’t know at the time that we, too, know Jesus. He was just brimming with blessings and wanted everyone to know it. Even more, I was blessed just be his exuberance!

This week, as we prepare to “officially” be thankful in the United States, I am humbled by the many blessings we have in our lives; Blessings of friends and family, loved ones both near and far.

I just want to take a moment to thank you, my wonderful WordPress friends, for being a blessing to me! You have liked me and encouraged me, and reached out to help me. Know that I am blessed by all of your creativities, and you bring joy to others. You are a blessing.

Indeed, I am drinking from a saucer this fall.

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Blessings,

SB

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Coincidence?

A few weeks ago a new battle began for us; well, really not a “new” battle, but a battle that had lay dormant for about 10 years, suddenly raging without warning, consuming our thoughts and minds.

Everything came to a head on Sunday morning. I was considerably distracted, and, although present in church, I failed to really hear the message. My husband and I were stressing about the situation.

Prior obligations on Sunday afternoon kept us from talking more about the situation, but when I had a few moments in between those obligations, I sat quietly in my car and watched the beginning of that days’ sermon from a pastor friend of ours that streams live on Facebook each week. Coincentally, or not, the topic of his sermon was ANXIETY. I watched about 5 minutes before I decided I needed to watch it with my husband later that evening.

My next obligation was accompanying our pastor for a service at a local senior resident building for a service we do once a month.  My aunt and uncle were coming to our house for dinner, and my mother had asked if I might be able to find someone else to play for the service that day.  Coincidentally, or not, it had not worked out, and I needed to fulfill my obligation.  I sat down at the baby grand piano and began to play music for prelude, and God’s peace began to flow through my fingers. I realized it was the first time I had actually breathed all day.

As our pastor began his message, he read from 2 Samuel 23. Coincidentally, or not, he talked about facing battles that seem impossible to win. This piqued my interest and I listened intently.  (It was, most likely, the same message he gave at our own church in the morning, but I had been to distracted to focus then).

“These are the names of David’s mighty warriors: Josheb-Basshebeth, a Tahkemonite, was chief of the Three; he raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter.”   2 Sam 23:8 NIV

Other examples where God fought a battle came to my mind as i sat and listened, emotions welling up inside me.  David and Goliath, Joshua and the battle of Jericho. During his sermon, he said, “Stand your ground, in Jesus’ Name and watch what He will do for you”.    It was during that time that i realized that i was there, in that place, at that specific moment in time so that I would hear the message that God had for me – that He is fighting our battles.     I knew it was not a coincidence that i couldn’t find a replacement to accompany our pastor that day.  I knew that it was not a coincidence that i had a few moments before that service to hear a few words on anxiety.

We are in the thick of the battle as we speak, but we are standing firm in Jesus’ Name, watching eagerly to see what God does.  We know that we belong to Him, and He has our back.

 

tree of hope

Gasping for air,

the darkness surrounds me,

oppression so great,

the waters they drown me.

No where to run,

No where to turn.

I crumble within,

beginning to burn.

I see through the fog

The might of Thy hand

that reaches below

the enclosing sand

to pull me to safety,

returning to me

that which belongs to You.

Mighty, Your tree,

In glory it stands

for all that you’ve done,

to show who You are.

The battle is won.

Keep fresh in my mind

the work that You’ve done.

Help me to show others

Your heavenly Love.

Copyright Journey-For-Life. 2017. All rights reserved.

Overwhelmed!

On a brisk, no bitter cold, Friday morning in November, I pulled into the lot at the office.  Immediately I noticed there were fewer cars in the parking lot, and thought to myself. “This is great. I can get caught up on all the things I couldn’t get to this week.”

I plugged my laptop in and got started.  Then my phone rang. While I was on the phone, in instant message popped up, and then another.  One thing after another, and before I knew it I was feeling overwhelmed.  

Reminiscent of days I’d take a vacation day from work to deep clean the kids’ room, I didn’t know where to start.   I thought back to those days. At the time, I didn’t fully understand anxiety.   I’d start early in the morning, just after they got in the 🚌 bus for school.  The first couple of hours were the worst.  I’d literally hyperventilate, having to remind myself that it was going to be ok 👌.  However, looking at the ridiculous mess in front of my eyes foreshadowed the enormity of the task I felt I’d never complete. 

Slowly, I would begin to make progress, starting in one area.  I found that as I began to organize a bit, throwing away things no longer needed, and grouping together like items, a new pattern of organization began. 

After a few hours, I could begin to see a clearing through the mound of toys and stuffed animals and my anxiety would subside a bit.   I had to see the progress so that I could feel better.  Baby steps.  

As I thought about those days, I tried to apply the advice that I now give to my piano students when they feel overwhelmed with a new song to learn. There are some principles that, if I can remember to apply to all of life’s situations, I would be much better able to eliminate anxiety.

1.  Break big problems into smaller ones and tackle one at a time. 

When we look at an enormous problem, sometimes the anxiety we feel over that problem can immobilize us, which sometimes adds to the anxiety. Before long we feel as though we can’t do any of it, so we don’t.  

2. Get moving 

The longer we procrastinate the worse the problem feels, which adds to our anxiety and makes everything seem worse.  When we move past inactivity, even in something small, we see progress, which helps us to move to the next thing, and then the next. 

3. Look back to see how far you’ve come 

Take time periodically to look around and acknowledge progress. Whether looking around at the toys that are now organized, being able to play the measure that we previously couldn’t, or seeing that the pile of mail is smaller than before, acknowledging the progress we’ve begun to make has a subconscious affect on our psyche.  The message confirms that we are headed in the right direction and motivates us to keep going. 

4. Celebrate the success and take a breath

It may seem sometimes that the hamster wheel never stops, but it’s important to find times when we can pause to celebrate what we’ve accomplished.  Even if we take only 60 seconds before moving to the next task, take the time to figuratively cross the task off the TODO list.  If you are a list maker, cross the task off the literal list.  In doing so, we celebrate the accomplishment which motivates us to keep going.

My Friday didn’t get any easier, but by following the advice above, I was able to cross a few things off my list and motivate me to keep going.  
Blessings

SB

Between Jack Daniels and Jesus

Every year in April, our church hosts the annual Blessing of the Bikes.  It’s an event that started when 4 bikers from the church approached the pastor with an idea to bring their friends to church. The first year, there were 162 bikes, and our town wondered what in the world was going on as they all rolled through.  Over the years, that event has blossomed and is very well-known in the area.  Our town actually sends the Mayor and emergency workers now, and even shuts down traffic for a while, to allow the event to be held.  It’s a completely free event, because, in the words of our pastor, “so is a gift of salvation”.   This year, on the 20th anniversary, we estimated approximately 15,000 bikes piled in – to our parking lot, and the adjacent streets, and the parking lots along the highway.  Figuring many bikes had 2 riders, we’d say there were A LOT of people who turned out for the event.  For the past 13 years, I have had the privilege of participating in the music for the service.   This year, our good friend Dave Smith, sang a song called “Jack Daniels & Jesus”.   I’m pretty sure there wasn’t another church in the country that sang that song on Sunday.

(By the way, I think there’s a message in here somewhere about starting a “movement” – it doesn’t take something BIG to make something BIG – it just requires someone to dream it and make it reality).

I am watching life unfold for several young adults – some of them are making some very good life decisions, and some of them are making some incredibly bad life decisions, some of them very, very public, and some of them very private.   My heart breaks.   In almost all of the cases, I say to myself, (and I’ve heard their parents say), “but they were raised differently than that”   and then I remember the words, “somewhere between Jack Daniels and Jesus” and remembered that we’re really ALL somewhere on that journey.   I haven’t had Jack Daniels in over 30 years.  One REALLY BAD experience with it all those years ago, and I can’t even smell the stuff to this day…. And I was raised differently than that…. Still, I made some poor life choices along the way – hopefully, ones that I have learned from, and that have made me stronger.  By the grace of God alone, He brought me through those poor choices and gave me a second chance, or maybe a third and fourth.   And, by the grace of God, He will bring those folks through their choices as well, allowing U-turns to correct their course.   Pray for them, will ya?