My Everything

On Sunday evening, our church hosted a musical event – kind of a “talent show” of our musicians.  I was blessed to be able to accompany my twelve-year-old daughter, who sang a couple of songs.  One of them was a song that I had prayed at my keyboard nearly five years ago, the night before the funeral of an eleven-year-old boy.  I truly believe that God gave us music to help us pray.

Trent was a normal fifth-grade boy, doing normal fifth-grade boy things.  When he got sick with the flu, his mother took him to the doctor. They watched his symptoms for a few days, and they seemed to get worse instead of better before he was admitted to the hospital.  Both his mother and father are colleagues of mine, and I was shocked when Melissa told me that the doctors were concerned that Trent might not live.  I prayed hard, and believed that God would save this boy –  I mean, what perfectly healthy boy dies of the flu, right?

Sadly, Trent died a short time later.  I know that God is not obligated to answer our prayers the way we want Him to, and that He ultimately has a plan for all of our lives, but I will tell you this was a hard pill to swallow.  His parents were devastated.  Our co-workers were despondent.  I was crushed.

I sat at my keyboard, very, very late the night before the funeral and wept.  My heart was broken for them.  I knew that their lives would never be the same – that they would need each other more than ever, and that they would need God to get through.   I thought, too, about all of the other people who have experienced such loss and sadness, and how they, too, needed God to help them get through.

As I sat and played notes, eventually the notes turned into a tune, and words began to fill my mind.  The result was the song that we shared on Sunday.  I had played it instrumentally during communion several times, but it had never been sung.  When I asked my daughter if she would sing it for me, her willing heart immediately said, “yes”.  When we sat down to rehearse it for the first time, I handed her the words (no music, for I’ve never actually written it out), she sang it absolutely perfectly, as if she knew the tune already.  Dumbfounded, I asked her how she knew it.  She said, “I’ve heard you play it lots of times here in the house”.    Although that may be true, I never even told her it had words, yet she was able to hear the exact timing of every word as God had written them on my heart several years before.

My Everything

Sometimes the road seems empty

Sometimes the road seems long

I have to keep believing in what keeps us strong.

At times the path is crooked

At times the world is cruel

All I can do is hold on to Truth

You’re my everything…. My everything

You’re the strength that carries me when I can’t go on.

You’re my everything…. My everything

You’re love keeps me strong

When our hearts are heavy,

And we just don’t understand,

God still holds us firmly in the palm of His hand

When our hearts are troubled,

And everything seems wrong

He heals the brokenhearted and He brings a new song

He’s my everything…. my everything

He’s the strength that carries me when I can’t go on.

He’s my everything…. my everything

Gets me through night til dawn.

Holding on when I can’t let go, carrying me,

He breaks the chains that bind me and sets me free

Everything…. my everything

He’s the strength that carries me when I can’t go on.

He’s my everything…. my everything

His love keeps me strong.

This is the message  the book Masquerade attempts to share with its readers.  Psalm 147:3 says, “He heals the brokenhearted, and He binds up their wounds” (NIV).  I cannot pretend to understand why God took Trent home.  I only know the experience in my own life is this: God will never waste a hurt.  He will use every tear and every sorrow to mold and shape us into who He wants us to be.

He’s my everything.

Blessings,

SB

Copyright 2018 Journey-For-Life – All rights reserved.

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Through the noise

Lord, help me to hear your voice through the noise of my thoughts. Each though clamoring for attention, some pulling in opposite directions, I pray for Your wisdom to fill me. I pray that You would guide my steps, at least the very next ones, until the steps after that become evident. Shine your Light through me that others would see your glory.

Humbly I pray, in Your Holy and wonderful name.

Blessings,

SB

Copyright 2018 Journey For Life. All rights reserved

Watching for miracles

During this Holy Week, I pause in prayer to thank God for the awesome sacrifice He made for me, just because He loves me. We’re coming up to Good Friday, the day that felt like Heaven had lost because Jesus died on the cross. At that time, no one expected the miracle that we now know as The Resurrection of Christ. Jesus’ loved ones felt despair because they thought their world had collapsed, and, in fact, it had. The future they had believed in was certainly not going to be what they thought. But they didn’t know what God had in store.

Some of you may be at a crossroads like this. You may be seeing your world crumble around you because something you thought was going to happen didn’t, or something you didn’t think would happen did.

I am in this crossroads as well. I’ve shared with you that I am praying Jericho sized prayers. There is a possibility that something or someone may come along and threaten that prayer, what I’ve been praying for might change. What I believed was about to happen might not be about to happen at all. I don’t know.

Here’s what I do know. The God of the resurrection is still the God of the universe. He knows our hearts. He knows our limitations. He has provided a way for us to spend eternity with Him.

Watch for the miracles about to happen: the miracle of the resurrection, and the miracle of your life.

God is still in the miracle business!

Thank you for your support!

Copyright 2018 Journey For Life all rights reserved.

No category for a castle

In his book, If, Mark Batterson recounts a blessing God gave him for which he didn’t have a category.

He ends the chapter that recounts this blessing with these words,” what if everything in your past is preparing you for the future God has for you?’

“God wants us to get where He wants us to go more than we want to get there and He’s awfully good at getting us there”. Even when we make a wrong turn, He has ways of getting us there, and He’s using everything in our past to prepare us for the blessings He has for our future.

He’s got blessings for us for which we don’t even have categories!

I am still praying Jericho prayers and trusting God for His blessings. I believe He has a castle waiting to be used for His glory.

Blessings,

SB

copyright 2018. Journey For Life. All rights reserved

Impact

We never know the full impact we have…

Hello there, beautiful readers! Thank you for praying for our friends’ wedding. For those new to this blog, I asked for prayer last week for a family, whose only son was getting married just months after his father died suddenly of a heart attack.

The wedding was beautiful! True, there were moments that were hard, but the love that filled the place, not only from the couple, but all of the family and friends who were there to support, did it’s best to try to compensate.

Thank you all for your prayers!

At the reception, the groom’s oldest sister shared that as she was coming down the aisle, thinking, “I can’t do this”, she reminded herself that I was up there in front of her playing the piano, and if she could keep taking steps towards me, she’d make it. Awww. And make it she did!

I remember my own wedding, and the heartache I felt that my dad wasn’t there to walk me down the aisle. Instead, my mom did, and what an honor to me!

In addition to the flowers, one of my favorite parts about this wedding was their guest book. They had a Bible and some highlighters and asked guests to sign their name and highlight their favorite scripture.

Sorrow can be trampled by love!

Blessings!

SB

Please follow my journey! It promises to never be dull!

The Blood That was spilled

From Masquerade: “Wow. Over the past decade, our country had seen a rise in shootings. Events that were so uncommon when I was a child had become almost commonplace. The term “going postal”, coined in the late 80’s after several shooting incidents involving disgruntled postal workers, seemingly paved the way for lunatic behavior from sick people who had felt like society had wronged them. Victim mentality. The victims wanted other victims because “hurting people hurt people”. Ever since the Columbine shootings in 1999, school administrators all over the country had participated in anti-bullying training and programs in the futile attempt to prevent such tragedies from occurring. What they failed to realize, however, is that unless and until they put God back into the public school systems, all of their attempts would be fruitless. Over the past several years, it administrators recognized that the socioeconomic makeup of the Northridge school district was almost identical to that of Columbine High School, and the school officials were acutely aware of the potential danger. They had mandated training for the teachers and administrators on how to handle these situations. They had begun anti-bullying programs and had anti-bullying slogans posted all throughout the school. I had always been somewhat prepared for the day in which we would experience a tragedy of that sort in our own schools. I prayed with my children every day before school, asking God to keep watch over them until they returned safely home. I prayed that if ever a shooting event took place, that my children would stand strong in Christ.”

(the post below was first published as a Facebook note on April 17, 2014, just a week after a school violence event at our high school – within a few days, the note had been shared over 25,000 times – my prayer is those it reached were impacted in a way to seek God in their life)

stay strong

At 7:16 on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, merely minutes after I dropped my fifteen-year-old son off at school, my cell-phone buzzed on the kitchen table as I cracked an egg into a frying pan.  At the same time, my sixteen-year-old daughter, who stayed home sick that morning, came into the kitchen.  As I turned to ask her what she was doing up so early, she announced that she had received a text from her friend that “J*** had been stabbed”. Instinctively, I picked up my cell phone to read the text that caused the phone to vibrate only seconds before. The text from my son read simply, “People were stabbed.  I’m ok.  Be praying”.

We learned quickly that one of the students, armed with two 8″ kitchen knives, launched a violent attack in the hallway of his school before classes started, stabbing 20 of his fellow classmates and a security guard before being wrestled to the ground and taken into custody.

Over the past 12 years since my kids entered pre-school, not a day has gone by that I did not blanket them with prayer before they exited the car, or boarded the school bus, or entered the school.   Undoubtedly because of previous school-violence incidents, these prayers have ranged from general prayers about their day to specific prayers to “keep them safe in the hallways”, prayers for specific teachers, administrators, and other students.  I was not a parent who thought something like this could never occur in our school – I knew the possibility existed – simply because evil exists in the world.  There had been times that I prayed (with them) that if something terrible occurs in their school that God would equip my children with courage, and to always stand strong in Him.

Over the next several hours and days, as details of the event unfolded, there were many thoughts that struck chords in me, ranging from the “What if” and “If only” ’s that are so common and natural to ask, to the “what now” ‘s and “how can we turn this mess into a message”.   When I later learned that my son and his friend gathered people for prayer outside of the school amid the chaos, I was thankful that God has filled their hearts with compassion for others and a deep love for their Savior.  I am thankful that, by His grace, my children know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

prayer

Over the next few days, as my children and their friends and I visited their friends in the hospital, I was struck by another chord.  Not one of the victims that we talked with had anything bad to say about their attacker.  Most of them expressed surprise about the attack and sadness or compassion for their attacker.

Just the Sunday before the incident, our youth pastor shared that my son and his friend had talked with him a few weeks prior, asking why it was sometimes hard to share their faith with their friends – those with whom they had done “macaroni crafts” in kindergarten.  He said, “I look at some of them and wonder what in the world happened since we did macaroni crafts together”.  In the hours as the news was unfolding, my daughter said, “Mom, I did macaroni crafts with A*****– he was a nice kid – he dropped his macaroni and it went everywhere and I shared mine with him.”  We have been praying for A**** and his family, along with the victims and their families.

I believe that God was in that school that morning – in the hallways, with His loving hand over the situation.  His hedge of protection shielded many of the kids from injury.  Even among the injured, I believe that God prevented the wounds from being worse.  We are very thankful that, despite major life threatening injuries, not a single life was lost as a direct result of this attack.   When the security guard was tackling the suspect, he yelled, “No, my work is not finished yet!”  I can just about hear God’s voice saying, “No, MY work is not finished yet, son” as he blanketed the hallway with His protection.

I share this with you not to re-live a horrible ordeal, but to point to the Cross.  The “blood that was spilled” has a whole new meaning as we approach this Easter Sunday and the remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice for us. You see, Grace hung on the cross, not only for those who loved Him but for Judas and Pilate and the soldiers who nailed Him there.

I’ve heard hundreds of people ask what would drive a student to carry out such horrific act.  Was he bullied? Sad? Depressed? Hopeless? The truth is we don’t know.  What we DO know is this:   that God sent His Son to earth to pay for our sins – He does not want anyone to perish but wants all to come to repentance.

Romans 3:23 tells us that “ALL have sinned and fall short of His glory, and are justified freely by His Grace through the redemption that came through Christ Jesus.”   Whether big or small, all of our sin keeps us from the presence of the Almighty, and it is only through Jesus, Our Lord, and Savior, that we can be reunited with the Father.

My dear friends, hear this cry this night – if you have not asked Jesus to forgive your sins, and do not have a friendship with Him as Lord and Savior of your life, I invite you to do that tonight.   There is nothing more important on this earth.

This week was a stark reminder of all that can change in a week.  Similar to the week that began with people shouting, “Hosanna” and laying Palms at His feet, ending a few days later with people shouting, “Crucify Him, Crucify Him!”  You never know what a week will bring.   You may say to yourself, “I’ll have time to make things right with God later”.   I urge you to resist that thought – you may not have time later.

Now, in the quietness of your heart, while you have time to reflect on the gift that God gave through His Son Jesus, allow Him to draw you close to Him – to ask Him to become Lord of your life.

If you want to pray the prayer of salvation,

“Dear Lord Jesus,

I know I am a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe you died for my sins and rose from the dead.  I trust and follow you as my Lord and Savior. Guide my life and help me to do your will.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

For those of you who have read my book, you will notice a tie to an event in the book.  In all honesty, the book, Masquerade, was written in 2009, long before the event above took place.   As I penned the fiction story, my intent was to write about a school violence event where one of he main characters’ children were killed.  I found, however, that, as a parent, I couldn’t actually put this into the book, even though it was fiction.  The book sat dormant on my hard drive for many years, until last summer when I began the process of publishing it.  When I read the section about the shooting incident, I was taken aback by the eerie similarity to the actual incident.

If you haven’t read the book yet, you can get it here!  If you have read it, thank you, thank you, thank you – please feel free to leave a review!  My sincerest prayer is that, through this book, and through my life, people will be drawn into a relationship with a loving Father, who wants desperately to bring you peace.

Blessings,

SB

Copyright 2018  Journey For Life   All rights reserved.

Love thy neighbor 

neighbor

It’s easy to love some neighbors. They have similar interests to our, and we connect well with them. When we bought our first home, the couple we bought it from had that relationship with their neighbors. Every night, they would visit each other for what they called “happy hour”. They would take turns waking through the woods to each others’ house, pour a gin and tonic, and visit for an hour or so. They invested time in each other’s families and were there when each needed.

What happens, though, when we have neighbors that we don’t connect with? Or worse, don’t get along with? You know the one.  The one that cuts his lawn at 7 am on your only day to sleep in. The one who seems almost antagonist toward you, and has threatened, or even sued you. The one whose children are disrespectful and make fun of your children. The one who bullies you. How do you love them?

Jesus said to Love our Enemies. Sounds easy on paper. But really?  does He really expect us to love the person who is trying their best to create problems for us.

I have found that when I begin to pray about something, it begins to change my heart. Even if my prayer is to change the other thing; the thing I’m praying about, I find that God uses that prayer to change me. I’d encourage you to begin praying FOR the person causing consternation in your life. In our humanness we often find this difficult, but it is freeing.

Praying for those who wish us harm is difficult. I will challenge you if you will challenge me to love those who are hard to love, that God would be glorified.

Blessings,

SB

Copyright 2018 Journey For Life All rights reserved

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