Chasing dragons

The world around me, filled with brokenness and loneliness; people searching for something they didn’t know they’d lost. Oh, they feel the emptiness, but they can’t quite put their finger on it, and they try to fill the void the best way they know how.

Like the drug addict chasing the feeling from the first time they got high, they reach for familiar crutch, the bottle of Beam, the girl on the corner who’s also searching, the destructive patterns spiral out of control.

With the dragon in front of them, just out of reach, they careen a hundred miles an hour in the wrong direction, never noticing that You were right beside them all along, with arms open wide, waiting to welcome them home.

How I wish they could see You, waiting gently for them to stop running. How I wish they could hear Your voice and know Your love, and know that You will revive their barren, cold, dead hearts.

Your promise is that You will fill us and change our hearts, restoring what is broken, giving us a new song to sing. You take us and shape us to what You have for us.

Ezekiel 36:26 New International Version (NIV)

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh”

Open their eyes, Lord, and their hearts to Your love that washes over us and changes us. Make perfect in us that which is not.

Humbly,

SB

Copyright 2018 journey for life. All rights reserved.

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See you later

In our church, we don’t say “Goodbye” to those we bury. When they know Jesus as their Savior, we say “see you later” because of the promise we have of eternal life in Heaven.  (John 3:16-17:  For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him…”)

Yesterday, we laid to rest one of our bikers. Rick was one of the original bikers who brought the idea of a “Blessing of the bikes” to our pastor over twenty years ago. The event started that year with only six bikers, and has grown to over 15,000.

“Gasbag”, as his handle was, for reasons that might be obvious, was himself a recovering crack cocaine addict and recovering alcoholic. Somehow, when he was at his worst, God reached down and got a hold of his life and changed him forever. Oh, he was still rough around the edges, but when God cleaned up his heart, he lived his life differently.

One day, when a man three days into quitting cocaine cold turkey came into our church seeking refuge and God, our pastor asked those who understood recovery to gather around him. Over thirty people from our congregation gathered around him, Gasbag being the first, and held prayer for him. The man sat there, trembling from withdrawal, but wanting to make a change in his life. He’d wrecked relationships with his wife and children, and countless others, but laid his heart open to receive a Savior.

Over the next several years, this man went through a process of rehab, jail time, and reconciliation, in part, because Gasbag was willing to stand with him, right where he was, and show him what Jesus had done for him.

We know, without a doubt, that Gasbag is in Heaven with his Lord and Savior. While it’s sad for those of us still on Earth, we know that we will one day see him again in Heaven. We are thankful that he allowed his life to be changed and thankful that he shred Jesus with other people. Perhaps there are others out there who will be a Gasbag. It may make a difference for someone for all eternity.

Be a Gasbag, today, my friends!

See you later,

SB

Copyright 2018 journey for life. All rights reserved

Unmerited favor

Grace. Oh it’s amazing. For reasons I cannot begin to fathom, our Lord has bestowed unmerited favor on me time and time again.

Last Saturday morning, my 82 year old mother suffered a heart attack. In the wee hours of the morning, I was woken up by our oldest daughter, home from college for Christmas break. Both she and my mother have bedrooms in the basement of our home. She told me that Nana thought she was having a heart attack. I lept out of bed and called an ambulance, which took her to the local hospital. The kids and I waited in the lobby while they got her settled into the emergency room; it seemed like an eternity.

Eventually, the doctor came to speak with us. The look of concern on his face was discomforting and he shared with us that her heart stopped twice while they were getting her settled. He and a team of nurses performed CPR and brought her back. Shaken, he also shared with us that when she came to, she told them not to revive her if it happened again. She has no written medical directive, and he was visibly upset by her instruction. I assured him that was consistent with anything she’s ever told me about dying, and that it was OK to let her go if it happened again. She knows where she’s going and she’s ready to go there.

The nurses all gathered around when she asked to see me for what we thought would be the last time. As I looked down on my mothers tiny, frail body, her face seemed shrunken and her eyes looked different. The nurses were crying and telling me they were sorry. My mother shared a few words with me, said she had no regrets and told me to make sure her grandkids knew she loved them.

Just then, the cardiologist on call entered the room and demanded to know why the cath lab staff hadn’t been prepped. The nurses apologized to me for his bedside manner, and proceeded to alert the cath lab team. Within moments, she was whisked away to surgery, after saying goodbye to my kids. We were ushered to the family waiting area where I made contact with other family members to let them know what happened.

Some time later (because honestly it’s hard to keep track of time in times like those) we were informed that the surgery was successful, that they put a stint into her heart and removed the 90% blockage. She came home from the hospital just two days later on Christmas Eve.

While we were leaving the hospital on Sunday afternoon, my son ran into a friend and his wife who live nearly an hour north of us. Puzzled at what they’d be doing in the hospital in our town, they shared that his father suffered a hear attack on his way to visit family. He was in the cath lab having surgery by the same doctor who did my mom’s. Hours later, we were informed that he didn’t make it.

Although I was thrilled that my mom was okay, I felt a strange sense of guilt that Jim wasn’t. He was younger than my mom, and as far as I know, had no sense of eternal life. Yet he passed and mom didn’t. My family attended his funeral visitation this week while I stayed with my mother. Such a strange dichotomy of feelings washed over me.

I’ve experienced this same dichotomy of emotions when my friend, Bob, buried his 19 year old son who died in a tragic car accident on the weekend my husband and I flew to visit our son for the first time since he left home for college; and the day our school experienced a mass stabbing when my daughter stayed home in an ironic twist of fate, but I drove my son early to school that day so he could take a youth retreat invitation to his friend who ended up the first victim.

I am repeatedly reminded in ways that my simple mind cannot understand that God’s ways are not my ways. The Bible instructs is to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. I am both rejoicing and mourning today.

Be blessed today, my friends. We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but we know Who holds tomorrow.

Blessings,

SB

Copyright 2018 Journey For Life. All rights reserved

The Ruffian – Hooligan

During my first year of junior high, I unexpectedly encountered situation with an upper-classmate that some people would refer to a bullying in today’s climate. At the risk of offending some readers, I personally believe the word “bully” is over-used and often applied inappropriately. Be that as it may, my experience taught me something about myself, and about “bullies”.

Tim was in ninth grade when I was in seventh. He was very tall tall with broad shoulders, and wore $hit-kicker boots and a chain from his wallet to his pocket. Greasy, dishwater blond hair touched his shoulders. He was regularly suspended for fighting and had a nasty reputation as a cruel dude. He and I shared the same lunch period (along with 200 of our closest friends) where he sat in the first row of tables closest to the garbage can students used to empty their trays before putting them in the “to be washed” pile.

Every day when I’d take my tray to the garbage can, he would mutter, “Bitch” and other obscenities under his breath. At first, I thought he must be talking about someone else because he didn’t even know me; but it literally happened every single day for the first month or so of school. Many students, back then as well as now, would simply have cowered in intimidation. Some may report either to a friend or a trusted teacher.

One day, I just decided I had enough of Tim. I a moment of fool-headed bravery, I dumped my tray and boldly marched right up to Tim. I got my face up close to his and stuck my finger out and put it in his chest. Undaunted, I proceeded to tell him off, footnoting that his statements were invalid because he didn’t even know me. The look of astonishment on his face was priceless, and I’m sure the scene was comical to spectators who’d never dream a shy, diminutive damsel would have the courage to stand up to such an insolent tormentor.

From that day forward, Tim became my “big brother guardian”. Every time I saw him, he gave me a hug. He’d check in with me on a regular basis to see if anyone was giving me trouble (and he assured me that if anyone ever did, he’d take care of it).

To be sure, there are probably plenty of reasons why bullies do what they do. I always felt that, in Tim’s case, he intimidated people that he could intimidate – and I believe he secretly respected the fact that I stood up to him. Without excusing his behavior, perhaps he was simply looking for someone who would stand up to him .

The incident taught me there are times in life when we must stand up for ourselves. I was proud of myself for having the courage to do it, and the outcome encouraged me to continue to stand strong in the face of difficulty through the rest of my life.

In an odd sense, I’m grateful that Tim taught me about myself. I last saw him at a high school reunion. He had lost his wife (my classmate) to cancer, and was missing a sparkle from his eye, but still hugged me and asked if anyone was giving me trouble.

Have spunk and courage, my friends. Life is tough.

Blessings,

SB

Copyright 2018 Journey-For-Life All Rights Reserved

Fixing it ALL – the humbling process of fixing my life.

Many years ago, I was ready to make some life changes.  In fact, in January of that year, I decided it was the time to fix EVERYTHING that was wrong with my life!   I wrote out a very detailed list of goals – it included perfecting everything in my 1) Physical life/fitness (ie.. get skinny once and for all)  2)Financial (out of debt, college for kids paid for, retirement fully funded, etc) 3) Spiritual life (ie, get to know God in an up close and personal way) and 4) Relational (ie, fix everything that’s ever been wrong in my marriage, become the friend that I should be, etc).     I went at it like gangbusters for about 2 weeks.   I was conscious of everything I ate and drank, I logged more miles on the treadmill than I had in a very long time.  I created a budget, read my Bible every day, tried to engage my husband in deep, philosophical discussions.     And then…  fell of the wagon.  I failed at every single one of my goals.

The problem wasn’t lack of desire… or even that my goals were bad.  The problem was that I tried to fix everything all at the same time – and I got overwhelmed, and in the end, fixed nothing.

Fast forward a few years – I learned to set much more REALISTIC goals.  Because I had previously learned that I couldn’t fix everything all at the same time, I decided to pick one or two things to really focus on, master, gain some confidence – and then move on to other areas while maintaining the one.

I realize that my life is a work in progress – I didn’t get where I am (either good or bad) overnight, and I’m not going to be able to change overnight either.  On occasion, I lose sight of this and become frustrated with people who haven’t “gotten it” yet until I remember that I am still growing too, and there are plenty of things I haven’t “gotten” yet.  God allows me to continue growing and learning – He is so much more patient with me than I am with myself or others – I guess that’s why He’s God and I’m not.

As we approach New Years, there are plenty of people making resolutions.  My resolution is simply this:  to continuously improve something – to consciously work toward making something better tomorrow than it is today – in whatever area of life I choose.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year, my friends.  Thanks so much for supporting my journey!

My challenge to you all today is to leave something better than you found it.

Blessings,

SB

Copyright 2018 journey for life. All rights reserved

Gym playlist # 9 I ran (flock of seagulls)

When I came to writing about this song on my play list, quite honestly I was ambivalent. It neither has a particularly great bass line, nor particularly meaningful lyrics. Truthfully I picked it only because of the name and it’s modest tie to the 80’s which were pretty good for me. It has a particularly long lead in with no beat and I’ve often thought I should find a replacement song.

As I began writing this post, however, I came across this review on lyric interpretations.com of the song that was actually marked with a label that said:

With a lead-in like that, I had to click View Anyway. And I share it with you because it’s just funny.

Sometimes life is about just being funny

Be blessed today. 🙂

SB

This futuristic song is about him getting older and walking along the and deciding to run for president of the united states! All the $H*¥ he faces thru the campaign he felt he couldnt get away from, polls controlled media hollywood cnn death threats false accusations abandonment betrayal etc but despite the uphill battle wins and finds glorious golden victory on election day! by a landslide

I ran

I walk along the avenue

I never thought I’d meet a girl like you

Meet a girl like you

With auburn hair and tawny eyes

The kind of eyes that hypnotize me through

You hypnotize me through

And I ran

I ran so far away

I just ran

I ran all night and day

I couldn’t get away

A cloud appears above your head

A beam of light comes shining down on you

Shining down on you

The cloud is moving nearer still

Aurora Borealis comes in view

Aurora comes in view

And I ran

I ran so far away

I just ran

I ran all night and day

I couldn’t get away

Reached out a hand to touch your face

You’re slowly disappearing from my view

Disappearing from my view

Reached out a hand to try again

I’m floating in a beam of light with you

A beam of light with you

And I ran

I ran so far away

I just ran

I ran all night and day

And I ran

I ran so far away

I just ran

I ran all night and day

Songwriters: Alistair Michael Score / Francis Maudsley / Michael Score / Paul E Reynolds

I Ran (So Far Away) lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

The Poison Grape

If we all knew it was poison, would we consume?

Seems like a silly questions, but is surprisingly difficult question to answer.   In the story of Adam and Eve and the fall of man in Genesis, the apple was sweet, but led to destruction.  

Sadly, alcohol is that apple for some. Seemingly innocent, many people can consume a glass or two of wine, or have a few beers during a football game without issue.   In and of itself, my personal opinion on the use of alcohol is that it’s not a terribly big deal.  However, I continue to encounter people whose lives have literally been wrecked by alcohol, and I go back to my original question – if they had known the consequences of the poison, would they partake?

Many years ago, there was a husband / wife couple in the church that I attended at the time who apparently made a suicide pact with one another to drink themselves to death.  The wife succeeded the initial attempt, leaving her husband and grown children to bury her.  Within a few short weeks, the husband tried again, this time succeeding.  For all the pain and sorrow I harbored at the time of my life, I couldn’t understand their choice.   I could only imagine the overwhelming desperation their selfish acts left on their children. It was heartbreaking.

In my current circle of acquaintances is a man who has a similar death wish. I have watched from afar the powerful grip alcohol has on his life over the past 12 months since he first drank himself into seizures the day after Christmas, 2017.  He has been in and out of rehab so many times this year I have lost count.  He has lost almost all of his family, except for a daughter, torn between babysitting her dad and needing to be in a safe place.  Never in all my years of mentoring and working with addicted people have I ever seen such a powerful demon as this man has.  It is truly, truly heartbreaking.  I wonder to myself, if he’d have known how things would have turned out, would he have ever taken the first drink?

Oftentimes we don’t see the big picture – we can’t see the long term destruction in our choices, and so we fall into them. Like quicksand, they pull us deeper and deeper, until we feel like we can’t ever be pulled out. My heart breaks for all those who are under the grip of this powerful poison, especially at this time of year, when it seems so many are searching for a lost happiness. The beautiful thing is that is exactly where Jesus specializes – in giving power to the powerless, restoring the completely broken, making beautiful things out of the ashes of our lives.

It reminds me of the beautiful verse in Psalm – not what I’d consider my life-verse, but one that truly speaks to me.

Thinking about all those struggling with addictions – it hits pretty hard this time of year – but know that God sees you struggling and wants to help you. May you reach your hand out for him to pull you to safety and put your feet on solid ground, and make something beautiful of you.

Be blessed today, my friends.

SB

Copyright 2018 Journey For Life – All rights reserved.

Song of the day: Beautiful things (Gungor)

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change, at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found?
Could a garden come out from this ground, at all?You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of usAll around,
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found, in youYou make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us
Oh, you make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of usYou make me new,
You are making me new
You make me new,
You are making me new
(Making me new)You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us
Oh, you make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of usYou make me new,
You are making me new
You make me new,
You are making me newSongwriters: Brian Johnson / Christa Black / Jeremy RiddleBeautiful Things lyrics © Music Services, Inc