Paris burning…

This is me. In front of Notre Dame in 1993 on the vacation of my lifetime.

I had just graduated from college and travelled with my mom to Paris to stay for nearly a month in an apartment I. Montmartre section of Paris. I could speak a little French, having taken it as a language in high school and a refresher in college. I had been obsessed with France since first grade, when my teachers’ daughter would stop by the school at the end of the day and share with the class the words she was learning in French class.    Since then, I dreamed of a time when I could visit France.

In 1993, my mother was the executive administrative assistant for the President of Carnegie Mellon University, and had previously worked as an admin for the Dean of the Graduate School of Industrial Administration, some of which had apartments across the globe.  One of them allowed us to stay in his Paris apartment – another of them had parents in Belgium who invited us to stay with them during our month-long trip to Paris.

We arrived in Paris with an address for the apartment and clumsily hailed a cab who took us there.  We made our way up the 6 flights of stairs to the apartment where we were greeted by the neighbor, who was thrilled to see us as she’d been told to expect us.  She talked a mile a minute, for which even my “Conversational French” class in college couldn’t have prepared me.

We were exhausted and jet-lagged from our trip, but that didn’t stop us from exploring nearby Montmartre and Sacre Coeur.  We spent the next few weeks traipsing all over Paris, visiting all of the tourist spots completely on our own with no tour guides.  (Just a recommendation… this was an awesome way to see Paris!).

We took a train to Belgium and visited Antwerp and Brugge, and returned to Paris. I have so many wonderful memories about that trip and my pictures don’t do it justice. One day I hope to return and I know it just won’t be the same.

My heart is bleeding this week. To me, the loss is more than material. It’s history, and memories.

heaven and earth shall pass away

Blessings, SB


Today, I’d like you to check out a blog from my friend, Joni –

Grief to Life

Her post today reminds me that, no matter how broken you feel today, as long as there is breath, there is hope.  God is not finished with you yet.

“My scars remind me that I did indeed survive my deepest wounds. That in itself is an accomplishment. And they bring to mind something else, too. They remind me that the damage life has inflicted on me has, in many places, left me stronger and more resilient. What hurt me in the past has actually made me better equipped to face the present.” ~ Steve Goodier

I borrow the quote she used in the post to share below because it is a simple, yet true reminder.  There is, indeed, pain in life – sometimes because of choices we’ve made, sometimes because of the choices of others, and sometimes through no choice at all…. but the reality is, God will never, ever, waste a hurt.  He will use all of our pain and all of our scars to help to tell His story through us…  if we let Him.

photo cred:


All the marbles

Years ago, during a Lenten service at a church, I heard an evangelist from India share this annecdote.  I never forgot it.   I am creating it from the best of my memory, and may get some of the details wrong, I will trust that the original message is conveyed.  I hope you enjoy…

Little Sammy loved two things more than life itself; chocolate and marbles. He loved playing marbles with his best friend, Jenna, who lived next door to him, and he knew she loved chocolate as well.  Jenna and Sammy would often meet in their yards, and, on common ground, would pull out their prized collection of marbles and play with one another, passing the time together without a care in the world.

One day, Sammy came out of his hand with his bag of marbles in one hand, and a handful of chocolates in the other, which he quickly dumped into his right-hand, pants pocket. Jenna, always the adventurer, cheerfully greeted him with an offer, as she, too, quickly put her marbles into her pocket.   “I’ll trade you my best marbles for all the chocolate in your pocket,” she said.

Sammy thought about it.   He would love to have her best marbles, but he wasn’t so sure he was willing to give up all of his cocolate.  As he contemplated, a devilish thought swam around his head – perhaps he would just give her some of the chocolate.  After all, she didn’t really know how many pieces of chocolate were in his pocket.

“Ok,” he said, without hesitation.  He reached into his pocket to pull out the chocolates, but as he did, he left a few pieces in his pocket and pulled out the rest.  He willingly opened his hand for her to see he delectable candies, in their shiny, foil, wrap, and prepared to hand them over.    She reached into her pocket and pulled out her best marbles and held them out for him to see.

He was excited to see the collection of marbles, especially since it contained some that he’d never seen anywhere else.  He eagerly handed over the chocolate pieces, and she eagerly handed over the marbles.  As he put the marbles into his pants pocket, he felt the remaining chocolate kisses, still in his pocket.

Suddenly, a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach came over him.

“Jenna….   did you give me ALL the marbles?” he asked.

“What would make you think I didn’t?” Jenna asked.

you see…  God wants to give us all the marbles.. but what he requires of is is that we give up all of ourselves in order that ALL of His best can be given to us.  When we are able to give up all of ourselves, God is able to bless us with so much more than we could have ever imagined.

Have you given Him all the chocolate so that He can give you ALL of his blessings?  Are you holding some back because you’re afraid to give them up, or afraid you’ll loose to much in the process?

Give Him your all, today.  He’s waiting to give you His best.



Journey For Life

Letting it Go

In my twenties, just out of college, I worked for a small contract manufacturing company for a couple of years.  I grew to really hate the job, specifically because I couldn’t stand the owner of the company, who was my boss. I saw him as manipulative, power-hungry person, who created conflict among the team that worked for him so that he could solve their problems for them and they would think him a hero.  He would blow smoke up my skirt to make me think he thought I was wonderful, but that was part of his maniuplation. He relished in the drama he created among the ladies who worked in the shop.  I affectionately referred to him as “the old, fat guy” because he literally ate food off of my plate when we were out to lunch.  It was a toxic environment and I grew to hate it.   I literally found it difficult to get out of bed every day.

I recall distincly the moment I decided I couldn’t take it anymore and began to look for a new job.   As a female electrical engineer, I thought it should be fairly easy to find a new job in what was a decent job market at the time.   After 3 months of sending resumes out to local companies, being fairly selective, I was admitedly frustrated.

Although I had been raised in a Christian home, circumstances in my life had caused me to question God, and I had only recently come to my own personal faith in Him.  I hadn’t learned the art of full surrender to Him in every aspect of my life (and, in fact, wonder if we ever really fully learn that… but that’s a topic for later).  I wrestled a bit with God over the fact that it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be to find a new job.

I distinctly remember the day I came to the place where I was able to fully surrender that aspect of my life to God’s will. I had gone, by myself, to lunch at a local restaurant, and was having a conversation with God about my frustrations about the job.  I remember saying (hopefully not outloud) “there must be a reason You want me to stay here, so if You do, I am willing to stay.  If there’s someone here who needs to see You in me, I am willing to stay in this job I hate to do what You’ve asked me to do. ” And with that, I was able to completely let go of the situation and, with a peace that I can’t explain, completely gave it up to God.  It was more than just words that I said.  It was a full surrender of my heart to the Master’s will.   Difficult to explain to someone who has not experienced.

Exactly four days later, I was on a sales call in another small town, and I met with the Director of Operations for a manufacturing company.  During our conversation, he mentioned he was looking for a manufacturing engineer.  I told him my background, and handed him a resume (which I happened to have with me).  He intereviewed me on the spot and offered me a job before I left.   I gave my notice the next day (Friday), and the following Monday, began my new job.

I KNEW in that week that what had transpired was more about my obedience to God, and my willingness to TRUST Him than about the job itself.  I KNEW that God was just waiting for me to get the point where I could FULLY SURRENDER to HIM  – relinquishing my control to HIM – and then He answered my prayer.

I wish that I could tell you it’s just as easy as saying, OK, God, it’s yours.   There was more to it than that, but it’s difficult to explain.  There was a feeling that came with truly releasing the control, knowing it was hard to give up, but I knew when I did it.  I wish I could tell you that, because of that experience, I could live a life where I release control to God all the time.     I can’t tell you that.

I am wired to be a take-charge kind of person, and, as such, I tend to find it difficult to relinquish control at all..  not because I don’t want to.  (In fact, I actually prefer sometimes whene other people will step up and control a situation).  But the peace that comes with knowing God has our back and will provide for us better than our wildest imaginations..

It would be nice to think that, because of that experience, I never waivered on surrendering to God.  The truth is, I can only think of a few times in my life where I’ve truly let go to let God.  It’s hard for us to let go of the things that we want to control, but there is freedom in the release.  I want to live my life in the full surrender of God, knowing that His plan is always best for me.  I want to give it all to Him.   I’m finding it difficult to let it go…    not my will, Lord, but Yours.

Laying it down,




Five Years since our world was rocked

Today, April 9, 2019 marks the five year anniversary of the day our lives were rocked by a stabbing incident at our high school, where a single student, acting alone, took two 8-inch kitchen knives to school and launched an all-out attack on his fellow-classmates early in the morning in a crowded hallway. In a sense, it’s hard to believe it’s been five years.  In another sense, it seems like a life-time ago.

To those who would suggest this event was a conspiracy theory to further political agendas concerning bullying or weapons, I would literally fight you.  That’s the “mama-bear” instinct in me. I saw some of the physical wounds first hand.  I visited hospitals with families who weren’t sure whether their kids would live.  I witnessed many of the emotional wounds first hand.  I can assure you they were real.

In the days immediately following the attack, I personally drove scads of kids around to various Pittsburgh hospitals to visit their friends who had been stabbed.  My daughter’s boyfriend took a blade to the back which amazingly enough only nicked his liver, but truly missed all vital organs.  He spent a few days in the hospital without food in the event they had to perform surgery, but was lucky enough not to require surgery.  Other victims underwent multiple surgeries to address their extensive wounds.  Miraculously, and only by the hand of God, there was no actual loss of life.  Sometimes I believe that because no one died, people have dismissed the seriousness of the attack.

In the weeks after the event, I found myself literally consumed with needing to know how the community of Columbine, CO recovered from the school shooting that redefined school violence.  I remembered that, in the years prior,  the teachers at our high school went through active shooter training, and being told that the demographics of our community were eerily similar to that of Columbine – that the trainers felt it wasn’t a matter of “if” something would happen in our school, but a matter of “when”.  In a matter of days, I read a 400 page book entitled, Columbine, by Dave Cullen, that depicts the grisly details of the event and the investigation as well as how the community coped (or didn’t).  It felt, at the time, almost as it did on 9/11/2001, and I wondered if and how we’d ever move on.

Five years after the event, and many miles away in respective colleges, my kids and their friends still hear gasps around them when people learn what school they went to. It is as if they can’t seem to get away from it.  The even has shaped all of us to a degree – I’ve seen some students choose careers in law enforcement because of it.  I’ve seen some emerge as leaders, determined to make the world a better place.  I’ve seen others shrivel in the wake of the day.

In a moment when we try to make sense of the violence around us, I cling only to the hope that we have in Jesus for eternity spent with Him.  I pray for His guidance and His continued healing on those who are so desperately broken and need Him so much.  I know His hand is upon us.  I can see His miracles around us every day.

I know they’re rather long, but if you would, I’d be honored if you’d read my previous posts on the subject.

The Blood That was spilled    ( This post was originally posted as a Facebook note in April, 2014, and was shared with over 25,000 views)

Keep ‘em Safe in the Hallways  (This post really dealt with the fact that sometimes we don’t fully understand the reach of our prayers, and the impact they can have).

My heart bleeds for a broken world that needs to know Jesus.

In humble servanthood,


Copyright 2019 Journey For Life – All rights reserved.


Trusting You

Lord, I am Yours. Reveal Yourself to me, bring me to Light. Remove from me that which is not of You but bind to me that which is Your plan.

Forgive me for all my sins and unrighteousness, cleanse me.

At the cross, I surrender my life,

I owe all to You

At the cross, where your blood ran red for my sins to wash white, I owe You more than I can ever repay. I am Yours

I claim the victory and strength that You give over the Devil.

I love you, Lord.

Forever and ever,


Faith when God doesn’t make sense

In my last post, earlier this week, I talked about full surrender to God even when He doesn’t make sense.

In full surrender

In our youth group on Wednesday evening, one of our other leaders brought the message because our pastor and his wife are on a trip. His message was literally about how to have faith in God when He doesn’t make sense.

I know I said I should never be surprised at how God works… do you sense a pattern here? Think He’s trying to tell me something?

The examples Mike used were God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, and God asking Jonah to go to Nineveh, and Gideon’s army. Perhaps I’ll unpack the depth of these accounts later, but I will share a bit about the discussion in our small group afterwards.

Sometime when we read the Bible, we think it’s characters had some supernatural power that gave them the ability to know how things would turn out. But the reality is they are just like you and me… and Abraham, for example, didn’t know for sure that Hod would stop him before he actually sacrificed his son. He was human, just like us.

We talked about how you’d want to be pretty sure it was Gods voice you were hearing, especially if He was asking you to do something that didn’t make sense.

That brought the discussion to discerning Gods voice above all others. How do you know it’s Gods voice instead of one trying to deceive you? One of the girls said God wouldn’t ask you to do something against His word… but isn’t murdering your son against His word? Has God ever asked you to do something you thought was crazy?

Abraham had to know God so well to know it was His voice. He had fully trust God to even begin to do what was asked. In the same situation, I’m not sure if I would have had enough faith, to be perfectly honest. After all, Abraham waited almost 100 years for Isaac… and now being asked to sacrifice?

Are we willing to give up what we believe we want because we trust God so completely with our lives? May I learn to have a faith that strong. I am truly humbled by this lesson that I learned from our other youth leader this week. I am truly honored and humbled by the fact that I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that God is aligning these lessons in my life to keep building me for His purpose in my life.

I love you, Lord. Whatever You’re asking me to do, I am Yours. Mold me, shape me, use me to further Your Kingdom. Humble I pray,


In faith that amazing things are happening,


In full surrender

Living in full surrender of the one true King…  what does that even mean?

Many years ago, in a previous role within my company, I was a member on a team performing a process audit of one of our suppliers.  During the close-out meeting, our lead auditor summarized the visit by saying, “There are islands of excellence in a sea of mediocrity” I would summarize my life by saying, “There are moments of clarity among a sea of confusion”.  Some of those moments last days, others months or even years, in different aspects of my life.

I can point to specific moments in my life where I felt like I was 100% on-fire to tell everyone I knew what Jesus had done in my life, feeling certain that He called me to take specific initiatives, step out in faith, and trust Him to guide me even though I can’t see where we’re going.  I’ve alluded to this in previous posts – that I’m waiting for a miracle, confident that God will be faithful.

There are times I can feel the miracle swelling like a pregnant deer about to give birth.  Other times I feel it slipping through my hands like grains of sand… and then God sends a sign.

Doors open and close in my year of wait.

I pulled my Bible out the other day, searching for some answers.  I opened to  Deuteronomy 29:4 “But to this day the Lord has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear.”    I posted it on Facebook to see what other people thought it meant…   I was cautioned not to take it out of context, but in all honesty, I felt a certain peace about it… almost as if God was saying to me, “do you trust me?” as if it’s a question He needs me to answer before He’ll show me more.

Do I trust what He’s doing in my life?   Do I trust the trials He’s brought me through? Am I confident that He’ll bring me through others?   Although there is a part of me that is dying to understand, at the present moment in time, I am resting in the peace that I know He is my Savior, and has created me for a purpose, and, as far as I can tell, I’m still being prepared to fulfill that purpose in a mighty way despite some left turns in my life.

I can see the lamp unto my feet, and I see changes on the horizon, some good, some I’m not sure about, but in all of it, I am trusting Him.

Is that what full surrender is all about?  If so, I’m all in.

Yes, Lord, I trust you – with the little things and with the big things, and I will keep putting one foot in front of the other doing my best to find the path or pasture you have for me.

In Him,


Check out this song that fits my state of mind today…

SMS Shine – David Crowder


Send me a sign
A hint, o whisper
Fill me with life
‘Cause I am listening

Come break the quiet
Breathe your awakening
Bring me the light
‘Cause I am fading

Surround me with the rush of angels’ wings

Shine Your light so I can see You
Pull me up, I need to be near You
Hold me, I need to feel loved
Can You overcome this heart that’s overcome?

You sent a sign
The hint, o whisper
Human, divine
Everyone is listening

Death laid low
Quiet in the night is stirring

All around the rush of angels

O the wonder of the greatest love has come

Shine Your light so all can see it
Lifted up, ’cause the whole world needs it
Love has come, what joy to hear it
He has overcome, He has overcome

© Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.,Universal Music Publishing Group


Broken and Contrite…


In my blog feed yesterday, I came across this post.

Create in me a clean heart from blogger, He Bids Them Come

I know I should never be surprised at the way in which God works, but it was exactly what I needed to hear today.   I can relate to David – not in the exact way in which he sinned, but in the fact that, despite loving God, he found himself doing things he knew he ought not do.  In fact, I daresay that because of the humdingers that David committed, and the fact that God forgave him and cleansed him, gives me hope.

David came to God with a broken and contrite heart, God was faithful to him, and continued to use him.

My heart was broken yesterday, and in humbleness, I bowed before the Lord, asking forgiveness, asking him to clean me and change me.

As a follower of Christ, sometimes I think we paint an image to the rest of the world that our lives are perfect and that we never sin or make mistakes.  What I’ve learned as I walk this road, however, is that I haven’t walked a straight road.  My life is made up of a series of bad decisions and choices, peppered with some better ones, probably not unlike some of you.  I’ve asked Jesus to forgive me and shape me into what He needs me to be.  I am a work in progress for sure, still completely full of the sin that I could let define me but for Jesus.  I still have a sinful nature, and am still drawn to the sins of my youth.

If I could be real for a moment with all of you, following Jesus isn’t about preaching to others to make converts out of them. Following Jesus is about understanding His grace – his unmerited favor – that He gives to us freely when we come to Him with a broken and contrite heart. Following Jesus is about allowing Him to work in your life to shape you, and about walking with others who need Him, too, being real about who you are.

I’d like to think I’m real about who I am.  I am filthy.  I am broken.  I am worthless without Christ. But because of Christ, I am a new creation, and I am able to begin living in ways to help others see Jesus in me, so that they might be drawn to Him.  That’s my hope.  That’s my prayer this morning.

Broken In Him,