Trio of Symbiosis

Mutually beneficial relationship between two organisms. I need you and you need me. I’m good for you and you’re good for me. That’s how it works. What you need, I give. What you give, I need.

God has created us to need one another. And to need Him. I used to pride myself on my independence, and, truthfully, there are some good traits that come from independence. However, God created us to need Him. And to need each other.

The better relationships I’ve seen happen when both partners need one another and help one another. Where I am weak, you are strong. Where you are weak, I am strong.

The best relationships I’ve seen are when two symbiotic people put Christ at the center of their relationship…. creating a trio of symbiosis…

These are the relationships that really flourish, and continue to grow deeper and bless other people.

Praying for your trio of symbiosis today, my friends!

In Him,

SB

Big prayers…. and big answers

Good morning, friends! As you know, I asked prayer Warriors around the globe to gather in prayer over my friend, Rob. We met with his oncologist yesterday and all of his tumors have decreased despite the fact that he hasn’t had treatment for over 2 months!

More important that that, however, is the fact that he’s been attending church regularly and even went to a men’s Bible study.

God is a very big God. He is in the business of changing lives. It’s up to each of us whether we choose to follow Him and trust Him, even when it seems really bad.

I AM expecting miracles, not only for Rob but for me and others close to me because I’m deeply convicted that God has a plan and a purpose to fulfill, and we are part of that purpose.

I am thrilled with the news about Rob. However, if the news had been different (and sometimes it is), I am still goi g to trust my Lord. His will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.

Lord, thank you so very much for all that You are doing, in my life and the lives of others around me. I pray humbly that You will continue to show up and draw people to You. Use me to further Your kingdom and give me the courage to follow You, not only when the news is good but even when it’s really bad.

Be blessed today, my friends

SB

Calling all Prayer Warriors

Hello, precious friends! I love the fact that you are all spread out over the world! I have a big favor to ask each of you…. pray with me. I am specifically praying for my friend, Rob, as we plan to meet with his oncologist on Wednesday. Tomorrow, he goes for bloodwork.

I messaged with a mutual friend of ours today, giving him an update on how well Rob has been doing since he got out of the hospital. When I told him that I’m literally praying the oncologist can’t find a tumor, so that I can tell him that God has healed Rob, he said “THATS the attitude to have!”

I have prayed really big prayers over the past year, and I have seen God answer some amazing things. It’s not too big for God to answer the prayer of healing.

I don’t know if the oncologist knows Jesus, but my prayer is that they become. acquainted through my friend Rob

Rob has been wonderful for the past few weeks and is concerned about going back on medication. My radical prayer is that he will not need it… that God has removed the tumor completely if for no other reason than to reach the doctor and his staff.

I’d like to pray for Dr. M and his PA, Leslie , as well as the nurses who work in his practice. I’d like to pray for the other patient’s and their families, and the churches they attend, or used to before they got mad at God. I’d like to pray for lives to be changed in ways that only God can do. I’d like to pray that the transformation in Rob’s life is so apparent to everyone he sees that they can’t help but ask why… and that, through his testimony, people will be saved!

Pray big. Pray without ceasing. Pray

Be blessed,

SB

God, put it in the right hands…

During the publishing process of publishing my book, Masquerade , I had a small group of close friends with whom I shared. They were people I considered my “inner circle”, and trusted them to advise, though none had ever published a book before.

As the time drew close to the actual release date, one of them talked to me about her desire to have a “release party” to celebrate the milestone. I felt sort of awkward about it, since I didn’t really want the attention. That was the reason I’d published under a pen name, after all. When I told her I felt uncomfortable with the accolades, she suggested that we get together for a prayer session, to pray that God would use the book to touch lives the way He intended. This was much more palatable to me. I had never intended the book to be about me or anything I’d done, but about how God rescued me from darkness so that others might also be rescued from darkness. Praying that He would put the book in the hands of the people who needed it was a much more fitting response to His call to write the book in the first place.

A few weeks ago, my dear friend, Jim, passed away. In my post, God’s timing, I described the exchange of information between Jim, his wife, and myself regarding the book. I felt the need to share with Jim what had happened in my life after the book was published, but I also felt strongly that I should start with the book itself. I sent it to them in January, and, because of Jim’s poor eyesight, his wife read it to him.

If you remember, Jim passed just days after finishing the book, before I had a chance to tell him the rest of the story. When I saw Jim’s wife at the funeral, we remarked on the irony of the timing and said we trust God for whatever His timing is.

Yesterday afternoon, I received this email from Jim’s wife:

I could hardly wait to get home from church today and tell you what happened.

This week one of the women who came by with food stayed and visited
with me. We got to talking, and she told me that her daughter, about
whom we had been praying, had been clean now for 6 months. In the
process of our talk, she told about her own drug abuse. She grew up
in an abusive family of users and became a user herself. It was all
she knew; everyone around her used drugs. As an adult she came to
know the Lord, and has been a Christian for a few years now. She
opened up and told me about her former life of drug abuse, of
depression, thoughts of suicide, cuttings, etc. She had not told
people about this, and even then as she was telling me, she admitted
to be currently suffering from severe depression, and not long ago for
about a week had been institutionalized for admitting to having
suicidal thoughts. However, with all that going on, her life away
from home was a “masquerade.” I had no clue this was going on or had
gone on in her life.

Because I had read your book, I had some insight into what she was
dealing with–a world in which I was a total stranger. I would have
been completely unprepared to deal with what she was telling me. But
because of God’s grace and having read your book, I had more
understanding and insight into her situation/condition. I was able to
not be shocked. AND I was able to council her and let her know that
these thoughts that she was experiencing were Satanic attacks. We
talked about that, and about how to understand it and recognize it for
what it is, and with the Lord’s help, ways to counter it. I loaned
her your book. I think it will be helpful for her.

THEN this morning at church, she rushed to me and said that when she
got into her car after she left me, there was such a burden
lifted—such a release! Knowing that she was NOT going crazy, that she
was being attacked, that God was with her and with his help she could
withstand the attacks. Suddenly she felt JOY. As she told me this
morning, I rejoiced with her, but I also warned her that Satan will
not give up, but now she knows and can recognize what is going on, and
has knowledge and tools to defeat the thoughts. Again, if I had not
read your book, I would have just been dumbfounded and not known what
to say. But also, it was in God’s timing. I don’t think that God
would have given her that freedom to open up to me if I had not been
somewhat prepared to understand her, give her some comfort, and give
her some Godly advice.

Wow! I wanted you to know that already your book has been so
revealing about the robbing of joy, and even life threatening thoughts
that even Christians go through and to understand why these thoughts
come. And it gave me, who doesn’t precisely live in that particular
world, some tools to help someone who does—and there are so many
others out there about which most of us are completely unaware.

Thank you! You might have thought the book was for Jim to read, but
it seems it was for me.

The publisher of the book offered a marketing package for the book, one I could not begin to afford. I’m sure they thought I was crazy when I said that I would prefer to simply trust God to put it in the hands of whoever needs it. I didn’t write it to get rich, I didn’t publish it to make a name for myself. I wrote it as catharsis for what I was going through and I published it in obedience to God, who asked if I was willing to share my story.

Willing to share my story so that others might see what He’s done? And is capable of doing for them? Absolutely.

To God be the glory!

Be blessed today, my friends!

SB

Gentle answers…

“I cleaned up broke glass today… only God’s Grace can help me handle the fragile soul that threw it”

Parenting is hard. This post is from a young mother in my church. Her young children are among my newest piano students. She is in the throes of parenting, when some days seem like failures. I remember them well.

My oldest two children are just 11 months apart… Irish twins, which is fun because I’d always wanted twins. The sibling bickering, though, was sometimes unbearable, and honestly put me over the edge.

My “favorite” parenting failure to share with young parents happened shortly after I began attending my church. My kids were 3 and 4 at the time, and were rehearsing for the children’s Christmas play. It had been a particularly painful day of bickering and I had just had enough. As I drove them to church on a Sunday evening, for rehearsal, they bickered the entire way there. By the time we got to the parking lot, I was over the edge. I parked the car and helped them out of the car. As they got out, they, once again, began fighting. I put my arms together, straight out in front of me, and put them in between my fighting kids, and then spread them apart to separate the kids from one another. As I did that, my son, who was always my dramatic kid, literally threw himself down on the pavement, as if I had thrown him there! Horrified, I reached down with one arm and grabbed him by the jacket and picked him up, screaming at him the whole time. To this day, I will never forget the look on the face of the father who as dropping his kids off for rehearsal! I’m sure he thought I was Joan Crawford!

I took both kids by the hand and marched them into the church, where I ran smack into the senior pastor, who was standing by his office. I’ve always been a “what you see is what you get” kind of person, and wear my emotions on my sleeve, so I couldn’t hide the fact that I was furious. He looked down at them and said gently, “you know your mother loves you?”

Terrified, my kids looked up at him, afraid to say anything lest the mommy dearest in me be unleashed again, and barely nodded their heads up and down, big crocodile tears filling their eyes. I dared not look at him, and just kept my head down as led them down the stairs to the rehearsal room.

When I came back up the stairs, he was still standing there. There was a brief pause as I wondered what he’d say to me, whether he would chastise my parenting, or accuse me of throwing my son down in the parking lot. He looked at me with gentleness and said, “you know what I do on days like this?”

“What?” I said cautiously.

“I take a pillow…..” he started to say as he made a bear hug motion with his arms. My mind was trying desperately to finish his sentence for him, but I was at a loss for words. As he finished his bear hug on himself, I realized that he was trying to tell me he’d hug the pillow to releive frustration, I kind of laughed and said (without filtering first), “oh, I thought you meant you’d put it over their faces to smother them!”

He was admittedly taken off guard by my comment and laughed a surprised laugh and said, “oh no! Don’t let that get around. That’s how rumors get started…. pastor X told me to….”.

And with that moment of laughter, the ice was broken. We were just standing there, parent to parent, passing down lesson-learned to lesson-needed-to-be-learned, exactly how God intended us to mentor one another. He didn’t judge what had just transpired. He didn’t make me feel like an awful parent. He simply let me know that he had been where I was, and experienced the frustration of parenting

“I cleaned up broke glass today… only God’s Grace can help me handle the fragile soul that threw it” Absolutely my favorite part of this post. Only God’s Grace.

Grace Notes, my friends. Grace notes.

Be blessed today, my friends. Whether your frustration is in parenting or some other aspect of life, rest assured His Grace is sufficient for all our needs.

Love you all,

SB

Living Sacrifice

A Living Sacrifice

Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Beginning my day in conversation with God has become a habit in my year of PRAY. I look forward to that time each morning, and have been using Mission 119 ap to do a bible study with Pastor Stoper of the Christian & Missionary Alliance church.

We’ve been reading the book of Numbers, which honestly is hard to read, however, it has taught me much about Faithfulness of God in spite of the faithlessness of His people.

God loves us so much that even when we mess up, we can return to Him to make our lives right again. In fact, the lost matter so much to God that He will go to great lengths to bring them back home. I’ve seen this in my own life as well as the lives of others around me.

The historic events of the book of Numbers show how, soon after Gods people saw Him part the waters of the Red Sea so they could cross on dry land, a work so miraculous one might think they could ever forget, they began to grumble about their circumstances, even wishing they were back in captivity. Less than a month after this amazing miracle, they had forgotten how God showed them that He could make a way where there seemed to not be. They returned to the way they were before the miracle.

How much are we a slave to our past? We have a life changing encounter with the God of the Universe, and before long, return to our old ways.

Romans 12 encourages us to be a LIVING sacrifice…. to daily present ourselves to God and allow Him to transform our lives… when we do this, transformation in our hearts and minds occurs, and we can then become the person He’s called us to be. We need to remind ourselves daily of the sacrifice He made for us so that we never become complacent and go back to our old ways.

We are no longer slaves to our past, but as we continue to remind ourselves what He’s done for us, both as a people and as individuals, we are transformed from our past. I do this by studying His Word, and praying every day. How do you do it?

Be blessed today, my friends!

SB

How to dream when (you’re told) you’re going to die

I mentioned in Release and surrender that I talked with one of Rob’s friends, Steve, a few weeks ago. I sensed he was a believer, and, after having lunch with him, confirmed that suspicion. His wife is also battling cancer, and they have a ten year old boy. Shortly after our lunch, he sent me a message and said he and his wife were talking about our friend, Rob and me, and remembered a book they read that helped them tremendously to come to terms with her diagnosis. He said he wanted to get the book in my hands as soon as possible.

The book is called, How to dream when you’re told you going to die. He said not to be alarmed by the title. It’s written by Diego Mesa, a pastor who was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer. The book is about weathering any storm really, though for Diego, it was his diagnosis.

Steve asked me to pass it on to someone else who might benefit from it after I’m done.

I am about halfway through it right now. I’ve underlined many good thoughts throughout the book. Tonight’s profound thought is this….

were it not for suffering, would we have faith at all? Would we grow at all? Would we have a testimony to share?”

I’ve shared my testimony many times, and, as it continues to unfold, I will continue to share my story to anyone willing to hear it… for only one reason… to glorify my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I AM a life that’s been changed by His grace and mercy, and I want others to know what He’s done for me… and will do for them too. I have been through many trials in the past 6 months, and they continue to refine my faith. Rocked at times, yes, but as I’ve seen God answer prayer, I continue to grow deeper and deeper faith.

God is so amazing. I have been blessed. Be blessed today, my friends!

SB