Are you going to trust Me?

Over the past eighteen months, events in my personal life have been filled with more drama than a Hallmark move. Just as I declared my 2018 word of the year WAIT, God blesses me incredibly with some answers to prayers that were 12 years old, and some that were nearly 30 years old!

Part way through the year, I heard the inaudible but unmistakable voice of God ask me, “will you still trust Me when it gets really bad?”

I answered instantly, “yes, of course, Lord,” and instantly knew I was in for some rough water. I had no idea what would unfold, but in that moment, I knew God was preparing me for something big, and I knew that He was asking if my faith was strong enough to sustain me when things got “really bad”.

It’s taken a lifetime to grow my faith. Truth be told, in my young life, my faith really wasn’t very strong at all.. I was angry with God for taking my daddy when I was young, and it took me years to trust that God had a plan. The process of developing spiritual grit happens over time, by going through trials and learning to trust God to provide and deliver. As I reflect on my spiritual growth, in hindsight, I can see that I grew the most when I went through the fire, when all I had left was to rely on God. There were plenty of times throughout the process where I couldn’t feel Gods presence, and didn’t seek His Word for comfort, and relied on my own strength and abilities to get me through the tough times.

The battle I found myself in late last summer was a doozy… and included physical battle for my dear friend’s health as well as spiritual battle from other Christians (yes, even Christians can be ugly to one another) and my own doubts and fears. There were moments during this battle when I confessed to God that I didn’t know if my strength could last, and I found myself in unknown territory where I literally could do nothing but pray. For once in my life, I was completely powerless to change the circumstances of my tiny microcosm, and found the absolute only thing I could do was pray. I knew with my head that I trusted God, but quite honestly, I had to be reminded of God’s faithfulness to His people more than once.

God is leading

During my battle, I turned to scripture, and studied how God used Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, and literally parted the Red Sea so the Israelites could cross on dry land when their enemies were in hot pursuit. He literally provided a way when it seemed they were out of options.

Miraculously, God intervened and provided grace and healing to my friend, and brought healing to other areas of my life which seemed impossible.

Wednesday What If

As we entered 2020, I declared my word of the year PRAY, as I learned so much about true prayer when I could do nothing but pray. To be clear, God wants us to pray.. He wants us to converse with Him, and He wants to reveal Himself to us through prayer.

In the past two weeks, I have been haunted by the question, “will you trust Me when it gets really bad?” I couldn’t help but think He was preparing me then, and now, to trust Him completely. I have a calm peace about all that is happening across our globe right now, that can only be explained by the presence of God. I know that God will deliver His people. He always has… and He always will.

I don’t know the extent of “really bad”… either for me personally, or for us as a society. All I know is that I will trust Him…. and I will pray. When I am completely powerless to change my circumstances, I will trust God for everything.

Be blessed, 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

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

Postmarked Miracles… reblog

I’ve re-blogged this before, but since it’s President’s Day and the post office is closed, I thought of this event that happened a few years ago (although it happened over MLK day).  I was reminded of this “small” but powerful miracle that God unfolded before my eyes a few years ago…    I KNEW at the time, He was showing me that He could be a “waymaker” in something seemlingly insigifcant so that I would trust Him to be a “waymaker” in the more significant events in my life.   I am so very grateful for the eyes that He gave me to “see” that event and KNOW that HE is GOD! 

What I didn’t realize was the amazing way He would, in fact, bring about huge miracles in my life. 

Please take a minute to read it, and know that God is preparing you for something… every lesson you learn, every pain you feel, every miracle you see, is, if you allow it, helping you to trust Him for everything!

Postmarked miracle

Be blessed today, my friends!

SB

 

 

I am the storm

“The devil whispered in my ear, ‘you are not strong enough to withstand the storm!’

Today, I whispered in the devil’s ear, “I am a child of God… a warrior of Christ… I am the storm.”

The power of the Holy Spirit is more powerful than our battles. When we understand that Power, that flows in us when we accept Jesus as our Savior, we begin to truly become what God wants us to be.

“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27

“And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” Acts 4:31.

God has a purpose for us. Do not allow the devil to make you believe you are too weak to withstand his attacks. Call upon the power of the Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus, to fight your battles.

Be blessed today, my friends.

SB

God’s timing

I remember clearly the day I first came to my current church, completely overwhelmed by life, but knowing I needed healing. God spoke to me that day, and said, “Come back… I have something in store for you.”

I had come to the church looking for healing, and healing I found. Within a short period of time, I got to know their pianist, a wonderful man named Jim, who was also a fellow engineer. He and I hit it off well, and he became like a father figure to me. He was a phenomenal pianist, and we enjoyed playing music together. When he retired and moved south, he left his console keyboard to me. It now sits in our studio, used to teach others how to play the piano.

Jim and I remained close over the years, and, as he was getting up in years, I prayed for his health. He and his wife are truly a blessing, and they have raised a wonderfully loving family.

Over the past year, as plans were unfolding for what is now our studio, I had, in the back of my mind, a feeling that I should reach out to him and tell him my whole story. Few people really know my whole story, and honestly, I think if people were to hear it, they might either not believe it or think that I’m certifiable. I ignored the feeling for a while… but felt it strongly last November. I messaged his wife, Pat, and said I had something I wanted to share with them and asked her to confirm their email address. Jim replied with their email address. It took me until January 13 to work up the courage to reply… even though I felt they would understand my story.

On Mon, Jan 13, 2020 at 1:00 PM SB wrote:
Hi, Jim. I’m so sorry for the delay in filling you in on what’s been going on, but somehow I’ve got to trust Gods timing is perfect.
My story is really quite long and convoluted to be honest, but in my prayer time over the past few months I have felt a gentle nudge to share it with you specifically. I’m not entirely sure why, but trust God enough to know I need to follow that nudging.
I’d like to start by sending you a book. The book was written in 2009 but sat on my hard drive until 2017 when, during a long solo drive in my car, God asked me if I was willing to share my story. I said, “yes, of course I am, Lord, but what story?”…. then I remembered the realistic fiction book I wrote years before…. next thing I knew I was publishing (under a pen name, of course).
In all honesty, the book is a bit dark, and chronicles a woman’s journey through depression and/or spiritual oppression. Although fiction, when you read it, you may recognize pieces of reality of a life similar to mine.
I don’t have your mailing address with me.. can you please send it?
After you read the book, I will explain further.
I’d like you to keep this confidential until I have a chance to finish telling you the story to date.

SB

Jim replied right away that he’d be honored to read the book, Masquerade , and I sent it to him right away. On January 29, Pat sent me an email…

S,
We finished the book–very different difficult subject, There is a whole world out there about which we only know a very little bit. As mentioned in the book most everyone knows someone who has tried and/or succeeded in committing suicide, and we are among them–both in the family and out. The book was an eye opener about the topic of suicide and depression. 
If we are doing God’s will there will be satanic attacks making us doubt, etc. but we must resist–stand firm and believe what we know to be true. The Lord is with us and cares about us.
Jim has several procedures and a surgery coming up next and the following. He is not doing very well right now. In fact I read the book aloud because he is having trouble reading. How about if I let you know in a couple of weeks or so when he should be doing better and we can discuss the book then?
Thanks for sharing this. The title was very apt–we all play a masquerade at times.
Pat

I saw the email on my phone on Wednesday night, but Rob had just gotten discharged from the hospital and I went to check on him so I didn’t reply and then it slipped my mind.

On Monday evening, February 3, I replied,

Yes indeed! I am praying for Jim’s upcoming procedures and surgery and praying for you as caregiver.  
The book was only the beginning of the wild road the Lord has taken me in the past couple of years. I have been working on a timeline to share the highlights of this wild ride and will be prepared by the next time we talk.  
I am trying to stand strong against Satans attacks and believe wholeheartedly that I am doing what God has called me to do
I felt strongly He wanted me to share with you and will keep you both in my prayers in the meantime

Blessings, SB

On Tuesday morning, I got an email from our church’s prayer chain saying that Jim has passed away the evening before. His funeral service was held at our church yesterday. When Pat saw me in the receiving line, her first words were, “how ironic the timing! But God is good. Keep trusting Him.” His service was a blessing to me, and I’ll be sharing more about it soon so you can be blessed, too!

I cannot begin to understand God’s timing, but I know that, for some reason, He is continuing to use me and prepare me to keep doing His work. I am blessed to be His.

Be blessed today, my friends.

SB

I trace the rainbow through the rain

Love, that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be

Light, that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

Joy, that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be.

Cross, that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

George Matheson

For the past month, since my friend and business partner Rob got sick, I have been praying to ask God to give me a glimpse of His plan. I have devoted myself to praying literally all day long. As the names of people in my circle pop into my head, I would pray for them right then… and I’ve been praying that God would open my eyes and ears and heart to Him and only Him, staring in His direction.

Sitting in church yesterday morning, this hymn popped into my head. I haven’t sung it in years, but I had to read the words immediately as I thought perhaps this is a message from God. The words are like a salve to my hurting soul this morning.

God’s love is so completely unfathomable … it’s so incredible to me that He loves us. There are a few lines in this hymn that speak particularly to me…

I rest my weary soul in Thee;

I yield my flickering torch to Thee;

I trace the rainbow through the rain

My soul is indeed weary as I try to hold together my day job, the responsibilities I have as a wife and mother, the responsibility of starting a new business and trying to manage all of that, let alone the burden of worrying about Rob’s health and how the studio could survive should I have to buy his half of the business. My burden is very heavy right now, heavier than I can ever recall… this hymn tells me I can rest my weary soul in Him, and if I can yield MY will to HIS will… listen for His word and following HIS direction, I can trace the rainbow through the rain because I KNOW who He is. I know HE is faithful. I know HE has a plan.

Lord, everything I have is Yours. I rest my weary soul in You and trust that You will bring me through the rain. I have felt so strongly that You brought Rob to my path for him to help me and me to help him. We felt so strongly this building and studio was YOUR will. If I’be mistaken and this studio is not Your will, I pray You will guide and direct me, and give me the courage to let it go. If it is Your will, I pray You will protect and bless it… bless the students and the instructors who enter its doors… that Your glory would shine and Yours alone…amen.

I’m still watching for miracles, praying that as people see them, God will be glorified.

Be blessed today, my friends!

Thanks so much for your love and support in this, my period of testing

SB