Outgiving

In 2012, my husband had a life-changing medical event and was off work for nearly a year.   At Christmas-time that year, he got word that there was a package for him at his place of employment.  He stopped one day to pick up it up, and brought home two enormous gift bags the size of large garbage bags.   The folks at his shop said only that one of their customers, who had heard about Rich’s injury, stopped by with the package – they didn’t know who it was or weren’t telling.

We gathered the entire family around to open the gift.  We were awestruck by what we saw.  Though not knowing us at all, someone had tried to find gifts appropriate for each person in the family.  There were games, and blankets, and candles, and decorative pillows, and treats, and all kinds of goodies.  In addition to the thoughtful trinkets, there was a devotional book along with a Christmas card about the Savior of the World.  

We were all completely humbled that someone we didn’t know would have taken the time and effort to have so elaborately put together as thoughtful of a package as they possibly could without knowing the family.  All they knew was that Rich was out of work – and they felt his family should get to have a Christmas.   

We tried to find out who had left the gift so that we could properly thank them, but were never able to.  In reality, I don’t believe they did it to receive a thank you. 

I wept hard that night at the thought of the compassion bestowed upon us.   I vowed to always do my best to do similar for other families, and every year, now, I look for opportunities to be a blessing to others

Just a few weeks ago, one of the store managers where Rich works had a heart attack, and is off work for 8 weeks.   Almost immediately after it happened, Rich asked if we could organize a financial gift for him and his family.  He said he’d like to ask the other guys in the shop to contribute but didn’t know what kind of response he’d get.  I assured him that we’d be happy to not only organize, but fill the gap to make it a good financial blessing for his family.   He got to work collecting money, and we put the final amount into a card last Friday and gave it to the man, who was overwhelmed with emotion.  

The following day, Rich found out that the company had achieved a sales target it had been trying to achieve for 4 years, and so gave everyone in the company a bonus – it happened to be the exact amount that we had put into the envelope for the manager.    My husband was surprised about this.  When he told me about it, I simply smiled and thought, “you can’t out-give God.”  This is a principal I’ve long known, and it is a such a blessing for me to see that others can see it as well. 

photo cred: sheisstronginhim.com

Be Blessed today, my friends!

SB

copyright 2018 Journey For Life  All Rights Reserved

 

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Reckless Love

Matthew 18:12-14 New Living Translation (NLT)

Parable of the Lost Sheep

12 “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? 13 And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! 14 In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.

This passage of the Bible has confused me my whole life.  To be perfectly honest, I believe that if I were the shepherd and one of my 100 sheep wandered away, I would not leave the ninety-nine to find the one.  I would cut my losses and move on.  I would evaluate the risk of leaving the 99 in pursuit of the one – that I might lose more of the 99 and not end up with the one anyway.  In truth, as I look back on different opportunities that I’ve had to share Jesus with people throughout my life, and some heard the news and some didn’t, there came a point with those who didn’t where I simply gave up.  The good news is that God’s ways are not my ways, and He will relentless pursue us, not giving up on us until we have found the Peace that Passes all understanding. 

A few months ago, we studied this passage of the Bible in our youth group.  In our discussion, our youth pastor pointed out that when Jesus began this discussion to put out that it IS a ridiculous thought to leave the 99 too pursue the one.  Jesus used the ridiculousness of this thought to grab the attention of those to whom He was speaking so that he could share the truth with them.  They all knew that it is silly to leave the majority to pursue the one.   Yet, this is exactly what God does sometimes. 

In my discussion a few weeks ago with my new-found friend, Bob (the recovering alcoholic who is writing a book about his journey), we wondered outloud why it seems there are certain people that God pursues relentlessly, and why there are certain people who have a predisposition to really hear God’s voice and others could seemingly care less.  Although I don’t have the answer, I know it’s true.  I have seen God relentlessly pursuing people, and continuing to give them opportunities to return to Him like the prodigal’s son. 

For Bob, that moment occurred when God leaned over and said to him in an inaudible but unmistakable voice that He would let Bob die if he didn’t get his life straightened out.   In my life, that moment occurred when I truly heard the words of Jeremiah 29:11 for the first time.  In Rich’s life, the crushing of his spinal cord was an “ah-ha” moment for us that God was in reckless pursuit of his soul. 

God will allow heartache and even physical pain into our lives to get our attention.   He IS pursuing you.  He is reaching his hand out to you today to ask you to join Him for all eternity.  All it takes is for your to acknowledge Him as your Savior and make him Lord of your life.   He will take the ugliness in you – your sin and your filth – and make you beautiful in His eyes – it doesn’t really matter what you’ve done, or how unworthy you think you are. 

I’ve been asked why I’m so passionate to be a servant of the Lord and put myself out there to a world that doesn’t care.  My only response is this quote from Charles Spurgeon: 

“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”

making a difference for just one is more than enough motivation for me… 

My prayer for you today, my friend, is that the Holy Spirit will flood your entire being with the reckless pursuit of the Heavenly Father, who is calling you home to Him.   May you hear His voice and obey His calling. 

Make a difference for just one today…

Blessings,

SB

copyright 2018 – Journey For Life – All Rights Reserved

To Bring You Back – Paul Alan

Are you thirsty 
Standing in the rain? 
Not sure where you are 
Or how you lost your way? 
Are you drowning 
In some bar outside of town? 
Searching for something given not found? 
A crowd of people 
But totally alone? 
At the front door 
But worlds away from home? 

Light up the nights last regret and 
Burn your only safety net 
Step to the edge 
It’s such a long way down 

Chorus: 
I left the ninety-nine to find the one 
And you’re the one 
I walked a thousand miles 
In this desert sun 
Only to bring you back 
Only to bring you back 

Are you tired 
Of chasing the wind under water? 
Do you aspire to breath again? 
Are you dying? 
Is that the best that you can do? 
Cause you can’t find your place 
In a world that wasn’t meant for you? 


Hello it’s Me 
I couldn’t sleep 
I was just counting sheep 
And I’m missing you, 
Hello it’s Me 
I couldn’t sleep 
I was just counting sheep. 

Perspective..

If I shared with you all the miracles I’m seeing unfold in my life right now, it would almost seem like a motion-picture.  In due time, I will share them all  with all of you, but for now, I’ve been sharing them with some of my closest prayer warriors that I refer to as my personal “board of directors.”

By the way, if you don’t have a personal Board of Directors, I would encourage you to fine one.  Not just anyone can serve on your board of directors – they’ve got to be tried and true friends – friends who will keep you confidential discussions confidential.  The Board of Directors is likely to be very small, but very powerful – they are friends who will encourage you to take a leap when you need to;  to take a step back when you need to; they always have your back.  My personal recommendation is to have a Godly Board of Directors as well – those who have an active prayer life, and will not hesitate to go to prayer on your behalf – and you’d do the same for them.

On Saturday night, I texted the members of my Board of Directors to tell them about a miracle that was unfolding right before my eyes in the life of someone very close to me.  At the same time, said individual said to me, “you know, I’m watching for miracles to happen.”

My only response to that person was, “Can you not see them happening right before our eyes??”

I think we can miss miracles if we aren’t watching through the lens of expectation.

Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life abundantly.”   I’ve lived long enough and had enough ups and downs in my life to know that doesn’t mean “have Jesus and have prosperity”..   but I’ve lived long enough to know that if you have Jesus, you have prosperity in life – perhaps not in material wealth, but in other areas of our lives.

The coolest thing about sharing miracles is that it helps other people grow.  I have one special friend with whom I’ve shared these some of the events of the past few months.  Last week, they said to me, “you know, this is pretty incredible to watch from my side.”   In part because of the things that have been happening, this person has stepped out in faith to begin a journey of their own – and I’m expecting miracles for them as well.

My cup runneth over.

Blessings to you all, my friends.

SB

Copyright 2018 Journey For Life. All rights reserved.

 

and the winner is…

 

If you have faith as big as a mustard seed, you can move mountains (Matthew 17:20) or mulberry trees (Luke 17:6).  Faith is believing in something you cannot see, but know is real.

My faith has been tested many times throughout my life, and the more it is tested, the more I know that God is not only real, but cares about even the smallest details of my life.

A few weeks ago, my husband told me that I have enough faith for both of us.  He meant it as a compliment, but on the other hand, it makes me sad.  I want the world to know what an awesome God we have, and to have faith that can move mountains and mulberry trees.

As miracles unfold before my eyes, I am convinced more than ever that God has a plan.   Our job really is simply to get to know Him and recognize His voice, and follow His lead.

I am learning that, the bigger our dreams, the bigger the opportunity we give to God to work miracles in our lives.   I’ve always been a dreamer – I love thinking of possibilities – and I see treasure where others see trash.

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The feature image is a screen shot of an on-line spiritual gift test I took a few years ago.  Though I wasn’t surprised about Faith and Leadership, I must admit, I was a bit surprised by “Pastoring” being my number 3.  I’ve never thought of myself as a pastor, however, I have a unique opportunity to coach people, both through my day-job as a manager, and in my hobby-job as a piano teacher.   It is my sincerest desire that people come to know Jesus as their friend…. so I guess that means “pastoring” to some degree.

It’s an awesome responsibility, and an awesome opportunity all at the same time.

I’ve asked you all to join me in praying for a really big miracle – and I’d like to ask you to keep praying.

If you have ordered the book, Masquerade, I want to thank you very much for your support!  If you haven’t yet, I’d like to encourage you to do so – it’s a story about a spiritual battle faced by a career driven mother of 3.  It’s not a fairy tale story, but one of hope during dark times.

If you like my journey, please follow my blog!

 

Blessings,

SB

Copyright 2018 Journey For Life. All rights reserved.

Cheyne, Shane, Bear, Peter, Little Carter, Miss Kitt’s Awana…. part 3

I’ve been telling you all about the prayers of our youngest daughter, whom I’ve learned so much from about being faithful to prayers.  

Today, I’d like to tell you a story about Peter and his dog, Millie.  Peter is an acquaintance of mine from my last job, who also works for the same company I currently work for.  When we worked together years ago, he told us a story of driving home one day, and pulling into the driveway only to feel a “bump” as he pulled into his driveway.  Unsure what he hit, he put the car into REVERSE and backed up, over the bump once again.  He got out of the car to discover that he had run over their family pet, Millie.   He was devastated, as were his kids.  They took Millie to the vet, but she passed away shortly after.

I was telling my family about the story, when our youngest daughter, who loves dogs, said she would pray for Millie.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that Millie had gone to doggie heaven, so instead, I suggested that she pray for Peter instead.

So, in faithful prayer, she added Peter to her prayer list, and has been praying for him ever since – every now and again, I’ll run into him at work and let him know she’s still praying – he can’t believe that she remembers the story, let alone still prayers for him, but he’s very thankful for the prayers.

Blessings,

SB

Copyright 2018 Journey For Life – all rights reserved.

Drinking from a saucer

When you live your life expecting and grateful for blessings, blessings abound.  I remember years ago in local diner overhearing a man respond to the waitress asking him how he was by saying, “I’m drinking from a saucer”.   It was his way of saying his cup runneth over.

Well, tonight, I am drinking from a saucer.   In all honesty, it’s hard to know where and how to begin sharing the blessings God’s poured out on my life lately, but here are a few…

so… I got a phone call from my son,  who is attending school in Minnesota, late Saturday night. He said,”Hey I’m in Chicago.”    “Whatcha doin there?” I said.  “I’m on my way home for the Blessing of the Bikes“.  My son and his friend drove all night to get home around 8 am to go to the blessing of the bikes.   His friend got to experience the Blessing of the Bikes, and we got to hang out together for lunch and again this evening before they head back to school tomorrow. It was a fun trip and it was great to see him… and that was a blessing.img_1277.jpg

Here was another blessing… all week, they’ve been calling for the weather to be terrible on Sunday – 40’s and rainy, then 60’s and rainy… The Blessing day starts early – the church service is at 11:00 am and the actual blessing is at 12:30.   We prayed for God to hold off the rain… and look how He answered the prayer… (Don’t ask me what is up with His sense of humor to send snow flurries to Murrysville on April 17… that’s another question for another day)  In reality, God held the rain off in our area until after 5 PM, which gave bikers who attended our event plenty of time to get home to a dry place before the skies opened up… that was a blessing.

and.. just some funny things that happened today…   it’s pretty awesome that, when you’re rocking the baby and don’t have room for a diaper bag, you can simply stuff the extra diaper right in your pocket.. that was pretty awesome.  LOL

And.. it’s also pretty awesome when your phone is sitting on top of the keyboard that you’re playing, and it thinks that you are driving.. that’s pretty awesome, too.

There are just so many other blessings I’m receiving right now that I could literally go on for  long time… but suffice to say that God is Good… All the time.

Blessings and Bikes

Blessings and Bikes – 2016

This post was originally from 2016, but tomorrow morning is the 2018 Blessing of the Bikes  – and my son just called to say he and a friend are driving all night from Minnesota to be present for the blessing – so say a prayer for their safety, will ya?


Last Sunday, our church hosted the 20th annual Blessing of the Bikes.  It’s an event that started when 4 bikers from the church approached the pastor with an idea to bring their friends to church. The first year, there were 162 bikes, and the town of Murrysville wondered what in the world was going on as they all rolled through.  Over the years, that event has blossomed, and is very well-known in the area.  The town of Murrysville actually sends the Mayor and emergency workers now, and even shuts down traffic for a while, to allow the event to be held.  It’s a completely free event, because, in the words of Pastor Dan, “so is gift of salvation”.   This year, on the 20th anniversary, we estimated approximately 15,000 bikes piled in – to our parking lot, and the adjacent blessing_bikes.jpgstreets, and the parking lots along Rt 22.  Figuring many bikes had 2 riders, we’d say there were A LOT of people who turned out for the event.  For the past 13 years, I have had the privilege of participating in the music for the service.   This year, our good friend Dave Smith, sang a song called “Jack Daniels & Jesus”.   I’m pretty sure there wasn’t another church in the country that sang that song on Sunday.

(By the way, I think there’s a message in here somewhere about starting a “movement” – it doesn’t take something BIG to make something BIG – it just requires someone to dream it and make it reality).

“Jack Daniels & Jesus”

Lately I’ve been trading
A good sermon and some praying
For a stranger in my bed
And a night that needs explaining
I’ve opened more bottles than I ever have my bible
This dirt road communion sure won’t lead me to revival

Between the black label and the letters in red
I felt what livin’ is
And what it’s like to live dead

I’ve taken a ride in the devil’s Cadillac
I’ve been so high I thought I wasn’t coming back
And just when I think I’m too far gone
Ringin’ in my head’s the 23rd psalm
I’ve seen the light
I’ve seen the darkness
Only God knows where my heart is
I’ve got my strength
And Lord knows, I’ve got my weakness
Oh, I’m lost somewhere between
Jack Daniels and Jesus

It’s my fault that I ain’t called
My momma in a month of Sundays
She’ll smell the whiskey through that phone
I can’t stand to hear her heartbreak
Next week, I see my brother Casey for the first time
Since it all went down
And I blacked his eye the night after our daddy died

I ain’t afraid to admit I’ve hit rock bottom
You wanna see a lifetime full of sins
Just look at me
I’ve got ’em

I’ve taken a ride in the devil’s Cadillac
I’ve been so high I thought I wasn’t coming back
And just when I think I’m too far gone
Ringin’ in my head’s the 23rd psalm
I’ve seen the light
I’ve seen the darkness
Only God knows where my heart is
I’ve got my strength
And Lord knows, I’ve got my weakness
Oh, I’m lost somewhere between
Jack Daniels and Jesus

blessing_people.jpgblessing_bikes_2.jpg

This is what 25,000 bikes looks like from the Medic One Helicopter.

Wall to wall people

blessing_people

blessing_shirt.jpg

(can’t see the killer boots from here, but they were awesome.. lol)

I am watching life unfold for several young adults – some of them are making some very good life decisions, and some of them are making some incredibly bad life decisions, some of them very, very public, and some of them very private.   And my heart breaks.   In almost all of the cases, I say to myself, (and I’ve heard their parents say), “but they were raised differently than that”   and then I remember the words, “somewhere between Jack Daniels and Jesus” and remember that we’re really ALL somewhere on that journey.   I haven’t had Jack Daniels in over 30 years  – one REALLY BAD experience with it all those years ago, and I can’t even smell the stuff to this day…. And I was raised differently than that…. And still, I made some poor life choices along the way – hopefully ones that I have learned from, and that have made me stronger.  By the grace of God alone, He brought me through those poor choices and gave me a second chance, or maybe a third and fourth.   And, by the grace of God, He will bring those folks through their choices as well, allowing U-turns to correct their course.   Pray for them, will ya?

 

Copyright 2018 Journey For Life – all rights reserved