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 stand alone

International Woman’s Day?   I’m sorry, I don’t get it.  Why do we need a day?  Can’t we just be awesome every day?   And can’t the men we work beside be awesome every day? I work in a man’s world – I truly do – I earned a degree in electrical engineering and remember only about 5 women in my classes who finished with me.  I worked REALLY hard to earn it.   I have worked for more than 25 years in a field dominated by men, and have been graciously given opportunities to grow and advance my career to what I’d like to attribute to hard work and dedication.  I am not so naïve to think that my salary really matches that of my male counterparts with the same titles, but in all honesty have never let that bother me.  I’m so very grateful for the opportunities that I’ve been given, and will continue to work as hard as I can to be the very best that I can be.  I would expect nothing less from anyone else, man or woman.

While I don’t want to offend any women out there, as we’re all entitled to our opinion.  My opinion is that I’d rather not be known as a “burn your bra”, liberated woman, but rather someone who just wants to work hard doing what she believes will make a difference. I am prepared to stand alone in that opinion. 

For the record, though I have never been a stay-at-home mom (mostly because I never wanted to be – truthfully – and not because my kids aren’t awesome, cuz they are!), I have respect for those who are – THAT’s a tough job.  My mom stayed home when I was young, and it was only because my father passed away that she went to work.  I was fortunate enough to have her stay home with my kids when they were young – which was, in part, my way to give back to her what she lost after my dad died.  It worked out well for all of us.

So, on this day-after International Woman’s Day (perhaps similar to Alice in Wonderland’s Happy Un-birthday I should call it “International Woman’s Un-Day”), I want to take the time to wish MEN and WOMEN everywhere just a happy, awesome day, period.   Go be awesome with one another.

I heart you all.

SB

 

Our purpose

The notes below are from the sermon series in our church over the last few weeks on knowing Gods will for our life….

We think our life is about figuring about Gods will for our life as if we’re the central character. In fact, it is His will in our life for His purpose. He is the central character, and our role in His story is to point to Him.

We are created to worship Him.

Am I filling my life with things that are for MY life or for His?

Sometimes we have a “Dip and skip mentality”. Dip into the promise and blessings but skip the responsibilities and commitments and obedience for Jesus.

We allow the devil to get into our thought process and we get confused.

You will not pick up the cross if you have your self interest at heart.

To know Gods will:

1) spend time in His word

2) spend time in prayer. Talk to God.

3) do ministry for him. Not necessarily in the local church. Tell others about Jesus

4) surrender to what you hear him tell you. Surrender to his will

Be blessed today

SB

What must I do to come home?

Several years ago, I attended the Catalyst Convention in Atlanta where I had an opportunity to hear many speakers talking about various aspects of leadership. The convention is hosted by Andy Stanley, one of my favorite speakers, and though the conference is church focused, the content is good for any kind of leadership role.

During the conference that year, Judah Smith spoke one evening, and gave one of the most powerful representations of the story of the Prodigal son that I have ever seen. He talked in raw detail about some of the ways in which the young man squandered his fathers money, and the various sins he committed and how messy he was; how when he returned home; and he talked about how his father ran to him while he was a long way off – and welcomed him with open arms – he didn’t wait for him to come home and get showered and clean himself up – he was just so excited that he returned home – he knew there would be time to really clean him up later, but wanted to have a party to celebrate his return right away.

Judah Smith Prodigal

Just as the angels in Heaven rejoice over one sinner returned home, so should we! Often, however, in our churches, we are more judgmental, making those who have returned home feel unwelcome, look down on them when they falter. On the contrary, we need to understand that our path hasn’t been a straight one either, and offer to help them along the way, not to judge them if/when they stumble.

What must I do to come home?

Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were acutely distressed and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “What should we do, brothers?” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far away, as many as the Lord our God will call to himself.”

If you are far away today, Know that there is a Father waiting to throw a party for your return. Know that there are people willing to help you on your journey, to help you clean yourself up.

Be blessed my friends.

SB

Getting what we want

My dog and I have been at odds for the past few weeks. He’s on a kick where he will wake me up multiple times throughout the night to go outside. It’s truly worse than having a newborn baby in the house. (Ok, maybe it’s not, but it’s been a long time since I’ve had a newborn in the house).

At any rate, last Saturday, we had fallen asleep with the TV on as we often do, when, at 1 am, the dog woke me up. As I returned to bed, I heard the familiar voice of Andy Stanley giving a message on getting what you want. In my year of WAIT, my ears perked up. I stayed awake long enough to hear the message and thought I’d remember to look it up to listen again. The next morning came and went and I forgot all about it.

This past Saturday, same thing. Exactly at 1 am, the dog once again woke me up, and we returned to bed to hear the second part of the series that had started last Saturday. Coincidence? Or Godincidence?

The series is entitled:

How to get what you really want

Turns out there’s an app for it also, so you can watch any series he’s had. I’ve long been a fan of Andy Stanley, not only as a spiritual leader, but just a leader role model in and of himself. I’ve read several of his books on leadership and attended the Catalyst Convention several years ago. One of the things I appreciate most about Andy is that, although he is an Incredible leader and spiritual mentor, he comes across humbly, as someone who also struggles with temptations. He is real. Genuine. I appreciate that, as someone who struggles sometimes to live my life faithful to what I’ve been called.

Similar to stopping when I heard Renner a few weeks ago, I stopped to pay attention. I believe God allows these kinds of thing to happen to get our attention.

English Standard Version
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. (Romans 7:15)

He started his message with the Apostle Paul saying “why do I do the things I don’t want to do and not do the things I want to do?” Andy’s message was essentially this: Don’t trade what you ultimately want for what you want immediately. Don’t be deceived. Don’t be deceived. Don’t be deceived into thinking what you want in the immediate is what you want forever. Following Jesus will make your life better because He will point you to Ultimate instead of immediate, valuable instead of natural. We will never get what we really want until we understand what we really value, and when we understand our value in Christ Jesus.

I’ve got the app now and am hoping my dog sleeps through the night on Saturday, but know I can still catch the message!

Great message.

be blessed

SB

Church is…

I didn’t write this and I don’t know who did. A friend posted it on their Facebook page.. Very good read—

“Church is hard.

Church is hard for the person walking through the doors, afraid of judgement.

Church is hard for the pastor’s family, under the microscope of an entire body.

Church is hard for the prodigal soul returning home, broken and battered by the world.

Church is hard for the girl who looks like she has it all together, but doesn’t.

Church is hard for the couple who fought the entire ride to service.

Church is hard for the single mom, surrounded by couples holding hands, and seemingly perfect families.

Church is hard for the widow and widower with no invitation to lunch after service.

Church is hard for the deacon with an estranged child.

Church is hard for the person singing worship songs, overwhelmed by the weight of the lyrics.

Church is hard for the man insecure in his role as a leader.

Church is hard for the wife who longs to be led by a righteous man.

Church is hard for the nursery volunteer who desperately longs for a baby to love.

Church is hard for the single woman and single man, praying God brings them a mate.

Church is hard for the teenage girl, wearing a scarlet letter, ashamed of her mistakes.

Church is hard for the sinners.

Church is hard for me.

It’s hard because on the outside it all looks shiny and perfect. Sunday best in behavior and dress.

However, underneath those layers, you find a body of imperfect people, carnal souls, selfish motives.

But, here is the beauty of church—

Church isn’t a building, mentality, or expectation.

Church is a body.

Church is a group of sinners, saved by grace, living in fellowship as saints.

Church is a body of believers bound as brothers and sisters by an eternal love.

Church is a holy ground where sinners stand as equals before the Throne of Grace.

Church is a refuge for broken hearts and a training ground for mighty warriors.

Church is a converging of confrontation and invitation. Where sin is confronted and hearts are invited to seek restoration.

Church is a lesson in faith and trust.

Church is a bearer of burdens and a giver of hope.

Church is a family. A family coming together, setting aside differences, forgetting past mistakes, rejoicing in the smallest of victories.

Church, the body, and the circle of sinners-turned-saints, is where He resides, and if we ask, He is faithful to come.

So even on the hard days at church—

The days when I am at odds with a friend, When I’ve fought with my husband because we’re late once again. When I’ve walked in bearing burdens heavier than my heart can handle, yet masking the pain with a smile on my face. When I’ve worn a scarlet letter, under the microscope. When I’ve longed for a baby to hold, or fought tears as the lyrics were sung. When I’ve walked back in, afraid and broken, after walking away.

I’ll remember, He has never failed to meet me there.”

The ground is level at the foot of the cross. All of us have a story. I know that not all churches are healthy, but blessed is the person who finds a church where they can feel welcomed despite their failures, and grow in healthy ways with people who encourage you every step of the way.

None of us have it all figured out. We all need Jesus.

Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came in Christ Jesus”

Be blessed,

SB

When to walk away —Surviving Deception

Motivated by a strong desire to help hurting people and an inherent desire to take people at face value probably marks me with naivety to believe people who tell me they are seeking God Or really want to change their life. I truly want everyone to know the peace that passes all understanding. I see the world through rose colored glasses. My rose colored world is a nice pace to be. There are others like me in the world, who, out of desire to do good for someone, have gone back to toxic relationships time and time again in effort to rescue someone from themselves, only to be hurt over and over again. I’ve been watching it for some time in the lives of several with whom I am close.

Some people aren’t being honest with themselves, and we know that hurting people hurt people. Some people are deliberate in their deception, wanting to cause destruction to other people. Perhaps there are people who don’t even realize they’re deceitful because they themselves are being deceived. Whatever the cause, there are those in the world who would deceive others. Those of us with tremendous compassion need to be able to keep them at a healthy distance. Knowing where and when that point is not always easy. Being able to do it requires grit and I dare say help from God Almighty.

The Bible warns believers about those who will come to deceive. In fact, God knows that without Him, we are deceitful in and of ourselves.

Jeremiah 17:9

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Still, He warms us to be on guard against those who would seek to hurt us with their deception.

Colossians 2:8. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:3
But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

Romans 16:17-18 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

2 Corinthians 11: 13-15 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

Interestingly, though, the Bible paints an understanding picture of the depravity of mankind, and in a compassionate way offers a way out to those truly who seek Him.

Titus 3:3-7

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Gods desire is that none should perish but all come to an understanding of faith and redemption through Christ Jesus. My desire is The same, and I know the others going through similar experiences are also motivated by a desire that all should know Christ.

1 John 1:9.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness

Romans 10:13
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

My prayer today for those who are deceiving, either themselves or other people, is that they would see Jesus; truly experience the life-changing blood of the Savior.

At some point, though, it’s time to cut the toxic relationship out of self preservation, even if the cut is initially painful. When the relationship hurts physically or emotionally, it’s time to cut. Severing the relationship does not mean we don’t still want what’s best for the person; it only means that for now, we can’t be a part of it.

Get to a healthy distance in the relationship, particularly if the hurt has been physical. Let them hit rock bottom. Keep praying for the hurt soul, that they would find peace through Jesus. Never stop. I’ve seen God work miracles in valleys of despair. Sometimes what they truly need is a “Come to Jesus” event to help them find. Pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to draw them, and watch from afar. The truth is, it’s not our responsibility to fix them, or make them know Jesus, especially if they don’t want to. It’s up to the Holy Spirit to draw them, and it’s up the them if they will accept. All we can really do is be ourselves.

God is not hiding. The Bible tells us that we will find him if we seek Him with all of our heart. I pray those who need Him genuinely seek. And genuinely find.

And to those who have been deceived, rest in the hope that God and His angels have you covered by their wings. He will pick you up and put your feet on solid ground. There is recovery from failure.

Praying,

SB

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