Love ❤️ is….

As we embark on the Hallmark Holiday, Valentines Day, we are inundated with images of “love”; from hearts of chocolate to chocolate covered strawberries to roses, whose cost inflate during this month to the point you need a second mortgage on your home to afford, to diamonds and pearls. These images, coupled with television advertisements showing people in love, reaching for each other in idyllic images of love, leave people who don’t share these experiences feeling as if they are unloved and unlovable. The reality, however, is that love is not a feeling at all, but commitment.

When we were married, twenty two and a half years ago, part of our wedding vows included these words: “for better or worse, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others, so long as you both shall live”. So long as you both shall LIVE, not so long as you both shall LOVE. In the years following that vow, we have been tested, for sure; tested in health, tested in financial ways, tested in relational ways; yet we both acknowledge and hold firm to the vows we made to one another.

Sadly, this message is largely lost in our society today. Too often, we seek the “feeling” that love is, and as soon as the challenges come, we mistake the hardship for a lack of love, when, in fact, it is merely a lack of commitment to work together through the hardship.

During our hardships, I had Christian friends who encouraged me to leave, telling me that I was justified in leaving because God would not want me to be unhappy. I remember one friend, however, who had the courage to tell me that God would honor me for honoring my commitment.

By no means am I suggesting someone stay in an abusive relationship. What I am saying is that true love is not based on the flutter-feeling by you get when Love is young. In my experience, Love deepens over time as you choose to work together through difficult times. For our relationship to be successful, we had to put Christ at the center of it to anchor us and pull us towards Him and each other. If it weren’t for Christ, I don’t know where we’d be. I am very thankful that both of Ian honored the commitment we made so long ago.

I wish you many blessings Valentines Day this year.

SB

Love 131 I may be able to speak the languages of human beings and even of angels, but if I have no love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a clanging bell. 2 I may have the gift of inspired preaching; I may have all knowledge and understand all secrets; I may have all the faith needed to move mountains—but if I have no love, I am nothing. 3 I may give away everything I have, and even give up my body to be burned—but if I have no love, this does me no good.4 Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; 5 love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; 6 love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. 7 Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail.8 Love is eternal. There are inspired messages, but they are temporary; there are gifts of speaking in strange tongues, but they will cease; there is knowledge, but it will pass. 9 For our gifts of knowledge and of inspired messages are only partial; 10 but when what is perfect comes, then what is partial will disappear.11 When I was a child, my speech, feelings, and thinking were all those of a child; now that I am an adult, I have no more use for childish ways. 12 What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror; then we shall see face-to-face. What I know now is only partial; then it will be complete—as complete as God’s knowledge of me.13 Meanwhile these three remain: faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:-13 | GNT

The widow maker

My cousins’ husband was a hard worker his whole life. He worked in construction and often did side jobs on the weekends. He was average height but built like a tank and very, very strong. His physical condition would have made even young guys jealous. Because he worked so hard, we were all surprised when he semi-retired. We couldn’t picture him not working. Of course, it didn’t last very long as he began doing some “part time” work which was basically full time.

Nothing surprised us more, however, than the day my cousin called to say he had a heart attack on his way to work. He had driven himself past one hospital and ended up at another, where he collapsed upon entering the doors. The hospital staff actually went outside to see which vehicle he came from, found the company truck and called them to track his family down.

The nickname for the heart attack he suffered is the Widow Maker, aptly named because not many survive. In fact, most die instantly. His heart stopped, and he was clinically dead for eight long minutes. He was Life-flighted from that hospital to one in town better equipped to handle his condition. He was defibrillated and brought back, but the doctors were not hopeful. He spent ten or so long days in Intensive Care in a medically induced coma. His organs began shutting down and he went into kidney failure. No one really thought he’d survive.

In his early life, he had made a profession of faith, proclaiming Jesus as his Savior. He had not, however, been faithful to the Lَife, and hadn’t stepped foot inside a church for years, perhaps decades. There he was, his life hanging in the balance.

Miraculously, God gave him a second chance, a chance that not everyone gets. We felt as if God gave him a second chance to make things right with him, and prayed for his full recovery both physically and spiritually. He did regain consciousness and had a long road ahead to rehabilitate his body. Because his kidneys failed, he had to have dialysis several times a week.

During that time, my kids, now driving, helped to bring him to and from his appointments. A shadow of his former self, but beyond thankful to be alive, he gave all the glory to Jesus, and renewed his faith and life to bring Him honor.

This summer will be three years since his heart attack. He enjoys his retirement by volunteering at soup kitchens (he is a wonderful cook) and Salvation Army and gives glory to God, the Father for his life. We are so very thankful and grateful that God chose to give him a second chance, Not only because we can spend more time with him on Earth, but because we can also spend eternity with him.

We don’t always get a second chance. Instead of taking that gamble, we can rest assured that we will spend eternity with the King by accepting Him as our Savior today. If you’d like to know more about how to do that, please contact me at sbjourneyforlife@gmail.com

Copyright Journey For Life 2018. All rights reserved

The biggest obstacle

Several months ago, I began working on a project that will bring to fruition a dream of mine borne about 8 years ago, in completely foreign territory for me .   Giddy with excitement at the prospect of the project being realized, but new to the process, I worked tirelessly to learn and follow all the steps the required.  In early November, I was provided with a proof of project to review for final edits. With the proof came instructions for documenting any required changes. There were multiple forms, one for each of the main sections of the project. X amount of edits were included in the price of the project, but above that cost extra. Completing the forms were tedious, which initially caused me stress but I worked through it. When I finished, I had X + 6 edits to make. Really? Six edits a live the limit and it’s going to cost me $ more. To boot, the one large change I wanted to make didn’t even fall into the sections for which there were forms, so I wasn’t sure how to communicate the change Most people would have simply asked. In my “comfortable” world, I would have, too.

What may have seemed like a normal move-forward step for most people found me stopped dead in my tracks. Instead of reaching out for help, I thought, “I must have an instruction here somewhere, I just need to go back and figure it out.”

For nearly six weeks, my project sat idle, not moving at all toward the finish line. One evening this week, I thought to myself, “I just need to do this”. I reviewed the forms I had completed so long ago and attached them in an email to my partner, explaining that I wasn’t sure how to document the one last change, and I wasn’t sure if the process of paying the extra $ for the changes above X. Early the next morning, he responded with the message that I would not be charged for 6 simple edits over the limit, and that he would take care of the other change as well, which I simply described in words in an email.

Really? As simple and quick as that, and I stressed about it for weeks??? Indeed, the biggest obstacle was me! I was paralyzed by the unknown.

As I reflected on my failure this week (one of many, by the way), I thought about Noah and his Ark project. I wondered if there were any points during his project where he became paralyzed by the unknown. It certainly didn’t seem like it from the account in the Bible, but, after all, Noah was human. Were there times where God had to remind him that He has called him to a task, and he would equip him to complete it?

Sometimes we all need a little push to get started or keep moving in the right direction. The Bible instructs is to encourage one another.

I am thankful to my family and friends who nudged me to keep my project going, and I’m hoping to be able to encourage someone else to keep going on their journey as well.

Journey well, my friends. Enjoy the ride

Blessings,

SB

I named her Betty….

Though she sits on my deck, seemingly lifeless, her flat tires and rusted wheels tell tales of miles spent traveling up and down the jersey shore boardwalks, looking for seashells to fill her basket; Stories of anticipation for young lovers with no other mode of transportation, journeying toward one another in the hot blazing summer, or sisters on their way to get ice cream.

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Betty and I first met through a chance encounter on Craigslist, where a nice, young man in a small, nearby town made a hobby out of restoring old bicycles and giving them to the neighborhood kids.  She was rusted  and dented, with two flat tires, but she brought happiness from the start.   Betty came home with me, and spent a few years under my deck while I decided exactly how she should be restored and brought to a new glory.  I dreamed of a basket on her front, filled with delicate flowers, and even purchased a beautiful hydrangea to use, but i failed to water enough, and it died.  I pinned many pictures of beach cruisers used in various ways to bring nostalgia to a vignette, but when I saw the beach cruiser  dressed in lights at the Garland Hotel in Pasadena while visiting to attend the Rose Bowl parade (similar to the one below), I knew what was in store for Betty.

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Though far from the beach, Betty has brought much joy this year, watching her expression change with varying amounts of snowfall as she chronicles our winter season.  With an ever-so-light dusting of snow, she wonders, “Is this it??  This is not so bad as I imagined.”

But then she exclaims, “Please stop!” as the snow continues to pile on her already weathered seat.  She wonders if her wheels will ever turn again, and remembers the days of her youth, gently gliding up and down boards similar to these, except not covered in snow.   She can hear the gentle surf in the distance of her mind as she settles back into her winter gloom, wondering when spring will come.

Alas, a break in the snow, and for a few days, even slight warmth, then rain, and snow again..

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Longingly, Betty thought about the salt air, and the sand beneath her tires, which were once voluptuously filled with air, and now lay lifeless beneath her.   It is not sand she feels, which warms in the sunlight of the summer air; indeed, the “sand” she feels now is cold and wet.

One day, Betty will once again feel the glory of the warm sunlight streaming on her weathered leather seat, but for now, she continues her journey, bringing joy to those who see her darling blue lights, and evergreen basket.

Thank you, Betty.

Copyright Journey-For-Life 2018.  All rights reserved.

New Years resolution flunky?

As January comes to a close, I wonder how many New Years resolutions are still being actively pursued. Oh, it isn’t that we don’t intend to give our best. In fact, I think, quite honestly, sometimes it’s the opposite. Sometimes in our initial zeal, we start out too aggressively, and pour everything we have into focusing on that resolution. While focus is normally a good thing, when combined with obsession, can lead to burnout. I have experienced this first hand.

My other observation, particularly with fitness goals, is this: the gym-rats art not always welcoming to the “newbies”. Even when I was a regular gym-goer as a new year began, I heard others make negative comments about new people invading their space, using “their” equipment, etc., as if it was a bad thing. I always thought we should be patting them on the back for making a healthy choice, and encouraging them to take it slow enough not to get burned out. After all, the Bible’s tells us to encourage one another, right?

In the past, when I’d become burned out on my venture, I’d simply give up, with an overwhelming feeling of failure that did little for my soul. Perhaps, instead of simply giving up, we should consider that new beginnings happen every day.

If you’re one of the zealous, New Years resolution flunkies, take heart! A new day is beginning, and a new month is about to start! So get ready! Pick yourself back up and let’s get going! I’ll be right there beside you to encourage you every step of the way!

 

Copyright 2018 Journey-For-Life    All Rights Reserved

The Horizon

Out on the horizon of a freshly fallen dawn

Stands a new beginning, willing to forget days gone

Eagerly He beckons, urging me to come

To face uncertain challenges that are confidently won

Majestically He draws a line, dividing dark and light

Promising new beginnings to all who see His might

As far as East is from the West

He casts our sin away

And in Him we can safely start

Our journey of new days

All Things New!

IMG_5047Many Happy New Year Wishes, my friends!   It’s a brisk, yet refreshing time-of-year when we have an opportunity to begin anew!   This week, the gyms will be over-crowded with people determined to begin reaching their fitness goals; the storage shops are full of people determined to get organized; the travel websites are visited by people intending to travel more this year; the financial sites are full of people looking to spend less and save more this year – all worthy goals.

Several years ago, as the calendar year before came to a close, I made a resolution to fix absolutely everything that was wrong in my life.   My resolution that year was to:  1) get in shape spiritually 2) get in shape physically 3) get in shape financially 4) fix every broken relationship in my life.   I was earnest in my desires – I really was!   And I started like gangbusters, spending at least an hour in the gym every day, an hour doing devotionals, time balancing my checkbook, and trying to reach out to improve every single relationship in my life.  Looking back at it now, it seems ridiculously pie-in-the-sky to make such unrealistic and unachievable goals, but at the time, I genuinely wanted to improve every area of my life!  It’s not an unworthy goal; just an unrealistic one.

Within about 6 weeks, I completely burned out on all of them.  I had to force myself to regroup and focus on ONE area while making smaller, incremental improvements in the other areas.  I didn’t STOP working other areas, but I found it was not very practical to make leaps-and-bounds improvements in EVERY area of life.

I focused first on my spiritual life and began to live my life more intentionally seeking God’s will and plan for my life.  As I did that, I found the other areas fell more into line with His teaching.  As I focused on Him, my compassion for others grew.   I continued to tithe; in fact, I increased my tithe, and He poured out blessings.  I began to budget in a way to make Dave Ramsey proud.  I eventually got my physical self into shape, but then became complacent and let myself go.  It’s time, once again, to get on the bandwagon; this time, a few years later, a few years wiser (hopefully); a few miles closer to Him.

What I learned since my last go-round – to bring God into EVERYTHING we do, putting Him first and allowing everything else to fall into place is certainly a much better recipe for success. He makes ALL THINGS NEW!