Labeled

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” FALSE

In an ironic twist, the very platforms that were launched to give everyone a voice have created the very place where opinions are like bellybuttons, and when mine isn’t like yours, you can berate me for it. Social media bullying has replaced social graces and tolerance, in the very name of tolerance itself. The world of social media is an ugly, ugly place.

Those who know me well know that one of my joys in life is seeing other people develop to come “out of their shell” and reach their full potential. I’m about helping others achieve whatever their goals and dreams are… and sometimes in the process, they need a little push…. not over a cliff, but sometimes out of their comfort zone. I do it, not because I think there’s anything wrong with them being in their comfort zone, but because I’ve discovered that sometimes, when we take a leap outside of it, we discover a whole new world, a whole new perspective and whole new experiences that we’d have never known had we just stayed inside our box. It is exhilarating to me to watch people discover they had the ability to do things they never thought possible.

I take very literally the scripture where a Jesus says, “I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly” and feel it’s part of my mission in life to help others achieve abundant life.

I also come about this mission quite naturally because, in my young life, I was very much governed by “victim” mentality, having lost my father to cancer early in my life. From age 8 to about 22, I felt very sorry for myself and allowed that loss to affect all areas of my life. I didn’t walk around talking about it, but had sunk so deep in depression that I was truly unable to pull myself out of the mud. In hindsight, I would actually say my depression caused by that loss had truly disabled me from even wanting to achieve anything.

By Gods grace, He truly picked me out of the muck and mire and put a passion in me to a) recognize this characteristic in other people b) encourage them that they, too, can be pulled out of the muck and mire. In both my professional career as an engineering manager and director of music studio, and in my personal life as a youth leader for our youth group, I seek to pull people out of their “victim” and to “victory” through Gods grace, and to achieve what they never knew was possoble. My passion is fueled because I can so clearly see what I was and what I’ve become, through Christ alone… it is not a change I could have made on my own. I was truly headed for self destruction… and God literally came after me like the Shepherd goes after the one lost sheep.

All of this is backdrop for an incident that occurred online that truly has me very upset, mostly because I felt it was an unfair attack on my character.

One of the groups I belong to on social media is for online music teachers, a support group and a “safe” place where teachers can ask for advice and feedback from others. It’s been a great resource, especially during Covid where so many lessons have gone from face to face to online in many cases. Questions range from technical setup to teaching techniques to business questions, and everything in between. The creator of the group seems wonderfully caring and encouraging to the teaching community.

The other day, a teacher posted a question asking how to deal with a student who refused to count outloud and, as a result, could not play the correct rhythm. In my studio, when teaching students rhythm, I require them to count outloud, even if they are shy or awkward about it. (It’s actually one of the techniques I use to help people come out of their shell). As an aside, my personal experience with rhythm probably exacerbated my passion for correct rhythm. My first two piano teachers never really stressed good rhythm with me. As a result, my rhythm was terrible… until I auditioned to take lessons (yes, I had to audition to be accepted as a student) with a professor at Duquesne University. He told me my rhythm was terrible (and he didn’t mince words!) and essentially demanded that I learn it correctly. I rose to the challenge, and have committed that I will always do my best to teach students what I wasn’t taught by my first two teachers.

Other teachers responded in similar fashion, that they would force students to count loud, but one of the teachers apparently did not like my response and lashed out at me (but not the other teachers who said they required outloud counting) and said my rigid ways were “SUPER, SUPER albeist”

Ableism is the discrimination of and social prejudice against people with disabilities based on the belief that typical abilities are superior. At its heart, ableism is rooted in the assumption that disabled people require ‘fixing’ and defines people by their disability.

Can I just say here that I’m honestly sick to death of the people who think every comment is a social prejudice of some sort? My goodness… I truly feel as though we’ve become a victim society!

That said, I will admit that her unfair label of me is bothersome… my initial response truly was anger and resentment. Who did she think she was calling me an albeist!? And then my reaction was to recoil, and all sorts of thoughts of self doubt came through my mind, as if it was telling me she’s right and that I’ve never really helped anyone at all, so why keep trying? I’ve lived this pattern before… it’s theme is all through the book Masquerade and I believe it’s a lie Satan would have us believe to render us ineffective.

I think about the outcasts I knew from school, the kids who sat by themselves at lunchtime, the ones who had no friends and were picked on… I wonder if they ever figured out that they are more valuable than the label someone put on them unfairly because they didn’t understand their past, or their true personality, or their true motives.

I know not everyone in my life will love me, or even like me for that matter, but this week was a reminder of how important it is to treat others with respect. I will not apologize for trying to help someone achieve what they didn’t think possible. I will apologize for hurting someone’s feelings, which is something I would never intentionally do. I will try my best to not label someone unfairly, and I will forgive those who have done so unto me, that I might be able to grow instead of recoil. … most importantly, I will continue to help other people grow in whatever way I can as that is a passion that truly fuels my spirit. I will seek to understand what makes them.

As I contemplated leaving the group, I reached out to its founder to thank him for everything he’s done to create a support group for online teachers and wished him well. He asked what happened and I shared with him. He immediately responded with a video message saying unfortunately sometimes aren’t ready to accept that they need help or need to change something …that perhaps at a later point they will realize the wisdom in the help offered… and that perhaps my comments helped someone else who needed to hear them. He encouraged me to keep being who I am.

May we please continue to learn from one another instead of tearing each other down. May we continue to evolve and grow and encourage others to do the same in a loving way. I pray God will give me grace to give to others when I need to give it, but continue to allow God to develop others and me into who He intended is to be, that’d we’d love the abundant life He intended us to have.

Be blessed today, my friends. If you’ve made it this far in my post today, I congratulate you! Forgive the rant… it’s been weighing heavy on my heart. I am forever grateful for those who pushed me out of my comfort zone to achieve what I never thought possible. Had it not been for them, I would still be the insecure wallflower that I was all those years ago.

SB

Dreamland

Off I go to dreamland.. Sleep, sleep,

Stress weighs heavy upon my conscience after tense and moving day, ever conscious of pending deadlines, marked by highest levels of anxiety among those with whom I work, in a world where simple things seem increasingly difficult.

I pray tonight my dreams take me to places far away, to escape the intense reality of the world that has become my norm, replacing angxt and deadlines with creative freedom, ever exploring silliness and fun

Off I go to dreamland, praying God speak through my dreams, guiding and directing next step. I lay my burdens at His feet and ask Him to envelop me in His Goodness, cradle me in His arms, giving me the mental rest He knows I need

Be blessed, my friends, be blessed

SB

Sustain

Oh Lord, my God… sustain me when I cannot sustain myself… when Ive grown weary of the tasks before me and cannot feel your presence, revive me.

Father God in Heaven, I give you today… I ask that You fill me with Your spirit. Go before me to all the places I have to go, that Your spirit will pave a path of peace… for the tasks that lie ahead, I pray Your wisdom to indwell, remove obstacles. I pray for cooperation among teammates, grace among friends and love across neighbors.

In Your Holy name I pray

Amen

SB

Love and compassion

So many things to pray about this morning in my quiet time. Above all, today, my heart is stirred with compassion for a hurting world. A world that has forgotten how to care for people… ironic as it seems, in a world filled with “mandates” intended for saving people, we’ve forgotten how to treat one another.

Hurting people hurt people.

They do.

My prayer today goes out to all the hurting people, searching for peace in a cold and cruel world. May they find the only true peace that comes from our Savior, Jesus Christ. May He use His warriors to reach a lost soul today, to bring another Home.

Be blessed today, my friends

SB

In my darkest hour

There was Jesus

You may have heard the song by Dolly Pardon and Zach Williams… if not, click the link above.

I’m not sure I can pinpoint one specific dark hour of my life… there are many to choose from… there are a few that stand out in my mind… now that I’ve found His light, I’ve rewritten some of those dark memories from a different perspective… my perspective was limited, and only focused on what was happening to me… God, in His infinite wisdom and omnipresence has the best perspective… the one that shows Him overlooking the scene and bringing what’s happening to me with what’s happening to someone else… and another someone else… and another someone else… and He is tying things together and bringing things together like only He can.

If you’re in a dark and lonely place right now, I’d like to encourage you to hold on… whether you feel it or not, Jesus is right beside you… and He will work all things together for good for those who love Him… trust that.

Be blessed today, my friends!

SB

Every time I try to make it on my own
Every time I try to stand,

I start to fall
And all those lonely roads that I have traveled on
There was Jesus

When the life I built came crashing to the ground
When the friends I had were nowhere to be found
I couldn’t see it then but I can see it now
There was Jesus

In the waiting, in the searching
In the healing, in the hurting
Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces
Every minute, every moment
Where I’ve been or where I’m going
Even when I didn’t know it
Or couldn’t see it
There was Jesus

For this man who needs amazing kind of grace (mm-hmm)
For forgiveness and a price I couldn’t pay (mm-hmm, mm-hmm)
I’m not perfect so I thank God every day
There was Jesus
There was Jesus

In the waiting, in the searching
In the healing, in the hurting
Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces
Every minute, every moment
Where I’ve been or where I’m going
Even when I didn’t know it
Or couldn’t see it

There was Jesus
On the mountains
In the valleys
There was Jesus
In the shadows
Of the alleys

There was Jesus
In the fire, in the flood
There was Jesus
Always is and always was, oh No

I never walk alone
Never walk alone
You’re always there

In the waiting, in the searching
In the healing, in the hurting
Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces
Every minute, every moment
Where I’ve been or where I’m going
Even when I didn’t know it
Or couldn’t see it
There was JesusThere was Jesus
There was Jesus
There was Jesus

Grace, not race

“The problem is sin…not skin.

The answer is grace…not race.

We are all equal and we all live under the same sky…despite what the hateful media wants to you to believe to stay in fear and tuned in.”

The above post appeared in my Facebook feed this morning, from a friend I’ve known since high school.

Every day, i amazed by Gods grace. As I allow Gods spirit to fill me up, I find His grace spills over toward others. May this always be so… may His love flow so freely through me that I can love whose who don’t see the world through the same lens as me.

I’ve honestly never felt racist in my life… never even considered the color of someone’s skin to be a significant part of what defines them as a person… red and yellow, black and white, they are ALL precious in His sight.

I am truly saddened by the people who have made war out of skin color – I dare say even people who may never have thought about skin color difference before.

The truth is, we’ve ALL sinned and fall short of His glory. And need His grace in our lives. It has nothing to do with what race we are and everything to do with the sin that separates us from God. Without His grace, we will fall prey to what the receiver wants us to believe… his divisive ways are tearing us up and he loves it.

I am praying for revival in our country, for the grace of God and the Peace of Christ will change hardened hearts. I His holy name I pray, amen

SB

Army

7 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with him. 8 With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah king of Judah. 2 Chronicles 32:7-8

22 So the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all his enemies, and he provided for them on every side. 23 And many brought gifts to the Lord to Jerusalem and precious things to Hezekiah king of Judah, so that he was exalted in the sight of all nations from that time onward.

In my early morning devotions, I’ve been learning about the Kings of Israel… some of whom did evil in the sight of the Lord and some did good in the sight of the Lord. Hezekiah did right in the eyes of the Lord. Yes interestingly, in the verses between the two quotes above, people tried to convince those in Hezekiahs charge that he did not have the favor of the Lord and that people should not listen to Hezekiah… they painted him as a bad king… yet the Lord prevailed and delivered Israel out of the hands of Sennacherib…. because Hezekiah humbled himself and obeyed the Lord.

I am increasingly fascinated by the Old Testament… and the parallels of history repeating itself. If ever there was a time to humble yourself before the lord and ask Him to fight our battle, it is now. Be it a personal battle, or a local, national, or global battle, the fight belongs to the Lord.

As I live my life, I am also increasingly aware of the battle the Lord is fighting for me… battles that have already been won as well as battles still waging… and even those not started yet. As I face each battle, I know, without a doubt, I am in the Lord’s army… He is raising up warriors through His might alone… and I will forever trust Him.

If you are fighting a battle today, humble yourself in the sight of the Lord… seek His will first and foremost, and trust Him with the battle.

Be blessed today, my friends!

SB

Broken things.

Things that are broken stay broken until Someone fixes them.

Think about that. I read that on someone’s Facebook wall the other day.

Objects, Relationships, hearts, societies, ideologies…. if broken, stay broken until someone fixes them.

We live in a world of brokenness, and it will stay broken until someone fixes it. Here in the US, we are in full swing election season, with candidates promising to “fix” a broken world… but the truth is… the only one who can fix any of it is Jesus.

Last weekend, my husband and I visited the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. While there, we stayed in a fairly upscale hotel. In the middle of the night, we awoke to blood curdling screams from neighboring room where a domestic altercation of some sort was occurring. Brokenness. Police and ambulance services arrived shortly after to address the carnage… brokenness

As I walked through the Rock museum, looking at memorabilia, reading song lyrics sketched in notebooks, I saw brokenness….

In the early morning, as I complete my devotion and prayer time, considering the needs and relationships all around me… I see brokenness.

The broken things will stay broken until Someone fixes them….

As I pray this morning, I am asking God Almighty to restore the broken things… repair broken relationships and hearts, repair broken societies and ideologies, repair the broken minds and spirits. Restore them, Lord, and use them to bring Glory to Your name. Let the scars be a reminder of Your healing, but let Your healing be transforming to bring others to saving faith in You In Your Holy and precious name, I pray.

Be blessed today, my friends. Let not your brokenness keep you from reaching for Jesus as He alone can bring your healing

SB

Blurred

In a discussion thread on Facebook the other day (or month), I expressed my view of the Restrictions imposed by Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf during the Coronavirus “Lockdown” as not being in the best OVERALL well-being of the commonwealth…. if you’re from PA, you understand the yo-yo restrictions that apply to certain businesses but not others… (even if you’re not from PA, you may be aware as I understand he has made national news with his dictatorial edicts) and I commented that, even to the most casual observer, one could not help it feel he really seems more about destroying the economy, largely made up of small businesses than he does about protecting the overall well-being of the state. As you might imagine, this was a hornets nest of political ranting on both sides of that mask argument, which, oddly enough, wasn’t even mentioned in my post. The most vocal of empaths retorted that she could not understand why he would want to hurt small businesses in his state.

Here’s a thought. Small businesses are less likely to contribute millions and multimillions to campaign funds….. but the big corporations, who seem to have very few restrictions, are contributing heavily to campaign funds.

Does it seem crazy to you… inconceivable that a person could become so corrupt as to be “bought” by the political game or financial status? Could politics have so corrupted a persons values that they would stoop so low as to deliberately sabotage those in their charge?

The devil is divisive… seeks to divide. Seeks to destroy. Is it not conceivable that he would use power and love of money to divide? To cause enmity and strife among leaders? citizens?

I have my political views, and honestly try to keep them to myself, especially on social media. This was one of few posts I made wondering outloud whether the cabinet company he formerly owned might still be profitable while other Pennsylvania small businesses suffer. That post, and the argument that ensued, led to being defreiended by a very liberal acquaintance who vehemently disagreed with comments others made on my post. Because she knows I’m a Christian, she took the opportunity to broadbrush comments made by my people on my post as “all you Christians”…. bad name, etc…

On the surface, I could care less that she defriended me. In fact, others who witnessed the social media storm that day have said “good ridence”. However, the one soft spot I have is that I know from her posts that she has been burned by the church and has resentment toward God and his people. I had always hoped to be a conduit to His grace and forgivenesses for her…

I find myself among Christians who are fired up about the political arguments and rightly believe that Christians can it simply stand idol and allow our freedoms (including our religious freedoms) simpler be taken away. I am grateful for their zeal and applaud their efforts.

For me, the hill to die on is that of continuing to bring the name of Jesus to a dark world. I completely understand the argument that if we don’t stand up and fight these issues, our very Greeks that allow us to talk about Jesus might disappear. I also see a church thriving in places like China and the Middle East where people have no religious freedoms.

I’ve thought long and hard about this… I have friends on both sides of the political fence, and I don’t want to alienate any of them. For me, it is far more important that they see Jesus in me than they share my political views. I would much rather try to show the love of Jesus than to argue my point just to try to sway them to my way of thinking. I pray that God would guide my words to bring healing and not division.

I certainly don’t have all the answers… in fact very few… but I know this. I know that I am called to love Gods people, no matter their political affiliation or tendencies, and continue to shine my light into a dark world.

My heart truly breaks for the divisions that I see in people I love all around me. My prayer today is that our blurred vision is cleared by the One who can overcome the divide.

It is in His Holy Name I pray,

Be blessed today, my friends

SB