Joe

I recently took a new position with the company I’ve worked for years and have moved back into a building I worked in years ago, into the office vacated by a friend of mine.  Every afternoon around 3 pm, the housekeeping man comes to empty my garbage.  Joe, who is in his eighties, has worked there for years, too, and everyone knows and loves him.  I hadn’t seen him for a long time, while I was working in a different area of the business, but have seen him faithfully for the past several weeks right around 3 pm.

Last week, when he entered my office to reach for the garbage can, he seemed a little sad. I asked him if he was alright, and he shared with me that his wife of 60+ years  had recently passed away.  He broke down in tears and I told him how sorry I was. He said he was sorry he cried, and I assured him it was perfectly ok – it is ok to have good and bad days.  I asked him the secret to his 60+ year marriage and he sat down in my chair to tell me that the years just flew by – he had married his best friend.  We had a few moments together and I assured him that I’d be praying for him as he grieved.

He told me his wife’s birthday was coming up, as well as their anniversary, and I knew those would be hard days.  Then he told me he had family coming in from all over the country to celebrate with him and remember her.  He was excited about the party they would have – 150 guests – mostly family, gathering around him to support him in his and their time of loss.

Today when he came in, I told him I thought he might be taking the day off to get ready for the party.  He chuckled and said he needed to come to work to get some peace and quiet, since family started coming in a few days ago.  He smiled and shared that he and his grand-kids lit paper lanterns the other night, in memory of his wife. He talked about the food they were preparing, and the fact that he’s passed recipes down to his son to pass on to his kids.  He said he hoped he hadn’t bored me.  I assured him he had not.

I will be thinking about Joe and his family this weekend as they mourn their loss and celebrate a wildly successful marriage to a wonderful woman who has blessed me vicariously through her husband.  I am thrilled that he has the support of so many family members who love him dearly.

May we all be as blessed,

SB

Advertisements

Wednesday What If….

A pastor friend of mine posts a “Wednesday what if” on his Facebook page every week – typically a question meant to stir vigorous debate… he always ends his post with “be kind”.  Most times, people are respectful as they share their opinions, but sometimes it gets ugly, even among Christians.  (Who’d have thunk?)

A couple Wednesday’s ago, his question was centered around using music in church that was written/composed by someone who later renounced their faith or had some other moral failure.  The examples he used were Horatio Spafford’s beloved hymn, “It is Well”, and Michael Grungor’s “Beautiful Things”.     Spafford apparently started an end-time cult toward the end of his life, and Grungor renounced his faith in Jesus Christ after he and his wife experienced turmoil in their life. 

People shared their strong opinions on both sides of the fence, but my favorite response was this:   “we should only use the songs given to us by God in the Psalms”.

I literally laughed out loud when I read it because, of course, the Psalms were written by King David, who lived a holy and blameless life….   not. 

If there’s a character of the bible that I love more than Peter, it’s David. He certainly made a mess of things in his life, but God still calls him a man after His own heart.  If the account of King David and the Psalms that he wrote do nothing else, they should give us all hope that, even when we mess up, God still loves us.  The Psalms are full of the anguish that David felt when he faced struggles in life.

As you all know, this past month has been one of a brutal spiritual battle for me. I’ve known with my head that God is with me…. that I belong to Him and that nobody or no thing can ever snatch me away from Him…  but that doesn’t mean everything will always be great. In fact, the Bible is clear that “in this world there will be trouble”.   Sometimes that trouble we bring on ourselves by choices and decisions we make; and sometimes that trouble is brought on by things outside of our control.  

I have agonized over my faith in the past couple of weeks, in my very darkest of dark when I felt as though God wasn’t hearing me, or worse, not responding because I had done something wrong.  I have felt guilty when my faith wasn’t stronger, but cried out to God in complete and utter exhaustion when I finally realized the entire situation was WAY bigger than I could handle on my own… in fact, I couldn’t handle ANY of it on my own, and had to surrender everything I am to God. 

I feel as though I’ve had a glimpse into David’s anguish…   and a am very comforted by the book of Psalms… comforted to know that even men after God’s own heart struggled with some of the same things I struggle with…  and felt the anguish that I feel when we’re waiting for God to answer prayer.

By the way, my opinion on the matter of the songs from people who’ve messed up in life…  if God inspired their writing in the first place, He can still use it for His glory, perhaps even to bring the lost sheep back to the fold. God is still in the miracle business..

Be blessed today, my friends,

SB 

Bridge notes…. losing the battle

Some days are just tough. Yesterday was one of them. In the middle of this storm season I’m in, there are days when my head is above the water… and days I feel as though I’m 6 feet under the water. Yesterday was a “beneath the water” day…

I literally could not focus on anything, but was consumed by grief over a situation with another Christian who has been incredibly ugly – mutual friends (pastoral friends) offered to mediate in Christ, though seem to have a bent toward the other side already, leaving me feeling somewhat betrayed. 

Satan knows just where to hit me when I’m weak – for me, it’s depression and despair – and I could not shake myself out of it.   I reached out to a core group of friends with a desperate text saying simply, “I’m losing the battle today”.

Almost immediately, they all responded in love that they were praying for me and that God has my back.  It wasn’t instantaneous, but within about an hour, I felt a peace come over me that allowed me to focus my attention where it needed to be focused to get my work done. 

It is imperative to have people you can reach out to during a storm who will give you encouragement.  There are times when you can be the encourager, and times when you need the encouragement.   Pastor’s sermon on Sunday was about the fact that we are not here on Earth to do life alone – we have been placed here to be a bridge for one another. 

… in that moment, when all we can focus on is writing a note before taking the bridge…  we need people who can stand in the gap…    

you need those people

I need those people

you can be that people

I can be that people

be blessed today, my friends,

the struggle is real – don’t go it alone

SB

Affirmation…Lionart

For the past twelve years, I’ve had this idea in my head to open what I called a “coffee shop”. The idea originated during a time I mentored a young band of musicians rom my church. I’d always felt it was an idea planted by God but it sat dormant for years, peaking out only every once in a while to be tweaked. It evolved from coffee shop to coffee house to studio for music and art lessons. I shared this idea with only a few close friends that I knew wouldn’t think I was crazy. One of them was my dear friend, Lu..

A couple of years ago, I found a building that I thought would have been perfect for both coffee shop and studio. I sent a text to my friend, Lu, and asked if he thought I was crazy. He responded with a text that said, “you are a lion chaser” and suggested I read a book by Mark Batterson called In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day.

I read it and fell in love with Mark’s writing, and have since read every book he’s ever published. He talks a lot about chasing God sized dreams and allowing God to show His power by working miracles like only He can do.

Several months ago, I stumbled on a Painting of a lion on the Facebook market place and I thought it would be perfect for my studio someday. I contacted the seller only to find out someone else had purchased it. I started searching for others and, although I did find some, none ever really struck me the same way.

On a Sunday In June, as we were packing up our vans to head out on our NYC missions trip, a good friend from church (who is also an artist), was taking to a man from our church who owns a printing company. He had a tube with him and showed it to Art. They talked for a few minutes and Art went in to the church since the service was about to begin. Seconds later, he came back outside and walked up to me and said, “I felt prompted by God to come and show this to you. I’m not sure why”

He unrolled the scroll and it was a magnificent print of a lion that he had painted years before. Immediately my eyes welled up with tears and I told him about my experience with In a Pit. His eyes welled up with tears and he told me his love for Mark Batterson’s work as well. We talked about my studio idea (as I had shared it with him in bits and pieces over the years).

Last night, he came to my studio Grand Opening early to bring this gift that he made for me. With Godbumps and tears in his eyes, he told me he he felt the Holy Spirit tell him that this studio is of God, that he himself has been praying for something similar since the 1980’s… and that all those years ago, God placed on his heart to start a company called “Lionart”.

I shared with my dear friend, Art, some of the spiritual battle I’ve been facing since closing on the studio, and he stood there and prayed over me, and the studio, and all the wonderful work that God is about to do.

I can’t even begin to tell you how much that and all of the other affirmations I’ve received this week have meant to me. During a week when my faith has been tested like never before, God is faithful to keep giving me chances to believe His hand is still on me, and He will not abandon.

My God shall supply all my needs. I am in the process of getting back up after being knocked to the ground. God is with me. His Name will prevail

Be blessed today, my friends

SB

Rescue

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYR0xP1j4PY&feature=share

Last week, I discovered this song and sent it to my dear friend, who is in a tragic situation right now. I sent it as an SOS to him to let him know God would rescue him.

Last night, my youth pastor played this song as preparation for his message to our kids, and I heard it as a message to me personally.

Over the past few weeks, I have tried desperately to be an advocate for my friend and business partner, who is going through some things I’d never imagined possible. Because of our friendship and business arrangement, I am intertwined in all of it, and experiencing tremendous spiritual warfare which has, admittedly, rocked my faith to the core.

Oh, I believe with my head that God is powerful and can do anything He wants. For a long time, I have been building my faith and have even been told by others that my faith is very strong. Over the past year, God has opened doors of opportunity that only He could open. I know all of this, and when He asked me if I’d still trust Him when things got “really bad”, I said yes, somehow knowing my faith was about to be tested but not realizing I would struggle to pass that test.

On our way to youth group last night, I confessed to my daughter that I was struggling. I’ve always been open and honest with my kids and I apologized to her for allowing her to see that my faith wasn’t strong enough to know that, although I can’t see a way out of the current mess, I need to be confident that God DOES have a plan.

In my doubt, I asked God to show me a sign that validates The path I had taken —the one I believed so fervently was His plan — was, in fact His. To be honest, I feel a bit guilty to have even asked God for that sign, but I did. I got a phone call last night from a perspective student for our business – the woman was thrilled to hear about our business and signed her daughter up for lessons! As I listened to her voicemail on our way to church, tears began to flow and I shared with my daughter my guilt that God has shown me a sign despite my lack of faith in Him.

I’d love to tell you my complete faith has been restored and that I am standing as confidently as Daniel in the Lions den, but that would be false. As real as I can be with you, I share that I am working on it, having moments of confidence amidst many of fear, thankful for some close friends who are praying me through this, telling me that God will not only be my business partner’s advocate but mine.

I do know that God loves me despite my imperfections, and I know He has a plan.

Praying fervently in Him,

SB

In the storm

Desperate for peace this morning, I am reminded once again that God asked me if I’d trust Him when it’s “really bad”. I didn’t know what “really bad” meant but I knew I was in for something.

Just when I think it can’t get worse, it does. Our pastors sermon on Sunday was about how Satan is in the battle even though he knows he lost the war and he will fight for every soul he can get before defeat, so we need to be ready for that.

As I’ve mentored students, I’ve told them the importance of memorizing scripture so God can bring it to our minds when we’re in the storm. Today, as I was praying for the entire mess that I’m in right now, I was reminded of scripture “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight”.

I am so very thankful for the friends and family God has given, who are rallying around me in prayer. They are upholding me in my weakness.

I don’t know what the future holds and I’m trying to be wise and faithful to God, holding on to the knowledge that I belong to Him and He will see me through. He has already provided so much in so many ways that were so incredible they could have only come through Him.

I know with my head He will come through but it’s so hard when you’re in the storm to see.

Love you, God. Trusting You when it’s really bad

SB

 

 

Trusting and being tested

About a year ago I subscribed to a daily Bible study ap, but haven’t utilized it regularly. Oh it isn’t that I haven’t spent time in study and daily prayer but I was probably not as regular as I should be. I can honestly say, though, I’ve spent most waking moments in the last 3 weeks in a perpetual state of prayer, though not study

Genesis 12-13.

The study was about Abram being called by God to be blessed so that he would bless others. It was also about how God tested him to see if his faith was strong enough. Abram initially failed that test and God gave him an opportunity to make things right.

About a month ago, I felt Godbask if I’d still trust Him when things got really bad. This, after closing on the studio I’ve prayed about for years.. this, when good things are starting to happen. A test of my faith. I am trying to pass this test, but it is certainly a doosey!

God, give me strength where I am weak. Forgive my weak faith and restore me to You in every way.

God, I am Yours. I am asking for a miracle in my friends’ life. I strongly feel You provides his partnership to the studio as a blessing to me so that we would bless others. He has professed his love for You. I pray earnestly that You would restore his health completely that he would live to bless others with the story of what You’ve done in his life so that he would bless others.

I’m asking You to intercede on his behalf and breath new life into him. Protect him from any who would wish to harm him until he can be strong in You.

Forgive me where I’ve doubted You are with me. Give me courage where I have fear. Give me strength where I have weakness. Let our studio be a blessing to others to show them Your love.

Trusting you in the waves, Lord.

SB