dichotomy

In previous posts, I’ve mentioned the odd dichotomy that occurs when both blessing and curse happen nearly simultaneously.  For me, as a parent, one of those occasions occurred between April 8 and April 9, 2014.  It’s a dichotomy that I still struggle to wrap my head around despite knowing that God has and will continue to use these events to shape everyone involved.

My then-16-year old daughter played defense on the high school lacrosse team.  Their practices ran from 8 – 10 pm every night, and she’d come home and work diligently on her homework.  The oldest of three, she’s always been a self-starter, hard worker, and an overall excellent student.  She never liked to miss school (unlike her mother, who may have skipped school a time or thirty!).  Her even-tempered nature made her likable, and by all accounts, she was a pretty good kid.  Except on April 8, 2014.  I don’t know what kind of wicked temper overcame her personality late that night after lacrosse practice when she was working on a homework assignment that she apparently despised, but she became like the little girl in the movie, Exorcist.   Sometime after 11 pm that evening, after angrily slamming her school notebooks down on the floor and storming around the house, I calmly said to her, “Go to bed.”   I had had enough of the attitude and just wanted her out of my sight for a while.   The ensuing argument left me bewildered, wondering if this was what everyone complained about “teenage” years – a phenomenon that we had not yet experienced.

“I CAN’T go to bed!” she exclaimed!  “I HAVE to finish this homework!!!!”

To be honest, at that point, I could have cared less if she took a zero on the assignment, but as a type-A honor student, she had always been hell-bent on getting every point she possibly could, and extra credit when possible.   I offered what I thought was a reasonable solution.  “Go to bed, and get some rest.  Stay home from school tomorrow and finish the assignment.”

“I CAN’T miss school tomorrow!  I have a Lacrosse game on Thursday and if I’m not there tomorrow, I can’t practice!  and if I can’t practice, I can’t play in the game!!!”    She was angry like I had never seen before in her entire life.   I offered another solution:  “Go to bed  – work on it in the morning – you can go in late.  What’s the latest that you can go in and not be considered absent for the day?”

She seemed to settle with this suggestion, we agreed she’d get up in the morning and finish and I’d take her to school late.   With that, she went off to bed and I went to make a cup of tea to calm my nerves.

My son, a fifteen year-old freshmen at the time, was very good-natured and empathetic, and genuinely cares about people.  He had asked me if I could take him to school early the next morning.  Our youth group was getting ready for a spring retreat and he wanted to ask a friend of his to come.  He had taken some flyers for the event and wanted to pass them out before school began.

On the morning of April 9, 2014, we got up early.  I ordered three books on Amazon: The Art of Loving One Another, Building Up One Another, and Encouraging On Another (books I had selected as part of my self-development).  We left early for school as my son requested.  We prayed for his day, as we had done every day for the previous ten years.  We said an extra prayer for his friends – specifically the one he’d been praying for to come to the youth retreat.

A short time later, we learned of an incident that occurred at the school that morning where a student stabbed 21 people with two 8 inch kitchen knives.  (for the details, please see previous posts:

The Blood That was spilled)

(Keep ‘em Safe in the Hallways)

I naively called my boss that morning to let him know I’d be late to work because of an incident at the school.  As I texted the rest of my direct staff to let them know I’d be late, I learned the incident had already made national news.  Still, I didn’t quite have the presence of mind to contact family members who might learn of the events.  Quite honestly, I think in hindsight that I may have been somewhat in a state of shock.

We received calls from the school district informing us what to do to retrieve our kids.  Of course, because my son was considered a “witness” to the event, he needed to stay at school to make a statement to the FBI.   It was hours before the non-witness kids came home from school, even longer before I could get my son.  I remember pulling up to the school, being directed by police where to park, where to enter, and where I could wait for my son to be interviewed.  I was ushered to a classroom to wait with other parents, similarly dazed and very somber, were waiting for their kids.  Occasionally, as a student was reunited with their parents, the room would break out into tears, but was otherwise relatively quiet as each person tried to comprehend what had happened.

It well after noon when my son and I returned home.  By that time, our house was filled with teenagers who had come over to decompress with one another.  Our youth pastor called to see if I’d help plan a service for our kids that night – he felt they would need some time to be with one another in the presence of God.  We got together to plan the service, which, at the time, was intended to be for our own youth group.  Little did we know that hundreds and hundreds of people would pack our church – including CNN and other large news networks.  Again, we prayed for the victims and sang songs to help us feel the presence of God in the face of the evil that had just occurred, everyone still trying to fully grasp the magnitude.

In the days that followed, I spent countless hours hanging out with our teens – driving them from hospital to hospital visiting their friends who had been stabbed.  Miraculously, none of the victims died, although some of their injuries were life altering and very touch-and-go for a while.  At various points, I found myself alone with my son, who was working very hard to process everything.  He said to me, “mom, I saw things that day that I can never un-see.  I heard things that day that I can never un-hear”   and I knew he was right.  He grew up in a heartbeat that day.   On one hand, I was incredibly proud that his Godly leadership allowed him to bless others with prayer that day – on the other hand, I was incredibly sorry for what he and his classmates had experienced.

The dichotomy for me, as a parent, comes in knowing full well that God had somehow allowed my daughter’s immature behavior the night before to keep her from being present.  I know full well that if she had been, she would have been beside her boyfriend, and could possibly have been stabbed herself.   Ironically, however, I know that if I hadn’t taken my son to school early that day, he would not have been there.  For me to reconcile that God prevented one child from being there while seemingly delivered the other child to be there to face evil is something I don’t think I’ll ever understand on this side of Heaven.  I have seen first hand how this event has shaped both of my children’s lives (as well as those of their friends who also experienced it first hand), and know well enough that God will use all of it for His glory somehow; however, the duplexity of the blessed curse or cursed blessing will haunt me for years to come.

Mostly blessed (sometimes cursed  ;-)),

SB

copyright Journey For Life 2019.  All rights reserved.

 

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Fix your home

Ten years ago – or more – an idea popped into my head– an idea to build a business that would honor God. I was super pumped about the idea and was sure God would be, too. In fact, I was sure the idea was His. I prayed about it, expecting God to show me the details. What I heard was the inaudible yet unmistakable voice of God say, “fix your home”. Almost as if I didn’t believe my ears, I prayed again, this time telling God that I was on fire for Him and wanted to spread His love across the world. Again I heard, “fix your home”.

Friends, I’ve got to be honest. I know how to fix a lot of things. Being an engineer, I’ve come up with creative was to fix all kinds of problems. But my home? My home was a wreck at that point of my life. Truthfully.

Six years prior to that argument with God, I had made a very deliberate decision to stop feeling. The decision was made out of self preservation, a defense mechanism to protect my heart. My heart had been trampled so many times, I was tired of hurting and was in a very, very dark place.

Just prior to that decision, I began to reach toward Jesus to help me out of my depths of despair, which, at its worst, included thoughts of suicide. Over the course of a couple of years, God truly reached down and rescued me, and I was living for Him in most areas of my life. I was not only attending church and Bible studies, but I was serving Him in music ministry.

Still one of the areas of my life I found difficult to surrender to Him was my home. In truth, I had tried to submit my home to Him years before, but for reasons I don’t want to share yet, that part of my life wasn’t on the table for God to have.

I didn’t realize it was actually possible to turn feelings off, but I learned it was. It worked remarkably well actually until the moment God said, “fix you home”.  I had no idea how to do that. I felt like I had surrendered all other areas of my life to God, but He wanted this one. My heart was so cold and dead I couldn’t even pray for my husband.

Needless to say, God and I were at an impass. I knew that He wouldn’t honor my wishes until I obeyed his command. I had to lay my home before his feet and ask Him to do it for me… not even help because I truly didn’t know where to begin, but just ask Him to do it.  It was a process for sure.

Often, I think, we rely on ourselves to change things, but God works best when we get out of the way of ourselves and turn our hot mess completely over to Him. In the case of my home, I knew I couldn’t fix it. It was broken far beyond what I could repair. Interestingly, it was probably As much about changing my heart as it was changing my husbands. It was definitely not instantaneous. There were additional heartbreaks that God allowed in our life to begin to soften us (see my post: Applegate Miracle)  I will also tell you it isn’t done. I can tell you, though, the place where I stand today is much different than that muddy pit I stood in all those years ago. I can honestly say that I love him and am confident he loves me. I will also confess that the path has not been a straight one; a crooked one filled with potholes and wrong turns, but I am learning to trust That God makes all things beautiful in His time. We will celebrate 24 years married (33 total together) this summer, and I’m thankful neither of us gave up.

Once again, i learned it was about full surrender to a God who loves me and wants what’s best for me.

I am a recovering control freak (can’t think of another name for it, but I feel like I need to know the details and plans). For those of you in recovery you know that sometimes life is about one day or one hour at a time. For this hour (maybe not the next, though), I am content to rest in His plan. He has brought me this far, He will bring me home.

Philippians 1:6, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Be blessed today, my friends.

Humbly waiting for the fulfillment of His plan in me,

SB

Copyright 2019 Journey For Life. All rights reserved

Wait expectantly…

Psalm 5:3

In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. (NIV)

For Christmas, I received a very cool gift from our youth pastor, for whom I have the pleasure of serving in minisrry. It was a 5×7 picture frame with a custom made word picture, using our names and words he specifically used to describe our characteristics. He made on of these for each of his leaders, and took the time to make each and every one unique, and as he gave them out, he explained his thought on each one

The background of mine is a beautiful, snow covered mountain range because he said I have “faith to move mountains”. Adjectives like “determined”, “crazy about Jesus”, “genuine”, “invest in the next generation”, “music”, “beast piano player” decorate the landscape around my name. In addition to the descriptors hand selected by Alec, the verse Psalm 5:3 appears across the front of the picture. He selected this scripture because he felt it describes my life and relationship with God-and my faith that He will deliver.

You may remember a few months ago, I met a man in recovery looking for guidance and publishing his amazing story of deliverance. Every so often, he’ll text me a scripture verse as a reminder that God is with us. On the morning after I received this gift, the scripture he texted me was, Psalm 5:3.

I texted back a picture of the frame I received, along with the verse. He said, “coincidence? Or Godincidence? God is speaking to you.”

Is God speaking to you today? Has He done something radical lately to truly capture your attention? Don’t ignore it. Listen to his beckoning. Seek Him with all your heart. Follow His lead. He’s looking for your full surrender, every room in your house.

In the confidence of Psalm 5:3, this morning I lay my requests and my heart at Jesus’ feet. I’m praying radical prayers of healing today, physical, emotional, spiritual, relational. Confident in His answers.

Be blessed, my friends!

Copyright 2019. Journey for life. All rights reserved

Wait…

Psalm 130

As I settle into this notion of “word of the year”, you all know that the word that has been weighing on me is “WAIT”.    I want to chose a word that will make me grow.

Waiting for God’s perfect plan and perfect timing sounds so idyllic.  The truth is, it’s extremely difficult, and if I’m gut-level honest, I’m terrible at it (which is one of the reasons I believe WAIT will be a good word for my year).   I’d like to understand His plan.  I’d like to understand why He allows certain things to happen, and others not to happen, and why certain people are in our lives and while others have left.  Sometimes I even feel like God owes me (arrogant, I know, and I don’t mean to be, but I’m being truthful). The truth is, He neither owes me a glimpse of that future, nor does he owe me my desires (particularly if they don’t align with His).

In my HEAD, I know and believe Romans 8:28, (“For I know that all things work together for good for those who are in Christ Jesus and are called according to His Promise”), but in my heart, sometimes I’m broken and can’t seem to reconcile the present with what I want the future to be.

This is how I was feeling late last week, while reflecting on recent life events, and I had allowed the darkness to shadow my thinking.   On Saturday morning, while on the treadmill, I got a text from one of my prayer warrior friends that simply said, “I’m praying for you today”.   I’m awed by how God knows what we need when we need it most.  After I finished my workout, I texted her back and, without going into detail, shared that I was struggling with waiting for God to show me something.  I told her that I know in my head He’s teaching me something in the process, but was frustrated with the WAIT.  I told her that I know He’s not my “Genie” but that I feel like I’ve been “delighting myself in Him” and was ready for the “desires of my heart” knowing full well I was being selfish.  She responded by telling me that she understood completely and has been there before and will likely be there again. She said, “when I feel that way, I pray that God would align the desires of my heart and take away any desires I have that are not from Him.”   Good advice.  Hard  to do because we want our desires.

Throughout the day Saturday I kept mulling over a verse that seemed to pop up out of no where. “3 The LORD gives perfect peace to those whose faith is firm.4 So always trust the LORD because he is for ever our mighty rock.”

Isaiah 26:3-4 | CEV

Interestingly enough, Sunday morning sermon was about knowing Gods will for our life.

I’d like to share some of my notes if you don’t mind, because they had such an impact on me (yes, I take notes). They weren’t my words, or even that of out Pastor, but directly from God to my ears.

Psalm 32:8 ” I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go, I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Do not be like the horse or mule, which have no understanding, but must be controlled with bit and bridle or they will not come to you.”

This verse speaks clearly to me that God wants to show us His will for our lives, but we must be open to hearing it, nor stubborn like a mule or an unbroken horse. This is where it got real for me… when the pastor talked about how sometimes we want what we want because we want it and not necessarily because it’s Gods plan. That’s our stubbornness wanting God to bless our desires. I can sometimes see this stubbornness in others – who say they want to become a disciple of Jesus, but don’t really seem to be seeking His will or trying to learn about Him.  But sometimes I can’t see the stubbornness in myself – the stubbornness that wants things to be the way I want them to be.

The second verse that we discussed:

Matthew 16:24-27,”whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world but forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the son of man is going to come with His Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done”.

When we let go of our selfish wants, denying our selfish wants and open ourselves to what He wants to do in our lives, then and only then are we prepared to hear His will for our lives. Sometimes we aren’t ready to let go, and we miss the blessing.

In a previous post I mentioned I’d share one time in my life where I was able to fully surrender to Gods will. It was my first job out of college. I’d been there for about 18 months and hated it. I couldn’t stand my boss, who was the owner of the company, nor any of the associates. I started looking for a job and, being an engineer, thought it should be easy to find a new one. After three months of looking, I was frustrated. I took myself to lunch one day and wrestled with God over my plight. At some point in my silent tirade, I decided to lay all of it at His feet. I remember praying and asking God to forgive me for being selfish, and that if there was a reason He wanted me to stay in that job, I was willing to stay. Exactly 4 days later, I was visiting a customer when the director of operations mentioned they were looking for an engineer. I happened to have a resume on me so I handed it to him. He interviewed me and offered me a job on the spot. I started the following Monday. I realized in that moment that it wasn’t about the job specifically, but about me being willing to submit to Gods will… and guess what? He gave me the desires of my heart. God was waiting for me to align my will with His.

My friend keeps telling me I don’t need to have all the answers. I am working on letting go and just allowing life to be. Trying to learn to Rest in God and allow Him to sort through my thoughts.  Curious to know how you all handle this?  Are you better at it than I am?  any words of wisdom for me?

Listening all the while for Gods whispers….

Be blessed, my friends

SB

Copyright 2019 journey for life. All rights reserved

The Word – naming my year

Since my lunch with Sue, I’ve been pondering the perfect word to name my year. In all honesty, in my personal and spiritual life, I feel as though I am waiting expectantly for something to happen – it’s been that way for about the past year. I’ve posted several times about expecting miracles, waiting for God to unleash blessings, etc. As I reflect on this expectation, words like “await”, “anticipate”, “listen” (as in listening for God’s direction) come to my mind.

If we’re honest, most of us loathe waiting. It’s particularly frustrating waiting for something outside our control. Many years ago, a family member was laid off from his job. He had a friend who was a judge, who had apparently told this person he’d help him find a job. To my shock and amazement, this family member waited several years for his friend to come through, instead of actively seeking new employment on his own. I was in my early 20’s at the time, and even then, was dumbfounded and frustrated at his passivity. To be honest, I sort of lost respect for him to a certain degree.

Several years ago, I was put into a new role within my company. To be honest, it wasn’t a role I desired, and for the first year of that role, clashed with my manager. In the fall of that year, I attended a conference with our youth pastor and several other leaders within our church. During that conference, for which I had taken vacation time, my boss was particularly bothersome, calling or texting me daily for updates on projects, etc. Exasperated, I said to our pastor, “I’m done. I’m updating my resume and changing jobs as soon as I get home”. He looked at me and said matter-of-factly, “Why don’t you stay where you are until God calls you to something else?”

I stood and looked at him, bewildered. I had never really waited for God to direct me to anything. Somehow, despite growing up a shy and awkward introvert, I had somehow developed a sense of “take-charge-itiveness” that somewhat defined me, both professionally and personally. Looking back on it, I am confident that God’s had was on me the whole time, but I hadn’t yet learned the art of truly “waiting on him”. Every job change I had made, every activity I was involved in, every relationship I developed had been a result of decisions I had made (with one exception that I’ll share in the future).

His statement stopped me dead and caused me to self-reflect my responsibility to learn to wait for God. Isaiah 40:31 says, “but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint”

Learning to wait on God has been a process for me. If I’m honest, I’m still not good at it. However, I truly believe I am in a season of waiting – waiting with pregnant expectation of God’s blessing. I shall not wait passively like my family member, however. In waiting, I will continue to prepare my heart and my life, tuning my listening ear toward God, actively pursuing Him.

Still pondering the right word, but the “wait” is weighing in heavily.

Stay blessed, my friends!

Copyright 2019 Journey For Life. All rights reserved

Renner – Runner – surviving spiritual attack

Before last week, I hadn’t heard of Rick Renner – but in a few moments that I took a dust-cloth to my family room to dust, he happened to be on the TV that my mother was watching. She’d not heard of him before, either, but was watching a program before he came on. As I dusted, I was momentarily awestruck by some of the words I heard him saying, so much so I stopped in my tracks.

I’be long lived my life expecting God to do miracles and wanting to live to please Him. You may remember posts earlier this year where I expressed I was praying some Jericho sizes prayers and expecting miracles.

Recently, I’ve experienced God moving in my life in strange but beautiful ways, and, admittedly, at first, I wondered if it was God at all. As I reflect on my prayers of late, I am more and more convinced that God is truly preparing to do some wonderful things in the lives of people He’s blessed me with. Because I know the Devil doesn’t like it, I’m trying my best to pay particular attention to His guidance, and this message particularly spoke to me. We WILL survive the battle…. and the war.

Take a listen and decide for yourself

Be blessed today, my friends

Surviving spiritual battle

Blessings,

SB

Listening

I hear You, Lord,

In the still, night, air

I feel You, Lord,

You’re everywhere

Fill me with your Presence, Lord,

Let me drink it in

Let Your Spirit dwell in me,

Rescue me from sin.

I am listening, Lord,

For Your voice so small,

Show me, Lord,

Reveal it all.

Light the path You’d have me take

Give me courage for Your sake

I’m listening, Lord,

For Your voice so small,

Show me, Lord,

Reveal it all.

Copyright Journey For Life 2019. All rights reserved.