Grace notes

1.Praise the Lord, my soul;all my inmost being, praise his holy name.2 Praise the Lord, my soul,and forget not all his benefits—3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Psalms 103:-5 | NIV

I’ve shared with you my dream of starting a coffee shop/music studio where musicians can learn their skills and share it? I know I’ve talked about my big dreams, but can’t remember if I ever shared the details.

It started over 10 years ago while I was playing keyboard for a band made up of young adults from my church. They asked me to play keys for them and I saw it as an opportunity to mentor them. One night we were playing in a building that had been a bar but was purchased by a local youth group to be a hangout for their students. As soon as I walked in, a seed was planted in my mind that I’d love to do something similar. My mind is always focused on coffee, so naturally I went straight to “coffee shop”

I began to pray earnestly about it, excited to do the work of the Father. I felt strongly that He had planted the seed and felt positive I was “all in” for Jesus. As I prayed, I felt like God said to me, “fix your home “. I knew God was saying I couldn’t move forward on that dream until I dealt with some issues in my life.

“My home”…. my heart… needed some work. It had become hard in some areas of my life that I hadn’t fully surrendered to God. The problem was I had no idea how to fix my home. But I knew I had to before God would honor my dream (the one I felt strongly He gave me)

In desperation, I cried out to God and told Him I had no idea how to do that. I had to rely on Him to fix it.

I started to journal my ideas of coffee shop but didn’t share the idea with anyone for a while. I was afraid people would think it was a dumb idea. Every once in a while, a new idea would pop into my head and I’d write it on my journal. I began to work on “my home” and got serious about my relationship with Jesus. I began to really read my Bible, and really pay attention in church, working in the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit within me. I devoted my time to being a youth leader at our church, mentoring youth. Still there were areas of my life I hadn’t fully surrendered.

My kids began taking music lessons, and when they did, a flood of new ideas came to mind, which I sketched in my journal. I would excitedly read over what I’d kept in my journal thinking, “someday”.

At my job, I continued to take on more responsibility in management, and worked with my team to establish vision mission statements and develop strong teams. I’d put my journal back on the shelf and the “coffee shop” idea away. Still there was one glaring area of my life I hadn’t surrendered to Jesus… my marriage.

I don’t want to share all of the details here yet, but suffice to say there was a lot of pain and hurt in that area of my life, and my heart was extremely broken. I wanted something that I felt could never be, and so had shut myself off from feeling, mostly out of self preservation.

In 2010-11 time frame, I wrote a book called Masquerade. In it, I described the life of a middle aged musician who had masked bouts with depression over her lifetime of serving the Lord. It was essentially my story. It sat on my computers hard drive for several years

In 2012, my husband was hurt at work and required multiple surgeries on his spine. His spinal cord was being crushed as a result of compressed discs. Of course, as his wife, I stood by his side while the doctors said they weren’t sure if he’d walk, let alone work again. Our three kids were taking music lessons which cost about a car payment every month. The weight of the financial responsibilities of our life were heavy despite the job I’d been blessed with.

I thought about what I could do to help and remembered I had taught piano lessons during college for extra money. There was a family in my church who had asked for years if I’d teach their daughter but I had always said I was too busy. I decided I’d teach on Monday evenings in my home and began to advertise. Turns out their daughter was now into hockey and no longer wanted lessons. But there were a few others so I began to teach.

Over the next year or so, I added students and filled up my Mondays and Tuesdays with lessons. God began to soften my heart toward my husband. I hadn’t really thought about teaching as part of my coffee shop but as I taught more and more, I found I loved it! I began to pray and ask God to show me if that was part of His plan. He sent more and more students my way.

Humbly one night of revelation, I asked God if teaching music was part of the plan to show me and help me adjust the dream to what He wanted and not what I wanted. More and more students came my way. In the fall of 2017, I was teaching 27 students in my home five nights a week, in addition to my full time job.

It was also in 2017 that I felt a prompting from God once again… “are you willing to share your story?” I didn’t really have a story, I thought, but I did have this book on my hard drive. Long story short, I went through the process of publishing the book. New to the publishing process, I learned a lot all by the way. I just before the final step, I felt a prompting to remove a chapter so I did. The book was published in March of 2018.

One night as I was driving home late, the words “grace notes” popped into my head. A musical term, true, but the word GRACE… unmerited favor… wow. I sketched it in my journal and dreamed of a day I’d have a place to have an event called Grace Notes, where people could gather to sing worship songs and pray.

All this while, since first inception of idea, I was casually looking at commercial property, a place to put a “coffee shop”. As the idea evolved, I looked for property that had “studio rooms”. There were periods of tenderness in my heart and marriage and glimmers of hope that we’d someday have the true partnership i desired.

Incredibly, And the details of which I’ll save for another time, God brought that partnership into being, but not in the way I would have expected. He brought a building into being and I remain convinced the way in which it happened could have only been orchestrated by God.

About three weeks ago or so, I felt as if God printed me once again… this time to ask if I’d still trust Him when things got tough. I truly had no idea what I was in store for when I said YES.

The past three weeks have proven to be the greatest trial I’ve ever faced. I’m surrounded by friends who are praying faithfully, and doing my best to surrender everything to God, knowing in my head that His timing and His plan is perfect. I’m trying my best to not try to force my ideas on His plan. I’m in the midst of some heavy battle right now, my friends

I’d like to tell myself it’s because the devil knows Gods plan is big and will further His kingdom and he’s working extra hard to stop it. I have been incredibly filled with doubt that I have mistaken all of it because of selfish pride. I truly don’t want that to be the case. I am here today to lay everything down at the Fathers feet and ask Him to make things right in my heart so that He would be glorified.

I would like to humbly ask you to be praying for me as I work toward starting “Grace Notes” in the building He’s provided, praying that by the Grace of Gods, He will restore what needs to be restored.

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Unmerited favor

My friends, I’ve been in a dark place. I share that with the risk that there are some who will try to hurt me, but with the courage that comes from knowing a gracious and loving Father, who loves me unconditionally. I have once again allowed the devil to infiltrate my thoughts and plant seeds of doubt in what was once confidence grounded by my faith in Jesus.

I am so very thankful for that still small voice of God that whispers, “are you still trusting me?” With that confidence, I am able to begin to let go of all the thoughts dragging me down.

I am and will be forever burdened by those who need to know a loving Father…. the one who cries out, “I just want to be loved” in the middle of a crisis, the one who can’t seem to pull themselves out of the pit they made for themselves, the one who desperately needs to feel significant, who has made a wreck of their life, I just want them to know Jesus loves them, forgives them, will help them, if only they will let Him.

I have learned this lesson so many times that one might think I would never forget, but I find myself picking up my heavy burdens and dragging them with me, while Jesus is saying all the while, “give it to me”

Im giving it to Him today. Fully. Claiming victory through Jesus. I may need to remind myself of this (and am so thankful to those who have been praying for me and already reminding me!)

God loves us just as we are, but too much to leave us there. Full surrender to the Lordship of Christ in all areas of our life… our pain, our sorrow, or addictions, our perverseness, our relationships, our shortcomings. We’ve got to allow Him to do His work in us.

Once again I’m finding myself in a place where, with Gods help, I can pick myself back up, dust myself off and claim victory in Jesus.

May all I have be used for His glory alone. May others see Christ in me. Forgive me, Lord, when I fall, but give me the grace to stand again in Your Holy Name, no matter what others do.

Be blessed today. Life is indeed a journey.

SB

Heartsick

Goodness, it’s been an emotionally draining week. As if the issues with my friend weren’t enough, Late Saturday afternoon silence was interrupted by an Amber Alert for a toddler gone missing from a neighboring town.

Yesterday, the investigation uncovered that the father had sold the baby for $10,000 and today, her body was found not too far from my town.

My heart is truly broken for the evil that exists. I’m sure the details are yet to be disclosed and I’m not sure if I even want to know.

Dear Jesus, You can’t come back soon enough.

Heartsick,

SB

Perspectives

Sometimes we get our perspectives bent out of shape because we’re focused on the wrong thing and we need an adjustment in our view to help pull us out of the muck. God will use various means to bring this about. The focus needs to be on God.

I got this change in perspective tonight. I’ve been so worried about my friend, and, to be sure, for good reason. And I’ve wanted so much for them to get better that I felt like it was my fight to fight. I think I’ve been doing pretty well with it, actually.

Tonight there was a split second moment (my friend knows which moment) where I was able to just release it all to God… all of it… every aspect of it… God knows all of the details and how it will all work out and there is no need for me to spend precious time worrying about it. Pray, yes, worry over.

The other perspective adjustment I had was regarding judgement. I’ve typically tried not to judge the actions of other people, because I know how many mistakes I’ve made in my life. However, I think because of the judgment I received from my friends’ family members, I am particularly sensitive to it right now; humbled to never want to judge what someone has done, but only wanting to support them as they grow.

It all belongs to the Lord. I’ve done my praying… and believe me, I’ve spent countless hours in prayer and truly love my prayer time. But tonight, I was able to truly let it go and give it to God.

Thankful, Lord, for the change in perspective you brought tonight.

I cannot force anyone to come to the cross… I cannot force anyone to take care of themselves, I cannot force anyone to change. I can only lay it before the Lord and ask His will be done.

I was asked tonight if I cried. I hadn’t. To be honest, I rarely cry. I think my tears were all dried up in my teen years when I felt sorry for myself for losing my dad to cancer. Life is tough. Sometimes ya just have to put your big girl pants on and deal with it.

I’m thankful for God, who continues to give me new perspectives.

Be blessed today, my friends and try a new perspective.

SB

My David’s prayer

Dear God,

My heart is hurting tonight. My soul is aching for Your love and grace. I’ve believed Your hand has been upon me, and I’ve felt Your presence. Be real to me now, Lord, I am Yours and I’m hurting.

Here I am in Your presence, bowing before You, asking you to cleanse me, heal me, use me. I love You and have always wanted to do Your will.

Make all that is within me right in Your sight. Help me to love as You love. Protect me from the Enemy. Help me to stand strong in You. In my weakness, make me strong for Your glory. Give me wisdom and discernment and help me to follow Your ways, now and always.

Still standing…

Hello, my dear friends. I mentioned a few posts ago that I felt a prompting from God a couple of weeks ago that asked me very clearly if I would still trust Him when it got really tough. I remember thinking, “oh boy, what am I in for?” But in my heart, I answered, “yes, Lord. I’ve trusted where You’ve led me this far, I will trust you when it gets really tough…”

Without sharing too much detail, I will share that a very close friend has experienced tremendous medical trials over the past two weeks, and, to be honest, spiritual attacks from all around have been coming my way and theirs. To say it’s been tough is the mildest understatement of the year. I have clung to those who love me for support, including, most importantly, my Lord and Savior. I’ve tried to be the best friend I could be, giving the doctors and their family members whatever information I could to try to help the situation, trying to keep their family members up to date with status.

One of the most surprising attacks I experienced was from one of my friends’ family members, who professes to be a Christian. They were nasty and rude to my face multiple times and sent various texts to me berating my character. I’ve chosen not to respond to them, with the exception of one reply to their message that my friends’ spiritual well-being was their primary concern. My reply was that it was my primary concern as well, which they followed up with more haughty nastiness.

When my friend first became ill, knowing this person professes to be a Christian, I thought it would make sense to gather together in unity to pray for my friend. Previous to these weeks, I had the utmost respect for this person, and had even hoped we could all become friends. I know that the Devil hates unity among Christians, and have no doubt this is part of the spiritual attack. I know deep down that they are hurting too, but I refuse to allow their insults thwart my friendship.

The reply I would have liked to send them, I’ll share with you all, my friends. Knowing they don’t follow my blog, they should never see it, though to be honest, it is as honest as I would be to their face. I just know that if I respond at all, they will just continue to find ways to twist my words or insult my character, and it just isn’t worth it. There is something cathartic about writing and sharing my reply with those I trust. Please feel free to tell me if you feel My answer does not honor God.

“With all due respect, you don’t know me or my story. You don’t know the path I’ve walked, either in sin or toward redemption. You don’t know my heart. Your opinion of me matters not to me. The only opinion that matters to me is that of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and I can confidently say that I am secure in my relationship with Him. I choose to follow where He leads not matter what, and I will continue to support my friend while they rebuild their health and their own relationship with Jesus. Your judgement of me only makes you look like a Pharisee.”

I’m working very hard to take the high road. I’ve seen their true character and they are not “my people”.

Over the past two weeks I have been so comforted by so many scripture verses that I read and shared with my friend. Today, driving home from the airport, after a week-long business trip, parts of Psalm 23 came to mind:

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou are with me, Thy rod and they staff, they comfort me.”

“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies. Thou anointed my head with oil; my cup runner over”

My friends, be true. True to yourself and to God. Be kind. Do no repay evil with evil and turn the other cheek.

… and if you wouldn’t mind, please keep my friend and me in your prayers.

Be blessed,

SB

The story is not over

Lord, I am so very grateful for your grace. I am so very grateful for your mercy, and I will live every day proclaiming your goodness.

Help me to shine Your light for others to see, a beacon for them to see You.

I am trusting You to bring goodness out of the ashes. You alone are worthy of our praise, and of all the glory.

The story is still being written… and I am forever grateful to be a part of it.

In Your Holy and Precious name I pray,

Amen!