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

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.

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