Presence

In the stillness of the morning, before the world is awakened, I feel Your presence, Lord. Reflecting on answered prayer, and those still waiting, I praise You for all You’ve done. I thank you for who You are, and know that I am fully Yours. I pray that You will shape my will to what You want it to be; give me strength and courage to look for You in new ways, to show others who You are that they might seek and find what I have. Thank You for Your Presence.

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The widow maker

My cousins’ husband was a hard worker his whole life. He worked in construction and often did side jobs on the weekends. He was average height but built like a tank and very, very strong. His physical condition would have made even young guys jealous. Because he worked so hard, we were all surprised when he semi-retired. We couldn’t picture him not working. Of course, it didn’t last very long as he began doing some “part time” work which was basically full time.

Nothing surprised us more, however, than the day my cousin called to say he had a heart attack on his way to work. He had driven himself past one hospital and ended up at another, where he collapsed upon entering the doors. The hospital staff actually went outside to see which vehicle he came from, found the company truck and called them to track his family down.

The nickname for the heart attack he suffered is the Widow Maker, aptly named because not many survive. In fact, most die instantly. His heart stopped, and he was clinically dead for eight long minutes. He was Life-flighted from that hospital to one in town better equipped to handle his condition. He was defibrillated and brought back, but the doctors were not hopeful. He spent ten or so long days in Intensive Care in a medically induced coma. His organs began shutting down and he went into kidney failure. No one really thought he’d survive.

In his early life, he had made a profession of faith, proclaiming Jesus as his Savior. He had not, however, been faithful to the Lَife, and hadn’t stepped foot inside a church for years, perhaps decades. There he was, his life hanging in the balance.

Miraculously, God gave him a second chance, a chance that not everyone gets. We felt as if God gave him a second chance to make things right with him, and prayed for his full recovery both physically and spiritually. He did regain consciousness and had a long road ahead to rehabilitate his body. Because his kidneys failed, he had to have dialysis several times a week.

During that time, my kids, now driving, helped to bring him to and from his appointments. A shadow of his former self, but beyond thankful to be alive, he gave all the glory to Jesus, and renewed his faith and life to bring Him honor.

This summer will be three years since his heart attack. He enjoys his retirement by volunteering at soup kitchens (he is a wonderful cook) and Salvation Army and gives glory to God, the Father for his life. We are so very thankful and grateful that God chose to give him a second chance, Not only because we can spend more time with him on Earth, but because we can also spend eternity with him.

We don’t always get a second chance. Instead of taking that gamble, we can rest assured that we will spend eternity with the King by accepting Him as our Savior today. If you’d like to know more about how to do that, please contact me at sbjourneyforlife@gmail.com

Copyright Journey For Life 2018. All rights reserved

The biggest obstacle

Several months ago, I began working on a project that will bring to fruition a dream of mine borne about 8 years ago, in completely foreign territory for me .   Giddy with excitement at the prospect of the project being realized, but new to the process, I worked tirelessly to learn and follow all the steps the required.  In early November, I was provided with a proof of project to review for final edits. With the proof came instructions for documenting any required changes. There were multiple forms, one for each of the main sections of the project. X amount of edits were included in the price of the project, but above that cost extra. Completing the forms were tedious, which initially caused me stress but I worked through it. When I finished, I had X + 6 edits to make. Really? Six edits a live the limit and it’s going to cost me $ more. To boot, the one large change I wanted to make didn’t even fall into the sections for which there were forms, so I wasn’t sure how to communicate the change Most people would have simply asked. In my “comfortable” world, I would have, too.

What may have seemed like a normal move-forward step for most people found me stopped dead in my tracks. Instead of reaching out for help, I thought, “I must have an instruction here somewhere, I just need to go back and figure it out.”

For nearly six weeks, my project sat idle, not moving at all toward the finish line. One evening this week, I thought to myself, “I just need to do this”. I reviewed the forms I had completed so long ago and attached them in an email to my partner, explaining that I wasn’t sure how to document the one last change, and I wasn’t sure if the process of paying the extra $ for the changes above X. Early the next morning, he responded with the message that I would not be charged for 6 simple edits over the limit, and that he would take care of the other change as well, which I simply described in words in an email.

Really? As simple and quick as that, and I stressed about it for weeks??? Indeed, the biggest obstacle was me! I was paralyzed by the unknown.

As I reflected on my failure this week (one of many, by the way), I thought about Noah and his Ark project. I wondered if there were any points during his project where he became paralyzed by the unknown. It certainly didn’t seem like it from the account in the Bible, but, after all, Noah was human. Were there times where God had to remind him that He has called him to a task, and he would equip him to complete it?

Sometimes we all need a little push to get started or keep moving in the right direction. The Bible instructs is to encourage one another.

I am thankful to my family and friends who nudged me to keep my project going, and I’m hoping to be able to encourage someone else to keep going on their journey as well.

Journey well, my friends. Enjoy the ride

Blessings,

SB

I named her Betty….

Though she sits on my deck, seemingly lifeless, her flat tires and rusted wheels tell tales of miles spent traveling up and down the jersey shore boardwalks, looking for seashells to fill her basket; Stories of anticipation for young lovers with no other mode of transportation, journeying toward one another in the hot blazing summer, or sisters on their way to get ice cream.

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Betty and I first met through a chance encounter on Craigslist, where a nice, young man in a small, nearby town made a hobby out of restoring old bicycles and giving them to the neighborhood kids.  She was rusted  and dented, with two flat tires, but she brought happiness from the start.   Betty came home with me, and spent a few years under my deck while I decided exactly how she should be restored and brought to a new glory.  I dreamed of a basket on her front, filled with delicate flowers, and even purchased a beautiful hydrangea to use, but i failed to water enough, and it died.  I pinned many pictures of beach cruisers used in various ways to bring nostalgia to a vignette, but when I saw the beach cruiser  dressed in lights at the Garland Hotel in Pasadena while visiting to attend the Rose Bowl parade (similar to the one below), I knew what was in store for Betty.

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Though far from the beach, Betty has brought much joy this year, watching her expression change with varying amounts of snowfall as she chronicles our winter season.  With an ever-so-light dusting of snow, she wonders, “Is this it??  This is not so bad as I imagined.”

But then she exclaims, “Please stop!” as the snow continues to pile on her already weathered seat.  She wonders if her wheels will ever turn again, and remembers the days of her youth, gently gliding up and down boards similar to these, except not covered in snow.   She can hear the gentle surf in the distance of her mind as she settles back into her winter gloom, wondering when spring will come.

Alas, a break in the snow, and for a few days, even slight warmth, then rain, and snow again..

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Longingly, Betty thought about the salt air, and the sand beneath her tires, which were once voluptuously filled with air, and now lay lifeless beneath her.   It is not sand she feels, which warms in the sunlight of the summer air; indeed, the “sand” she feels now is cold and wet.

One day, Betty will once again feel the glory of the warm sunlight streaming on her weathered leather seat, but for now, she continues her journey, bringing joy to those who see her darling blue lights, and evergreen basket.

Thank you, Betty.

Copyright Journey-For-Life 2018.  All rights reserved.

Make good choices.. Love, Mom

After a brief text exchange with my college son last night regarding various recent events in his life, he replied, “I’m making good choices, mom”.

When our children are young, we make their choices for them, but as they begin to grow up, they need to begin making choices of their own so that we can help to teach them the difference between good choices and bad choices. We’ve all made bad choices, and so will they. It’s funny, though, how our perspective changes once we are the parent. The truth is, we don’t like to see our kids make choices hat we know will lead them through heartache because we know it will be painful. Worse yet, they could make a choice from which is hard (or impossible) to recover.

When the time comes for them to be completely independent (which, although sad in some ways, IS what we want for our children) I want them to be prepared to think through the consequences of all of their decisions. One method I have used is this admonition: MAKE GOOD CHOICES.

Life is all about choices. I have seen people make some very, very good choices in life, and I have seen people make some very, very bad choices. For every choice car we make, there are consequences. If we are forward thinking enough, we can think about what tho consequences might be given choice A or B, which may help guide us to the best choice. Ultimately I know my children will own their own choices, both big and small. Who to marry, field of employment, place to live, church to attend. I want to equip them with all of the tools to make the very best decisions. But how do we do that?

1. Teach them to think and seek advice from wise people.

The Bible is full of wise advice, as well as examples of good and bad choices. Life, too, is full of good and bad choices. It’s important to talk with our kids about choices we see others make, and point out alternate choices that could have been made to affect different outcomes. This process will help develop critical think skills essential in making good decisions.

Finding other people who can be trusted with choices is also important as we teach our children; people other than their parents who they can trust (face it, when our kids are working hard to prove their independence they may not seek our advice).

2. Let them fail. (This is hard)

This advice is hard to execute because we want our children to have everything better than we did. If we can teach them to own the consequences of their choices in the smaller, seemingly insignificant choices , they will be better equipped to own the big ones too. As we’re teaching them, it is important to refrain from the dreaded, “I told you so” responses that do nothing for building healthy relationships. Let them discover, on their own, consequences from negative choices. Again, this helps build their own decision making process.

3. Love them

Most importantly, continue to love them and keep open relationship, even if the choices they make are different than those you would have made. This step is particularly difficult if their choices are poor, but even more important in this case. Our kids have got to know they always have someone who will help them in time of need.

4. Model itWhether we like to admit or not, our kids follow our lead; the good as well as the bad. For this reason, it is equally important for us to model the lessons we are trying to teach. MAKE GOOD CHOICES.

copyright 2018 Journey-For-Life. All rights reserved

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New Years resolution flunky?

As January comes to a close, I wonder how many New Years resolutions are still being actively pursued. Oh, it isn’t that we don’t intend to give our best. In fact, I think, quite honestly, sometimes it’s the opposite. Sometimes in our initial zeal, we start out too aggressively, and pour everything we have into focusing on that resolution. While focus is normally a good thing, when combined with obsession, can lead to burnout. I have experienced this first hand.

My other observation, particularly with fitness goals, is this: the gym-rats art not always welcoming to the “newbies”. Even when I was a regular gym-goer as a new year began, I heard others make negative comments about new people invading their space, using “their” equipment, etc., as if it was a bad thing. I always thought we should be patting them on the back for making a healthy choice, and encouraging them to take it slow enough not to get burned out. After all, the Bible’s tells us to encourage one another, right?

In the past, when I’d become burned out on my venture, I’d simply give up, with an overwhelming feeling of failure that did little for my soul. Perhaps, instead of simply giving up, we should consider that new beginnings happen every day.

If you’re one of the zealous, New Years resolution flunkies, take heart! A new day is beginning, and a new month is about to start! So get ready! Pick yourself back up and let’s get going! I’ll be right there beside you to encourage you every step of the way!

 

Copyright 2018 Journey-For-Life    All Rights Reserved

The Horizon

Out on the horizon of a freshly fallen dawn

Stands a new beginning, willing to forget days gone

Eagerly He beckons, urging me to come

To face uncertain challenges that are confidently won

Majestically He draws a line, dividing dark and light

Promising new beginnings to all who see His might

As far as East is from the West

He casts our sin away

And in Him we can safely start

Our journey of new days