Retrouvaille – a rediscovery

In my book, Masquerade, I recount, through fictional characters, the suicide of my neighbor, who left behind two precious children, just eight and ten years old.  The youngest, a beautiful girl named Lindsay, stole my heart.  When I still lived at home, I gave her piano lessons.  We invited her to make Christmas candy with us.  After my husband and I were married, we have her over to our house to do special things like make cookies, carve pumpkins, etc.

At some point, her father decided to move to Florida, and took the kids with him.  I tried so desperately to keep in touch with her – this was before cell phones and social media were really a thing, so I used to buy calling cards for her and send them to her so that she could call me “long distance” any time she wanted.  She never did.  I was never sure if the cards I sent even made it to her.  My heart was broken not knowing how life turned out for her.

As social media grew in popularity, I would search and search for her – she has a very common name, and I could find many of them, but never her. I even sent messages to a few, hoping they could confirm the identify to no avail.

On Tuesday evening, after my mom read my book, we talked about Lindsay. Ironically, just last week, my mom was going through some old pictures and came across pictures of Lindsay with her mother, and mentioned how she would love to be able to give Lindsay a copy of it – perhaps she didn’t have any pictures of her mother.

In the quietness of the evening, I thought I would try to google her again – after all, it had been several years since I had tried.  Low and behold, a Facebook profile picture popped up on my screen and took my breath away!  She’s beautiful!  I sent her a message to connect, and she responded right away, confirming that it was her!  My heart was overwhelmed with joy and I began to cry.  I was so thrilled to learn she’s doing well.

God is so faithful to the prayers that we have, even when we don’t realize it.   I have prayed for Lindsay and her brother for years and years and years, praying for a time we could be reconnected so that I would know how her life has turned out.  I am so grateful for a loving God who gives us the desires of our hearts.  Despite the difficult things we face in life, He is always there to help guide us.

We may face oppression in our lives, and there may be times when we feel like giving up, but I am here to encourage you today…. NEVER GIVE UP!  This is the reason that Masquerade was published – to share that message with hope to those who may not feel it today.

If you’ve already ordered a copy of Masquerade, I thank you with all of my heart, and pray that you will be blessed by its message.  If you haven’t ordered yet, you can order your copy here:

Order Masquerade Here!

Thank you, Jesus, for the wonderful answers to prayers – the ones you’ve already answered as well as the ones you will answer in the future.

Blessings,

SB

Copyright 2018 Journey For Life – All rights reserved.

 

 

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Thinly Veiled

Where to begin….

Yesterday, when I got home from work, a package for me was sitting on the ottoman in my family room.  When I opened it,  real-live paperback version of the book that was published was sitting in my hands.  As I mentioned, I’ve seen the cover 1,000 times, but to touch it and flip through the pages was a righteous moment for me… and then I thought, “what if my mom see’s it?”    LOL (40-something years old and afraid of what my mother will think – can anyone relate?)    I mean, really, she doesn’t yet know anything about it… in the book, through fictional characters, I have laid out some of the most painful memories of my life… what if she reads it and judges me?  what if she’s angry that I’ve publicly admitted my weaknesses?   Could I hide it from her forever?   Probably not.   I was reminded of the conversation I had with the publisher when I told him my husband didn’t know about the book – he said, “well you better tell him before he sees you on the news”.

It had been terrifying for me to tell my husband, but I asked those encouraging me to pray for me.. and one night, I worked up enough courage to tell him.  His response (“what was your purpose?”) caused me to deep-think how I would like to see God use this book.  What seemed daunting to me ended up being a catalyst for me to change the “note from the author”  (funny how life works that way sometimes).

At any rate, I decided that when my mom got home, I would simply ask her to read a book, and not tell her I was the author, since, of course, I have a pen name.  She reads quickly – in fact, I believe she taught Evelyn Wood how to read back in the day!   I went to a different room because I didn’t want to feel her judgement as she poured through the pages of my open heart.  At one point, my daughter told me she was looking for me – but  I was hiding.

After she finished the book, she came into the room where I was – I could swear there was a tear on her cheek.  She said, “well, that was – WOW”   I wasn’t sure if she meant WOW in a good way or a bad, so I asked her, and she said, “Good”, which I will take at face value.   We talked about how my prayer is that it would reach people who are hurting and need to know God’s love.

I asked her if she was angry.  She said, “Why would I be angry?”   She said she knew I was the author in the first chapter – my identity is “thinly veiled”, as she put it.  I asked her to keep it secret from the rest of my family.  I told her they would not understand me.  She agreed on both counts.

I really don’t know why I was so afraid, except to say that the pain that I experienced in my life is also pain that she experienced.  I have seen how she’s handled it (well, I might add – she’s a fighter), and perhaps was afraid that dredging up old memories of pain would be difficult for her.  She loves Jesus as much as I do – probably more.  I believe that she will honor my prayer that God will use the message to let people know that, no matter what they’re going through in life, God is there with them and will help them through.

Many of you have already reached out to let me know your ordered your copy – thank you, thank you, thank you.

If you haven’t, and want to, please click the link below.

Order Masquerade here!

If you haven’t followed my journey, please do.  I have a feeling it’s about to get real.

Have a blessed day, everyone!

Blessings, SB

 

 

Copyright 2018  Journey For Life – All rights reserved.

Masquerade Released!

Life throws some pretty crazy situations our way, to be sure!  If we aren’t careful, we can inadvertently become victims of circumstance, and find ourselves in a deep pit of depression.

Last summer, a friend of ours passed away suddenly of a heart attack.  He left behind a loving wife and six grown children,  four sons-in-laws, two grandchildren (and one more on the way).   We are close to everyone in his family, including the sons-in-law, who were devastated by his death. His youngest daughter, a senior in high school, breaks my heart!  Although older than I was when my father died, I see in her all of the emotions that I went through after my dad died, and all of those painful memories washed over me like it was yesterday.  I wish that I could just hug her and tell her that it will be ok – that she will survive – that every day, week, month that passes will strengthen her – that God loves her and will somehow use this hurt to shape her.

This weekend, her older brother, who’s named after his father, is getting married.  All of the family will be together – all except for Kirk. I know it will be a very difficult day for the family.

I have the privilege of playing music for the wedding, and I know it will be beautiful, but I doubt that I will be able to play for it all without shedding a tear.

It is because of this pain that the book Masquerade was written – to be a beacon of light in a dark world to let hurting people know that, with God’s help, they can emerge victorious over devastating blows that life can deliver.

Masquerade is a fictional story that personifies tragedy and emotional battles that could really be experienced by any one of us.  The story isn’t a “rainbow and puppy dogs” kind of victory, but a story that demonstrates God’s faithfulness to us amidst our tragedies.

Masquerade was written almost a decade ago, and sat dormant on my hard drive for a long, long time.  Last summer, I began the process of publishing this book in the hopes that it would reach people who are hurting – to let them know they can have HOPE through Jesus Christ!

Masquerade Released!

 

I have two favors to ask of all of you tonight.  If you would, please click the link below and order your copy of Masquerade.

Order Masquerade Here!

Second, please keep my friends’ family in your prayers.

Many thanks!

Blessings,

SB

David’s Prayer

blessings

1 Chronicles 29 The Message (MSG)

They Get Ready to Build

29 1-5 Then David the king addressed the congregation: “My son Solomon was singled out and chosen by God to do this. But he’s young and untested and the work is huge—this is not just a place for people to meet each other, but a house for God to meet us. I’ve done my best to get everything together for building this house for my God, all the materials necessary: gold, silver, bronze, iron, lumber, precious and varicolored stones, and building stones—vast stockpiles. Furthermore, because my heart is in this, in addition to and beyond what I have gathered, I’m turning over my personal fortune of gold and silver for making this place of worship for my God: 3,000 talents (about 113 tons) of gold—all from Ophir, the best—and 7,000 talents (214 tons) of silver for covering the walls of the buildings, and for the gold and silver work by craftsmen and artisans.

“And now, how about you? Who among you is ready and willing to join in the giving?”

6-8 Ready and willing, the heads of families, leaders of the tribes of Israel, commanders and captains in the army, stewards of the king’s affairs, stepped forward and gave willingly. They gave 5,000 talents (188 tons) and 10,000 darics (185 pounds) of gold, 10,000 talents of silver (377 tons), 18,000 talents of bronze (679 tons), and 100,000 talents (3,775 tons) of iron. Anyone who had precious jewels put them in the treasury for the building of The Temple of God in the custody of Jehiel the Gershonite.

And the people were full of a sense of celebration—all that giving! And all given willingly, freely! King David was exuberant.

10-13 David blessed God in full view of the entire congregation:

Blessed are you, God of Israel, our father
    from of old and forever.
To you, O God, belong the greatness and the might,
    the glory, the victory, the majesty, the splendor;
Yes! Everything in heaven, everything on earth;
    the kingdom all yours! You’ve raised yourself high over all.
Riches and glory come from you,
    you’re ruler over all;
You hold strength and power in the palm of your hand
    to build up and strengthen all.
And here we are, O God, our God, giving thanks to you,
    praising your splendid Name.

14-19 “But me—who am I, and who are these my people, that we should presume to be giving something to you? Everything comes from you; all we’re doing is giving back what we’ve been given from your generous hand. As far as you’re concerned, we’re homeless, shiftless wanderers like our ancestors, our lives mere shadows, hardly anything to us. God, our God, all these materials—these piles of stuff for building a house of worship for you, honoring your Holy Name—it all came from you! It was all yours in the first place! I know, dear God, that you care nothing for the surface—you want us, our true selves—and so I have given from the heart, honestly and happily. And now see all these people doing the same, giving freely, willingly—what a joy! O God, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, keep this generous spirit alive forever in these people always, keep their hearts set firmly in you. And give my son Solomon an uncluttered and focused heart so that he can obey what you command, live by your directions and counsel, and carry through with building The Temple for which I have provided.”

20 David then addressed the congregation: “Bless God, your God!” And they did it, blessed God, the God of their ancestors, and worshiped reverently in the presence of God and the king.

21-22 The very next day they butchered the sacrificial animals and offered in the worship of Israel to God a thousand bulls, a thousand rams, a thousand sheep, and in addition drink offerings and many other sacrifices. They feasted all day, eating and drinking before God, exuberant with joy.

22-25 Then they ceremonially reenacted Solomon’s coronation, anointing David’s son before God as their leader, and Zadok as priest. Solomon sat on the throne of God as king in place of David his father. And everything went well; all Israel obeyed him. All the leaders of the people, including all the sons of King David, accepted Solomon as their king and promised their loyalty. Solomon rode high on a crest of popular acclaim—it was all God’s doing. God gave him position and honor beyond any king in Israel before him.

26-30 David son of Jesse ruled over all Israel. He was king for forty years. He ruled from Hebron seven years and from Jerusalem thirty-three. He died at a ripe old age, full of days, wealth, and glory. His son Solomon ruled after him. The history of David the king, from start to finish, is written in the chronicles of Samuel the seer, Nathan the prophet, and Gad the seer, including a full account of his rule, his exploits, and the times through which he and Israel and the surrounding kingdoms passed.

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

 

There are times in my prayer and devotion time that I open my Bible as if I’m expecting God to simply direct me to the words I need to hear.  Not that I think he cannot or would not work that way, but I’m not sure he’s obligated to.  This morning, when I opened my Bible to the passage above, I knew instantly that God had orchestrated it.   As you know, I am praying some Jericho-sized prayers right now – and believing that God has given me some pretty large dreams.   I’ve been praying that God will send me confirmation that, in fact, it is His direction that I am following.  I’m thankful for the passage above – God is so good to allow us opportunity to serve Him.  I’m convinced, more than ever, that God will provide if I continue to be faithful to Him.

It is astounding, yet reassuring to me, that God uses David in so many mighty ways despite the mistakes he made in his life.  Not only did God use David, but he refers to David as a man after God’s own heart – and, despite his mistakes, David truly loves God.  If that, in an of itself, doesn’t give us hope that God can use us no matter what our past holds, I’m not sure what would.

I mentioned in a previous post that it is actually freeing to think of everything we own as being God’s – and that is precisely what David says in the passage above – and yet God stirred the people too give what they had in order to build a temple to be used for God’s glory.

Lord, all that I have, I give to your glory – that, through everything You’ve given to me, I can give back and bring glory to your Name.  I ask, boldly, in Your Name, to provide Your Temple to be used to further Your Kingdom.  In Your Holy and Precious Name, I pray, Amen.

Blessings,

SB

Dreams within the Dreams

 

dream

All that we see or seem Is but a dream within a dream. I stand amid the roar Of a surf-tormented shore, And I hold within my hand Grains of the golden sand– How few! yet how they creep Through my fingers to the deep, While I weep–while I weep! O God! – Edgar Allen Poe.

edgar allen

Edgar Allen is one of my all-time favorite authors – his vivid imagery and dark creativeness is awe-inspiring to me.  In truth, his ideas were visionary.  The idea that our dreams are but dreams within other dreams is fascinating – and a testament to the fact that we are not created to be solo beings.  We have been created to commune with one another – to encourage one another – to build each other up.

Sometimes we dream dreams that no one else can understand – keep dreaming them, for one day, with hard work and a lot of prayer, your dream will come true  – and your dream may just be the dream that inspires someone else to dream, who inspires someone else to dream.

within a dream

Keep Dreaming!

 

Blessings,

SB

 

Copyright 2018 Journey For Life – All rights reserved.

 

Jericho Sized Prayers

There are days that God blesses us immeasurably. Wednesday was one of those. Incredibly blessed to have had each of my college kids home in the last two weeks (one each week). My son, who is studying to be a pastor, led worship and gave the message at youth group.

Both of the songs he sang were new to me, but one of them talked bout the walls of Jericho. He knows I asked him to pray big a few weeks ago, but doesn’t know the details. The reality is that I’m praying Jericho sized prayers I thought it was cool that God picked that song for him to sing

His message was about hearing the voice of God. Not in an audible way, but in a guiding way. As a high school intern at the church last year, he also gave messages. To see the difference in his presentation skills and the depth of his messages from last year to this were amazing. As a mama, it warms my heart to know he’s on a good path.

Thank you, Lord, for blessing me beyond words to describe

Still praying Jericho sized prayers, knowing You are ever faithful.

Blessings,

SB

Following the Dream

Where would we all be today if Noah hadn’t been faithful to his dream – the dream that God had given him — and the dream for which God provided?

I have often wondered what Noah’s wife, Mrs. Noah, thought while Noah was building the Ark. I’ve had a dream for almost ten years. Every so often, I buy something and my kids will ask what it’s for. I will reply, “oh it’s for the (insert dream)”. They’ll say, “oh, that one that doesn’t exist yet??” One day, I replied to my son, who is studying to be a pastor, “Noah didn’t just wake up one day and build an ark. He had to gather the wood and other supplies first.”

Fair enough.

The truth is that Noah was probably gathering for quite a while; then he started build by and it took him about 100 years — all the while believing in what God had called him to do. Surely there were people, probably even in his own family, who thought he was crazy. He may have felt that way himself a time or two. After all, his dream was pretty large and overwhelming.

Where would we all be today if Noah hadn’t been faithful to his dream – the dream that God had given him — and the dream for which God provided

I am believing in my dream today more than ever, because I believe this is a dream that God has given me. I am believing that He will provide.

“God honors big dreams because big dreams honor God” (Mark Batterson, from In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day).

I don’t know what you’re dreaming today. Keep dreaming. Keep moving toward your goal. Commit your dream to the Lord, and He will establish your plans

I’m so excited to see what God is doing and will do!

Blessings to you!

SB

Copyright Journey For Life 2018. All rights reserved.