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

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The Journey – the virtual US tour – first stop Dorney Park

Okay, folks, here it is.   I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to figure this out, but ya’ll know I set a 1000 and 1000 goal for the year (1000 miles….  followed by a long term goal to virtually travel across the US…   and 1000 lbs of clutter removed from my house).   Last night, I was playing with Google Maps and mapped out the route from NYC to Los Angeles, both walking and biking.   Believe it or not, there IS a difference.

To WALK the US (via Rt. 40), Google Maps estimates 913 hours of walking 2,763 miles.  To bike it (on official bike trails), Google Maps estimates 256 hours of biking 3,031 miles.   I mapped and printed both.  (I’m a total geek, I know!)

Because the route literally takes me through the smallest towns in the US, I had to do some work with Google to identify recognizable landmarks along the way. I’ve made notes on my printout so I won’t forget. It’s almost comical, but since this route doesn’t include interstates, it’s made up of short distances on dinky roads, sometimes marked in feet not miles. I love how most of the landmarks noted are food places! Appears that I just passed Rita’s, one of my favorites!

As of now, since I started my journey, I have traveled approximately 100 miles.  According to the route, I am approximately near Allentown, PA (technically, a little west of Allentown, more near Fogelsville or Hamburg).

Being from Pittsburgh, I have many experiences traveling across the state of Pennsylvania, usually via the PA Turnpike (Rt. 76).   In the recent past couple of years, I have two experiences specifically with this area which I appear to be traveling through virtually on my US walking / biking tour.  The first was a visit to Dorney Park. The second was the Cracker Barrel we dined at after my son and his girlfriend completed the Spartan race in Palmerton, Pa. Famished by the time we got there, they were tempted to order one of everything on the menu.

Dorney Park:

My kids and I love to experience amusement parks – and by experience, I mean EXPERIENCE.   We all love thrill rides, and we all have tremendous stamina for fun – we usually do parks from the time they open to the time they close.  We only allow fellow park enthusiasts to accompany (and trust me, it’s a very, very select few who have passed the test – nothing worse than being at an amusement park with someone who doesn’t ride everything!)   Several years ago, we created an Amusement Park Bucket List Challenge for ourselves – specifically to visit as many amusement parks as possible (Usually coupled with a meal at a Cracker Barrel… and we put pins on our Cracker Barrel map to show where we’ve been).  Our loose goal is to visit 3 new parks a year – parks we’ve never been to.  Being from Pittsburgh, of course, we’ve grown up going to Kennywood Park, usually multiple times a year (and frequently been to Hershey Park and Idlewild Park and Sandcastles). Of course, we’ve also been to Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH,  which, in our opinion, so far, is our favorite.  We decided we’d like to experience other parks, though, so made a list of all of the Cedar Fair and Six Flags parks and have somewhat systematically been checking them off of our Amusement Park Bucket List.

We visited Dorney Park a few years ago.  It was probably the 3rd or 4th of the Cedar Fair Parks that we’ve visited.  It’s approximately 4 hours from our home near Pittsburgh, so we left early one Saturday morning and drove straight to the park.   We purchased our tickets on-line, and arrived at gate opening.  Since it was so near our home, we were undecided about doing a day-trip, which we’ve done for other parks such as Hershey, Cedar Point, Kings Island, so we didn’t make any hotel reservations beforehand.

We found the park to be very clean, with decent organization (we pay attention to things like line organization, etc).  There are eight thrill coasters there. For the early part of the day, the lines were relatively short – we typcially use this time to ride all of the thrill rides – we map them out in an order that makes sense, and try to cover all of the thrill rides or unique rides (that we haven’t seen at other parks) before riding any of the standards.   On this particular day, we had probably covered all of the thrill rides by 4 pm, even though it was a Saturday. Incidentally, there were several Rita’s stands at Dorney. 🙂

We noticed when we bought our tickets that there was a discount price offered after 4 pm.   We also noticed that, after 4 pm, many people took advantage of these tickets.  The park got significantly more crowded after 4 pm, and the clientele changed significantly as well.  We noticed several times where an individual would stand in line and essentially “hold” a spot for 20-25 of his friends to join at the very last minute – despite signs all around the park indicating that line cutting was forbidden and violators would be kicked out of the park.  Several times, this happened right in front of us.   Typically, if someone held a spot for a friend, or someone in their party joined, I wouldn’t make an issue of it – but to have 25 people jump in front of you in line is beyond rude.  What was disappointing about Dorney Park staff, however, was that, although they were very much aware of the line violations, they did precious little to address.

By 8 pm, we had ridden and put up with all the crap from other patrons we wanted to, so we left the park. We’d certainly been able to drive back home that night, but at some point in early afternoon (before the crowd changed), I had made an on line reservation at a local hotel, so we set out to find it. Although it was a chain (that I won’t name), it was different than we expected. Run down and a bit sketchy, my daughter remarked that she’d seen the room before on an episode of Criminal Minds. We noticed a police car a few doors down and figured he wasn’t just visiting. Always up for an adventure, we stayed the night! We got up the next night and ate at the Cracker Barrel in Fogelsville before heading home.

Overall, our Dorney experience was ok, although not as good as some of the other parks we’ve seen. I’ll sure more about them as we travel across the country!

Be virtually blessed from Dorney Park!

SB

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 whole playlist

Hi, friends! For those who have been following me, you may have seen individual posts on the songs that currently make up my gym playlist – you know, the songs I play super loud through my earbuds while I’m walking / jogging on the treadmill. While they work really well for my feet to keep a steady pace on the treadmill, I have discovered that they don’t work quite as well on a bike (I guess because the more steady you pedal, the faster you go, which messes up your pace… or maybe I’m just less systematic on a bike, I’m not sure). Whatever the reason, the list is probably most appropriately titled the “Treadmill Playlist” Be that as it may, it was already named when I began the series, so it sticks.

Here it is in its entirety:

Gym Playlist # 1: Walk This Way (Aerosmith)

The Gym Playlist # 2: Back on the Chain Gang

Gym Playlist # 3 – Sweet Dreams are Made of This

Gym Playlist # 4 – Monster (Skillet)

Gym Playlist # 5: Back from the Dead (Skillet)

Gym playlist #6 Burn it down (Skillet)

Gym Playlist # 7 – Anticonfirmity (Krystal Meyers)

Gym playlist #8. Walk. (Foo Fighters)

Gym playlist # 9 I ran (flock of seagulls)

Gym Playlist # 10 – A Thousand Miles (Vanessa Carlton)

Gym playlist # 11. Rio (Duran Duran)

Gym playlist #12. Everlong (Foo fighters)

 Gym playlist # 13 Meant to Live (switchfoot)

When I keep pace with the beat on all the songs in my list (even Anticonformity), my pace ranges from 3.8 to 5.0 mph, and I finish at 3.564 miles and 502 calories burned.

I’m not sure if it’s because of OCD or I’m just strange, but I like when things end “evenly”. It would be nice if exactly 50 minutes would be exactly 3.5 miles and exactly 500 calories. I’ve discovered that there is always a compromise as the workout never worked out exactly evenly. In my mind, I struggle with this: which number is most importantly even: the distance? The calories? Or the time?

And then, of course, I feel frustrated that I spend nearly an hour of my crazy-schedule life and have ONLY progressed 3.5 miles. Sure, it’s 3 miles more than before I tied my laces, but it’ll take forever to get to 1000 at that pace.

The struggle is real, my friends.

By the way, over the past few weeks, I’ve had quite a few distractions in life which are trying to get in the way of fitness progress (and, in fact vying for my attention on many other ways, too). I refuse to let them win, and am working to reprioritize / juggle some things in order to continue the workouts.   Although I have continued hoping on the treadmill, using my recumbent bike and rower, and taken a few “long” bike rides at the gym, I’ve been less good about actually tracking my total mileage.  Ive honestly lost tract of my total mileage. One of my 2019 presents to myself is a wellness journal, though, and I’m hoping to get meticulous about tracking immediately.

Keeping it real, my friends.  

 Copyright 2019 Journey For Life all rights reserved

Gym playlist # 13 Meant to Live (switchfoot)

The very last song on my playlist is Meant to Live.   In one of my past employment lives, I worked for a company that, ahead of its time, had a gym for the convenience of its associates.   In addition to the gym, they had full cafeteria food court and free soda all day every day for its associates.  TGIF parties, complete with beer kegs and wine bottles were frequent at this entrepreneurial company that was, at one time, voted the best place to work in Pittsburgh.   I consider myself lucky to have worked there, and have many contacts from there with whom I am still in touch.

I was in my twenties then, and had two tiny tots at home, who were born 11 months apart from one another (yikes!)   I really appreciated being able to use the gym at work.   One of my gym buddies at the time was Peter (you may remember a little story about his dog in Cheyne, Shane, Bear, Peter, Little Carter, Miss Kitt’s Awana…. part 3)

Peter was an avid runner, and would often occupy the treadmill next to me.  Sometimes while he would run beside me, I’d peak over at his MPH – it was not uncommon to see him run for long periods of time at 8 or 10 MPH. I recall this song being one of the songs he would listen to (this was long before iPhones and earbuds, and the gym had a stereo system that its users were actually free to use, subject to learning how to work together to agree on music selection). The music was generally cranked super loud to be super motivating – the louder, the better.

too loud.png

(Just a quick humorous aside (sorry, I digress – look, a puppy!): One of my most embarrassing recollections of using that gym occurred the day I forgot to bring my work clothes to change into after my workout – and didn’t discover until AFTER I had worked out AND showered.    Luckily, the company had an on-site store and I was able to purchase a shirt (although it was a size 2X because they were going through a clearance) to wear with my sweats that day at work….  memories ;-))

At any rate, I learned this song long before I learned anything about Christian music.  I knew that Peter was a Christian and often went on missions trips with his church.  I liked the music of this song, but paid little attention the lyrics at that time.  As I read them now, however, there are so many that I connect with – “fumbling his confidence”, “failed attempts to fly”, “Have we lost ourselves?” (often, I’m afraid, we lose ourselves), “whether mice and men have second tries”, “We were meant for so much more”, “We’ve got more than this world’s got to offer”, and I could probably go on to recite the whole song.

More than any of the other powerful lyrics, however, are two lines of the song that stand out among the others.

“Maybe we’ve been living with our eyes half open;

Maybe we’re bent and broken”

bent and broken

Some of us are bent and broken.  In fact, if you aren’t bent and broken to some degree, I would think you haven’t truly lived.  To be daring enough to live life to the fullest, we are bound to have some bumps and bruises.  As a parent, one of the hardest lessons to learn is to allow our kids to get some bumps and bruises – to figure out life on their own.  Being bent and broken is neither a badge of honor, or a sign of shame – it’s simply a tool that God uses to shape us into what He wants us to be.

Often taken out of context, this reminds me of the verse in Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, and are called according to His purpose.”

God never wastes a hurt.  God never wastes a bruise.  He uses them all to shape who he wants us to be.

What hurts have you experienced?  What have they taught you?   It’s a good day to reflect on how they have helped to shape who you are…   and think about who God wants you to be.

Be blessed today, my friends!

SB

BTW – I just want to thank all of you who have emailed me, texted me, commented on various posts you’ve read, letting me know they’ve encouraged you.  You can’t begin to know how much that encourages me – thank you for blessing me!

 

Meant to Live:

Fumbling his confidence

And wondering why the world has passed him by

Hoping that he’s bent for more than arguments,

And failed attempts to fly, fly

 

We were meant to live for so much more

Have we lost ourselves?

Somewhere we live inside

Somewhere we live inside

We were meant to live for so much more

Have we lost ourselves?

Somewhere we live inside

 

Dreaming about Providence

And whether mice or men have second tries

Maybe we’ve been livin’ with our eyes half open

Maybe we’re bent and broken, broken

 

We were meant to live for so much more

Have we lost ourselves?

Somewhere we live inside

Somewhere we live inside

We were meant to live for so much more

Have we lost ourselves?

Somewhere we live inside

 

We want more than this world’s got to offer

We want more than this world’s got to offer

We want more than the wars of our fathers

And everything inside screams for second life

 

We were meant to live for so much more

Have we lost ourselves?

We were meant to live for so much more

Have we lost ourselves?

We were meant to live for so much more

Have we lost ourselves?

We were meant to live

We were meant to live

Songwriters: Jonathan Foreman / Tim Foreman
To hear more of my story, (fiction laced with reality), please pick up a copy of Masquerade, (also available on Amazon).   If you’ve read it, and liked it, please feel free to leave a review at amazon review)

Gym playlist #12. Everlong (Foo fighters)

If you’ve been keeping up with my posts, you may remember a post from a while back about my gym playlist being adulterated somehow (probably during phone upgrades or what have you), leaving only FooFighters’ Everlong. On my re-entry to workouts, I played it on repeat for a whole 2 miles.

Original post

I’ve kept it on my list as I recreated, and it now occupies item #12.

You have a choice today. Get out to the gym today, or at least off your couch. 😉

Be blessed, my friends.

SB

Copyright 2019 Journey For Life. All rights reserved.

My rose colored world

My husband, ever the pessimist, sometimes haughtily accuses me of living in a dream world. Just the other night, he remarked that my rose-colored glasses were clouding my thoughts.

It’s not that I don’t see the ugly side of life. In fact, I see it with both of my eyes open wide. There’s a tremendous amount of brokenness and ugliness in the world. Not only do I see it, I have lived it, and, if I allowed myself to be consumed by it, could easily fall prey to my dark side.

I made a decision long ago, however, not to allow my dark side – the monster inside of me that I never want to let you see – be the outwardly visible part of me. In that same moment, I decided never to let the darkness of the world bring me down.

It’s very, very easy to become victim of circumstance; it requires strength and determination to live above our circumstances. Seeing the world through the lens that I choose helps me to keep focus on the positive. I’ve been rescued from victim mentality – and choose never to go there again.

I rather like my rose-colored world – my rose colored glasses remind me of the world from which I’ve been rescued – and the Light which I know dwells within me.

photo cred: agodman.com

Stay positive, my friends. It’s more than OK to see the world through rose-colored glasses – in fact, if I dare say, I’ll take my rose-colored to jaundiced eyes any day.

Blessings, my friends.

Copyright 2019 – Journey- For-Life All rights reserved.

If you’re interested to understand more about the darkness from which I’ve been rescued, you can read my journey in my fiction book (laced with reality) Masquerade