The Blood That was spilled

From Masquerade: “Wow. Over the past decade, our country had seen a rise in shootings. Events that were so uncommon when I was a child had become almost commonplace. The term “going postal”, coined in the late 80’s after several shooting incidents involving disgruntled postal workers, seemingly paved the way for lunatic behavior from sick people who had felt like society had wronged them. Victim mentality. The victims wanted other victims because “hurting people hurt people”. Ever since the Columbine shootings in 1999, school administrators all over the country had participated in anti-bullying training and programs in the futile attempt to prevent such tragedies from occurring. What they failed to realize, however, is that unless and until they put God back into the public school systems, all of their attempts would be fruitless. Over the past several years, it administrators recognized that the socioeconomic makeup of the Northridge school district was almost identical to that of Columbine High School, and the school officials were acutely aware of the potential danger. They had mandated training for the teachers and administrators on how to handle these situations. They had begun anti-bullying programs and had anti-bullying slogans posted all throughout the school. I had always been somewhat prepared for the day in which we would experience a tragedy of that sort in our own schools. I prayed with my children every day before school, asking God to keep watch over them until they returned safely home. I prayed that if ever a shooting event took place, that my children would stand strong in Christ.”

(the post below was first published as a Facebook note on April 17, 2014, just a week after a school violence event at our high school – within a few days, the note had been shared over 25,000 times – my prayer is those it reached were impacted in a way to seek God in their life)

stay strong

At 7:16 on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, merely minutes after I dropped my fifteen-year-old son off at school, my cell-phone buzzed on the kitchen table as I cracked an egg into a frying pan.  At the same time, my sixteen-year-old daughter, who stayed home sick that morning, came into the kitchen.  As I turned to ask her what she was doing up so early, she announced that she had received a text from her friend that “J*** had been stabbed”. Instinctively, I picked up my cell phone to read the text that caused the phone to vibrate only seconds before. The text from my son read simply, “People were stabbed.  I’m ok.  Be praying”.

We learned quickly that one of the students, armed with two 8″ kitchen knives, launched a violent attack in the hallway of his school before classes started, stabbing 20 of his fellow classmates and a security guard before being wrestled to the ground and taken into custody.

Over the past 12 years since my kids entered pre-school, not a day has gone by that I did not blanket them with prayer before they exited the car, or boarded the school bus, or entered the school.   Undoubtedly because of previous school-violence incidents, these prayers have ranged from general prayers about their day to specific prayers to “keep them safe in the hallways”, prayers for specific teachers, administrators, and other students.  I was not a parent who thought something like this could never occur in our school – I knew the possibility existed – simply because evil exists in the world.  There had been times that I prayed (with them) that if something terrible occurs in their school that God would equip my children with courage, and to always stand strong in Him.

Over the next several hours and days, as details of the event unfolded, there were many thoughts that struck chords in me, ranging from the “What if” and “If only” ’s that are so common and natural to ask, to the “what now” ‘s and “how can we turn this mess into a message”.   When I later learned that my son and his friend gathered people for prayer outside of the school amid the chaos, I was thankful that God has filled their hearts with compassion for others and a deep love for their Savior.  I am thankful that, by His grace, my children know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

prayer

Over the next few days, as my children and their friends and I visited their friends in the hospital, I was struck by another chord.  Not one of the victims that we talked with had anything bad to say about their attacker.  Most of them expressed surprise about the attack and sadness or compassion for their attacker.

Just the Sunday before the incident, our youth pastor shared that my son and his friend had talked with him a few weeks prior, asking why it was sometimes hard to share their faith with their friends – those with whom they had done “macaroni crafts” in kindergarten.  He said, “I look at some of them and wonder what in the world happened since we did macaroni crafts together”.  In the hours as the news was unfolding, my daughter said, “Mom, I did macaroni crafts with A*****– he was a nice kid – he dropped his macaroni and it went everywhere and I shared mine with him.”  We have been praying for A**** and his family, along with the victims and their families.

I believe that God was in that school that morning – in the hallways, with His loving hand over the situation.  His hedge of protection shielded many of the kids from injury.  Even among the injured, I believe that God prevented the wounds from being worse.  We are very thankful that, despite major life threatening injuries, not a single life was lost as a direct result of this attack.   When the security guard was tackling the suspect, he yelled, “No, my work is not finished yet!”  I can just about hear God’s voice saying, “No, MY work is not finished yet, son” as he blanketed the hallway with His protection.

I share this with you not to re-live a horrible ordeal, but to point to the Cross.  The “blood that was spilled” has a whole new meaning as we approach this Easter Sunday and the remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice for us. You see, Grace hung on the cross, not only for those who loved Him but for Judas and Pilate and the soldiers who nailed Him there.

I’ve heard hundreds of people ask what would drive a student to carry out such horrific act.  Was he bullied? Sad? Depressed? Hopeless? The truth is we don’t know.  What we DO know is this:   that God sent His Son to earth to pay for our sins – He does not want anyone to perish but wants all to come to repentance.

Romans 3:23 tells us that “ALL have sinned and fall short of His glory, and are justified freely by His Grace through the redemption that came through Christ Jesus.”   Whether big or small, all of our sin keeps us from the presence of the Almighty, and it is only through Jesus, Our Lord, and Savior, that we can be reunited with the Father.

My dear friends, hear this cry this night – if you have not asked Jesus to forgive your sins, and do not have a friendship with Him as Lord and Savior of your life, I invite you to do that tonight.   There is nothing more important on this earth.

This week was a stark reminder of all that can change in a week.  Similar to the week that began with people shouting, “Hosanna” and laying Palms at His feet, ending a few days later with people shouting, “Crucify Him, Crucify Him!”  You never know what a week will bring.   You may say to yourself, “I’ll have time to make things right with God later”.   I urge you to resist that thought – you may not have time later.

Now, in the quietness of your heart, while you have time to reflect on the gift that God gave through His Son Jesus, allow Him to draw you close to Him – to ask Him to become Lord of your life.

If you want to pray the prayer of salvation,

“Dear Lord Jesus,

I know I am a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe you died for my sins and rose from the dead.  I trust and follow you as my Lord and Savior. Guide my life and help me to do your will.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

For those of you who have read my book, you will notice a tie to an event in the book.  In all honesty, the book, Masquerade, was written in 2009, long before the event above took place.   As I penned the fiction story, my intent was to write about a school violence event where one of he main characters’ children were killed.  I found, however, that, as a parent, I couldn’t actually put this into the book, even though it was fiction.  The book sat dormant on my hard drive for many years, until last summer when I began the process of publishing it.  When I read the section about the shooting incident, I was taken aback by the eerie similarity to the actual incident.

If you haven’t read the book yet, you can get it here!  If you have read it, thank you, thank you, thank you – please feel free to leave a review!  My sincerest prayer is that, through this book, and through my life, people will be drawn into a relationship with a loving Father, who wants desperately to bring you peace.

Blessings,

SB

Copyright 2018  Journey For Life   All rights reserved.

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Entertaining homeless angels

In the cold, crisp, December air, I see my breath as I scurry about, trying desperately to make progress on my never-ending to-do list. Scampering quickly from one store to the next, I barely noticed the disheveled homeless man holding a cup in his cold, chapped hands. He didn’t say a word, merely sat quietly on a remnant of a crocheted blanket. Dirty, grimy, probably hadn’t showered in weeks. Suddenly my heart was overwhelmed with compassion and I wondered how he might have ended up in such a bad way.

I stepped inside the door of a little shop so he wouldn’t see me, and reached inside my pockets to see what cash I had. I’m fairly disorganized, so I found a crumpled up dollar here, and a folded dollar there. I also found gum wrappers, ticket stubs and store receipts– those would do him no good. Counting, one, two, five, ten… $15. Enough for a warm meal and a cup of coffee. I would offer to take him to the small coffee shop down the road where I happened to know the owner. I knew, too, that she made delightful grilled cheese sandwiches on jalapeño bread, and brewed the very richest, strong cup of coffee around. Yes, this would be my feel-good, good deed of the day.

Feeling better about myself, I turned and pushed the door of the shop, ready to approach my homeless friend. To my dismay, he and his blanket were gone! Where could he have gone so fast? It was literally just moments ago that I had brushed past him! And then I remembered two scriptures. The first, “be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unaware” (Hebrews 13:2 KJV). And the second, Matthew 25:40 “in as much as you have done unto the least of these, you have done unto me.”

My heart sank with grief. Had I missed an opportunity to do something for one of God’s angels? Why hadn’t I thought faster, or been more prepared with a message? I was so wrapped up in my own list of meaningless things to do that I forgot about doing things that truly matter. I prayed to ask God to forgive me and help me to recognize more quickly the opportunities He gives to be a blessing to others.

Copyright 2017. All rights reserved

Thoughts and prayers

I read a tweet shortly after the reports of the mass shooting in a church near San Antonio, that said, “thoughts and prayers failed again.”  My heart is broken.

Did our thoughts and prayers fail?

I’ve spent evenings this weekend watching episodes of horrific real life stories on ID TV, which left me thinking about all of the evil that exists in the world.   Episode after episode, incredible stories of wives who murdered their husbands, boyfriends who murdered girlfriends, friends who murdered friends.  While I find the stories fascinating, I must admit that the sheer volume of stories of such violence is alarming.  These are only the ones they’ve publicized.  Our morning news is polluted with acts of violence. I can understand why someone could draw the conclusion that our prayers failed.

Just weeks after the Mandolay Bay shooting, once again the nation mourns a tragic mass shooting, this time in San Antonio.   We post photos on our Facebook profiles that say, “pray for San Antonio”.

The tweeter’s words are haunting.  Really haunting.  His words make it sound like God has failed us, that our prayers are futile. Have we become so calloused from continued exposure to such evil in our world that our words sound shallow?

Did our thoughts and prayers fail?

Is God turning a deaf ear to our prayers?  The Bible tells of growing evil in the last days.  Though we don’t know when it will be, the book of Revelation is clear that there will come a time that God will say enough is enough.  God is a just God.  However, God wishes that all would come to know Him.

Our message in church today was centered on 1 Corinthians 16:9 “because a great door had been opened and there will be many who oppose”.  As we do more of God’s will, we often face more adversity.  Conversely, in the face of adversity, there are often doors of opportunity to share our faith with others.

At the risk of sounding trite by saying “pray for San Antonio”, I know that the community is grieving this evening, just as the communities of Las Vegas, New York, Columbine, Paducah, South Carolina, Florida, and countless other communities who struggle to understand the evil that lurks among them.    Hard to understand, for sure.  We may never understand in this side of heaven the extent of hatred of the Evil One that permeates our world, but know this: your prayers are not futile, and they haven’t failed.

I will continue praying for the people who have endured evil in this world, that they may know the peace that passes understanding that comes only through our Lord  and Savior Jesus Christ!

I leave you with this challenge today:

As you listen to discussions around the water cooler this week,  keep you eyes opened for the doors of opportunity to open to share a time when God heard your prayers; not only heard them, but answered them; not only small ones, but big ones, too; perhaps even during a time of adversity when it seemed He wasn’t listening.

See, we are His witnesses.  A witness is someone who testified what they have seen.   As believers in Him, we have seen him answer prayers.  It is our duty not only to continue praying for a lost world, but to share with that world what He has done for us individually.

No, our thought and prayers have not failed. Let’s bless others this week with stories of how He has answered our prayers.
Blessings,

SB
Copyright Journey-For-Life. 2017. All rights reserved. 

Who are you and what breaks your heart?

The answer to the question is an important one and is different for every person. Within the answer to this question lies the desires of your heart, and where you can begin to find your purpose.

Who are you and what breaks your heart?

Who are you and what breaks your heart? I first heard this question a few years ago as a challenge from our youth pastor. Along with the other adult sponsors of our youth, I searched deep within myself to answer the question.  The answer to the question is an important one and is different for every person.  Within the answer to this question lies the desires of your heart, and where you can begin to find your purpose.   It took me several days to fully craft my response.  Over the next several years, I returned to the question as well as my answer, sometimes tweaking the verbiage, but never the message.

I am a musician, an engineer, a mentor; my desire is to leave things better than I found them; I am a sister, daughter, wife, mother, aunt, friend.

Suicide breaks my heart; cancer breaks my heart; human trafficking breaks my heart; seeing people make bad life decisions breaks my heart.

I am thankful for the One True and Living God who saved me from myself and, through His Son Jesus Christ, has saved me from my sins.

I am confidently persistent, boldly creative and passionately determined that I may inspire others to live a life that ultimately matters.

I am a believer in Jesus Christ and a firm believer that God has a plan for every one of our lives.   In my young life, I struggled to find that purpose.  Once I found it, I developed a passion to help others find their purpose in life as well.

This blog is a collection of life experiences, probably some past and some present, designed to connect with you on your life journey, to help you ultimately live a life that matters.  My sincerest prayer is that through my words, you are drawn into a deeper relationship with the One who can fulfill your purpose in life.

Blessings,

SB