Blessings and Bikes

Blessings and Bikes – 2016

This post was originally from 2016, but tomorrow morning is the 2018 Blessing of the Bikes  – and my son just called to say he and a friend are driving all night from Minnesota to be present for the blessing – so say a prayer for their safety, will ya?


Last Sunday, our church hosted the 20th annual Blessing of the Bikes.  It’s an event that started when 4 bikers from the church approached the pastor with an idea to bring their friends to church. The first year, there were 162 bikes, and the town of Murrysville wondered what in the world was going on as they all rolled through.  Over the years, that event has blossomed, and is very well-known in the area.  The town of Murrysville actually sends the Mayor and emergency workers now, and even shuts down traffic for a while, to allow the event to be held.  It’s a completely free event, because, in the words of Pastor Dan, “so is gift of salvation”.   This year, on the 20th anniversary, we estimated approximately 15,000 bikes piled in – to our parking lot, and the adjacent blessing_bikes.jpgstreets, and the parking lots along Rt 22.  Figuring many bikes had 2 riders, we’d say there were A LOT of people who turned out for the event.  For the past 13 years, I have had the privilege of participating in the music for the service.   This year, our good friend Dave Smith, sang a song called “Jack Daniels & Jesus”.   I’m pretty sure there wasn’t another church in the country that sang that song on Sunday.

(By the way, I think there’s a message in here somewhere about starting a “movement” – it doesn’t take something BIG to make something BIG – it just requires someone to dream it and make it reality).

“Jack Daniels & Jesus”

Lately I’ve been trading
A good sermon and some praying
For a stranger in my bed
And a night that needs explaining
I’ve opened more bottles than I ever have my bible
This dirt road communion sure won’t lead me to revival

Between the black label and the letters in red
I felt what livin’ is
And what it’s like to live dead

I’ve taken a ride in the devil’s Cadillac
I’ve been so high I thought I wasn’t coming back
And just when I think I’m too far gone
Ringin’ in my head’s the 23rd psalm
I’ve seen the light
I’ve seen the darkness
Only God knows where my heart is
I’ve got my strength
And Lord knows, I’ve got my weakness
Oh, I’m lost somewhere between
Jack Daniels and Jesus

It’s my fault that I ain’t called
My momma in a month of Sundays
She’ll smell the whiskey through that phone
I can’t stand to hear her heartbreak
Next week, I see my brother Casey for the first time
Since it all went down
And I blacked his eye the night after our daddy died

I ain’t afraid to admit I’ve hit rock bottom
You wanna see a lifetime full of sins
Just look at me
I’ve got ’em

I’ve taken a ride in the devil’s Cadillac
I’ve been so high I thought I wasn’t coming back
And just when I think I’m too far gone
Ringin’ in my head’s the 23rd psalm
I’ve seen the light
I’ve seen the darkness
Only God knows where my heart is
I’ve got my strength
And Lord knows, I’ve got my weakness
Oh, I’m lost somewhere between
Jack Daniels and Jesus

blessing_people.jpgblessing_bikes_2.jpg

This is what 25,000 bikes looks like from the Medic One Helicopter.

Wall to wall people

blessing_people

blessing_shirt.jpg

(can’t see the killer boots from here, but they were awesome.. lol)

I am watching life unfold for several young adults – some of them are making some very good life decisions, and some of them are making some incredibly bad life decisions, some of them very, very public, and some of them very private.   And my heart breaks.   In almost all of the cases, I say to myself, (and I’ve heard their parents say), “but they were raised differently than that”   and then I remember the words, “somewhere between Jack Daniels and Jesus” and remember that we’re really ALL somewhere on that journey.   I haven’t had Jack Daniels in over 30 years  – one REALLY BAD experience with it all those years ago, and I can’t even smell the stuff to this day…. And I was raised differently than that…. And still, I made some poor life choices along the way – hopefully ones that I have learned from, and that have made me stronger.  By the grace of God alone, He brought me through those poor choices and gave me a second chance, or maybe a third and fourth.   And, by the grace of God, He will bring those folks through their choices as well, allowing U-turns to correct their course.   Pray for them, will ya?

 

Copyright 2018 Journey For Life – all rights reserved

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Seeing miracles

When you watch for miracles, you see miracles. Friends, God is still in the miracle business! He has a sense of humor, and it is fun to watch miracles unfold before our eyes.

I’ve been praying for someone close to me for a very, very long time. You all know I’ve been praying for some rather large miracles. On Easter weekend, I confided in several friends that I was “letting go” of the dream because it was more important to me that this person meet Jesus. In my heart, I let go of what I was praying for and began praying for this person instead.

In that one weeks’ time, I have seen ridiculous things happening in hay persons life, things that I know are because of God. Last night this persons said to me, “well He’s got my attention”

Thank you, Jesus.

Copyright 2018 Journey For Life. All rights reserved.

No category for a castle

In his book, If, Mark Batterson recounts a blessing God gave him for which he didn’t have a category.

He ends the chapter that recounts this blessing with these words,” what if everything in your past is preparing you for the future God has for you?’

“God wants us to get where He wants us to go more than we want to get there and He’s awfully good at getting us there”. Even when we make a wrong turn, He has ways of getting us there, and He’s using everything in our past to prepare us for the blessings He has for our future.

He’s got blessings for us for which we don’t even have categories!

I am still praying Jericho prayers and trusting God for His blessings. I believe He has a castle waiting to be used for His glory.

Blessings,

SB

copyright 2018. Journey For Life. All rights reserved

Satan cannot win!

There are times in life where we feel as though we are losing the battle. Beaten and defeated, we sink into depression, deeper and deeper, feeling more hopeless than ever. The devil thrives on seeing our self-defeat, but the reality is that Satan cannot win!

In my book, Masquerade, Charissa is fighting this battle, and she knows in her head that God wins over Satan, but she cannot seem to pull herself out of the pit. Her good friend, Dwayne reaches down to extend a life preserving reminder that Satan cannot win! They were just the words that she needed to hear to be reminded that we have the power of God to call upon when life seems hopeless.

Everybody needs a Dwayne in their lives; someone who is sensitive to the needs of others and knows how to encourage them when they need it.

Charissa is forever grateful for her friend, Dwayne, and his faithfulness to encourage others. Do you have someone in your life who needs encouragement that Satan cannot win the war? Be a Dwayne today! Remind someone that God has not given us a spirit of weakness and fear, but of power through Him. With that power, we can fight the battles of depression and despair!

Be a blessing!

To those who have ordered my book, thank you! If you’d like, you can leave a review here

For those who haven’t, you can get your copy here!   Order Masquerade Here!

 

SB

Will you share your story?

those questions popped into my head last summer, as I drove 3 hours to set up and play for my cousin’s wedding.

What story?

I don’t have a story – I’m really just an ordinary person, with some good qualities and many bad ones. I love Jesus and want to be faithful to him.  I prayed silently as I drove by myself with music blaring and thoughts racing.  Of course I’m willing to share my story if it will help someone.  I just wasn’t sure which story.

Through my prayer life over the next few weeks, I jotted down some ideas of experiences that I’d want to share with others to help them see God in the face of adversity.   Turns out, when I put my “God” lens on, I had plenty of stories – and it turns out that I am excited to share what God has done in my life.

That single step of obedience to His question has led to a wild roller coaster ride over the past six – nine months that I can hardly keep the blessings contained – surely, my cup runneth over!

I believe I’ve only scratched the surface of the scripture in Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.  It’s less about getting what you want, and more about aligning your desires with God’s desires.  We are all work-in-progress, and God uses each lesson to teach us how much He loves each and every one of us.  He will not let go, and will keep pursuing us  until we find Him.

I would like to challenge each of you today – are you willing to share YOUR story?   are you willing to share how God has answered prayer in your life?  If you’ve never thought about it before, take out a piece of paper, or, better yet, a prayer journal, and start writing down the blessings He’s given you as if you intended to share them with someone – and then share them!  The result will be an amazing step of obedience in a way that will allow God to bless you even more!

Read more about my story here

Order Masquerade Here!

May you truly be blessed by God today and every day!

Blessings,

SB

copyright 2018 Journey For Life – all rights reserved.

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.

 

 

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.