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

All Things New!

IMG_5047Many Happy New Year Wishes, my friends!   It’s a brisk, yet refreshing time-of-year when we have an opportunity to begin anew!   This week, the gyms will be over-crowded with people determined to begin reaching their fitness goals; the storage shops are full of people determined to get organized; the travel websites are visited by people intending to travel more this year; the financial sites are full of people looking to spend less and save more this year – all worthy goals.

Several years ago, as the calendar year before came to a close, I made a resolution to fix absolutely everything that was wrong in my life.   My resolution that year was to:  1) get in shape spiritually 2) get in shape physically 3) get in shape financially 4) fix every broken relationship in my life.   I was earnest in my desires – I really was!   And I started like gangbusters, spending at least an hour in the gym every day, an hour doing devotionals, time balancing my checkbook, and trying to reach out to improve every single relationship in my life.  Looking back at it now, it seems ridiculously pie-in-the-sky to make such unrealistic and unachievable goals, but at the time, I genuinely wanted to improve every area of my life!  It’s not an unworthy goal; just an unrealistic one.

Within about 6 weeks, I completely burned out on all of them.  I had to force myself to regroup and focus on ONE area while making smaller, incremental improvements in the other areas.  I didn’t STOP working other areas, but I found it was not very practical to make leaps-and-bounds improvements in EVERY area of life.

I focused first on my spiritual life and began to live my life more intentionally seeking God’s will and plan for my life.  As I did that, I found the other areas fell more into line with His teaching.  As I focused on Him, my compassion for others grew.   I continued to tithe; in fact, I increased my tithe, and He poured out blessings.  I began to budget in a way to make Dave Ramsey proud.  I eventually got my physical self into shape, but then became complacent and let myself go.  It’s time, once again, to get on the bandwagon; this time, a few years later, a few years wiser (hopefully); a few miles closer to Him.

What I learned since my last go-round – to bring God into EVERYTHING we do, putting Him first and allowing everything else to fall into place is certainly a much better recipe for success. He makes ALL THINGS NEW!

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

Drinking from the saucer!

Several years ago, while having breakfast with my kids at a local diner, an older gentleman sat at the counter to our left. We made eye contact, and I said, “Good morning. How are you?” He said, ” I am drinking from my saucer! You know what that means? It means my cup runneth over with blessings!”

What a joy that man had in his heart! He was living life to the fullest! He later mentioned to us that he had been given the greatest gift there was… the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. He wasn’t ashamed to admit it, even to strangers he met over breakfast. He didn’t know at the time that we, too, know Jesus. He was just brimming with blessings and wanted everyone to know it. Even more, I was blessed just be his exuberance!

This week, as we prepare to “officially” be thankful in the United States, I am humbled by the many blessings we have in our lives; Blessings of friends and family, loved ones both near and far.

I just want to take a moment to thank you, my wonderful WordPress friends, for being a blessing to me! You have liked me and encouraged me, and reached out to help me. Know that I am blessed by all of your creativities, and you bring joy to others. You are a blessing.

Indeed, I am drinking from a saucer this fall.

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Blessings,

SB

Resolve

At 13 she gave her life to Christ, determined to live a life to honor God for her whole life.  At 23 she met the man of her dreams and married him.   He, too, loved Jesus. Within the first five years of their marriage she suffered three miscarriages.  At 28 she and her husband adopted a beautiful baby boy and named him David.  When David was three years old there was a terrible fire at their home.  She was burned over 80% of her body trying to smother the flames the engulfed her beloved son.   He did not survive.   She spent six weeks in the hospital, refusing the morphine offered her because she didn’t like the way it made her feel.   Doctors visited from all over to observe her healing, amazed that she had survived.  They told her she was a “miracle'”.   She knew that God was with her. Her faith unwavering, her inner resolve and refused to allow her to succumb to her injuries.  

Four months after losing their son, they adopted a beautiful baby girl with big brown eyes.  Almost two years later, they adopted another baby girl, and it seemed as if life was normalizing, as much as it does after the death of a child.

Three years after adopting their second daughter, her husband was diagnosed with cancer. Unwavering faith, the two of them remained strong in their relationship with one another as well as with God.  

After five years in remission, her husbands’ cancer returned with a vengeance, this time taking his life and leaving her to raise two small children. 

Undaunted on the outside, the inner strength of this woman taught her daughters that belonging to Jesus does not shield us from bad things happening.  Instead, she couldn’t imagine going through these battles without Jesus.  

It would have been easy for her to become a victim of any one of the difficult life circumstances, let alone all of them.  Undoubtedly there were moments of doubt along the way, but her obligation to her children – to instill in them the faith she clung to – motivated her to show strength.

In some ways, people would argue God didn’t hear her prayers, but she knows that He did.  He answered them in ways that He knew would ultimately be best for His purpose.  

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

Isaiah 54 (the living translation)

Future Glory for Jerusalem
1″Sing, O childless woman,

you who have never given birth!

Break into loud and joyful song, O Jerusalem,

you who have never been in labor.

For the desolate woman now has more children

than the woman who lives with her husband,”

says the LORD.

2″Enlarge your house; build an addition.

Spread out your home, and spare no expense!

3For you will soon be bursting at the seams.

Your descendants will occupy other nations

and resettle the ruined cities.

4″Fear not; you will no longer live in shame.

Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you.

You will no longer remember the shame of your youth

and the sorrows of widowhood.

5For your Creator will be your husband;

the LORD of Heaven’s Armies is his name!

He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,

the God of all the earth.

6For the LORD has called you back from your grief–

as though you were a young wife abandoned by her husband,”

says your God.

7″For a brief moment I abandoned you,

but with great compassion I will take you back.

8In a burst of anger I turned my face away for a little while.

But with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,”

says the LORD, your Redeemer.

9″Just as I swore in the time of Noah

that I would never again let a flood cover the earth,

so now I swear

that I will never again be angry and punish you.

10For the mountains may move

and the hills disappear,

but even then my faithful love for you will remain.

My covenant of blessing will never be broken,”

says the LORD, who has mercy on you.

11″O storm-battered city,

troubled and desolate!

I will rebuild you with precious jewels

and make your foundations from lapis lazuli.

12I will make your towers of sparkling rubies,

your gates of shining gems,

and your walls of precious stones.

13I will teach all your children,

and they will enjoy great peace.

14You will be secure under a government that is just and fair.

Your enemies will stay far away.

You will live in peace,

and terror will not come near.

15If any nation comes to fight you,

it is not because I sent them.

Whoever attacks you will go down in defeat.

16″I have created the blacksmith

who fans the coals beneath the forge

and makes the weapons of destruction.

And I have created the armies that destroy.

17But in that coming day

no weapon turned against you will succeed.

You will silence every voice

raised up to accuse you.

These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the LORD;

their vindication will come from me.

I, the LORD, have spoken!

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. 

Surviving or thriving? (thoughts to let simmer)

Are you merely surviving? Or thriving?

Good morning, beautiful readers!   I just wanted to check to see how you all are doing today?   Is it a good day so far?

For some, every day is a struggle – whether emotional, physical, or spiritual, some are facing battles difficult to win.  We trudge through life, barely keeping our head above water, overwhelmed by each new battle we face.  Often, the trials come at us so quickly, like bullets fired from automatic weapons, that we can barely duck fast enough.  Before we can address one crisis, another simmers on the stove beside us.

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For others, those i like to call the “thrivers”, life appears easy and effortless, as if there is not a care in the world.   To see them from the outside, it appears as though they have everything put together, not facing any battle they cannot win.   Sure, they have battles, but they move through them gracefully, unscathed by the barrage of artillery, and continue in bliss as if nothing happened.

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Sometimes, the “survivors”  begrudge the “thrivers” and accuse them of not living in reality.   (I know this, because I am one of them!)  I like to think of it differently, mostly because I am a survivor as well as a “thriver”.   I have enough battles in my life to know life is difficult, but i truly believe what Jesus told us in John 10:10.  “I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly”.   I believe that God intends for us to live a life of purpose, and to be able to see beauty in the world around us.

It is my believe that the difference between merely surviving and thriving comes down to choice.   I choose to believe what scripture says and do my best to live as God intended, including wearing my rose colored glasses at times.   I admit there are times this is difficult.  It’s hard not to look at the events of the world or listen to news stories about people killing people, and hate, and ugliness that abounds. However, as I read the scripture above, I believe that God’s intent is not that we turn a blind eye, but rather that we don’t allow those bad things to change who we are.

My hope for you today is that you are not merely surviving, trudging through another day, but THRIVING!  If you are merely surviving, I challenge you to reflect on what it means for you to live life abundantly, and choose to take that thought captive to step toward thriving!

Blessings!

SB

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

As always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions!   You can contact me at sbjourneyforlife@gmail.com.

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Word of the day: Simmer