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

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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.

The Journey

A new journey begins today; the annual spiritual pilgrimage to the cross. For Christians around the world, today marks the beginning of the Lenten season, the 40 days leading up to Christs’ crucifixion.

Many people will celebrate this season by giving something up for Lent, a symbolic representation of a sacrifice made in their own lives to acknowledge the sacrifice Christ made for us. While a humbling and copacetic recognition of His sacrifice, I challenge you all to go deeper this Lent.

As I was cleaning files in my home office a few weeks ago, I came across a Lenten Devotional journal I had received long ago from Insight for Living ministries. This journal will be the basis for my journey this Lent, and I invite you all to come along!

My journey for Lent begins with a funeral; a funeral for a lovely Christian woman who fought a hard battle with cancer and went home to be with Jesus last Saturday. We will miss her greatly, but are so very thankful that we know where she’s gone and we will see her later in Heaven. It is because of His sacrifice that we have the promise of eternal life

I hope you’ll join me in reflecting on the words in today’s devotion. Sin is serious business, and the price that He paid so we wouldn’t have to is enormous. At the very least, let our hearts be humbled today as we begin our spiritual journey.

Blessings,

SB

Copyright 2018 Journey For Life. All rights reserved

Make good choices.. Love, Mom

After a brief text exchange with my college son last night regarding various recent events in his life, he replied, “I’m making good choices, mom”.

When our children are young, we make their choices for them, but as they begin to grow up, they need to begin making choices of their own so that we can help to teach them the difference between good choices and bad choices. We’ve all made bad choices, and so will they. It’s funny, though, how our perspective changes once we are the parent. The truth is, we don’t like to see our kids make choices hat we know will lead them through heartache because we know it will be painful. Worse yet, they could make a choice from which is hard (or impossible) to recover.

When the time comes for them to be completely independent (which, although sad in some ways, IS what we want for our children) I want them to be prepared to think through the consequences of all of their decisions. One method I have used is this admonition: MAKE GOOD CHOICES.

Life is all about choices. I have seen people make some very, very good choices in life, and I have seen people make some very, very bad choices. For every choice car we make, there are consequences. If we are forward thinking enough, we can think about what tho consequences might be given choice A or B, which may help guide us to the best choice. Ultimately I know my children will own their own choices, both big and small. Who to marry, field of employment, place to live, church to attend. I want to equip them with all of the tools to make the very best decisions. But how do we do that?

1. Teach them to think and seek advice from wise people.

The Bible is full of wise advice, as well as examples of good and bad choices. Life, too, is full of good and bad choices. It’s important to talk with our kids about choices we see others make, and point out alternate choices that could have been made to affect different outcomes. This process will help develop critical think skills essential in making good decisions.

Finding other people who can be trusted with choices is also important as we teach our children; people other than their parents who they can trust (face it, when our kids are working hard to prove their independence they may not seek our advice).

2. Let them fail. (This is hard)

This advice is hard to execute because we want our children to have everything better than we did. If we can teach them to own the consequences of their choices in the smaller, seemingly insignificant choices , they will be better equipped to own the big ones too. As we’re teaching them, it is important to refrain from the dreaded, “I told you so” responses that do nothing for building healthy relationships. Let them discover, on their own, consequences from negative choices. Again, this helps build their own decision making process.

3. Love them

Most importantly, continue to love them and keep open relationship, even if the choices they make are different than those you would have made. This step is particularly difficult if their choices are poor, but even more important in this case. Our kids have got to know they always have someone who will help them in time of need.

4. Model itWhether we like to admit or not, our kids follow our lead; the good as well as the bad. For this reason, it is equally important for us to model the lessons we are trying to teach. MAKE GOOD CHOICES.

copyright 2018 Journey-For-Life. All rights reserved

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New Years resolution flunky?

As January comes to a close, I wonder how many New Years resolutions are still being actively pursued. Oh, it isn’t that we don’t intend to give our best. In fact, I think, quite honestly, sometimes it’s the opposite. Sometimes in our initial zeal, we start out too aggressively, and pour everything we have into focusing on that resolution. While focus is normally a good thing, when combined with obsession, can lead to burnout. I have experienced this first hand.

My other observation, particularly with fitness goals, is this: the gym-rats art not always welcoming to the “newbies”. Even when I was a regular gym-goer as a new year began, I heard others make negative comments about new people invading their space, using “their” equipment, etc., as if it was a bad thing. I always thought we should be patting them on the back for making a healthy choice, and encouraging them to take it slow enough not to get burned out. After all, the Bible’s tells us to encourage one another, right?

In the past, when I’d become burned out on my venture, I’d simply give up, with an overwhelming feeling of failure that did little for my soul. Perhaps, instead of simply giving up, we should consider that new beginnings happen every day.

If you’re one of the zealous, New Years resolution flunkies, take heart! A new day is beginning, and a new month is about to start! So get ready! Pick yourself back up and let’s get going! I’ll be right there beside you to encourage you every step of the way!

 

Copyright 2018 Journey-For-Life    All Rights Reserved

Overwhelmed!

On a brisk, no bitter cold, Friday morning in November, I pulled into the lot at the office.  Immediately I noticed there were fewer cars in the parking lot, and thought to myself. “This is great. I can get caught up on all the things I couldn’t get to this week.”

I plugged my laptop in and got started.  Then my phone rang. While I was on the phone, in instant message popped up, and then another.  One thing after another, and before I knew it I was feeling overwhelmed.  

Reminiscent of days I’d take a vacation day from work to deep clean the kids’ room, I didn’t know where to start.   I thought back to those days. At the time, I didn’t fully understand anxiety.   I’d start early in the morning, just after they got in the 🚌 bus for school.  The first couple of hours were the worst.  I’d literally hyperventilate, having to remind myself that it was going to be ok 👌.  However, looking at the ridiculous mess in front of my eyes foreshadowed the enormity of the task I felt I’d never complete. 

Slowly, I would begin to make progress, starting in one area.  I found that as I began to organize a bit, throwing away things no longer needed, and grouping together like items, a new pattern of organization began. 

After a few hours, I could begin to see a clearing through the mound of toys and stuffed animals and my anxiety would subside a bit.   I had to see the progress so that I could feel better.  Baby steps.  

As I thought about those days, I tried to apply the advice that I now give to my piano students when they feel overwhelmed with a new song to learn. There are some principles that, if I can remember to apply to all of life’s situations, I would be much better able to eliminate anxiety.

1.  Break big problems into smaller ones and tackle one at a time. 

When we look at an enormous problem, sometimes the anxiety we feel over that problem can immobilize us, which sometimes adds to the anxiety. Before long we feel as though we can’t do any of it, so we don’t.  

2. Get moving 

The longer we procrastinate the worse the problem feels, which adds to our anxiety and makes everything seem worse.  When we move past inactivity, even in something small, we see progress, which helps us to move to the next thing, and then the next. 

3. Look back to see how far you’ve come 

Take time periodically to look around and acknowledge progress. Whether looking around at the toys that are now organized, being able to play the measure that we previously couldn’t, or seeing that the pile of mail is smaller than before, acknowledging the progress we’ve begun to make has a subconscious affect on our psyche.  The message confirms that we are headed in the right direction and motivates us to keep going. 

4. Celebrate the success and take a breath

It may seem sometimes that the hamster wheel never stops, but it’s important to find times when we can pause to celebrate what we’ve accomplished.  Even if we take only 60 seconds before moving to the next task, take the time to figuratively cross the task off the TODO list.  If you are a list maker, cross the task off the literal list.  In doing so, we celebrate the accomplishment which motivates us to keep going.

My Friday didn’t get any easier, but by following the advice above, I was able to cross a few things off my list and motivate me to keep going.  
Blessings

SB