Two kinds of people…

When you live your life expecting miracles, you see them unfold right before your eyes. It’s like opening a Christmas gift!

With the highs and lows in life, sometimes simultaneously, we can get caught up in distractions that keep us from blessings that unfold before us.

I have discovered, though, that there are people who cannot see the miracles even though they happen right in front of them. I think to myself, “are they blind?” Yes, truly I think they are. Blind to the Spirit, I suppose.

Perhaps there was a time in my life, too, where I missed the miracles and wonderful things God was doing in my life. If so, I don’t ever want to return to that state. My desire is to continue being the person that sees miracles everywhere I look.

I pray that you see miracles today, my friend. Today and every day.

Blessings,

SB

Copyright 2018 Journey For Life. All rights reserved

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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

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

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

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!

Between Jack Daniels and Jesus

Every year in April, our church hosts the 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 our town 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.  Our town 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 our pastor, “so is a gift of salvation”.   This year, on the 20th anniversary, we estimated approximately 15,000 bikes piled in – to our parking lot, and the adjacent streets, and the parking lots along the highway.  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).

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.   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 remembered 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…. 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?

 

Restoration through Craigslist

I’ve mentioned before that one of my hobbies is buying things on Craigslist – I can’t really remember when it started, but probably a few years ago.  I think it started in the Goodwill  in our town– when my kids and I discovered that you can find a variety of awesomely vintage things there, really cheap – and it became a hotbed of project ideas for me.   My daughter tells me that it’s like I was holding my creativity in for so long that it’s all just kind of exploding now, like a kid with ADD. And I can’t finish a project without jumping in on something else – at least buying the raw materials, etc.

About a year ago, my mom told me that she wanted to get a new entertainment center for her tv… well, you know, people aren’t really using those much anymore, so they are plentiful on Craigslist – I said, “ooohh!  Give me a chance to find one for you on Craigslist”.   She said ok, but I think she thought I was crazy.   I got started right away, and it didn’t take me long to find an amazing oak entertainment center with these AWESOME claw feet on it.  It was located in the South Hills of Pittsburgh, which is kind of like a mini-vacation from where I live. Lol.   I contacted the owner and we made arrangements – it was the Thursday before Easter, and I had music rehearsal at church that evening, so I had to make the hour trip after work and get back in time for rehearsal (a tight squeeze, especially considering rush hour).   I asked for the dimensions of the furniture and measured my van, and thought it would be tight but would work.   I took a couple of screwdrivers with me, and a blanket, and set out on my trip.    I met the owner at her front door – a sweetheart of a girl, and together, we carried the entertainment center from her living room, out the front door, down the steps, and to the driveway where my van was parked.   I had all of the seats down, so we picked up the furniture and tried to put it in, and very quickly realized… it ain’t going.   We tried it several different ways, and I was thinking to myself, “oh my.. what will we do now? Do I have to carry it BACK into the house?  Make arrangements at a later time to come back with a truck??  What a bummer.   Just then, a guy in a truck stopped at the stop sign in front of her house and put his window down.  He asked if we needed help.   Normally, when someone asks me if I need help, my canned response is, “nah, I got it”.  Cuz I don’t really like to need help.   But I actually realized in this case, that I really DID need help.  ha.   So I just said, “yes, actually, I think we do”.    So he pulled over and got out – he was dressed in a fireman’s uniform – not the one they wear while fighting the fire – but their dressy one – he looked sharp.   He informed us he was just coming home from work, and was headed to his parent’s house for dinner.   (He looked to be mid-twenty’s, around the same age as the furniture owner).   After fiddling for a bit, he said, “you know, I think the feet have to come off”    (Ahhh, not the feet!   They were the whole reason I bought it).   “let’s look at how they come off”.   So we turned it upside down in her driveway, and, as it turned out, they were torq screws.  I had brought standard screwdrivers, but don’t’ even own a torq bit – neither did the owner.   So the firefighter says to us, “Are you going to be here for a while?”   (and really, where was I going to go?) “my house is just right over the hill, I can go home and get some tools”.    (Really?? He would do that??  how nice).  So, off he went, and the owner and I were standing there looking like damsels in distress.   We were laughing about the whole situation, and I said to her, “well, are you single?”   She said, “yes, actually I am, hahah”  and we laughed some more.   She said, “well, he IS nice guy, and we already know he likes to help people….. ”    I felt like saying, “I know someone who could play the piano for weddings”, but I thought that was pushing it.  Hahah.    So, in a few minutes, sure enough, he came back, with tools in hand, and took the feet off of the furniture – and it went right into the van.   I thanked him profusely, and off I went – I often wondered whether or not anything happened after that – I’d like to think it was the start of a beautiful relationship.  So, I brought it home, and started working on it that weekend – I made my own chalk paint (have you ever priced the real Annie Sloan chalk paint? Sheesh)   In just over a week, it was finished – and I was in love with chalk paint.  Mom was thrilled.     

ent center     ent center 2

I’ve made many CL purchases since then – most of the time, I take someone with me “just in case”.  One time, I didn’t have anyone to go with me to the town next to ours.  When I got to the address, I found it was an apartment building, and I was not super comfortable going inside by myself.   The owner of the object had just had surgery and couldn’t do the stairs, but was sending her boyfriend out with the object.   I texted my friend, Jim, who is a  cop in that town, and asked if he was in the area (he was on duty at the time).  I texted the address to him in case I went missing.  He texted back, “I’ll be there in 5 minutes”.    I said, “please no lights or sirens”.  😂 

Honestly, though, I’ve met all kinds of really nice people through my Craigslist purchases.  Last week, I bought these two awesome chest of drawers.  I don’t need them.  In fact, I have many of them.   But none are as cool or have as much character as these.  

 (I’ve been practicing some negotiation, too – especially since I don’t need them, I can offer really low price and if they don’t accept it, I don’t really care – and sometimes, to my surprise, they DO.)

On my way to pick up a CL purchase one time, I punched the address in my GPS (Google Maps on my phone) and it told me what time I’d arrive.  I had communicated to the owner via email, so I sent him an email to tell him what time I’d arrive.    I typed the email, “I should be there by 6:19, according to GPS”…   my phone auto-corrected the word GPS, so the email came out, “I should be there by 6:19 according to GOD. ”   hahaha     The guy responded, “you can’t miss the house – it looks haunted”.     Awesome.   And, indeed, it did.   Didn’t get a picture of it, but trust me.

As I look back on the projects I’ve completed, I realize one thing they have in common.  They started as junk and, through restoration, they got a new lease on life.   This similar to what Jesus does in our lives.   He takes the heap in junk that we are and restores us to an image of beauty for His glory. Indeed, no matter how broken, we can have restoration through Christ.

Revelation 21:5 Jesus says, “Behold I make all things new”.    


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