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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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

Thinly Veiled

Where to begin….

Yesterday, when I got home from work, a package for me was sitting on the ottoman in my family room.  When I opened it,  real-live paperback version of the book that was published was sitting in my hands.  As I mentioned, I’ve seen the cover 1,000 times, but to touch it and flip through the pages was a righteous moment for me… and then I thought, “what if my mom see’s it?”    LOL (40-something years old and afraid of what my mother will think – can anyone relate?)    I mean, really, she doesn’t yet know anything about it… in the book, through fictional characters, I have laid out some of the most painful memories of my life… what if she reads it and judges me?  what if she’s angry that I’ve publicly admitted my weaknesses?   Could I hide it from her forever?   Probably not.   I was reminded of the conversation I had with the publisher when I told him my husband didn’t know about the book – he said, “well you better tell him before he sees you on the news”.

It had been terrifying for me to tell my husband, but I asked those encouraging me to pray for me.. and one night, I worked up enough courage to tell him.  His response (“what was your purpose?”) caused me to deep-think how I would like to see God use this book.  What seemed daunting to me ended up being a catalyst for me to change the “note from the author”  (funny how life works that way sometimes).

At any rate, I decided that when my mom got home, I would simply ask her to read a book, and not tell her I was the author, since, of course, I have a pen name.  She reads quickly – in fact, I believe she taught Evelyn Wood how to read back in the day!   I went to a different room because I didn’t want to feel her judgement as she poured through the pages of my open heart.  At one point, my daughter told me she was looking for me – but  I was hiding.

After she finished the book, she came into the room where I was – I could swear there was a tear on her cheek.  She said, “well, that was – WOW”   I wasn’t sure if she meant WOW in a good way or a bad, so I asked her, and she said, “Good”, which I will take at face value.   We talked about how my prayer is that it would reach people who are hurting and need to know God’s love.

I asked her if she was angry.  She said, “Why would I be angry?”   She said she knew I was the author in the first chapter – my identity is “thinly veiled”, as she put it.  I asked her to keep it secret from the rest of my family.  I told her they would not understand me.  She agreed on both counts.

I really don’t know why I was so afraid, except to say that the pain that I experienced in my life is also pain that she experienced.  I have seen how she’s handled it (well, I might add – she’s a fighter), and perhaps was afraid that dredging up old memories of pain would be difficult for her.  She loves Jesus as much as I do – probably more.  I believe that she will honor my prayer that God will use the message to let people know that, no matter what they’re going through in life, God is there with them and will help them through.

Many of you have already reached out to let me know your ordered your copy – thank you, thank you, thank you.

If you haven’t, and want to, please click the link below.

Order Masquerade here!

If you haven’t followed my journey, please do.  I have a feeling it’s about to get real.

Have a blessed day, everyone!

Blessings, SB

 

 

Copyright 2018  Journey For Life – All rights reserved.

The love of all things vintage

A few months ago, a friend of mine posted a picture of a high school girl wearing a shirt that said “86” on it. My friend asked the girl what it meant and she replied that it was “vintage– you know, from 1986”. My friend had graduated from high school in 1986 and just about choked when she heard that she was “vintage”.

I love vintage things. Not 1986 vintage, but truly vintage. The stories that vintage items hold can only be imagined or, better yet, dreamed up in our minds.

I came by my love of vintage items quite naturally. My mom has some very cool items that have been passed down from her parents and grandparents. My favorite is an old steamer trunk that my papa brought with him from Ireland. I asked my moms about restoring about 20 years ago. I don’t think she believes I will ever do it. Someday I will show her. Truth is, I am a little intimidated by it. I mean, with its history so personal to me, I would not want to mess it up.

In the meantime, I picked up this beauty on which to “practice”.

The hinges worked fine. A previous owner had painted the inside, and in the process, slipped paint on the outside, which I sanded off. The clasp doesn’t work, but is intact. The straps are missing from the sides (I’ve almost never seen a trunk with the handles still attached).

I began by washing her with Murphy’s Oil soap (mostly because I was using that on another project, which I’ll show later.

She looks better already. Some trunks come with that musty, vintage smell, but this one really doesn’t. I did clean the inside really well.

Next, I began to work on the outside. I didn’t want to have a “freshly painted” look since, after all, she is an antique, so I chose an ultra flat chalky black paint for the metal parts. On the textured parts, I used a copper metallic paint which I carefully dry-brushed and wiped, just to give an “antique” appearance.

I painted the hasps and buckled gold

I stained the wooden straps with minwax fruitwood.

For the inside, I selected a wonderfully vintage fabric to Modge Podge I started with the lid.and applied a thin coat of modge lodge to the lid before laying the fabric down. I flattened out the wribkles and applied more Modge Podge on top. I let the lid dry completely before moving on to sides and bottom.

The sides and bottom were done in a similar fashion.

On Sunday, I posted the trunk for sale on the Facebook Marketplace and was almost immediately contacted by multiple people who were interested.  I made arrangements to meet the first person and let the others know that i’d contact them if the pick-up fell through.  Just as I was pulling in to the parking lot to meet the person, they texted and said they changed their mind.   “Really?”   I said, more than a little agitated.  However, I went to the next in line, and he was available to meet and came right away.   I am hoping that he loves the trunk – it truly is a beautiful piece.  In all honesty, I’m a little sad to see it go.  I believe I have the confidence to work on Papa’s trunk.

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

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?