Musings From A Musical Mind

Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

Priceless “In The Moment” Moments

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This month marks the 30th anniversary of the last time I was single and living at home.  I went right from my parent’s home at 20 years of age to another way of life – without ever have lived on my own.

And although it worked out for me – I also see great benefits to living on your own before being married.

Both of my children have had opportunities to live on their own after finishing high school.  And although this can be hard, financially – I believe the lessons learned while living on your own are very valuable.  Some things just can’t be taught while living at home.

With our daughter – she was so determined that she would make it – and it took two jobs for her to do so – she’s been very proud of herself that she was completely self sufficient by the time she was 20 years old.  She learned a lot of about room-mates and finances that she’s never forgotten – and when it came time for her to get married – she was already very disciplined with money and her work ethic.  She’s one of the hardest working young women I know.

Shawn, who will be 20 in October – has moved to California to pursue a music education and hopefully a career with his music training.  He lives with room-mates in Burbank and has struggled to maintain his rent with only a part-time job.  We are grateful he got a job, when so few are available.  And we’re also thankful that his loan money will cover his tuition AND his housing this fall.  But it’s still tough to make the rent and pay for things like food – until then.

Experiences like this are so valuable.  And he will look back on these times as “the good old days” before real bills, a wife and children to support.  All of this – priceless in the big scheme of things to come.

As I chatted on the phone with him last night – I reminded him that this too shall pass – and his present circumstance is what great songs and writings are made of  🙂  Maybe not while he’s struggling – but sometime after as he looks back…

Living “in the moment” – trying to be present – even during hard times of struggle. Being available in the mind.  On purpose and on task.  Learning to get by on very little – to be engaged and still positive about life.  This is what living “in the moment” is all about.

Are you alway “in the moment”?  Does your mind wander to “better times” either in the past – or somewhere in the future?  Can you be content and very present?  Now – today?  Especially when things are not ideal?  And you may be struggling?  Can you find the priceless of the here and now?  Knowing this moment will pass you by – and be no more?

Did you live on your own before you were married?  What did you do without during those years?  What’s your story?

 

God Bless

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Loosening My Firm Grip

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I was out taking a walk around the neighborhood yesterday, in one of those rare sunny and fairly “warmish” days.  I had my iPhone/iPod tunes coming through my ear buds and I was humming a happy little tune.

I turned a corner and walked toward a nearby park when all of a sudden the thought struck me:  What if I lost all this great music on my iPhone?  What if my computer had a melt-down and my WHOLE music library was GONE!  In an instant!

Well,  while this and other great thoughts invaded my mind along my walk – I had to ask myself, “would it really be a big deal? – I mean, come on – it’s just music, right?”

I had to admit that it would not be a huge deal.  An inconvenience for sure – but not the end of the world (as in what’s supposed to happen this Saturday – but that’s ANOTHER story).  No – my life and my world would continue on – I would just turn on my Pandora Radio and slowly rebuild my music library again – or just listen to CD’s and the radio in the car until I gathered my music once again over time.

Now while this is a silly example – I thought about the “things” I hold on to.  Those things that I feel ownership over.  The things that are mine.  My personal belongings, my pictures, my books, my computer, my piano, my blog articles and so on and so forth.  What if something happened to them?  Would I be Okay?  Would I survive?  If EVERYTHING was taken away from me tomorrow – would I really be able to make it?  Is my identity defined by all those things?  Would I really be lost without them?

No.  I would be Okay.  I choose to keep a loose grasp on my material blessings.  I can move, sell, sort and get rid of extra junk when I need to – and have in the past done several BIG MOVES across the country and back – to know that I am not defined by things.  I’ve witnessed several households of furniture come and go in 30 years of marriage and have not been devastated when the time came to unload it – or lighten our load.

I believe there is a principle in this for not only the material “things” – but I believe we should be willing to let go of our firm grip when it comes to the people in our lives – even if we don’t want to.  I was determined when raising our two children, that I was NOT going to be one of those mom’s who couldn’t bear to let my kids grow up, change and become independent from me.  It is perfectly normal for them to need me less and less as they mature – and to someday be fully developed and have their own life – apart from me.

Our children are only on loan to us.  I don’t believe there are any accidents.  God knows what He is doing – and He gave me my children to love and raise.  I do not OWN them.  And when I have invested into them everything I can – (not always in the most perfect way – but with the best intentions),  I can release them, knowing that they are individuals who must answer to God for themselves – they are no longer my responsibility.

Many parents become unhappy when their grown-up children do not need them anymore – when it is very normal and natural that they should NOT need us anymore when they are mature.  Some are bewildered because they feel they lose their control over their children and even try forms of manipulation and even guilt to keep them young – while imposing their need and dreams of the “good old days”.  While this is natural because of the time investment spent in them – it should not be used as a method of control towards our children.  They are given to us – they really belong to God.  It is important to raise our children “in the way they should go”  and then let them go – loosen the grip – release them in love.  Even if we don’t always agree.  Pray for them – and then trust God.

And though I am far from perfect as a mom – I have always tried to let my own grown-up children lead their own lives.  I feel like Greg and I did everything we could do while they were living in our home – and we tried to set a godly example for them while growing up – through good and bad, happy and sad times.

The secret is to have a “loose grip” on the things and people that we don’t feel we can let go.  Have a firm grip on God – and teach your children to do the same.  He will make His plans known to them – and He is ultimately responsible for their journey – when they allow Him to guide their steps.  This is so freeing to me as a parent and I know it will be to you too.  This will lead to a happy life – full of deep joy with no regret.

How’s your grip?  Do you feel it tightening around things you can’t bear to lose?  Can you just relax and trust?  How do you apply a “loose grip” to your own situations?

God Bless

Changing Me

I pray because I can’t help myself.  I pray because I’m helpless.  I pray because the need flows out of me all the time – waking and sleeping.  It doesn’t change God – it changes me.

Signature of CS Lewis.

Prayer.  Something happens to me when I pray.  I gain perspective that I am very small – and He is very big.  I have no control – and He sees the big picture – and all events from beginning to end, all at once.  And somehow – there is great comfort in this knowledge.  When I know that my problems, stresses and circumstances do not catch Him off guard – that nothing surprises Him about my life – then somehow I feel better and can relax – knowing He is in control.

I know for me – I need to hear this because I am weak and fall short.  I also tend to compare God’s love for me with other people in my life.  Others who have failed me – when I have failed them – or judged me when I have been in the wrong.  Even turned away instead of sticking it out.  God’s love is not like this.  He wants me to come to Him with my concerns and needs.  He will not be shocked – or turn away – even judge or talk about me, like others in my life have.  He knows everything about me before I even say anything.  He knows it – even before I think it.  He knows it – even before I do.

We are safe with Him.  God is constant and will not change.  He is always the same.  It is me that changes by knowing Him better.  It is me that changes by praying.  It is me that needs the changing – not Him.

Dear Lord – help me to come to you – not to hesitate because I am afraid you will turn me away and say, ‘Straighten up!  What’s wrong with you anyway!  Have I taught you NOTHING!’ – you would never do this – you are peace, love, joy and mercy.  Help me to realize this.  Help me to humble myself and invite you to walk along beside me – on my journey.  Help me – change my heart as I release the deepest parts to you.

God Bless

Mercy

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My heart is stirred today in much emotion – a heavy heart over events and situations that have lately affected my life and made it difficult to press on.  A difficult season of life – with many things out of my control – leaving deep sadness,  remorse – and resignation.

Our pastor, Stephen Collins, spoke on the subject of ‘Mercy’ today.  And although it is a subject that is not new to me – or any people of faith  – I believe  I heard newness in this simple message today – things that I will continue to ponder in the coming weeks.  I found myself very emotional.  This is a subject that is close to my heart and life.  And so with tears streaming down my face – I sat there and took it all in – and allowed the Lord to minister sweet words of comfort and blessing.  I was touched and moved beyond words.

I’ve noticed something about people who are merciful. – they are the first ones to forgive, love, embrace and welcome back,  those who are lost or fallen away.  They have no trouble accepting forgiveness or giving it.  They do not accuse and blame.  They have tender hearts – and they understand the value of mercy – because God has shown mercy to them.  They are also the happiest and most positive people in the world – with many friends.  Their friends trust them – and turn to them when they are in trouble – with no fear of judgment of alienation.  These are people who have been forgiven.

We’ve been watching ‘A Christmas Carol’  – I was noting how Scrooge shows no mercy at the beginning of the story – and then after being shown his life by the ‘spirits’ – he begins to see others and himself in a new light.  The Scrooge story is a story of mercy.  A story of second chances and a new lease on life – a valuable reminder to all of us to remember that when you show mercy to others – others will be merciful.  And it is interesting to note – that the nephew and employee of Scrooge have merciful hearts and embrace him without question – at the beginning of the story – when he is NOT merciful – and later as he is transformed at the end of the story.  No questions – no judgment – no criteria.  Just open arms of love and mercy.

I want to be one that shows mercy – even when I feel as though others have judged me and not understood me – or shown mercy to me.  I want to be the first to say, ‘I understand, I forgive, I love’.  And leave it at that.  No questions asked.  No hesitation.  No disbelief.  Just love and mercy.

Help me Lord to be that kind of person.  Help me to get over myself, my pride, my hurt and pain.  Help me to let go of others that have wronged me – those who have no understanding that their words and actions have wounded me more than they will ever know – and help me to forgive them and show mercy. For I am very aware that if I do not show mercy to others who have failed – or not done what I think they should, then you will not show mercy to me.  Help me to walk with a pure clean heart – free of agenda – free of revenge.  Help me to see others through your eyes.  Amen.

God Bless

Releasing The ‘Control Freak’ Inside

It starts when we’re babies – it is a very small world.  We have needs and our cry can upset the whole house and have everyone running to find the thing that will silence our cries – fill the need – change the diaper – ANYTHING!   We learn at a young age that we are indeed the center of the universe – and everyone will cater to my every whim.  We find our ‘control freak’.

Unfortunately as we grow – we find out that we are not the center of the universe – but we still try to ‘have our own way’ by exerting our will – exercising our ‘control freak’ – and often times dealing with the consequences from Mom and Dad.

After we’re grown we carefully cultivate our ‘control freak’ –  that selfish part of us that feels the need to manipulate our circumstances and the people in it – especially if we feel threatened – or not safe – we feel the need to exercise our right to be heard – all in the name of  Christian love.   All in the name of ‘self protection’.

The ‘control freak’ in me may not look the same as yours.  I’ve never been classified as a ‘typical’ controlling personality – quite the opposite in fact.  But it’s still in there.  It’s in all of us.  It’s called self. And I have a great deal of it – and so do you.

As life goes on and things happen to ‘rock my world’ – the ‘self’ part of me goes into protective mode.  Each time I am ‘jabbed’ or ‘hurt’ I want to lash out uncontrollably.  I want to redirect my control – order my own steps – manipulate my circumstances to move around the hurt and pain.  But I have learned to control that beast that is inside me – I’ve learned to hold him down.  I have learned self-control over my ‘control freak’.

And with eyes tightly shut and my grasp on my iron will firmly situated – I proceed through life – quietly controlling what lies beneath.

I am so carefully controlled that I won’t realize the ‘control freak’ inside of me is really there – until something happens to rock my world – or someone comes along to challenge me.  And then I realize I have my fingers tightly grasped around the ‘safe place’ deep down inside.  With each incident in life – I push down hard against my ‘carefully guarded’ heart – so that no one sees what is really there – and what I’m really capable of  thinking, doing or saying.

I want my way.  I want to control my life.  I want to feel accepted.  I want to be safe, happy and loved.  I want – I need –  me, me, ME!!!!

This is such a learned and ‘safe’ approach to life – that soon I feel justified and even self-righteous for feeling this way.  Aren’t I supposed to be safe and happy?  Loved and accepted?  Of course.  But what if God is asking me to step away from my ‘controlled’ environment and tight grasp on the ‘freak’ inside – and do something where I will feel I have no control? What if something happens to me and I have absolutely no way of resolving the situation? What if I  have to do something really scary – and let go of my firm grasp of my ‘world’ and everything in it?  What if He asks me to open my eyes – and release my ‘control freak’ to Him?

I’ve been asked to do this – not once but several times.  There are no easy answers for life’s big mysteries involving friends and family.  I do not have control over my circumstances.  Oh – I can close my eyes again and try to hang on for dear life – while things swirl around me and hope and pray that I will not be affected – but in reality my trying to grasp whatever control I may think I have – will be stripped from me in the end and I will be left in a big heap on the floor trying to figure out, what happened?

When I release the ‘control freak’ inside of me – to God – He has a way of handling my stress – way better than I can.  He does not want us to carry any of the control.  He gently whispers to me, “let it go“.   And though it is a scary prospect – I know I must do as He asks me.  But does God really know how to handle my situation?   I mean can God really do it the right way?  The way I want Him to?  What if He doesn’t?  What then?  Can I trust Him?  Can I completely let it go?  I mean – completely take my fingers off and just – let go?

Sometimes I think I understand.  Sometimes I think I even come close to really ‘getting it’ – and then it will happen again.  Another hurt, another jab – and –  Whammo – I’m back in that hole of self-protection – trying to figure out a way to have a great ‘come back’ – to lash out and explain myself – to try to figure it out on my own. My default setting.  My much learned – and carefully protected human response to pain and confusion.

And then the gentle words of Jesus come to me:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”   Matthew 11: 28-30

Is your load heavy today?  Are you carrying around the ‘control’ in your life?  Do you self protect – even to the point where you are unafraid to give the control over to God –  ever?  Afraid He won’t do something the way you want Him to?  Afraid He will ask you to ‘release’ something in your life you don’t want to?

I want to encourage you to release the ‘control freak’  inside – take Him at His word – He can handle it – He will do it right.  His way is the best way.  It will be all right. Trust Him.

Go ahead.  Let go.  Release your ‘control freak’ today.

God Bless

Who’s In – And Who’s Not

We live in a culture where it is important to ‘belong’.  We have all been either ‘in’ or ‘out’ when it comes to the ‘clubs’ of our society – like church groups – country clubs – gyms or sports arenas.  Even as children we gravitate to those most likely to accept us and either start our own ‘club’ – or long to be with the ‘other kids’ who seem to have a better ‘club’ than we have.  We all want to belong.  We all want acceptance – even as children.  We want to be noticed and to ‘fit it’.  Sometimes sacrificing ourselves in the process – because being with the popular kids – or the ones who are ‘in’ is far superior to us than being on the outside looking in.

Unfortunately we have also done this as adults.  We’ve done it in our churches.  We’ve done it as Christians.

It looks something like this:  New person comes and joins my ‘club’ and now I feel threatened.  Maybe they will take something away from me.  Maybe my friends will like them better.  Maybe they will be funnier than I am – maybe they will be better than I am.

We had a situation years ago in our church – where we had a thriving music ministry – choir, orchestra and worship team.  This ‘club’ involved about 100 people on any given Sunday.  It was hard work to keep the thing going, new people were encouraged to be a part – but looked at somewhat suspiciously.  Eventually those involved took on the identity of the ‘club’.  When changes were made and even drastically cut down – those that thought they were ‘in’ were threatened and challenged.  Suddenly church did not become about the ‘big picture’ – or about new people finding Christ – as it became about the ‘club’.  It was their identity.

For years we have defined who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’ as far as our Christian faith is concerned.  Some feel it necessary to have a firm grasp on just who is accepted as part of the ‘club’ and those who are never welcomed in.  Those divorced, from a bad family, those involved in moral failure or substance abuse would not be a part of the club.  It was not said in so many words – but everyone just knew. I mean – ‘they really aren’t very spiritual, are they’?

Is is ever possible to really hate the sin – but love the sinner?  Do we put feet to this by allowing them into our ‘club’ – into our ‘world’ to break bread with us?

We live next door to a lesbian couple.  They are the nicest human beings you will ever meet – and though we ourselves think homosexuality is wrong and contradicts everything we know to be true as far as the Bible is concerned – we really like these ladies. We love them.   We know these women would be shunned by others of our faith and it makes us sad.  They would only see the shame and sin – they would never be able to see them.

We also know of others who are shunned, ignored and made to feel ‘out’ instead of ‘in’ – because of those judging them have much emotion – bad feelings or personal prejudices – nothing more.  They are judged on a feeling or on the physical appearance. Or because they don’t believe like we do. I think we have to be very careful – when we have a ‘club’ that is exclusive – and restricts because of small mindedness and agenda.  In doing so we give the silent message to all – “I’m better – I have the only truth – there is no other way to see it than my way”  This is dangerous indeed and it is how cults are formed – and why Hitler had so much power and influence over people.  It is wrong, wrong, WRONG!

We need to embrace people – especially those that are different from us.  There is much we can learn from other cultures and even other denominations.  I believe we may have a surprise when we get to heaven and find our Catholic brothers and sisters – even the Baptist and Lutheran standing beside us!  How small our little ‘club’ will seem then.  God sees the ‘big picture’ – he is not about denominational walls – he is about the heart.

Let’s not make the mistake of judging others – especially the heart and motive that only God can truly see.  He is the only judge – and in the end the truth will revealed.  Someday it may be revealed to us – that very person we don’t like – and that we’re not allowing ‘in’ to our ‘club’ – God is whispering, ‘they are my favorite‘.

Our job is to love, encourage and be an example to others of the love and acceptance that we received from Christ – when we stood before Him and said, “I’m in”.  Let’s bring a whole lot of others with us – as we change this dying world – with our love.

Who’s In?  You are. Remember – you are God’s favorite.

God Bless

Change: The Only Constant

Came across this video on the website of Kent Covenant Church a couple of weeks ago – and thought it went beautifully with the pastor’s message this morning on ‘Change’.

The interesting thing about the subject of change is this: It’s going to happen whether or not we want it to. And just like the character’s in the book and animated movie, “Who moved my cheese?” – it happens without asking anyone’s permission. We have a choice – we can chase after that change – or stubbornly refuse to move – thinking that things will come back to where they should be and where we’re comfortable with them. It is those people – with that thinking – who ultimately miss out. And that includes missing out on the new ways that God speaks to a generation – through music, message and progress of the world’s technology.

The pastor this morning referred to a book written by a church consultant who had studied churches – those that were thriving and those that were dying – and it had nothing to do with ‘numbers’ per say – but with what the mission of the church was – and the ability to change.

It is more difficult to change as we become older.  I think we become more comfortable with who we are (finally) and because that took SO MANY YEARS – somehow any other kind of change doesn’t feel good to us.  I applaud those who want to keep learning and growing – those that learn how to use the internet – even in their nineties to correspond with friends and missionaries all over the world – as in Greg’s great-aunt.  Or in those who learn a new computer program – or go back to school.  To reinvent themselves – dive in where it’s a little scary and keep growing.  To do so keeps the mind young and we all want that, right?

So – keep up with the current trends!  Get a cell phone and learn how to text  – it is the new ‘love language’ of the younger generation – learn to use and maneuver through facebook and your friends’ blog sites.  Better yet – start your own blog site!  What do you do best?  Cook?  Put your recipes on your blog and let others learn from your experience – you will find others like you – exchange information and make new friends.  Do you sew?  Share your wonderful creations on your blog!  How about books you read?  Post them – do a short review on each one and find other ‘book loving’ friends just like you – eager to learn and grow.  There are a million things you can learn from the internet – my favorite is shopping – I almost NEVER pay retail for anything anymore.  Learn how to shop for a value on Ebay or Craigslist – how to ‘google’ important things – Bible references and other interesting facts.  Learn a new musical instrument – read a new best seller – buy a puzzle and work on it while you relax at night.  Play word games like scrabble and boggle – to keep learning new words.  Keep learning – keep growing!  Ask questions – and find the answers!

Be willing to change, grow and learn.  Stay current, stay young – find your voice and change your world!

God Bless

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