Musings From A Musical Mind

Archive for the ‘Encouragement’ Category

Rewriting The Already Written

An icon for rewriting an article and for other...

An icon for rewriting an article and for other purposes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I did something the other day I had not done in years.  I attended a book reading at a local bookstore, small and eclectic – in the heart of our quaint downtown.  The event was called “An afternoon with Rod Haynes” local writer – and also a member of the church we attend.  Rod is very interesting and has many fun stories he has penned.  He has written three books and in his time with us he read aloud some sections of each.

But it was in my conversation with him before the event began that captured my attention and has given me many thoughtful moments ever since.  He told me that he was not always able to make sense of things in the past that have happened – so he attempted to create a new fictitious ending to a very real story, to gain perspective and to give closure in either a positive or negative way.  He gave a few examples in his time with us – his way of weaving true events with those that he would have liked to have happened.

Maybe you like me, have attempted to make sense of events in your life.  Maybe you’ve even tried to wrap your mind around “your story” as told by you in a way that really did happen, but instead you end up frustrated and overwhelmed.  It could be that the telling would expose those you don’t wish to name – or bring up bad or painful memories.  Either way, I too have thought “one of these days – I will write a book” – but I don’t think it can happen in the “truest” form.  Too much stuff – too “unfinished” – too – yeah you know.

I believe writers can sharpen other writers.  And I believe they can inspire and encourage.  Knowing that Rod has been able to ‘fictitiously’ make sense out of his circumstances and events – has made me curious about mine.  And because anything can happen in our imagination this can also be a very healing tool.  One thing is for sure – I would rewrite the already written.  I would bring closure to a painful period.  Something that has already happened in my dream world.  In fact sometimes dreams can be so real that I actually have awakened up a few times thinking the “thing” was actually resolved.

My rewrite is probably different from yours.  It definitely takes two people to resolve a conflict and begin healing.  Maybe your rewrite would include a person who has already passed away, a parent, a lost child or friend.  Maybe you would say – or have them say the things you have needed to say or hear.  Or maybe still it’s a person (like mine) who is still living and breathing – but who does not want to resolve anything.  Either way – the rewrite would bring that healing and final conclusion – you know – the one that would actually make sense – bring healing and set you free.

We all have a story to tell – and whether it’s just “I’m sorry” or in my case “All is forgiven, what took you so long to come around again?”  It’s your story – and maybe you need to write it.

Here’s to – ‘Rewriting The Already Written’ – letting go of pain and replacing with things that finally make sense.  Bringing good out of chaos and lessons learned.  Bringing full resolution to your heart and soul.

God Bless

The Quiet Center

Dream of the Abandoned Chair

Dream of the Abandoned Chair (Photo credit: garlandcannon)

We sang this beautiful song during our morning church service.  The words are reflective and personal.  With any good lyrics, I find myself searching deep within and relating so well with each line.  The title is simply, “Come and find the quiet center” and invites all to pause and reflect.  In stepping away from the noise and chaos so often associated with our busy lives – I love the times I can quietly retreat and find my ‘center’ – that place reserved for God alone.  A place where He is my focus and steadiness in a world gone mad.  In the second and third verse (which are not on the video) there is a richness of word pictures.  I especially love how ‘silence is a friend who claims us, cools the heat and slows the pace’.  And ‘there’s a place for deepest dreaming, there’s a time for heart to care, in the Spirit’s lively scheming there is always room to spare!’

 

Do you have a quiet center?  A place of reflection?  A refuge in time of  the great storms in your life?  Take a minute today and reflect on these beautiful words – you will be blessed!

 

 

 

God Bless

 

 

by Shirley Erena Murray

 

1 Come and find the quiet center
in the crowded life we lead,
find the room for hope to enter,
find the frame where we are freed:
clear the chaos and the clutter,
clear our eyes, that we can see
all the things that really matter,
be at peace, and simply be.
2 Silence is a friend who claims us,
cools the heat and slows the pace,
God it is who speaks and names us,
knows our being, touches base,
making space within our thinking,
lifting shades to show the sun,
raising courage when we’re shrinking,
finding scope for faith begun.
3 In the Spirit let us travel,
open to each other’s pain,
let our loves and fears unravel,
celebrate the space we gain:
there’s a place for deepest dreaming,
there’s a time for heart to care,
in the Spirit’s lively scheming
there is always room to spare!

 

Trusting God

Hand in Hand

Hand in Hand (Photo credit: Jenn Durfey)

The other day I walked and talked with a friend.  I felt safe.  There was a quiet understanding and acceptance there – a  freedom to be all I am supposed to be.  A human touch and validation can soothe in the dark and gray areas that lurk in the corners of our heart and mind.  Especially true if you, like I have known the sharp betrayal of trust from a ‘friend’.

Sometimes we can talk more freely to a trusted friend – and not feel that same freedom when we talk with God. Even when we know He will not betray us – or hurt us in any way.   I don’t know if it’s because saying things out loud to Him makes us feel silly, and seem unnecessary – as He already knows it all before we utter a single word – or if in saying things out loud confirms just how foolish, jealous, prideful, secretive, malicious and self-serving we are – even in what we feel are the best of circumstances.  But I do know this:  just because He already knows – does not discount His absolute validation and understanding, His stubborn acceptance and love.  As I learn to trust more – with all my feelings, no matter how silly they seem to me – I find no condemnation there.

I once heard a powerful message on the subject about being truthful with God.  We can hide from those around us – and even ourselves – but we cannot hide from Him.  We may fool ourselves into thinking that He will not know if we do not speak of it – yet scripture and everything we know about God would say otherwise.  And still He wants us to come to Him and confess it – say it out loud.  I like to think of it like this:  If I’m walking and talking with a good trusted friend – I would not hold back in expressing myself.  How much more should I trust the one who made me?  The one who has a unique “take” on my multifaceted personality – who is not surprised when something is difficult for me to get over – or I cannot seem to ‘get it’?  Who lovingly understands when things are frustrating for me.   He patiently waits for me to finish my rant when all I want are answers to questions when there are no answers.  How much more confidant should I be to bring all to Him – the things He has asked me to walk away from – the things that still bother me – the tears that no one sees?  And the absolute feeling of failure because I am still ‘going there’?  The fear of betrayal.

If you are on a similar journey – learning to open up and empty out your heart to God – and you’re finding it difficult knowing where to start, remember what it is like talking to your very best friend – someone you trust with your secrets, private emails and conversations.  You know they will not betray you – no matter how crazy you sound.  They will keep it to themselves and only want the very best for you.  God is much more trustworthy than your most trusted friend here on earth.  He will not turn you in, ‘rat you out’, embarrass or humiliate you.  He will listen.  He will quietly wait for you.  And then He will lovingly show you what to do next.  He is on your side – in your corner and has your back.  Forever.  Trust Him today.  Start that conversation with this:

Dear Lord – I know I’ve blown it big time in the past.  I’ve been a big failure and disappointment to others, myself and to you.  I don’t want to live that way anymore.  I’m tired of feeling bad, guilty and tired all the time.  I need you to replace all the icky stuff in my life with your forgiveness, peace, joy and love.  I believe you came to earth, died for my sins and rose again to give me eternal life.  I believe all I have to do is accept you into my life and that you and I together can begin a new life.  I need you as a trusted friend to help me through my many problems and decisions.  I am going to start today to trust you.  I believe that nothing is impossible with you.  Help me to come to you whenever the going gets tough – I am going to talk with you everyday and together we will figure it out.  Thank you so much for loving me.  Amen

If you sincerely prayed that prayer above – you’re ready to have daily conversations with Him.  Let Him into your thought life – your daily circumstances and everything that touches and affects you.  Nothing surprises Him – nothing takes Him off guard.  He is willing and able to be your support and help in time of need.  And because He made you and formed your unique personality – He knows just how to help, comfort and support you – like no one else can.

God Bless

Things That Don’t Bring Shame

Running after our own desires only brings shame

When was the last time this statement had you nodding your head in agreement?

Heard an excellent message yesterday morning at a church we were visiting.  The pastor had many great points about Ephesians 1 – and in particular what God desires for us.

Are our own desires always bad?  When they don’t line up with the word of God and God’s ultimate plan for our lives – our desires can bring us only temporary happiness – but not lasting joy.

Heard another excellent video message this morning from Joyce Meyer.  She was speaking on the subject of “Fear”.  One of the best I’ve ever heard on this subject.  In the middle of the message – she almost echoed the words above that the pastor had spoken yesterday – “when we follow after something from the flesh – it only satisfies for a little while – but then we end up feeling REALLY STUPID and having tons of regret”

The question should be:  “What does God want for my life?”  Period.  He has so much more planned for me than I can ever imagine – and the things He does not give me is only to protect me or give me something better instead.

That simple trust is very hard.  We want what we want.  I want what I want.  I sometimes try to “help” God, trying to manipulate circumstances to get it – instead of just giving it up and asking what He wants for me.

Are you asking for something today and God is saying, “No”?  Is it a desire of the flesh?  Is it something He does not want for you?  Is it withheld because of the great lesson you are going to learn from it?

God will never give you something that causes shame.

You can take that to the bank, my friend.

Romans 9:33 – As it is written: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

I am praying for you

God Bless

The Risk Of Friendship

There is a conference happening next weekend in Chicago called “When Jesus met Mary – A sacred friendship gathering”. It is a conference exploring friendship between men and women. Here is the link from the website of Dan Brennan.  Dan is an author and leader of this event – he is also a new friend of mine, and I have enjoyed his blog articles and things he has written on the subject of men and women.

This has been a subject of much debate over the years – emotional affairs seem to be on the rise – especially in churches and among leadership.  Can a relationship between a man and a woman who are NOT married – be just a friendship?  Can they love each other, be concerned and care about each other?  Be involved in their daily life, share humor, special moments and kindness?  I believe they can.  My friend and fellow blogging buddy Alise Write wrote a great article on the subject today of “Guard your heart” – what does it really mean?  To put a fence around it – or to love recklessly and on the wild side – like Jesus did?

We all have a story – or know someone who does, where it taints our idea of platonic love between the sexes.  I get it.  And it is a risk to love someone – regardless of gender.  But I believe with all my heart that it doesn’t have to be that way.  I believe that we can love – with no fear – like Jesus did.  Where the end result is a deep and lasting friendship.  Is it a risk?  Yes – all the time.  I’ve risked myself several times, been misunderstood, been betrayed, humiliated and accused – because of someone’s fear.  But I believe that there can be a safe place to have others in our lives – where understanding, respect, kindness, gentleness and love – compel us to do right – not wrong.  And I believe that day is coming – as we move past our fear of sin where we bind up the protection of our heart so tight that no one can get in – and where every one of the opposite sex looks menacing and evil – and into a better place of community and relationship where we don’t think of others as “scary”, “sinful” or “just wrong”.

As I’ve written about before – I have had several male friends in my life – before I was married and since.  I still have several that I consider very close friends – who I can count on – and I know would have my back in any crisis or situation.  They are stable, kind, funny and solid.  And I love being able to be myself with them with no judgement.  I love that I don’t have to explain myself to them – and I love it that Greg agrees that all of these men are good people – and he is friends with them as well.  There is no room for jealousy in our marriage – and we have done the hard work to rid ourselves of that – and we have a better marriage because of it.

I’m hoping there will be a day when this subject is an understood one – where people can agree to love deeply and build relationships based on trust and the common good. Where friendship is not seen as suspicious, because of so much abuse – but instead looked on with acceptance and love.

I want to challenge you today:  Live a life of love – of intentional relationship – with no fear.  Take the risk of friendship.  You’ll be glad you did.

 

God Bless

Ancient Words

 

Bible Eric 2

Bible Eric 2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we celebrate the week leading up to Easter Sunday – certain old familiar songs, like this one, “Ancient Words” go round and round in my head.

 

“Ancient words ever true

 

changing me, and changing you

 

we have come with open hearts

 

oh let the ancient words impart”

 

This a favorite song off of Michael W. Smith‘s “Worship Again” CD – and I trust it will bless and encourage you today.

 

 

Being Left Alone

English: An anxious person

Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes things just happen.  Sometimes it’s a good thing.  Sometimes it’s bad.    There are things and people added to our plans – and sometimes things and people are taken away.  There are times of happiness, comfort and safety – But  then there is a time of desolation, hurt and loss.

No one wants to feel abandoned, isolated and left behind.  While it may not happen so much when we’re young – sooner or later it does as we get older.  The same comforts, circumstances and even people in our lives, that are with us when we begin our journey, or part way through our journey – sometimes do not continue with us the rest of the way.  It is the feeling of being “left alone”.  It is difficult to understand.  But it is called life.

This week we’ve been training our 14 week old puppy, Daisy to stay home alone – without anyone here.  Training her to wait – be patient – that we will come back again – therefore reassuring her, by our return that she is not being left permanently.  It is a training for us too as we do not want her to feel lonely, brush her aside like she is not important – but at the same time we want to reduce her anxiety by the fact that we will return.  It is difficult to explain that to a puppy.

In the same way – I wonder how much our earthly anxiety is a mixture of “unnecessary worry” and “childlike anxiety” simply because we do not understand our situation and circumstances like God does.  We don’t have the ability to wait and trust that God sees the bigger picture – and that it is only for a “season” and not “forever”.  I’m sure that God must say, “I know best.  I can see everything all at once.  Trust me”  But we miss it – because we’re too busy being uncomfortable at our own perceived feeling of “being left”.  And more than that – that God doesn’t hear us or understand.

There are some lessons that can only be learned without anyone with me.  Feeling that isolation is good for me.  In anxiety I learn trust.  In feeling abandoned by my overwhelming circumstance – I learn faith.  And I also want to remain hopeful that God has all the answers to the questions I have.  That there will be a time when I understand.

And until then – I must learn the same painful lesson that our puppy must.  Being left alone is sometimes how God speaks His most powerful insights to me.  It is in that lesson, that I am stronger, more compassionate to others, and ready for God to use me again.

When was the last time you feel completely alone?  When you lost something you thought you would always have?  Did you hear God speak to you?

 

God Bless

Could You Sing This At Your Wedding And Beyond?

Yesterday our pastor spoke on a familiar passage of scripture from Ephesians 5:21-29

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word and to present her to himself as a radiant church without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church”

It is a powerful passage that has been abused and misused over the years.  But the point is that – just as we should take up the heart of a servant – like Jesus did for us by his demonstration and example – so husbands and wives should live in submission to each other.

If there is physical and emotional abuse – it should not be tolerated and backed up with the above scripture – as God clearly wants us to live as servants to each other.

As Stephen was talking – something stood out to me.  He said, “Husbands should be spending all of themselves on their wives.”  As a musician, my mind quickly thought of the lyrics where I had heard that terminology before:  Jon McLaughlin – “A Song You Might Hear At A Wedding”.  These song lyrics are powerful and I encourage you to listen to this great song video.  It is the beautiful expression of a man for his wife.  You will love the line “I promise to spend the rest of me on you”.  Powerful and poignant.

When was the last time you spent yourself on someone?  As a husband or wife – do you practice this each day?  Isn’t it about time?

 

God Bless

When Is It MY Turn? Please Pass The Teddy Bear!

Teddy Bear

Image via Wikipedia

A couple of years ago Greg and I attended a counseling retreat – that concentrated on intense communication between married couples.  We got to know several couples at this retreat in all stages of marriage – who had lost the ability to effectively communicate.  The retreat was led by a couple of counselors who had many suggestions to encourage the communication and health between spouses.

One such technique was using a teddy bear.  The spouse that had possession of the teddy bear – could do ALL the talking without interruption.   It was a “safe zone” for the spouse that held the bear.   And as long as they held it – they could do all the talking.  After they were done – they would pass the bear to their spouse and their spouse would be given the same treatment while holding the bear – no interruption – no fear.  This required intense listening – and validation to the partner who was speaking.  The idea being of course, that partner with the bear would affirm the other and say, “I hear what you’re saying….” or “I understand how you could feel that way…” thus verifying that they really heard – and not just sitting there thinking of something else.

Until last night – we had not used this communication technique and had almost forgotten about it.  We were having what you might call a “difference of opinion” and I could see that the “discussion” was going no where – no one really listening to the other at all.  No – in fact – we were both talking at each other – no positive interaction or exchange.  The discussion had pressed some “fear” buttons and immediately we went into a very familiar “dance” of words and programmed responses brought on by what we were interpreting as non-validation.  It was easy for us to slip into, “What???  I did not say that!” or “You ALWAYS say that”  “You’re not hearing me” or “That did NOT happen like that” etc.  This went on for some time until I remembered the retreat – grabbed a teddy bear that usually sits on the pink wing-backed chair in our entry way and grasped him firmly.   I brought him into the family room where Greg was sitting on the couch and announced, “I have the teddy bear”.

Of course this brought smiles and chuckles of recognition from him – but he continued to talk, saying, “HEY – I wasn’t through!”  “You know the rules”  I said, “The one in possession of the teddy bear – gets to speak”.

And so we continued in this fashion – smiling the whole time – but also realizing that there is something to this after all.  A “safe zone” where the one in possession can speak freely without interruption – forcing the other to really listen and NOT say anything.  It forces one to “button the lip” as it were.

It was amazing what happened after that – maybe the mood was different – maybe we both just started listening more – I don’t know, but I do know that we were able to dig a little deeper into some past issues that had been lying dormant – all with the bear on our laps.  And it was not long before the real issue came out and we were able to identify it – with no fear – only validation and recognition.

There is something about a teddy bear.  Ask any child who has one.  They are sweet – and you want to hug them.  They make you smile and feel like a child again.  And you just cannot be mad at a person who is holding one – try it and see if you can!

There are many methods to resolving marital conflict – this is just one that seems to really work – because it is a visual reminder that unless you are holding the bear – you cannot talk – you have to listen, be supportive and validate the one talking.  And I suppose that is at the heart of most miscommunication – wanting to be validated and feel heard.

Next time you have a disagreement – try bringing a teddy bear into the room with you – and suggest that your spouse hold it – and then really listen as they talk.  It will amaze  you as you feel the tension in the room lighten up and you find listening skills you never knew either of you had 🙂

Whose turn is it to hold the bear?

Can you sit still without interrupting until your spouse is finished speaking?

Are you one that encourages and validates your spouse?

Try it today!

God Bless

Learning To Shut Up

This is not an easy story to tell.  I’m ashamed of myself to tell you the truth – and like you – I’m on a journey.  I hope this helps someone today – to see that it’s always better to HOLD YOUR TONGUE.

Last Saturday I went with my husband Greg on a day adventure and road trip.  He had a burial service and a wedding on the same day – which seem to happen quite a bit to him.  I enjoyed playing with my iPhone in the lobby of the funeral home while he and the family went to the graveside (did I mention it was raining?).  I was happily minding my own business when a lady who worked there came in and saw me sitting in this big lobby all by myself and said in a rather loud voice to a co-worker – “what is she doing there?”  Now I suppose it was the way she said it that was the most irritating – and made me want to say something snarky – but I held my tongue.  The co-worker who had seen me with Greg before the service and had no doubt put two and two together and was not alarmed that I would choose to be in there – out of the rain.  So she began to explain it to the woman who just entered the building.  It was quite amusing to me – I mean after all – I was just sitting there!

I told Greg as we were on the way to a small town near Mt. Rainier – for his next gig – a small country wedding.  And began a topic of great discussion – and much chuckling 🙂

The wedding was supposed to take place out-of-doors – but with the cold and rain – they had to go to Plan B – indoors at this quaint little country Inn.  It was simple and beautiful with about 50 people – small and intimate.  The wedding was upstairs and I remember walking up and being greeted with a friendly smile from the DJ.  He was behind a table of equipment and a sound board and was playing some really nice classical music as everyone was getting into place – setting the mood.  Ahhhh – so nice. There was a very pretty young woman with pink streaks in her hair – she appeared to be helping him at the table.  She also smiled at me.  I smiled back – isn’t life good?

The wedding was short and sweet – there were several toasts to the bride and groom by family and friends – some lights snacks served – and about an hour and a half to wait before a formal seated dinner downstairs.  During this time I thought I would look on Planning Center – an app for my iPhone that has service plans for a church service – and my husband and I were leading worship the next morning – and sadly I had not entered the songs in yet.  I thought – I can do this right now while we wait!

I had not counted on the DJ (remember the smiley and happy guy that greeted me as I climbed the stairs?) playing 70’s music (the hard stuff) REALLY LOUD.  I normally love 70’s music and I’m so-so tolerant of loud music – if I don’t have to concentrate on a task – but it was impossible with loud music BLARING.  There was only that one room to wait in.  The only rooms downstairs were the restaurant and the little store.  I knew I would have to get out of there – our truck in the parking lot was not an option due to the limited WIFI range.  I was NOT in a good mood – I had a mission to complete – and this guy WAS NOT helping me.  So I told Greg – I’m going downstairs – this is ridiculous!  Grabbed my purse and iPhone and moved quickly to find the stairs – right by the smiley DJ guy.

Now at this moment in time – I remember exactly what I was thinking.  And it WAS NOT nice.  I was horribly inconvenienced.  My head was POUNDING.  The music was BLARING in my ears as I walked closer to the stairs where the HUGE speakers were located.  It took every ounce of self-control in me – NOT to scream at that man – or at least voice my displeasure at his insensitivity to MY needs!  I mean – COME ON – doesn’t he care that it’s this loud stuff that can give me an unbelievable headache?  Doesn’t he care?

But I checked myself – and walked down the stairs saying nothing.  But I probably didn’t smile back at him – I don’t remember.  Boy was I mad.  Downstairs there was NO WIFI so I couldn’t complete my task without going back upstairs and I was determined NOT TO.  So I stayed down and waited it out for a little while – what seemed like forever – my feet were killing me and I needed to go find a place to sit.  So I went back upstairs – greeted by the smiley couple and stuck it out – until it was time for dinner.

Now here’s the really interesting part – and the most humbling for me.  We had name tags every one of us – assigned to a table.  Greg and I found our names at a cute little table by the window and had NO IDEA who the mystery people were that would be sitting directly in front of us – the table was very small – and it would be necessary to get really cozy with the other people sitting there.  No one came.  We thought we would be at the table alone.  And then it happened.  The smiley DJ and the pretty young woman with the pink hair – walked over to our table – they were our table mates.  They were friendly, courteous and fascinating – telling us story after story about their very fast paced lives – and during the meal I felt like we had made some friends.  They were half the age of Greg and me and it didn’t seem to matter.  We found common ground with music and sharing our lives and experiences.  I’m so glad they didn’t know how mad I was earlier – that would have been – well – can you say – AWKWARD?  I know that instead of making friends that day – my behavior and attitude would have been such a turn off to this young couple – our conversation would have been strained and I would have been humiliated.  Not exactly the example of Christ in my life, right?  Sometimes it’s just better to hold in.

Boy am I EVER GLAD I had learned early on in my life – okay – in more recent years to SHUT UP.  It is not always what I have done – but when I’ve had many things go sideways in my life because of my BIG MOUTH – I always think twice – when it would be the easiest thing in the world to just LET THEM HAVE IT!

When was the last time you kept your big mouth shut?  When was the last time you didn’t?

God Bless

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