Musings From A Musical Mind

Archive for the ‘Expectations’ Category

We Are More Alike Than We Think

United Methodist Church, in

United Methodist Church, in (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Greg and I have had the privilege lately of visiting churches on Sunday mornings here in the Pacific Northwest.  We have been open to trying other denominations and have listened and taken everything in with no judgement or bias (well…maybe a little bias) and have appreciated things new and unfamiliar to us.

In our search we have met some really wonderful people, seen and heard some great music and teaching ministries. The most impressive have been the people in these different denominations.  Deep down inside I’m forced to admit, that I expected people who didn’t think and believe exactly like me to be unfriendly, hostile, pushy and illiterate, lacking depth and reasoning skills.  Pretty dumb.  But the teachings of childhood are hard to shake and once we get a preconceived idea in our head – it is very hard to change it.

As Greg and I have journeyed through our denomination and seen many changes happening in the music, it has been both good and bad for us.  Good in that our kids really enjoyed the progressive trend toward all things modern and new and bad for us in that some of it is just too much the same, some too hard to follow, some too loud etc.  We are somewhere between modern and 20 years ago – and to be honest the music of 15 years ago still suits us best.  Take away choir and orchestra music of our denomination and you’re left with just a worship band with not much variety.

So we have explored music of the more traditional denominations that we thought we would NEVER be interested in.  The Presbyterian and Methodist being among our favorite choices so far – for their depth of teaching, variety of music and beauty of the service.  I was never familiar with a more liturgical service (thought it was only in the Catholic church) had been to a Lutheran service once or twice where my Dad is the organist and was convinced that it was not for me.  But there is a beauty to the order and planning of every scripture reading – hymn chosen and scripture song sung for the message.

Nothing can compare to the pipe organ and huge choir at 1st Presbyterian Church in Bellevue.  The pastor is very interesting, uses humor and deep teaching to make his points clear – and honestly, it’s the best music in “church” I’ve ever heard.

But proximity is very important if hoping to become involved – and we are a couple of miles from Fairwood Community United Methodist Church where I visited yesterday.  I’ve always been curious because this is the lovely little church that I rent twice a year to have my recitals with my students.  I’m not sure what I expected – but it was certainly different (in a good way) than what I thought it would be.  The people were so friendly – had two people engage with me (I was late) before I even got into the sanctuary while standing in the foyer while the choir and teenagers being confirmed were on the platform singing an opening number.  They treated me like I was already one of them.  Then I found my seat toward the back and a nice older man behind me helped me as I stumbled a few times, wondering what book they were singing from.  There were 6 eighth graders that had been confirmed in the earlier service and were a part of the beginning part of the service that I was in – with introductions and explanation to the younger children and adults (like me unfamiliar with confirmation) of what was being done.

The pastor of this church is a woman.  I did not know how I would feel about this.  But my concerns were quickly diminished when I heard her speak and saw her with the children.  She uses humor and relevant topics to convey her point – yesterday she spoke on “Heroes” and used “The Hunger Games” as her premise.  It was relevant and interesting.  I looked around and saw many people just like me.  The same needs, concerns and place in life.  Many have never walked the road in ministry that we have – or ever will – they will never know what we have experienced in another denomination – never see things around the country and here in our own city inside a different type of church – and yet – I realized this:  we are more alike than we think.

I’m not sure where our journey will ultimately end – but in the meantime, I am reassured that God is not just restricted to one denomination.  He is everywhere – relevant to those who seek Him.  Ever present in our songs of worship, our traditional choir anthems and in our prayers offered up in reverence.  We have good friends from the Tri-Cities area who have been pastors like us in our denomination and have found themselves feeling quite at home in the Methodist Church.

When was the last time you visited something different from what you’re used to and were forced to removed the box where your God exists for you?  When was the last time you were really open?  Will it surprise you to see some people from other denominations in heaven with you?  We are the ones who put people in denominations and categories of “spiritual” and “non-spiritual” – God does not.  He just sees the heart.

Lord help me to be open to things that are different.  Help me to see people the way you see them.  Help me to engage in a way that I am always open to your leading.  Amen.

God Bless

Authenticity Or Tact? What Do You Value?

Greg and I were driving down the road the other day and we were discussing something and all of a sudden he blurted out, “This would make an excellent topic for your blog – a poll on what our society values – Authenticity Or Tact!”

To be honest – I value Authenticity.  No longer one who “stuffs” things and hides behind a smiling veneer – I want things to be told just how they are.  The old “Tell It Like It Is” – rings true to me and burns through my heart and soul.  But I also realize that with ‘telling it like it is’ – there is a personal cost.  And I also realize that Authenticity is subjective at best.

We are a society that is fast becoming desensitized to any and all forms of good manners, chivalry, being the bigger person, kindness, scruples and yes, tact.  I read about it online – through blog posts, facebook and twitter updates and I see and experience it in person – those who will not look me in the eye and say, “good morning” – or “how are you today” – or anything at all.

A few months ago I was in a Starbucks with my husband and was getting cream for my coffee and there was a man in his late twenties or early thirties standing at the bar.  I spoke a greeting to him – I’m very friendly and outgoing and usually always speak first – that was no surprise that I had to do so with him.  What surprised and even shocked me was this:  there was no response from him at all.  None.  Nada.  He did not even look at me.  Bad manners you say?  Poor breeding?  No tact?  Yes.  Sadly – all of these.   Was he being real?  Authentic?  True to himself?  Probably.  What I saw – is probably who he really is.  And no – he was not hard of hearing – he was able to talk and listen on his phone just fine.

Since I am a member of this society – and even belong to a generation that values manners and tact – to me that is rude and unacceptable.

But I am also torn.  I love to hear about people – how they really are.  No fluff – no pretense – no hiding behind a smile.  “How are you?  GREAT just GREAT!”  Doesn’t cut it anymore.  Now I know you can’t just ‘spill your guts’ to everyone and there’s a time and place for everything – but sometimes it makes me want to scream when people act like everything is okay – and their world is falling apart.

We have known people over the years – friends in fact, who seemed to have it all together and then one day – their household and relationship blew up!  No one knew about it – until after it was too late.

What does this say about us as a society?  As a Christian community?  As individuals?  It tells me this:  We do not give permission for people to be really real with us.  We hold them at an arm’s length to protect ourselves.  We think, ‘I have too much on my own plate – to deal with their junk’ – and it is felt and understood by those people that we push away.  What does “bearing each others burdens” really mean?  It means:  Listening.  It means: Praying.  It means: Getting involved.

Authenticity comes with a price tag.

Tact requires censoring yourself.

Authenticity says:  I will share my information with you even if it hurts.

Tact says:  I will not hurt you.

What do you value?  What do you think our society values?  How do we have the best of both worlds?  How can I stay true to myself and still love and value you – even if we disagree?

Something to thing about.

God Bless

R.I.P. Common Sense

Saw this last night and couldn’t resist!

Enjoy and God Bless

Printed in The London Times

From London Times

Today we mourn the passing of a be…loved old friend, Common Sense , who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:
– Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
– Why the early bird gets the worm;
– Life isn’t always fair;
– and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).
His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers;
I Know My Rights
I Want It Now
Someone Else Is To Blame
I’m A Victim

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.

With God’s Help, I Shall Be Myself

Cover of "Funny Faces"

Cover of Funny Faces

‎”Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that…Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”
–Galatians 6:4-5 The Message

 

Found this passage of scripture yesterday on a page that I subscribe to on facebook.  I love The Message Bible because it speaks with everyday language that I can understand and more easily, apply to my life.

With life’s cares, burdens, stresses and other things – it becomes difficult to even remember who I am – what my calling is – and just how to do it.  And yet I am instructed to – BE WHO I AM.

Being who I am is difficult.  Not so much in my own head – although that can be a problem too after years of masking who I am – in order to fit it – get along with – or remain with the status quo.  Mostly it is hard because the image I project is sometimes very different from who I really am.  And my responses are carefully guarded after so long of being careful not to offend – and not to be rejected for being different.

But in this scripture I am encouraged to be me.  To do a thorough inventory of myself. Not what others see me as – or want me to be.  Not what I have carefully tried to conceal from people and even myself – but to break free from other thoughts and ideas that others would try to project on me – and just be me.

I have many stories from past ministry life that would raise the hair on the back of your neck – how others tried to muzzle me or tell me what was right for me – how to act – what to say – how to dress etc. etc.  It made me very cautious – it made me very conflicted inside.  I wasn’t sure for many years – who I was – or even if I was satisfied with being different.  Even as recent as two years ago I had a situation where again I felt free to be me – only to be blasted because I was expressing that part of me that had been shut up for so long.  I was once again muzzled and felt humiliated for my words  – by someone I thought understood and encouraged me to be me!  What a concept.  I was wrong – and my attempt at being myself and breaking free was met in the end with lack of understanding and rejection.  But the last couple of years have taught me something.  I like who I am.  I like being free to say and do what I like – without having to fit in to anyone else’s agenda or protocol.  And I have lost my fear.  Others cannot hurt me anymore in the same way.  Or silence me.  I have found myself.

And once I was satisfied with who that someone was – something great happened – the most truthful and honest me came out – I then began to evaluate my gifting according to what I had been equipped for and possess – and I began to sink into that work.

When I think about sinking into something – I think about my nice comfortable bed.  Settling in, making myself comfortable and staying a while.  In the same way – I am encouraged to settle in and make myself comfortable – stay for a while with the things and gifts that God has equipped and given to me.

Being an artist and musician – I love the next part of the verse.  I am instructed to do my ‘creative best’ with my own life – the responsibility rests inside of me.

Thank you Lord for creating me with unique abilities and gifts.  Help me find the courage to be myself – lose the fear of rejection, betrayal, and disregard from those who did not like – or did not agree – with who I am.  Help me find the freedom and safety in your warm and loving regard.  Knowing that you are smiling and cheering me on!  As I come closer and closer to being the one who you created with your purpose running through me.

With God’s help – I shall be myself.

 

God Bless

 

Mercy

Two candles in love. The flame is inverted hea...

Image via Wikipedia

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

What Is Your Slot?

All of us have a place where we just – fit. A lovely little slot where we shine and flourish.

I am happiest when teaching, playing piano, listening to music and when I’m writing.  I love to do a lot of other things too – but this is where I shine and feel happy.

But I am also undisputed in my ‘role’ as the chief cook – Queen of the kitchen.

Greg  has many interests and a couple of businesses which make him very happy – that is where he shines.  But his role in our home is ‘clean-up guy’.  He is very happy to do this.  He is one of those people who is the only one who knows how to load the dishwasher correctly – and does so with a pride and arrogance that is undisputed in our family.  It’s a great set-up – I cook – he cleans.  As long as we keep to that prescribed formula – things are great.

Once in a while it is necessary for me to step in and clean the kitchen and *gasp* LOAD THE DISHWASHER.  It’s never pretty – because I have no love for loading dishes – and Greg can tell.  He sighs and pats me on the head – like he would a small child – and is very patient and gracious with my feeble and uncaring attempts at order and precision under his tutelage.  I am somewhat of a lost cause.

And once in a while it becomes necessary, with my teaching schedule for Greg to step in and begin dinner preparations.  He doesn’t like this especially when I have not thought ahead and just say something like, ‘Greg could you start on dinner?”  It freaks him out.  He has NO IDEA how to just ‘start’ dinner.

Case and point – the other day I was busy teaching and in a small break I asked him if he could ‘start dinner’.  I laid the items out on the counter and told him quickly what to do.  I was assuming he would get it – forgetting that he is not comfortable in the kitchen unless he is making breakfast items – or following along (precisely) from a cookbook.  So I left him in the kitchen – very much in distress – and very much to his own devices.  Very scary.

I went back to teaching.  When the last student had gone – I went into the kitchen hoping that dinner was ready.  Greg seemed pleased with himself.  I looked around and spotted a half-opened jar of marinara sauce on the counter.  Hmmm.   I did not see any container or pan with sauce in it.  The trout was simmering in a pan on the stove – the butternut squash was in the microwave – just as I had directed.  Where is the sauce? –  I wondered.

I peaked in the microwave and under the paper towel.  And what to my horrified eyes should appear – but butternut squash with marinara sauce on top – bubbling away!  I was horrified – and couldn’t imagine what ever could  have possessed him to think that I wanted him to cook it that way!  He saw my horror – and began to quickly explain, ‘You said you wanted squash with marinara sauce’ – as if that settled the question – and would assure me that he had done everything just as he was directed to do.  I took out the raw squash with the very hot and bubbly sauce out of the microwave and proceeded to spoon the sauce into a bowl while explaining, ‘Greg, what I meant was that the squash would be served with marinera sauce.  Squash takes a long time to cook so you can’t have sauce on it – when cooking it’.

I realized something.  Men and women don’t think the same way – even about food.  You can’t assume.  My husband needs very clear directions.

Butternut Squash with Marinara Sauce

Squash with Marinara Sauce via Flickr

Very clear.  A woman would have understood that I wanted the sauce on the side and heated up separately – but not a man.  I should have said, ‘We are going to have squash served with marinara sauce for dinner.  This is how to cook the squash – slice in half, put a little butter and salt and pepper – cover with a paper towel and cook for 15 minutes on high in microwave. – pour the sauce in a pan – put a lid on it and cook on low heat’  Next time I will be more clear.

He was very happy to let me take over – and was happy to clean the kitchen.  He feels very much at home doing it – it is a good fit. And all is well that ends well – the dinner was a wonderful success – fresh trout – butternut squash with sauce – on the side. It was very funny – and he was such a good sport about it 🙂

The Bottom Line is this:  We all have areas where we shine – tasks are easy, almost effortless!  Those we do with joy because we love them.  And then there are those that do not seem to fit us.  We struggle.  We get it wrong.  There is no love.  It is in these times that we need to have grace and patience for others and understand that we cannot – nor should we be good at everything.

What is your slot?  Where do you shine?  Or not shine?  Have you figured it out?  Are others patient with you?  Are you gracious to them?

Here’s hoping that you will find it – as you slosh your way into what is the best fit for you – and as you discover how to fit in your slot.

God Bless

Working The Anger Out

"Always write angry letters to your enemi...

Image by Abby Lanes via Flickr

‎”Always write angry letters to your enemies. Never mail them.” – James Fallows

How many times have we done this? I know I have.  More than once.  My own dear husband admits to writing one of these to me a couple of years ago – and never let me read it – and he’s glad – so am I.

Letters written with anger are never restorative. Instead they can do real damage – as the written word is forever.  It is always imprinted on the memory and heart and is a tough thing to move past.

I don’t believe it is a sin to be angry.  Jesus was angry – many times.  He never sinned in anger and asks that we do the same.  There are going to be things that make us angry – it’s just a fact of life.  There are things we can’t understand – things we can’t resolve and the list goes on and on.

I wrote one of these ‘angry’ letters to a friend I had a falling out with – but I’m so glad I never mailed it – or passed it through an email.  The letter was for me alone – part of my healing to just ‘get it out’ on paper and reevaluate what went wrong – and validate me as a person.  Sometimes this is a necessary thing to do.  Once the anger and emotion is passed – often times there is something left in its place.  Perspective and sadness. Sadness for the circumstances – and perspective that time passing brings – taking the punch out of the anger.  Sadness that so much time is lost in the mean time.

I must admit that I don’t get angry very often.  I’m pretty even-tempered – yet I’m passionate about certain things – but usually not angry.  I love people in my life – deeply.  Love my family and friends with a solid love.  I think what really sets me off are ‘half truths’ told about me – or people totally misunderstanding me and passing me off as something that is not even true.  And being helpless to change this opinion.  Another thing that really sets me off is being helpless to change past circumstances that got blown WAY out of proportion.  I am naive enough to believe that adults should be able to get past themselves – truly and totally forgive – to save the relationship – learn from mistakes of the past and be restored in every sense of the word.  My dear husband smiles at me and pats me on the head – like I’m a small child full of innocence and wonder.  And says, ‘Oh Cindy – that is just not the real world’

And so writing letters are for me alone. God is the only one who sees them.  And He is doing a deep work of art – in my heart.  Helping me work out the disappointment, hurt and anger – and stop it before I spew it on others close to me.  I’ve kept a journal for years – and recently I told ‘my story’ as I remember it.  We all have our ‘story’ don’t we?  Mistakes we have made?  Someone that has hurt you?  Something you can’t fix on your own?  Yes – we all do.

Can I be angry and not sin?  That is the challenge for me. Can I still be passionate about wanting change – and not push before people are ready for change?  Can I keep who I am intact – and not lose myself to emotion?  Can I do and feel what is right – and not compromise what I feel God would want me to do?  Follow His leading and direction – rather than what others tell me?  Know myself so well – that it is not a dilemma for me to restore others in love?  These are the questions I struggle with – daily.  And sometimes what I feel God is leading me to do – is not the popular consensus.

My encouragement for you is this:  Write that angry emotional letter – get it all out!  All of it. The feelings and emotions – the being misunderstood – the slander against you – the feelings of betrayal and being wronged.   Imagine taking a walk with that person who has wronged you.  Find a nice place to stop along the road – a nice grassy patch that’s very quiet and peaceful.  Take out the letter and read it out-loud to that person.  Ask them not to interrupt you until you’re done reading it.  This letter will say it all – and you won’t have to depend on your memory – and get lost in emotion – you can just read it.  Imagine that they hear you.  Really hear you. Imagine that they understand – and that they feel sorry for causing you pain – and they accept your apology too.  Imagine the conversation of healing and restoration – even if you have to MAKE IT UP.  Remember – it is for you. It is part of your heart healing – and letting go of the anger.

I have done this – not once – but many times. It is always a restorative conversation.  The anger is no longer there.  I am still writing – and there are days when I have to take that walk with someone again and read a letter – forgive and be forgiven – and have a healing conversation.  There are days when I have to forgive myself all over again.  I wish I could say that all of my relationships have been finally worked out and are restored – back in good daily communication – having put the past behind – but sadly this is not true.  But I still wait in anticipation for God to truly restore and heal – and bring back to me – what was once lost. There must still be lessons for me to learn. Until then – I am still working on me. I am in process – on a long journey.

God Bless

Letting Go Of My Negative Self-Talk

Pecha Kucha: Positive Negative Patterns

Image by bluekdesign via Flickr

I was awake in the wee hours with some thoughts and had to immediately reach and turn on my iPhone so I could jot the ideas down on my ‘notes’ – so I wouldn’t forget them by morning!  It was annoying – but sometimes it is better to get rid of them by writing them down so they won’t be all bottled up inside my head preventing me going back to sleep – or worse yet – be all tangled up in my dreams.

These thoughts were on negative and positive self talk.

It is said that for every negative thing said to you – it takes at least FIVE positive things said to counteract the effect of that ONE negative.  What’s up with that?  But I know it’s true.  Ever had someone say someone negative to you?  You can’t get that stupid, thoughtless comment out of your head – no matter how many other people tell you how it’s not true and try to give you a positive instead.  Been there.  Done that.  Still doing it.

Because I teach piano and voice lessons – I have an interesting ‘take’ – if you will – on negative and positive reinforcement in students.  Here are some of the things I have learned in all my years of teaching.

1) It takes much more energy to re-learn something – so we work extra hard to learn something correctly the first time.

2) When the negative or incorrect passage of music has been learned – the brain has a ‘default’ to go back and play it wrong – instead of grabbing the correct way – even though you have played it a thousand times.  Negative is always what is grabbed and it has much stronger of a pull.

3) Positive comments and affirmation make a student bloom and grow – but the negative is always there and difficult to get out of their heads.

4) You don’t have to teach children to do things the wrong way.  It comes naturally.  It takes effort to do things the right way.

5) With much practice you can overcome the negative and incorrect way of doing things.  But only then.

In much the same way – you and I do not have to be taught to be negative – it is called the sin nature. We have to work hard to overcome bad thought patterns and teach ourselves through much practice to remain positive.

Because most of us (especially women) have memories like an elephant – it can become hard to break out of the past – especially if it had negative consequences for us.  Here’s what can sometimes happen to me.

1) I make a new friend in person or online.  Because of a past experience with another friend – I hold you at arm’s length and have trouble trusting you.  The friendship continues and lives are shared.  There is laughter and continued conversation as is normal between friends.  The only difference is this:  I have been hurt.  By someone who knew me.  I will say things to myself like this, ‘Oh no – you are messaging me – you are being very friendly – it seems innocent enough – but this is how another friendship started and tragically ended.  Should I trust you?  What if you betray me?  What if things I say things in confidence to you – and you reveal them to someone else – never meant for anyone else to hear?  Can I really trust you?  I trusted before – revealed parts of myself reserved for very few.  This was someone I loved and who I thought loved me – will I be burned again? – should I trust? – or shouldn’t I? – how much of me should I reveal? – Can I be truly authentic?  How much of me should I share?  How much of me is really safe – OH NO – It’s happening again – will I be crushed and hurt AGAIN?  I don’t think I could ever go through that again.  EVER!!!”  And the negative experience wins again. And I close myself off to what could be a wonderful new relationship – all because that stupid person in my past was a jerk and didn’t know how to treat me – didn’t know how to hold on to a confidence – didn’t respect me enough and ruined trust in my life for other much more deserving people.  Is it right to think that everyone is like this?  Of course not!  And they aren’t.

Or

2) Someone close to me says or writes something negative about me.  (Writing it is much worse by the way – either by email or comment)  I am crushed.  And because it is someone close in – it hurts me more.  Those not close to me cannot hurt me like this.  My self talk becomes like this, “Well I’m just not going to talk to them anymore – I will assign an ‘outer-orbit’ for them to be in – and not let them in too close – yes – that will have to work – there’s NO WAY I’m ever going to allow them to hurt me again”  And I feel justified in doing this.  After all – I have rights, right?  Again – I have given in to my emotions and the negative wins again. Is everyone critical and negative?  Of course not.  But in my mind and heart I pull away – fearful that they are.

I have trust issues – I will admit it.  I also have a willing heart that wants to trust.  That’s the negative and positive pull in my life.  The letting go of the bad and reaching for the good.  And most of all – learning the difference.  Being wise about who I let in to my world.  Learning to share things with people I can trust – those that I am sure love me and have my back and won’t get all WEIRD when things don’t go as planned.  And life goes sideways.  In the crisis periods of my life when I really need that good friend to be protective.  We all need people we can be our true selves with – and confide the deepest part of our heart.

The bottom line is that we should be able to trust.  And we should be able to let go of the negative people and comments – but it is a daily struggle to know the difference and chose wisely.  And with God’s help and guidance – it will get easier.

Here is my motto:

I will NOT let others rule me with the negative.  I will NOT allow myself to be swallowed by others who are negative.  I WILL live a positive, healthy life.  I WILL strive to see the best in others and not cower behind the memory of hurt from the past.  I WILL NOT  allow one person to destroy my joy. I WILL welcome new relationships with open arms.  Yes – I will.

Have you let go of your negative today – and embraced your positive?

God Bless

Reflections in the Glass

Mirrored self-misidentification

Image by eqqman via Flickr

Windows are designed to look through.  Especially in the daytime – and we don’t notice the flaws, imperfections and plain DIRT on them unless the light hits them a certain way.  Clear enough most of the time to look through them at others.   We don’t notice the flaws until the light is just right – or when there is an absence of light.  And when the angle and light is just right – we are able to see our own reflection in that glass.  And glance at our own imperfections.  It is sobering.  It is humiliating.  But it is also  necessary.  Sometimes I get so focused on the ‘out there’ past the flawed glass – that I don’t notice what’s up close and personal – like my flawed reflection.  The real me. It is easy to take my attention off of me – and on to other people – silently criticizing or rebuking in my thoughts – and sometimes voicing them, spreading hurt, distrust and disillusionment around in a way that cannot be fixed.  Anything to hide my insecurity and my flaws.

The Bible talks about this kind of judgment  in the book of Matthew chapter 7:

3“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Take care of your own reflection, my friends.  Clean the dirt from your window – then you will see clearly to  remove the plank from your eyes.  Then gently, very gently go to your brother or sister and ask for  permission to remove the speck of dust from their eye.  Remember that those you have heavily criticized – for having many flaws – you also have many of the same flaws and MANY more that they don’t.  You can be sure that with the same lack of grace and mercy you have judged – you will also be judged.

I want my plank out for good.  I want to see through my window knowing that I can see others with an unselfish and pure motive – free of any hidden agenda.  To see them as Jesus sees them – and how Jesus sees me.

God Bless

Water Your Own Lawn

Manicured lawns

Image by Mary Anne Mohanraj via Flickr

Marriage is like lawn. The grass is not greener on the other side. It is greener where it is watered, weeded, and fertilized. Take care of your lawn my friends.                    John Morauski

Oh – people laugh about ‘The grass is always greener”  but it’s true – that nice plush green grass also NEEDS to be mowed.

It is built-in to our DNA to be curious.  To want things.  To see with our eyes and taste with our emotions – things that look lovely and feel so good.  To pursue ‘uncharted’ territory.  To obtain – gather and to conquer.

It is also built into our character to be loyal, stable, and comfortable.  To build a home with someone – to ‘nest’ and stay committed.

Sometimes the two of these seem to be at cross purposes.  The divorce rate is high – the highest it has ever been.  But I think the problem dates back as far back as the origins of man – and original sin.    I’m sure even WAAAAAAY back there – someone saw someone else (other than their spouse) and thought they looked pretty nice – and found out that they had things in common and ‘chemistry‘ with them.  And wondered….’hmmmm – where have you been all my life’  Ahhhh – the ultimate seduction.

This is a complicated situation – especially if there are ‘problems’ and ‘issues’ with the one you are living with.  It’s hard work to stay ‘fresh’ and ‘fun’ – year after year.  Anyone else can seem so uncomplicated and easier – have all the right things to say – even be thoughtful and kind  and feel like a little bit of freedom – especially if you are unhappy at home.

It is the ultimate trap of emotions.  It is what was said in Tyler Perry‘s movie “Why did I get married” – ‘you end up leaving the 80% for the 20% – only to find out that once you left – you now have only 20% – and you should have stayed and tried to work on that 80%’

That is the ultimate test.  That 20% still needs maintenance – and much more work.  Ugh.  More work???? And those nasty feelings of  regret.  How many times have you or I heard someone say, “I should have worked harder on my first marriage”

This is how it happens:  You can have great chemistry with your spouse – at least to start out.  You decide to get married.  It seems like you can’t live without each other.  You just know it will be okay and life will be wonderful – you won’t even have to work that hard – things seem to click and work really well.  But even in the most ideal of relationships – something happens.  Children, age, stress, loss of a job or a career, problems with family, loss of attraction for each other. You stop watering your lawn.

So things look better somewhere else. After all – their grass is much greener – looks well cared for – they even use fertilizer on theirs and take special care that it is mowed and always looks inviting and lovely.

It is a trap.  It leaves you empty.  And remember – their grass seems greener.  You didn’t have to work on it with them. It is only green until you step over to their lawn – and then you can see that it needs to be mowed.  From a distance it looked great.

But your grass looks green and plush to someone from afar too.  Always remember that.  It is only when someone comes in close – that the flaws in your lawn begin to show.

Keep your grass-green to your spouse.

How?

Marriage needs special attention – especially as we age.  You need to ‘tune in’ much more as life happens and things happen to change us along the way.  Watering and fertilizing is as simple as just paying attention. Make sure that you are the one investing valuable time and energy in the relationship – not someone else.

This is important for women as well as the men.  Divorce rate is up – more and more women are leaving the relationship – it used to be that just men left for a pretty ‘young thing’ at the office.  Not anymore.  Women who are unhappy and unsatisfied in a marriage will leave for someone who notices them and makes them feel special again – and they can be easy prey for men who are willing and able to ‘fill in’ emotionally.  And men will leave for someone who understands and admires them again.

If you think you are safe – think again.

Are you putting emotional and physical energy into your relationship with your spouse?  Do you take them for granted and say to yourself, ‘they will always be here – I don’t have to do anything special’.  That’s what everyone has said and thought – only to have their spouse walk out on them.  Don’t let it happen to you.  Don’t be caught unaware.

Water your lawn.  Care for it daily.  Apply fertilizer to help it grow plush and green.  Use your words and your gestures to make things green and healthy in your relationship.  Make it your first priority.  Don’t leave it to chance.  Don’t leave it to someone else – who can seem to do the job better than you. Make sure you have  heathy green grass to romp around in – with your spouse. And only for your spouse.

Take care of your lawn my friends’ – is the best advice you’ll ever hear.

God Bless



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