Musings From A Musical Mind

Archive for the ‘Experiences’ 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

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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

Can You Smell The Fall?

Soarin' Over California

Years ago we took our children to Universal Studios and California Adventure in California.  We decided to hit these theme parks and Knotts berry Farm because a few years before this we had done Disney Land and only Disney Land.

On this special trip (the last where we would share a room with our two children in a hotel)  we found the ride “Soarin’ over California“.  If you have been on this – you will immediately know of what I am referring.  Those of you that have not – this is similar to an IMAX experience – only you are strapped into seats that move up and down – high in the air, giving the feeling of actually being a part of the action on the HUGE screen in front.

What’s so special about this ride is this:  To enhance the enjoyment of all the senses they spray things into the air to make you feel like you are there smelling them in person.  On this particular trip they sprayed pine into the air during the part where we were soaring over pine trees.  It was an AMAZING sensory experience and like a wide-eyed little kid – I excitedly said to my kids, husband – and yes everyone around me, “Do you smell the PINE?”

I loved that ride so much – we did it again that afternoon.  It wasn’t until later in the day, on our way back to our hotel room that my own dear SWEET children decided to have a good time (at my expense) and tease me UNMERCIFULLY about my, “Do you smell the PINE?”  – imitating my voice in a much higher pitch than their own, all the while collapsing into fits of giggles.

Needless to say, they have NEVER let me forget about that trip – even though it’s been at LEAST 10 years since we took it.  And I’m so glad to be able to offer amusement to my now GROWN-UP children, every time they remember that trip to California.

I must admit though, I’m pretty much like a kid again when the leaves turn in the fall and when the first snow of the season happens.  If I have students here – I will be the one to stop what we’re doing and look outside, saying, “Look at the weather!  It’s SNOWING!!!”  And even though it has not happened yet – the fall weather reminds me that the seasons change and it will come around again – just like last year.

And like that trip where I smelled the pine – I can tell by the smell of the air that it’s going to rain, breathe in the cold, crisp air of fall and feel something else is coming – and LOVE the smell of snow in the air.

What do you love about this time of year?

Can YOU smell the Fall?

God Bless

What’s Making Your Noise?

Animated noise

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday our youth pastor, Jeremy spoke on a passage of scripture in Ephesians 3.  It is the prayer of blessing.  But it wasn’t so much that prayer that we have all heard a million times in our lives that stood out to me – it was what he said about paying attention to God that made me sit up and take notice.  He talked about things in our lives getting the most attention – the things that are maybe not the most important – but that which make the most  noise.

So I ask you this – as I ponder this same question for myself.  What is creating the most “noise” in your life right now?

Does God allow the “noise” to see if you’re really paying attention to what is important?

Do you still hear Him in the midst of all that “noise”?

What does your “noise” sound like?  Do you spend your time trying to quiet the noise and “put out tiny fires” instead of really concentrating and centering down to the quiet still small voice in your heart?

 

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

The Value of Past Experience

Reason-C++

Image via Wikipedia

We go through something.  Sometimes it’s REALLY BAD.  And we think, “Why is this happening to me?” – or sometimes we don’t think that – we just blindly accept it as our lot in life.

But I truly believe there is much more.  There IS a reason.  Sometimes we don’t see it until months or even years later.  Sometimes we never really know the reason – but I’d like to think that we always have a choice when hit with adverse situations.  Give in to the negative voices in our head that say, “just give up – it isn’t worth fighting” OR learn from it – change our course – go another direction away from the pain, humiliation or gut wrenching yuck.

I’ve had so many of these situations – that at the time I thought were the end of the world.  But later turned out to be – well – valuable, insightful, great information for someone else going through exactly the same thing.

I have some friends, Ray and Allison Carroll – who recently went through a touchy situation – very painful to say the least and they have shown great courage in telling their story through their blog articles.  They have found God’s grace and mercy in living and telling their story of failure and of redemption – so that others can be encouraged and learn from them – to show people who fail, sin, miss the mark entirely that God has not given up on them – that there is enough of God’s grace, mercy and love to take a dead and broken life, clean it up and give a new start.  Our Savior – the God of second chances – working through people in our ordinary lives – who make mistakes and are truly not worthy to be called righteous.  He uses those past experiences to bring clarification – reveal who He is – and give purpose and understanding.  As long as we are willing to change our heart, to share our story and to be an encouragement to others.

Case and point:  The other day my 19-year-old son came home from work feeling really weird.  His mouth was numb and so were his fingers – he was talking strangely too.  He said, “Mom, I’m freaking out right now – what’s wrong with me”?  I tried to be calm and think rationally, knowing of course he was too young and in shape to be having a stroke or a heart attack.  All I could think of was that he needed food and water – and I asked him how long had it been since he had anything to eat or drink.  I wondered, could severe hydration cause this?  While he was eating and drinking – and eating a banana too – just in case – I googled it.  Greg is ALWAYS gone when any and all domestic emergencies come up and I was mumbling under my breath – ‘where IS your father?‘  Let’s see… what causes numbing?  I was not finding anything conclusive.  I thought I was going to have to take him to the ER if something didn’t change soon.  But he did feel a little better after eating and drinking – said he was really tired and went to bed.

Not 30 minutes later – he came out of his bedroom saying he had the WORST HEADACHE in the world!  Then it dawned on me!  I know what this is!  And although I had not had these exact symptoms before – I knew about them and it was clearly a Migraine Headache.  The really bad kind.  I knew because of my past experience with them.  I get them so bad that I’m vomiting and lose a whole day.  Pretty soon – he was doing the same thing in the bathroom – but at least now I had a fresh perspective.  I gave him ice for his head and a bucket for beside his bed – just in case.  I could tell him there was no need to go anywhere – he was not going to die – he would just feel like it!  It was too late for pain pills – he would just throw them up anyway.  And even though the pain was bad and it’s never fun to up-chuck – at least I was able to reassure him – because I knew too well what was happening to him.

Now, am I glad I have had REALLY PAINFUL Migraine headaches?  Are you kidding me?  But did it help to diffuse a panic in my home?  Yes.  Would I have known otherwise?  No way.  I would have thought he was having a stroke or worse – maybe a tumor pressing on his cornea that was making his eyes not see clearly.  Oh the carnage that would have ensued – the money that would have been spent – only to find out – it was only a migraine.

I will take painful situations if they will help me or someone I love in the future.  I will not like them.  In fact I will HATE them.  But I will learn from them and ask myself – who can benefit from my pain?

How about you?  Who can benefit from your pain today?

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

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