Musings From A Musical Mind

Archive for the ‘Failure’ Category

Damaged Perfection

A few days ago I was commenting on a guest blog article and the guest asked a question:

What is your graffiti tag?

I didn’t have to think about it too long before the words “Damaged Perfection” came out on the comment.  And since he too agreed that it was pretty cool – I decided to write an article about those two words and why they have meaning for me.

I am damaged

Most of us are.  I have failed, missed the mark over and over again, have hurt and disappointed and turned in rebellion to do things my own way.  Because of this it has left me feeling broken, inadequate, hurt and full of regret.

It has caused me to see other “damaged” people in my world around me.  I am ever sensitive to the hurting and broken-hearted around me.  I have noticed how celebrities like Michael Jackson and even recently Lady Gaga can be brilliant in their craft as talented performers but then lead such sad and unfulfilled private lives.  This is why the “high” of the applause only lasts so long and then – comes the painful part of feeling empty as they are left with nothing but themselves.  This is why alcohol and drug abuse is so prevalent – and you have to feel intensely sad for them.  They are damaged.  We all are.  Without Jesus – at the end of the day – they have nothing.  Without Him – neither would I.

I am His Perfection

Created in His image.  The wondrous and flawless work of His hands.  He takes my brokenness and makes something new and beautiful.  He’s the only one who can.  Taking something damaged and discarded – and shaping it into a perfect vessel – again – because He can.  And before I sinned and missed the mark – doing damage to myself and others around me – and was going to be forever separated from His presence – there was a plan in place – a mystery – an intervention on my behalf.  He came to save what was lost – and to redeem me.  He covered my broken, sinful self and restored me  – doing a work deep within me and for me – something I could never earn or be worthy.  He did it because He loves.  We would not have done that – we would have tossed aside, destroyed and started over with another creation – but God does not work that way.  He makes promises that he does not break.  He is a covenant God – working in ways that seem backward to me.  He brings life from death and gives strength to weakness – dignity to failure – and makes a perfect finished product from ruin and despair.  He snatched death from the enemy and freely gives back what should have been taken from me long ago.  He does it – because He is God and I am not.  He sees me in a different way than I see myself.  He sees me as His Perfection.  Worthy of that second chance and more.  Worthy of a life that I do not even think I deserve. 

And so this is a life long journey and process for me – to simply trust and believe that His work in me is enough – even when I don’t feel like it – even when I continually fail.  To walk in this love and grace – making me who I ultimately will be.  The me that He sees.  I am still learning it.  I am still amazed by it.  I am still damaged.  And I am still perfectin His eyes.

I am always and forever

Damaged Perfection

God Bless

The Devil Made Me Do It

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

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Our pastor had a great message yesterday.  The subject was “Why do bad things happen?” – a very timely topic in light of the recent events in Japan.

As he spoke and listed the possible reasons why things happen – I was reminded of the journey that I have been on – and the many people who I have encountered along the way who have also had bad things happen to them.

Sometimes bad things DO happen to good people.  It’s called LIFE.  We live in a fallen world where things are going to happen.

We ourselves are fallen creatures – capable of making choices that are not always the best.  Many things we do to ourselves – and although the Lord forgives us – people aren’t always so kind – and worse than that – there is the fall-out and carnage from those choices that can follow us for the rest of our lives.

Our choices, therefore – can lead us down a path of unresolved issues, guilt, despair, hurt and frustration, separation from loved ones and good friends.  Or they can lead us to reconciliation, understanding, forgiveness and love.  I want to be in the later group – and I want all those that I have wronged to also be in that group.  Ah – but that is not always possible.  My husband Greg – calls this, “Cindy Land”.

And of course when touching on this subject – my childhood teachings come in to play.  Certain scripture verses come to light when talking about ‘temptation’ – or ‘failing’ or just simply  a ‘mess-up’.   Scriptures that would cite the Devil or at least demonic activity as the culprit for why we mess-up – why we are tempted to do wrong – or get involved with wrong people and wrong choices.  Things like, “The Devil is crouching at the door”  or “The Devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may destroy”.   And although I buy into some of that to a certain extent – (I cannot argue with scripture after all) – I also have to accept responsibility for my own choices. I do know people who blame the Devil for everything saying, “The Devil made me do it” – instead of accepting personal responsibility for their own actions.  And almost always, those same people point fingers and blame others – instead of looking inside of themselves and taking the responsibility for themselves.  This makes me sad – because I know they will never heal properly while trying to “run from the devil” or run from those “bad people” who tempt them into doing wrong.  The answer is almost always inside ourselves and  has to do with our own heart.  Can the Devil take advantage of us when we are weak? – Yes.  Does he tempt us?  Yes.  I do believe that.  But he cannot force us to do anything – we are capable of making those bad choices without any help.  The heart of man is deceitfully wicked and prone to wander – without any help at all.  “Resist the Devil and he will flee from you”

I know for myself – that I am almost always aware when I make a choice – good or bad.  There comes a point of ‘no return’ – where I blow past all the red flags – and intentionally do something – because I want to. I can admit that.  I think everyone would be better and healthier if they could just admit it too.

Like my pastor, Stephen – I do not believe that the earthquake and tsunami of Japan and a couple of years ago the earthquake in Haiti – is the result of God’s judgment.

I believe that the world is fallen – it has been fallen since sin entered the garden through Adam and Eve.  And yet despite this fact – I believe that God is good.  He sent His son Jesus to rescue me from myself, to validate and identify with me.  I believe that He loves me.  He came – He got involved.  He forgives and He is with me through bad things that happen to me.  He walks with me and gives me the ability to get through it.  He is very aware that I am fragile and that I blow it.  He is slow to anger and covers me with love and mercy.  And one day – things will be perfect again – when He returns and we see Him as He is.

Until then – we are here – living with fallen people – and in a fallen world.

When you have had something bad happen to you – either by a mistake and wrong choices that you have made – or just because you’re living in a fallen world with fallen people – I believe that you have a choice – just like I do.  A choice to quit and say, “I’m done” – or you can take that bad thing and use it to help other people – becoming a softer and more compassionate person who understands God’s amazing grace.  Someone whom others will come to when in trouble – who need an understanding hug and word of encouragement.

Be that person today.

As we journey together…

God Bless

Here is a little Flip Wilson – enjoy!

Reflecting God’s Love

Mount Hood reflected in Mirror Lake, Oregon.

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As water reflects a face,
so a man’s heart reflects the man.
–Proverbs 27:19

 

When I see a reflection of myself in the mirror – especially in the early morning when I first get up – my appearance is disheartening – especially to me.  I don’t like what I see – it means I am getting older.  My face reflects what is going on inside of me – the aging process that never ends – and I am part of it.

And yet – my age, wisdom and knowledge can benefit others so much – as I encourage and help those around me and use that ‘aging’ to bring perspective to others – concentrating on the positive aspects on middle age.

Mostly what I want others to see – is God’s love in my life, in what I do, what I say. I want to reflect His tolerance, forgiveness, grace and  unconditional love.  Because I have lived it – and understand it fully.  I fail miserably at this most of the time – because my own self gets in the way and I’m afraid I become a rather poor reflection of His love and unlimited mercy in my own life.

When I fail – I am acting out of my own selfish desires and motives and it leaves a rather poor reflection of the nature of the God that I serve and that I live for.  Instead it reveals what kind of person I really am – on the inside.  Just like my face in the mirror – I cannot hide it.

And like you – I am still on that never-ending journey – I’m getting older, I’m learning valuable lessons about life and people on the way – and I have a great many things to share with others about God’s love – His grace – and mercy – and I am still taking steps toward that incredible stubborn love – to be a better reflection for others.  Less of me – much more of Him.

God Bless

Fragile Like A Tree

Redwood grove on north flank of Sonoma Mountai...

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Our pastor used a great illustration several months ago.   He told about the redwood trees found in Northern California.  Greg and I know all about the redwoods because this is  where Greg and I pastored a small church for 3 1/2 years in the early 90’s.

Redwood trees are the largest trees in the world.  So large that you can drive a car through them – and in fact there is a tree with a hole cut out of it where a car COULD drive through – we’ve been there to see it.  But something very strange about these trees – their roots are actually very shallow – only a couple of meters deep. You would think that for trees this size – the root system would wind down for hundreds of feet and they would be very strong and invincible.  But they are not.  They are very vulnerable by themselves.  Their real strength comes from the other trees.   They act as a barrier and protection when close together.

We have much to learn from these massive beautiful trees.  They appear so strong and stable.  But they have a weakness.  And like the trees, so do we.  We cannot stand alone.  Oh I guess we CAN – but we SHOULD not.  We need each other.  We are fragile – like these trees.

Who are you close to?  Do you have anyone in your life that acts as a barrier and protection?  Who has your back?

We started a small group in our home with other like-minded and fragile people.  As we share our stories of joy and pain – it is good to know that we were never meant to do life alone.  We need each other.  I need support and help from my brothers and sisters – those who can share my everyday battles, opportunities and  circumstances – but who also have my back when life goes sideways – giving support and holding me close,  offering assistance and encouragement to keep me from giving up – or from falling over – like a tree.

I’m thankful for the people who God has placed in my life and along my journey to help to encourage me, lift me up and be there to protect and love me – when I mess up, get it wrong and need a little extra grace.  My friends – the trees in my life.

God Bless

Mercy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Bless

Finding Balance

The canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke &...

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Matthew 11:28 (The Message)

28-30“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Long before we were born – in ancient days of old – man was struggling with the same things that we are today.  His sin nature.

From the beginning – we were all subject to the human condition – because of the ‘fall of man‘ – and like King Solomon said, “There is nothing new under the sun’.

Today’s temptations and stresses are nothing new.  Man has been facing them since the beginning of time – and just about any sin you can think of – is listed by example in the Bible.  No one is immune to temptation and his sinful nature.

Jesus promised to bring rest from ourselves. He brought it in a new way.  He gave himself.  As long as we ignore and deny Him – His rightful place in our lives – we will forever be slaves to our dark sinful natures.

I’m not talking about religion.  Religion is ritual and duty.  Born out of guilt about our condition – and as a way to ease our bruised conscience.  That sounds very motivating to me.  NO WAY!  The more you push – the more I’m going to pull – again the sin nature rearing its ugly head.

But Jesus came to bridge the gap of ritualistic religion for religion’s sake.  He came to bring Himself – to offer forgiveness because He Himself IS God – and He came to offer relationship with Him by offering that forgiveness.

You want to live a life of balance and of joy? – then He is the key.  He promises a life of rest and promise. Nothing too heavy will be hoisted upon you.  He will carry you in the tough places.  And He will bring the ‘lightness’ to your everyday world.

There is so much heaviness today in our world.  Those of us that have that relationship with God through Jesus – have a different world perspective.  We have a hope that others do not.  We have a life of meaning and purpose while others live lives of quiet (and not so quiet) desperation.   All sorts of issues today, politically, relationally and economically.  And because it seems that the real enemy of our souls is busier than usual to get us to trip up – just remember this:  Satan has been around a long time – spinning the same lies.  There’s nothing new here.

It comes down to a life of balance. When I am off-balance – this is when temptation and trouble can find me – and I can find it.  A life built on the Word of God and a relationship with Jesus will help to protect me from that temptation of just following  my own sinful nature – that lurks in my heart.  And we all have the ability to be off-balance.  It’s very easy to do. We are stressed, busy, lonely, prideful, independent, etc.  These all can lead to unhealthy habits in our lives.  And take us down a road of temptation that starts out in an innocent way.

This is why we need Jesus to help bring back the balance to our lives.  And He promises to do that.

So walk with Him today – listen to what He is calling, ‘unforced rhythms of grace’.  The many things He allows as part of your journey – and the many times He covers you with much-needed grace and mercy.  And if you’re tired and ‘burned out’ – this is the place you need to be.  Bringing balance and order back into your crazy life.  Walk with Him – watch how He handles it.   Learn from Him.  Watch how he transforms your hard unforgiving heart – into something soft and pliable – and shows you how to apply grace to your life with others.

He will bring that balance back into your worn-out and weary life.  Teach you how to live lightly and freely.

God Bless

 

 

Are You Happy?

The Sermon of the Beatitudes (1886-96) by Jame...

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Heard another great message from our pastor, Stephen Collins yesterday morning.  He has begun a series on “The Beatitudes”.  This question was asked:

Are you happy?  Is this really what you want?  Will that alone satisfy you long-term?  When feelings change and emotions are fickle?

The most profound statement came in the middle of the message.  ‘When we settle for just being happy – we aim too low’ – missing out on God’s blessing in our lives’. Sometimes, God doesn’t want us to be happy.  Sometimes there are lessons in the ‘gift’ of pain and hardship in our lives.  The most significant changes in our heart and character come when life is not ‘happy’ – but dark and sad.

For me – I know this is a true statement – and sums up just what I have learned and lived through over the past 2 years – as I grew and discovered God’s ‘gift’ of hard times, both personally, in my relationships  and spiritually.

If we accept the ‘gift’ in the way it is intended – then God can do His greatest work in us – bringing us more than just ‘happiness’ – but a blessed and meaningful life And sometimes what may feel like the end of the world – may only be the beginning of a great and rewarding life.

Are you happy?  Is that what you really want?  Or do you want more?  Do you want God’s rich blessing poured out in your life.  I know I do.  I want to reap the reward of choosing to do the right thing – when doing that goes against everything I may be feeling.  It means doing right by people and relationships – and being the right person. Living by character and integrity – rather than emotions.  And when I do stray away and don’t choose what is right – at least initially – then knowing how to get back on the right path – hard as it is – to reconcile and fix it – and keep my heart open.

I am more than happy.  I am blessed. I understand this now – but it took a couple of hard lessons to really believe it.  I’m blessed with a wonderful family, a man who loves me with everything that he is –  and friendships that mean everything to me.  What I lost – God has richly replaced – and has taught me a great many lessons in the process.  Things I could not have learned – just by following my heart and emotions because I ‘wanted to be happy’.  When we see life as a journey – and know that there is a much bigger picture than just personal happiness – we will not want to aim so low.

Are you happy?  Are you wishing for more than that?  I invite you to share in some hard times – and think of them as a ‘gift’ – an added blessing to enhance your character and integrity.  I wish you more than happiness, my friend.  I wish you a life of blessing and purpose – a holy calling in which you give up ‘personal happiness’ for something richer and deeper.  To see people the way that God sees them.  To understand there is a lost world out there – and your unique gifts have placed you right where you are – to influence those that He has entrusted to you.  Use them today.

Be more than just ‘happy’ – be blessed and be a blessing to those in your life.

 

God Bless

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