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Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

My Heavy Shield

Bugis warrior

Bugis warrior (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Joyce Meyer spoke about the shield of faith today.  She had a large shield on stage that was borrowed from the prop room.  As she talked about the “fiery darts” from the enemy she would lift that shield and hold it up over her body covering even her face and head.  She said it was very heavy.  At first when carried out by one of the men, she wondered if she would be able to lift it.  It actually made a great analogy for what we sometimes deal with exercising our own “shield of faith” in our own lives.  It is much easier to just leave it sit there on the side-lines – never pick it up and actually use it.   After all – it is kind of  – heavy.  It’s way easier to just to our own thing instead.

As she cited many scriptures on faith including the famous ones from the book of Hebrews, something swelled up in me.  Something made real sense to me.  Those people like Abraham, the woman with the bleeding issue, the man who asked Jesus to heal his daughter and many more were people just like us – but with one difference:  they spoke out their faith and believed even when it looked impossible.  

This is a great lesson.  It is one that I for one have heard my whole life.  I know those Bible stories by heart.  Went to Bible school and studied at great length and have been in ministry with my husband for 0ver 25 years.  And yet, I fall short.  I have let my personal situations bring me down.  I have allowed others to rob me of my joy.  I have failed many times.

And yet – I remember the times when I did believe for things that looked or seemed impossible.  I can remember a specific time when praying for and about my daughter.  I remember the times when I spoke out these words:  Lord, you know the future.  You already have the answer to this situation.  I don’t have to worry about it.  You are working behind the scenes for my benefit.  You are going to do what you promised.  I believe that things will happen just as you say it will – in your timing and not mine.

Things did not always change immediately.  But eventually I received an answer.  The problem is, I don’t always remember to pray that way.  When a storm comes – I forget.  When someone hurts me – I forget.  When a situation comes my way that I don’t understand – I forget again.  My first response comes from a severe lack of faith.  I pull into myself, or blame the other person.  Or worse than that – talk about it to a friend.  Ouch.  And I don’t have my shield of faith in place.  And that’s when I’m hit REALLY HARD in the head with those fiery darts.  And it feels like now I’m fighting for my life, while wounded!  When I could have just remembered to speak out those words of belief and faith.  All the while – raising that heavy shield – which gets lighter all the time I express my faith in God.

Are you going through something right now?  Most of us are.  It’s the unseen things that trip us all up.  Most people don’t look like they are in a battle, when they are.  There are things hidden deep in the heart, hurts that go way beyond understanding.  There are situations that bring us down like physical illness and loss.  It is hard to remain positive with long-term trouble of the heart, mind and body.  But just a little step of faith can make a HUGE difference.

God doesn’t promise to elevate us out of the trial – but He does promise to be with us.  And when He is with us, we CAN go through anything.  And I’d much rather have Him beside me than to face it without Him.

My own personal prayer today looks something like this:

Lord you know what I’m struggling with.  I know you have the answer.  You are working behind the scenes to bring healing and restoration.  I release my time-table to you.  I believe everything that happens is ultimately for my good and has a purpose.  Even when I can’t see it.  It is comforting to know that you see the final outcome for my situation.  I am convinced you are more concerned with my attitude and heart than anything else that might be immediate gratification.  I believe you will do what you have promised concerning my life.  Help me to be a blessing and help others even when I don’t yet have all the answers.  I trust you.  Amen

As I release this prayer – my shield doesn’t seem so heavy any more.  And I’m protected.  It doesn’t change the situation right away – but I am changed by saying it.  And as I believe – my shield holds.

 

What does your prayer of faith look like?

 

God Bless

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New Dream

dreams and wishes. 62/365

Image by nicole.pierce.photography ♥ via Flickr

I looked for someone

like searching in a fog

chasing after

an endless mist

straining for

that unattainable someone

or something

thinking that it would satisfy

what’s deep within

heart-sick and weary

all my efforts

came up empty

and my searching

and reaching

brought no relief

for I found

that in the searching

it was me that I found instead

alone and empty

sad and confused

“Is what I seek

my dream only?

never satisfied

why do

I continue to pursue?

Are my “dreams” just those I make up

bringing emptiness

and endless struggle

instead of fulfillment

and relief?”

And yet I searched for you

my unobtainable someone

and something

that threatened to destroy

and devour me

The one I craved

the things I craved

could be my undoing

and the searching

and dreaming for them

like a slow death

And at the end of the road

I was still there

running on empty

defeated and broken…

It was when I was at my weakest

and tired of running after

and insisting on my own way

that He came

and I heard

a still small voice

and in my confusion

and tears

which caused me to slow down

be still

and listen

that I heard Him

that voice changed me

as He reached in

and held the broken

and confused me

and finally I don’t need to know

all the reasons for before

I reluctantly surrender

and replace

all the running

and searching

for something unknown

instead of something

that does not satisfy

and begin a new path

with His dreams

and plans for me

and at the end of the road

there is no disappointment

and emptiness

or brokenness

and I have almost 

vanished from view

even though

my selfishness and pride

are still there

but they are covered

and kept in check

and it is He that is waiting

giving me

a new dream

which fulfills

and satisfies

instead of

all the things

I wanted

and thought I needed

He is giving me

much more

than I could ever dream

as He replaces my will

with new people

new things

and a new dream

 

What is your dream today?  Have you surrendered yours for His?

 

God Bless

 

 

Loosening My Firm Grip

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Bless

Where There Is Faith

I came across this song yesterday when looking through some old “4Him” songs on youtube.  Someone put together a beautiful slide show with this song and I wanted to share it with you.  This song has always moved me – the lyrics are amazing – and I find myself inspired by them.  It is amazing the love of our Lord Jesus – and the faith that it instills in me.

On an interesting side-note:  I learned yesterday that a friend and former co-worker from Renton Christian School, Melodee St. Clair – lost her 24-year-old son a few days ago.  Her daughter, Chelsea is also a former student of mine years ago when she was in junior high.  I had already chosen this song and written a few notes about it.  Even more I am convinced that this song is one of those ‘perfect timing’ moments that is more than coincidence.

There are times in our lives where having simple faith is hard.  It writes well and sounds good – but if we’re honest – faith is sometimes just – faith.  You can’t see it – or touch it – and sometimes you can’t even feel it.  It just simply – is.  The longer I live and see God’s hand on my life and in my shortcomings and circumstances – I am more convinced than ever that this simple faith – is enough.  It is our simple trust and dependence on God – that makes Him smile.  And I know that it is He who sustains me – watches over me and love me unconditionally.  “It is a peace like a child sleeping…”  and much, much more.

I pray you will enjoy the following video as much as I did – and that it will build up  your faith today.

And for Melodee St. Clair, Chelsea and the rest of your family – this is for you.

God Bless

Soul Surfer

Last Sunday Greg and I went to see the highly recommended true story “Soul Surfer“.  I don’t know what I was expecting – maybe some cheesy “B” film with a dramatic and whiny theme – but I was amazed instead to actually be moved beyond belief.

This film is about real life hero – Bethany Hamilton, a surfer since she could walk – living in Hawaii with her family – already famous on the Island for the way she could ride the surf at a young age.  A fierce competitor who lived in the water and who was herself, fearless.  She had a promising future ahead of her until one day while surfing with some friends – she was attacked by a shark, who actually bit her left arm completely off.  But the story does not end there – in tragedy and darkness – dashed hopes and dreams, the story is more about her miraculous recovery and ever-growing faith in God to get her through the darkest and most challenging time of her young life.

It is a story of ultimate victory over adversity – life from death and renewed determination when life goes sideways.  It is a story that could  put all of us to shame – those of us who whine and complain about life’s woes – with two good arms.

I love how she finally finds her purpose and reason for going on – to be an inspiration to others – her famous quote at the end of the movie – “I can embrace more people now – with one arm”  Simply amazing.

I encourage you to see this film – if you yourself have ever doubted God – ever wondered why things happen as they do – wonder what God’s plan is and purpose in your life when you suffer, experience loss and try desperately to hold on to your faith.  It will touch you – inspire and amaze you – and you will never be the same.

Below, in an interview while the film was in production – is the real Bethany Hamilton.  Her words will  encourage you and her positive approach to life with inspire you today.

God Bless

Reflecting God’s Love

Mount Hood reflected in Mirror Lake, Oregon.

Image via Wikipedia

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...

Image via Wikipedia

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

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