Musings From A Musical Mind

Archive for the ‘fear’ Category

When Love Conquers Fear

The other day something interesting happened in our home.

Our 7 week old puppy Daisy was still learning her way around our house.  The  stairs to our second story were and still are scary – she was scared of the fireplace.  The hardwood floors scared her as she would slip on them.  For the first couple of days even her food dishes were scary.

We worked with her and helped her through her little fears, which seemed very small to us.  We trained her to use her doggie door – although she was scared of that at first too.  We would patiently sit by her and coax her.  We would go outside on the deck and wait for her to do her business – over and over again until she was more comfortable and would go running through the door without us.

The second day we brought her home – I was exhausted and really needed a nap before teaching that afternoon.  I brought one of her little beds from Greg’s office and put it beside my bed in hopes that she would  see me in the bed above her and all would be well.  Greg built little puppy stairs at the foot of our tall bed for her – but until then she had been too afraid to use them.  So I knew she would feel safe just seeing me in the bed next to her and go to sleep.

But before I knew it – this scared little puppy saw me go into the bed and quickly jumped up – with a force that overturned her little bed – barked, cried and shook – sized up the menacing stairs at the foot of the bed – and then – she took a running start and ran up those stairs!

Love had conquered that day.  Her strong desire to be with me outweighed her fear.

I realized that many of us live in an unhealthy place of fear – instead of in a comfortable place where love motivates our hearts and guides every choice we make.  Even the scary ones.

Many times I have allowed my fear to keep me bound in a place where I feel safe – but it is not necessarily where I want to be – nor the place where God has called me to be.

Love needs to be the place of highest motivation – and like our puppy who loves me more than her fear, I need to be letting my love for God be stronger than my fear of trusting Him.

When was the last time your love was greater than your fear?  When was the last time God asked you to trust Him – and because you loved Him that much – you simply did?

God Bless

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Living In Truth

Family Ties title scene from the third season

Image via Wikipedia

Watched an episode of ‘Family Ties‘ tonight.  We loved that  80’s series when we were a young married couple – and so now we own it on DVD.  It’s still just as fresh and funny to us as it was 25 years ago – great writing.

Tonight the episode was more serious – dealing with a delicate subject about ‘feelings’ and mostly about ‘telling the truth’ about those feelings.  It  was strangely familiar and brought up much dialogue for Greg and me. It was a little like looking into a mirror.  A mirror that I’m not sure I wanted to look in.

I love how in a sitcom – things can be worked out in about 23 minutes – every episode has a problem and a conclusion and all is worked out and everyone feels good about it – problem solved for another day.  This episode was no exception.  It took a very complicated problem and simplified it – and had the people responding correctly to the problem – at the end of the show.   Wouldn’t it be great if real life was as simple – and people responded to things as nicely?

Real life has people coming and going in and out of your life – responding correctly or sometimes incorrectly to stress, hurt, disappointment and setbacks.  We don’t have any control over these things – I know I sometimes wish – Okay – ALL THE TIME I wish I had control over this fact.  But the truth is – that I don’t.  And even years later after some of these events that have taken place in my life – I still have to remind myself of this.  I have no control.  Just over myself.

It’s okay to react – it’s even okay to TOTALLY LOSE it when situations and things come at us.  But the tragedy is when we allow ourselves to stay there – bound up in that reaction – inflicting more pain on ourselves and those around us.  Fear is the motivator behind this – and fear can drive a HUGE wedge of misunderstanding and complications.

There is freedom in truth. It means I don’t have to create so much energy reinventing my version of the truth.  There is no fear in truth.  It is simple and straight forward.  It means freedom.  Freedom from myself – freedom from the lie I am trying so desperately hard to hang onto and make others believe.  It means I can once again join the human race – instead of hiding behind that lie.  I am not afraid – looking over my shoulder all the time – wondering who is going to catch on to my deceit.  And even though it hurts me – and even can damage my reputation – it is still better to live in truth.

I had someone tell me the truth one time when I was going through a really bad time.  She told me what I had always suspected but no one else would tell me – because they were afraid.  She didn’t know me – was a neutral party sent to me to help me sort some things out.  She really heard me and allowed me to express what I needed.  She told me that people don’t tell you the truth because they are afraid.  Afraid of reaction to the truth – and afraid that in speaking the truth  – it will somehow change perspective on things and even give a wrong message of permission. And even change feelings.  But it didn’t – and she knew that it wouldn’t.  Truth will set you free. Truth will validate.  Truth will allow you your dignity and tell you that you aren’t crazy.  It will open up a whole new world in your mind and bring life and closure in the heart for whatever has gone wrong.

We need to speak more ‘truth’ – to each other in love – and to ourselves.  I pray that someone will speak only the truth to you today – and that you will be honest with someone else that needs to hear it.  That you will live peaceably with all men and be settled in your own heart and mind – that you did everything you could to live in truth.

God Bless

Keeping My Eye On The Ball

Heard a great ‘message/personal story’ by new pastor Stephen Collins at LifePoint Church yesterday.  His main illustration and emphasis was about baseball.  He talked about how his Dad taught him at a young age to ‘keep his eye on the ball’.

If you play ball – or know anything about it from others who do – then you know that this advice from coaches is not just a suggestion – but a tried and true method in which you connect with the ball.  You take your eyes off – and you not only lose the possibility of connection – but you can miss altogether.  This is a great ‘life lesson’ as well.

There are many distractions in life – those things that can take our focus off what is really important.  Oh – sometimes they are really little things – hardly detectable by anyone else – but for you – they can mean the difference between having a ‘win’ – or ‘striking out’.

I believe that things happen for a reason.  Emotions and situations are neutral.  It is how I process them – and choose to react to them that makes the difference between a ‘win’ for me – or a ‘loss’.  When I understand this – I am able to find my focus and not let others distract me – or try to pull me to one side or another.  If God is truly the central focus of my life – and He is – then the ‘other things’ become neutral. My responsibility is to do what He asks me to do – nothing else.  That – for me – is ‘keeping my eye on the ball’.

In every heart – in our deepest part of our soul – we have a ‘God space’ – that no one else can go.  It is our ‘secret place’ with Him alone.  Others can not fill us up – it is for Him alone.  When we try to fill it with other things in life – or other people – thinking these things will be enough and satisfy – we are easily distracted and disappointed – become discouraged and can be depressed.  Especially when our self-worth depends on what others think and say about us or to us directly.  When we keep our eyes on Him alone – the rest does not matter – we don’t need man’s approval – or advice to make us feel better.  We can simply rest in Him.

I plan to ‘keep my eye on the ball’ – I will fail because I’m flawed and capable of really messing it up – but after I blow it – I will again pick myself back up and find my focus once again.  I know I will be distracted by ‘well meaning’ people who try to sway me in one direction or another – but my goal is to be secure in spite of these obstacles – and be confident enough in myself – even when others don’t agree – even when things are slipping out of my hands and my world is shaken – even when I don’t handle it right with people.  I want to be solid and unswayed in my belief that I only need to answer to God alone – and NOT take my focus off what I know He is calling me to do.

What is God calling you to do?  Do you stand alone?  Are there many distractions and troubles?  Is your heart heavy from the weight of it?  Welcome to the club!  Welcome to life. Hold on weary traveler – don’t lose your focus – or be weary in well-doing.  Keep your eye on the ball.

God Bless

How’s Your ‘Love Bank’?

Last October I posted an article entitled,  ‘The Love Bank’.  It was an idea from a friend of ours, Jeff Davis whom we were on staff with at New Life Church in Renton, Washington – about 14 years ago.  He was teaching our Sunday School class and talking about how each of us has a ‘Love Bank’ and we can either make deposits into it – or withdrawals.  The deposits come when someone speaks life and health into our lives – the withdrawals come when someone rejects or speaks unkindly to us.  He was talking about the way married couples speak to each other – either good or bad and that can result in a healthy or unhealthy ‘Love Bank’.

This ‘Love Bank’ theory can also be translated into our everyday relationship with our friends and family.  The more I live and have observed people, both in ministry and just in my ‘world’ I feel that there are 4 different kinds of people.

The ‘With-holder’ This person will not give a compliment or say anything nice to you – even if you’re standing right in front of them with a new outfit on – a new haircut and have lost 60 pounds.  Nope.  They ‘with-hold’ because if they give you a compliment – it depletes their already limited amount that they have in their own ‘Love Bank’ and they can’t afford to give any away to you.  The mind-set is this:  anything I give away – will NOT come back to me.  I will simply LOSE it entirely.

The ‘Unaware’ This person is usually a male – no slight on the male sex – just speaking the truth in love – and now understanding a little about the male ‘psyche’ being married to one and also having a son I realize that this is just how males are ‘wired’.  It often is not meant as a ‘slight’ – it is just simply that they are ‘unaware’ that anything is different or needs to be said.  No one has corrected them on simply being polite in a social situation and that the right thing to do IS to say something kind to someone – they don’t know – so they simply with-hold because they don’t know any better.  If taught – they would not be opposed to learning.  They do not realize that communication and words are very important when relating with others – especially females.

The ‘Manipulator’ This person will give a compliment if it makes them look better – or better yet – say things only in front of the right person because somehow they feel that will give them more ‘deposits’ into their ‘Love Bank’ for saying something nice.  This person has an ‘agenda’ for being nice and is as changeable as Seattle weather.  Just when you think this person is truly on your side and is a ‘friend for life’ you find out that there was some other ‘hidden motive’ for being in your world – to make their ‘Love Bank’ richer.  When that doesn’t happen – they quickly move on to someone else.  They are incapable of really warm intimate relationships because of ‘fear’ – fear of losing themselves and becoming smaller – and losing all their reserves in their own ‘Love Bank’.  Fear that you will ultimately get more attention than they will.  Or that others will like you better.

The ‘Giver’ This person is someone who naturally is – or has learned to be – ‘a giver’.  Someone who knows the secret to filling up their ‘Love Bank’ is to give their love away.  The more they deposit into others – the more is naturally deposited into their own.  This person is the one who understands risk and of getting rejected and misunderstood – but who doesn’t let it stop them from giving to everyone they come in contact with.  This is the person who is first to give a compliment and mean it – without thinking they will get anything in return.  The person who often times has to say ‘hello’ first – or make the other person feel good about themselves.  The ‘giver’ never asks ‘what’s in it for me’?  They just give.

Which one are you?  A mixture of a couple of these?  Did you say, ‘Ouch’ when reading anything  above – or did it make you feel sad?  Do you know people like this – in each category?  How do they make you feel?  Are you on a road to self discovery and wanting to learn how to make your own ‘Love Bank’  healthy and full of deposits?  Invest in others.  Love God.  Love people.  You can’t go wrong when you do this.  And like the parable of the ‘talents’  – you will not be like the servant who the master gave one talent to – and when the master returned he found that the servant had been worried he would lose it – so he hid his talent in the ground.  That one talent was taken from him and given to the one who had 10 talents.  I believe the person who had been given 10 talents was the one who had learned the secret in investing in others. So – invest in people – watch your investment grow with much interest as you see your own ‘Love Bank’  fill up to over flowing!

God Bless

What Scares You?

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

I thought about this quote today and realize the importance of ‘stepping out’ of my own comfort zone to insure that I keep growing. How easy it is to stay where I’m comfortable – no pressure – no expectations – no work. But on the flip side – no lesson learned – no real positive change – no opportunity to influence others by being unafraid to face things head on.

Last week I was asked by friend, radio host and local pastor, Doug Bursch to be on his radio show – “Live from Seattle”. I hesitated. I made excuses. Finally I could see that none of my excuses (one of them was that I teach in the afternoon when the show airs) were going to be enough – especially when a time slot was found that could accommodate me. The subject he was going to interview me on: Blogging and what God was speaking to me. Now before you judge my hesitations – just remember that I am the girl that has no problem singing you a song – or playing the piano at a recital for my students – can teach music in a theater class – but usually I don’t have to ‘talk’ much. I’ve never considered myself a speaker and in fact have turned down speaking engagements when we were in ministry over the years – because I didn’t feel qualified – or had anything to say – and was just plain terrified! So when Doug asked me to do this – I was pretty nervous – and that’s the understatement!

But excuses aside – I did it anyway – knowing it was probably good for me to be forced out of my comfort zone of sitting behind my desk and typing – sharing things from my heart in written form only – and to be open to a new vehicle that God was gently nudging me in – with a little help from a friend. And I’m happy and relieved to tell you that it was not as bad as I thought – I actually could think on my feet and share what needed to be shared – was not ‘tongue tied’ or really dumb – and the nervous feeling left me almost as soon as the interview started. With a lot of help from Doug 🙂

I got to thinking – how many things scare us? Prevent us from a great blessing and possibility for growth – all because we’re terrified of stepping out? How many things have I missed out on – just because I refused to learn something new – and do something that really terrified me? Like…talking on the radio? Maybe talking to someone that could really use a friend? Doing something with children that I didn’t feel qualified for? Teaching a class? Volunteering my time to an organization? Giving of myself? Living by example? Being misunderstood?

As I thought of this – I am very aware in my own life – that I have been the reason – I’ve been the one that is afraid – afraid to tackle the strange unknown. Because of this I know that I have also held myself back from doing great things for people – for my family and friends and most of all – God’s kingdom – all because of fear. There are several ‘fear buttons’:

What if they don’t like me? They might not. Many that have known me through the years – don’t like me. I’ve managed to survive it and I’ve come to realize that not everyone will like me – and that has to be okay. But I won’t let that handicap me from being who I am – just because some don’t like me.

What if they reject me? Again – many have. Some of them that I considered good friends have rejected me – for whatever reasons of their own – walked away and have never spoken to me again. Rejection in the rawest form. But I’m still me – I’m still here – I didn’t die from the rejection. It hurt me – but I went on and found others who won’t play that game with me and don’t do that anymore. And I’m getting smarter – I’ve learned who they are – and those that are open to me and my influence are those that have won my friendship and trust.

What if I fail? Well – I’ve failed MANY times. I’m actually the ‘poster child’ for this. I can tell you how to do it and how to go down to that dark scary place – how to spiral out of control because of hurt, disappointed and frustration. But I also know that God is greater than any failure of mine – or any scrape I can get myself into – and that He is there – even in the deepest, darkest pit of self pity and pride. I know that it IS possible to dig yourself out – and begin again – because I have done it – not once – but many times. And what I find each time I fail is that His grace renews every morning – there’s enough to cover me and my mistakes. And the lessons learned from failing are invaluable and actually make me stronger and wiser. So failing doesn’t not scare me anymore. I can actually look failure in the face and say, ‘you don’t own me anymore’.

What if I can’t handle it? I’ve been there too. There are still days when I don’t feel as if I’m up to the task – and my daily schedule of teaching students can be a daunting task. There are days when I actually dread it. And I’ve had those bad teaching days where I don’t feel like I’ve connected with the student at all. I mean – a really bad day. The kind of day that makes me doubt my own education and experience – makes me want to give up entirely and ‘throw in the towel’. Then something will happen – an encouragement from a parent – an email and positive affirmation of some kind – and suddenly I remember why I do – what I do. And I know that I can handle it. And God has equipped me to handle it and to ‘bloom where I’m planted’.

Do those things above scare me? You bet. Everyday. More than once a day. But I also know that God will give me what I need for that day to accomplish what I’m supposed to. I can’t do it in my own strength – nor does He expect me to. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is found in Proverbs 3:5,6:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.

I want to challenge you today – do something that really scares you. It may be that very thing that propels you onto a new pathway of discovery and growth – a journey that embraces and influences others in ways you never dreamed of before. Do that one thing that has been holding you back – and keeping you from missing a blessing in your life. What is it? You are the only one that can answer that. Step out and do it – you won’t be alone – He will be by your side as your greatest source of strength and encouragement. Reach out and embrace that change in your life. That change may be the beginning of your finest hour. A scary step. The thing most feared – may be your biggest blessing.

God Bless

No Fear

Look fear in the face and it will cease to trouble you

Last night I couldn’t sleep.   It was a very warm day here in Seattle and even though it cools down at night – there was virtually NO breeze.  So I tossed and turned and by the time my late working husband came home from his night job – I was ready to get up move around and have a bowl of cereal in the ‘wee hours’.

As we sat in the dark in the cool downstairs family room – we started talking about the subject of ‘fear’.  Fear is an interesting subject – it is different for everyone.  There are things that I’m afraid of – water over my head for instance – that would not bother someone else.  I have what you might call a ‘phobia’ about being in water and not being able to breathe.  Others would say, “how ridiculous! – just SWIM and hold your breath when under water!”  Easy to say if you’re a great swimmer and have no fear.

Others we have known have had a fear of heights.  I personally do not.  I know that I’m not going to fall off a high building – unless I jump and I’m not going to do that!  So to me – that is an unrealistic fear – based in fantasy and not reality.  But to people afraid – they are paralyzed with it. Another big fear:  Spiders.  I know they can look menacing and even some of them will bite – but most are harmless.  And yet many people – including my own daughter – are deathly afraid of them.  What’s the worst thing that could happen?  Again – you’re not going to die – but to them they would rather die then have one of those ‘many legged’ creatures crawl on them 0r even next to them. And the fear of being in a closed in space – very real to some – again this is not my fear.  The wall is NOT going to close in on them – nor suffocate them – but they are really afraid they are.   It’s not real.  I say – just close your eyes and breathe deeply and open your eyes!!  Nothing is coming for you!  Easy for me to say, right?

What we fear most often will not ever happen.

I believe that Jesus came to this earth – walked among us – taught his disciples, died on a cross and defeated death and the enemy to give us this great message of hope:  There is NOTHING to fear.  And if we keep our eyes fastened on Him – confess our weaknesses and our fears to Him – He will gently assure us – not think we’re silly or weak – but help us to feel safe. Just like a Father will comfort his children when they are afraid – so our loving heavenly father draws us to himself – scoops us up and allows us to be comforted and embraced.

I pray that today – if there is anything that you are facing, dreading and fearing – that you will allow your Heavenly Father to whisper comfort to you.  That He will show you that there isn’t anything you will face that will overwhelm you or beat you down so far that He will not find you – reach for you and walk with you – in your darkest days – even then.  I pray that you will not allow fear of the unknown to swallow you or cause you to lose your joy.  That you would walk confidently through the journey that you are on – that you will embrace the people who have been put in your path to make the journey more tolerable and help to ease your heavy load – and to remind you – there is no fear.

God Bless

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