Musings From A Musical Mind

Archive for the ‘Freedom’ Category

Freedom To Be Me

god

god (Photo credit: the|G|™)

I was watching a Joyce Meyer video teaching this morning during my morning devotional time – as is my custom the last couple of months.  She is direct and motivating in her teaching style – and I appreciate that she speaks from a place of personal pain and victory – mistakes and repentance – experience and transparency.  She is quick to say how far gone she would be without the grace of God – His love and mercy.

Today she was talking about being ‘good to yourself’, getting enough rest, not overdoing, finding balance.  And appreciating those in her life that give her the freedom to be herself.

She told of how she has that kind of relationship with her own daughter, the two of them can have something planned – but if she has to cancel or just simply doesn’t feel right about it – or just doesn’t want to do it – there are no questions.  Her daughter just says, “fine – no problem, whatever you want to do”.

What freedom to have people in your life where you don’t have to explain yourself – you can just do or not do.  Sometimes we take this for granted – this is a HUGE thing.  Acceptance, no questions – just freedom to be me.  How rare a gift this is!

Life and people can bring expectations.  Unspoken (and sometimes spoken) list of expectations as to behavior, protocol and proper procedure.  Sometimes those that place those spoken and unspoken “rules” on us – are coming from their own place of insecurity,  lack of information and fear of losing control.  We tense up or “clam up” when around them.  And whether real or imagined – it seems real to us.

I love that God does not place any “expectations” on us.  He is not just some ‘big giant in the sky’ – or mean father above ready to pounce on us when we mess up.  He waits for us, like a gentleman.  He comes in love.  He pursues us at our own pace – because He knows us.

 There is no one that knows me like He does – and because He knows me, He also knows what motivates me.  He is an expert on me.  He wrote the “Master’s Class on Cindy”.  Even the closest people in my life have messed up in this area – because of their own personal perspective and agenda – but  GOD never does.  He treats me the same – loves no matter what – and gives me freedom to be me.

I’m glad to have a heavenly father who is easy to be around – peaceful and easy.  I do not fear that I cannot talk to Him about the things on my mind – my concerns and pain – my little funny quirks and thought patterns.  He knows it all – understands and still allows me to be me.

Even if you are not lucky enough to have people in your life that allow you this freedom (I am lucky, I have several) I am hoping you will allow the love of God to invade your chaos, your feeling that “nobody gets me” – or “nobody really understands me” and release that to the one who made you.  What you will find is one who knows you best and loves you most.  He wants you to experience that freedom. That freedom that comes from being uniquely you.

I am praying for you

 

God Bless

Freedom Weekend

July 4th Fireworks

A weekend of freedom

of independence

loud noises

fill the night

fireworks stands

are now visible

a feeling of unity

among community

everywhere I go

fresh fruit

sunshine

and laughter

this is July 4th

a long weekend

time to reflect

to eat

to barbecue

to write

to walk

to visit

and remember

what this weekend

is really all about

it’s about

our freedom

Freedom

One nation

under God

indivisible

with liberty and justice

for all

God Bless

Is Your Guard Up? Should It Be?

Signature of Eleanor Roosevelt.

Image via Wikipedia

If someone betrays you once, it’s their fault; if they betray you twice, it’s your fault. ~Eleanor Roosevelt

 

We are really big into “self-protection” these days.  When someone hurts us – the first thing that we want to do is either lash back at them – or run, duck and cover.  And while neither of these options are good choices and ultimately can leave a residual effect that follows you for years – it is good to know just how to handle your emotions when this does happen – if it has not happened – wait for it.  It will.

We all have people and situations in our lives that bring us distress.  Life is made up of imperfect human beings – from different backgrounds and families.  To expect that everyone is like “me” – is unrealistic – and yet somehow we expect that people will act and react like us.

Betrayal can come in many different forms.  The most important thing that I can do is to keep my own heart from bitterness and wrong motive.  How do I do this?

1.  Be more concerned about relationship than about being right How often have I felt justified to tell someone off – knowing they were DEAD WRONG and I was RIGHT?  Holding my tongue was hard in those situations – but it also  quickly diffused a very sticky situation.  Words cannot be retracted – even with theatrical apologies.  We have a funny and uncanny way of remembering.  Words remain imprinted on the mind.  Therefore – be slow to speak – careful to weigh each word and keep the relationship at the top of the priority list.  If you HAVE to speak – do it carefully and with a lot of love.

2. Be the first to forgive Not easy to do.  It writes and sings well – but putting that into everyday practice takes an act of my will. And living it day after day especially after I’ve said that I forgive – is even more difficult when things pop up from time to time that remind me of a nasty situation.

3. Maintain a standard of right behavior and don’t lower your behavior to compensate for others who don’t get it. We must model right behavior to others.  Retaliation and the “blame game” is a junior high tactic that never worked very well when we WERE in junior high.  Don’t resort to this as an adult – it never works – and makes you appear “smaller” to others.

4. Be loving – but not gullible. I’m guilty of this one.  Where is the line?  It’s hard to detect it sometimes.  I have learned a lot – but have still not arrived.  I love to get involved with people and hear about their lives, dreams, goals etc.  I find it fascinating.  I empathize with hurting and broken people.  I’ve been told that I am naive and can be “played” – or at least that is what has happened on occasion.  I’m wiser now and have learned a lesson or two about just whom I can have close to me or whom I can confide in, etc.  It is like walking a “tightrope” for me – because I love to engage with people and believe that God made me like this for a reason.  But gullible I am not – at least I have had to work very hard at it.

5. Accept that others will sometimes get it wrong – misjudge, jump to conclusions or turn away based on faulty information. Even Jesus was misjudged, treated badly and betrayed.  He is our ultimate example.  He still loved – He still gave – He did not compromise Himself – He did not blame or try to deflect – He was who He was – and even though others treated Him badly and ultimately had Him killed – He never tried to defend Himself, was never nasty to anyone – He told it like it was – that is all.  He lived a life of love and acceptance of others – giving freely of Himself.

6. Always believe the best in people – even when they betray Again Jesus is our great example here.  Jesus trained 12 men while He walked this earth.  He knew they were only human and that some of them would turn away – He even knew about Judas betraying Him – and Peter denying Him before they did it.  Still He believed the best for them and prayed for them. He lovingly restored Peter.  How much more should we be able to forgive, believe the best and want to restore others to a healthy relationship with God and with us?

7. Find your worth and value in God alone I am in trouble the minute I have an expectation in someone and they let me down.  Or they do not validate me like I think I deserve to be – or worse yet – they betray me.  My worth is not based on what someone else thinks of me, says about me – or does to me. My worth and value come from God alone. When I remember this – it puts everything into perspective for me.  Since I am highly valued by God – I can risk loving you too. There is no fear in stepping out and doing the right thing – because God LOVES ME.  I am valuable to Him – He made me exactly like I am – and no one is just like me!  There’s freedom in that!

8. Live a peaceful life – do not spin in other people’s drama How many times to we spin with things we should not?  We get involved in other people’s lives in such a way that it is unhealthy for us and our family?  We press in – where we have no business.  Some things we need to walk away from – in order to have peace in our homes – and that includes good friends and family.  Jesus bring peace to us and wants us to find that rest – He doesn’t call us to “spin” – but to be peacemakers in a lost and dying world.  When we have peace and are restful spirits – we can minister to others in a more effective way.

9. Love your family and friends God has entrusted us with our spouse and our children.  They are precious “gifts”.  We are called to support and love them.  God also gives us the “gift” of friendship too – those who do not HAVE to love us and be in our world – they choose to be.  Be a good friend and it will be returned.

10. Be trustworthy When someone confides in you – BE TRUSTWORTHY.  “Loose lips sink ships” was a phrase during WWII – and the enemy was able to break down our defenses because people “talked”.  I take a confidence very seriously and I hope you do too.  I have risked telling someone close to me too much about my personal stuff – only to have it told to someone who I did NOT want to know anything about it.  It was horrible and painful and now it has made me wiser and much more determined to be a trustworthy friend.  I hope your friends and family can trust you.  I love it when people just know they can come to me about anything and that I will pray for them – but most of all – I will keep it to myself.

 

Remember – like Eleanor Roosevelt said above – be careful – guard yourself and take precautions – once is “shame on them” – but after that – it’s “shame on me”.  Can you keep your guard up – and still love?  Yes.

 

God Bless

Heaven’s Rain

The best thing one can do when it's raining is...

Image by Krikit ♥ via Flickr

Tonight, Greg and I watched the incredible true story as told on ‘Dateline’ about the horrific murders in October of 1979 of an Oklahoma Baptist pastor and his wife – while their two teenage children watched and amazingly – although wounded themselves – survived.

It is incredible and heart wrenching.  It is also a story of forgiveness. Some 15 years after the murders – the older of the two children, Brooks Douglass faced the  man who had shot his parents, serving life in prison at the time.  As he told the story on Dateline – he was very emotional when he told this part of the story.  He said he made a decision to forgive the man.  When he did – something inside of him broke – and all the years of pent-up anger and emotion – were released.  All because of being willing to forgive.  He did it for his parents, his sister – but mostly he did it for him.

It is powerful.  Raw and Gritty.  And I was amazed at his courage – and the courage of his young teenage sister who repeatedly had to testify in court over the next 15 years to have the men put away for good.

Brooks eventually ran for Oklahoma senate – and won – passing a bill that would usher in new ‘victim’s rights’.  And he began to write his story – and  eventually wrote the screen play for the movie of these events called ‘Heaven’s Rain’ – due to come out in February.

The subject of forgiveness is a difficult one.  Especially when we have been wronged.  I have a difficult time with it – and I have never had anything so hideous done to me personally or any of my family members.  But it doesn’t matter.  If we withhold forgiveness from another person who has wronged us – it is like poison and will eat us up inside.  The bible says to ‘forgive’ – not for them – but for us.  And showing mercy and grace to others is so necessary for our own personal healing – that’s why there is so much emphasis on this in scripture.

I encourage you to watch the special about this amazing true story as told on Dateline.

Below is the movie trailer in which Brooks – now in his 40’s plays the role of his father.  Very moving.

God Bless

What I’m Most Thankful For

Starbucks logo

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been seeing status updates all month-long, on facebook – saying what people are thankful for.  I’ve even seen longs lists in various places by others, stating what they are thankful for.  But it was not until I saw my friend David put up such a complete and heartfelt list on his blog – that it really made me want to reflect on those things in which I am most thankful for.  And here they are – in no particular order:

 

1.  I am thankful for the love of a good man  (He’s loved me for 30 years – amazing)

2. I am thankful for my children who are young adults now with lives of their own – and who are finding their way and who both have a strong faith in God – and a great friendship with me and their Dad.

3. I am thankful for the opportunity to use my gifts everyday in music and I LOVE my students so much.

4. I am thankful for good friendships – both past and present and what I have learned from both – but especially the ones who stayed – you are the roots in my life.

5. I am thankful for Christian parents

6. I am thankful for my relationship with Jesus Christ – that started at a very young age.

7. I am thankful for a discovery about myself that allowed me to be free to express myself without fear

8. I am thankful for like-minded believers at my church family – and especially my pastor Stephen and his wife Mandy.

9. I am thankful for Starbucks coffee

10. I am thankful for a fireplace in the winter

11. I am thankful for an outdoor grill in the summer

12. I am thankful for laughter – the daily medicine

13. I am thankful for facebook and my blog site to connect and reconnect with people from all over the world

14. I am thankful for Skype – so that I can see and hear my friends

15. I am thankful for my DVR that records programs I can’t see right now

16. I am thankful for my big screen TV for watching holiday movies and specials.

17. I am thankful for new facebook and blogging buddies – who have found a way of expressing ourselves that is quite unique to us.

18. I am thankful for a warm bed – with adjustable frame so I can sit up in bed and read or watch TV.

19. I am thankful that my husband still brings me a first cup of coffee in bed – after all these years.

20.  I am thankful for all my readers.  We are in a unique world of the written word – and if you have found  yourself here – you know a little more about me than most folks – because this is where I live and express myself.

 

God Bless

We Like Sheep

I am like a Sheep.  I am a Sheep.  And so are  you.

I find it interesting that of all the creatures on earth, Jesus compared us to sheep.  The first reason is clear – He took ordinary things in people’s lives and used them for illustration, to make His message understandable by the ordinary working class.  But there is also another reason.  Those that have worked with sheep and been with them for any length of time can testify that there is nothing quite so dumb as a sheep. The comparison is true.  It is speaking of you and me.

Sheep wander, they get lost, and believe it or not – they DO NOT LEARN.

It’s almost insulting to be compared to these hopelessly ridiculous creatures – and yet…

I am humbled by the words of Jesus.  And touched by His protection over me – just like a shepherd.  Protecting, leading and guiding.  Watching, hoping and believing that I’ll finally get it right.  All the while knowing that it is a stretch because I am a sheep. Hopelessly dumb – and constantly wandering and yes –  even getting lost.  I break away many times in my much-anticipated freedom – breaking off the restraints that hold me safe – only to find that I am more lost than ever before.  I blow it – get off track and wander even further away from His loving arms of protection – it is then that I realize – I am nothing without the lavish love of the Great Shepherd.  Will I ever get it right?  Will I ever learn?  And this is why – we need a Savior.  Jesus came to save His lost sheep.  It wasn’t enough that the lost were found – He loved them so much that He died for them.

Sheep-flock with shepherd.......

Image by Astrid Photography. via Flickr

Isaiah 53 (Message Bible)

We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost.
We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him.

 

Who else do you know that loves you so much?  Would anyone you know really die for you?  How about someone you didn’t know?  How about then?  Is there anyone you can think  of that would do that?  This is exactly what Jesus did.  He died ‘while we were yet sinners’ still living far from Him – wandering around and doing our own thing – getting lost and messing it up – just like sheep.

Are you in need of a Shepherd today?  Call out His name – He’ll be there in a hurry to rescue you and to lovingly embrace you with His protective arms – keeping you on a safe path.  Stay close to Him and He will watch over you with a relentless love. Always.

 

God Bless

Releasing The ‘Control Freak’ Inside

It starts when we’re babies – it is a very small world.  We have needs and our cry can upset the whole house and have everyone running to find the thing that will silence our cries – fill the need – change the diaper – ANYTHING!   We learn at a young age that we are indeed the center of the universe – and everyone will cater to my every whim.  We find our ‘control freak’.

Unfortunately as we grow – we find out that we are not the center of the universe – but we still try to ‘have our own way’ by exerting our will – exercising our ‘control freak’ – and often times dealing with the consequences from Mom and Dad.

After we’re grown we carefully cultivate our ‘control freak’ –  that selfish part of us that feels the need to manipulate our circumstances and the people in it – especially if we feel threatened – or not safe – we feel the need to exercise our right to be heard – all in the name of  Christian love.   All in the name of ‘self protection’.

The ‘control freak’ in me may not look the same as yours.  I’ve never been classified as a ‘typical’ controlling personality – quite the opposite in fact.  But it’s still in there.  It’s in all of us.  It’s called self. And I have a great deal of it – and so do you.

As life goes on and things happen to ‘rock my world’ – the ‘self’ part of me goes into protective mode.  Each time I am ‘jabbed’ or ‘hurt’ I want to lash out uncontrollably.  I want to redirect my control – order my own steps – manipulate my circumstances to move around the hurt and pain.  But I have learned to control that beast that is inside me – I’ve learned to hold him down.  I have learned self-control over my ‘control freak’.

And with eyes tightly shut and my grasp on my iron will firmly situated – I proceed through life – quietly controlling what lies beneath.

I am so carefully controlled that I won’t realize the ‘control freak’ inside of me is really there – until something happens to rock my world – or someone comes along to challenge me.  And then I realize I have my fingers tightly grasped around the ‘safe place’ deep down inside.  With each incident in life – I push down hard against my ‘carefully guarded’ heart – so that no one sees what is really there – and what I’m really capable of  thinking, doing or saying.

I want my way.  I want to control my life.  I want to feel accepted.  I want to be safe, happy and loved.  I want – I need –  me, me, ME!!!!

This is such a learned and ‘safe’ approach to life – that soon I feel justified and even self-righteous for feeling this way.  Aren’t I supposed to be safe and happy?  Loved and accepted?  Of course.  But what if God is asking me to step away from my ‘controlled’ environment and tight grasp on the ‘freak’ inside – and do something where I will feel I have no control? What if something happens to me and I have absolutely no way of resolving the situation? What if I  have to do something really scary – and let go of my firm grasp of my ‘world’ and everything in it?  What if He asks me to open my eyes – and release my ‘control freak’ to Him?

I’ve been asked to do this – not once but several times.  There are no easy answers for life’s big mysteries involving friends and family.  I do not have control over my circumstances.  Oh – I can close my eyes again and try to hang on for dear life – while things swirl around me and hope and pray that I will not be affected – but in reality my trying to grasp whatever control I may think I have – will be stripped from me in the end and I will be left in a big heap on the floor trying to figure out, what happened?

When I release the ‘control freak’ inside of me – to God – He has a way of handling my stress – way better than I can.  He does not want us to carry any of the control.  He gently whispers to me, “let it go“.   And though it is a scary prospect – I know I must do as He asks me.  But does God really know how to handle my situation?   I mean can God really do it the right way?  The way I want Him to?  What if He doesn’t?  What then?  Can I trust Him?  Can I completely let it go?  I mean – completely take my fingers off and just – let go?

Sometimes I think I understand.  Sometimes I think I even come close to really ‘getting it’ – and then it will happen again.  Another hurt, another jab – and –  Whammo – I’m back in that hole of self-protection – trying to figure out a way to have a great ‘come back’ – to lash out and explain myself – to try to figure it out on my own. My default setting.  My much learned – and carefully protected human response to pain and confusion.

And then the gentle words of Jesus come to me:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”   Matthew 11: 28-30

Is your load heavy today?  Are you carrying around the ‘control’ in your life?  Do you self protect – even to the point where you are unafraid to give the control over to God –  ever?  Afraid He won’t do something the way you want Him to?  Afraid He will ask you to ‘release’ something in your life you don’t want to?

I want to encourage you to release the ‘control freak’  inside – take Him at His word – He can handle it – He will do it right.  His way is the best way.  It will be all right. Trust Him.

Go ahead.  Let go.  Release your ‘control freak’ today.

God Bless

Living On The Edge

I recently ran across this article from my new blogging buddy  Elizabeth Esther.  She explains how her daughter wanted to jump into their pool with her dance recital outfit on – to know what it would feel like to ‘fly’ with it on.  It’s a sweet story complete with a picture of her ‘in flight’ after Elizabeth finally relented to letting her daughter ruin her outfit for that ‘thrill’ of flying through the air.

Absurd?  Impracticable?   Foolishly frivolous?   Yes.  All of these – and more.

A chance to ‘let go’ – to ‘run with reckless abandon’ and do something spontaneous – just because.

We lose this ability as we mature.  We become responsible and (gasp!) practical.  We think in terms of conserving and ‘pulling in’ – often times squelching any creativity or spontaneity.   Because we are grown up and have to act responsibly – I mean if we don’t – WHO WILL?  Right?

Do you remember a time when you ran through the sprinklers in your yard (or someone else’s) and got soaking wet?  Even your hair?  And it felt SO GOOD, didn’t it?  Just kicked off your shoes and ran through!

How about the time you risked your life swinging on a rope swing?  The kind that was on its last few precious strands of rope weeks before and everyone that was swinging on it – you just knew they were on borrowed time?

When was the last time you had a popsicle?  The kind you used to get when you heard the ice cream man coming?  My favorites were banana and root beer.  How about a slurpee?  When was the last time?  They’re not just for kids you know 🙂

We grow up and get ‘careful’.  And not just ‘careful’ – but ‘cautious’.  Life becomes so serious to us – and granted – there is much to be serious about.  There are bills to be paid – and family situations – but there is also a mind-set that creeps in – if we’re not careful.  The mind-set that fun is for the young – and life becomes very mundane and predictable.

Well – that may be okay for you – but NOT FOR ME!  I love excitement – I even have to have something exciting for breakfast!  No dull and dry cereal for me – NO SIR!  I need something – ANYTHING with a little pizzaz! A yummy bagel with flavored cream cheese – or a wonderful mouth-watering scone – or a Danish with a little something extra – you know. Greg likes the same thing for breakfast everyday. (Boring) He really likes it like that!  Amazing!

I like to ‘live on the edge’ – LOVE adventure, romance and just plain living! Greg likes consistency and routine.  That’s where he is comfortable and safe.

Greg knows that I just can’t ‘exist’ – but that I love to express myself – share love and friendship with those in my world and – love to explore new places and get to know new people – and love to encourage others to LIVE and LOVE life!!   And in this ‘new season’ that we find ourselves in – it is nice that we are both now self-employed and can do some of the things we’ve always wanted to do – it doesn’t always take money to do them – (we don’t have any – so that’s good!) and I’m thrilled for that!

We do something fun everyday. Each day is an adventure.  We had been married far too long – raised a couple of children before we realized that the ‘fun’ and ‘spontaneity’ had been robbed from us.  I blame so many things on that – the families we were both raised in (duty, work and responsibility) and the church we found ourselves in for years (appearances and being an example) – and yet I know that these only served as a guide – and did not mean to suck the joy out of our marriage – but somehow – they did.  Add to that the stresses of life, family situations and burdens from those in crisis close to us – and even some dysfunctional behavior from others and mix it all together and you can get a very dry and tired marriage. With no joy.  Safe, predictable, practical and boring. A slow death sentence for me.

Bringing ‘fun’ back into our marriage was a choice – but also a necessity. Without it – we would not have made it.  We took a step toward excitement – and I’m happy to report that keeping things ‘fresh’ and ‘new’ has become our theme song after 29 years of marriage.  We were both Christians since we were children – so our faith was never in question – just our ‘duty’ and commitment’ became old and stale and we needed a better reason than that to keep doing the same old things over and over and over again.  Like a worn out song that never ends – is how our marriage was becoming.  We were becoming that couple with an ‘arrangement’ but that really wasn’t very happy anymore.  And it scared us.  We refused to be that couple and live that way – with separate lives and interests – pulling further and further apart.

How did we turn it around?  We brought FUN back into our relationship.  We looked closely at us.  Not the ‘us’ as parents of our two wonderful children – not the ‘us’ as a ministry couple (as most people had known us) – not the ‘us’ as wonderful obedient children of our own parents – but we just stepped back and looked at us. And we had to go back and remember just what it was that sparked that interest and kept us – way back then.  The ‘little’ things that meant so much back then.  We started doing that again.  We started thinking of ways to be creative without much money – going and doing something interesting everyday together – being spontaneous and FUN!  Not holding back or squelching each others creativity – but allowing each other to be exactly who we are. And that included allowing each other to grow individually without feeling threatened by it.  I have a lot of friends and love each of them in their own special way.  Greg now understands how important that is to me and does not limit me – nor is he threatened by it.  I understand Greg’s need to feel ‘safe’ by routine and his work – and encourage him to do the things that make him most happy and fulfill him as a man.  It is a win/win – born out of necessity – and has grown into something secure and trusted – a mutual respect and understanding for each other – two completely different people who decided to grow old together and two people who chose each other.

Here’s wishing you and yours some fun and spontaneity – as you endeavor to ‘live on the edge’ in your marriage and in your own personal life.

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

Gentle Savior

Sometimes I feel just like the lyrics of this song – sung so beautifully by David Phelps.

Regret

Forgiveness withheld

Uncertainty

Yes – I have it all and more.   I hesitate with which way to go – the confusion of my mind and voices from things I regret and wish were different come crashing in on me until I sometimes don’t know who I am anymore.

Then I feel a sweet peace and presence of our Lord – reminding me that I don’t need to do anything but trust and keep moving – and as I do that – He will lead me – through the unresolved issues and questions in my mind – through the good, bad and ugly of my heart – knowing that somehow it’s not important that I understand everything going on around me – in fact I don’t think I ever will – but because He does and He does not reveal everything to me – I trust Him.  I trust Him to lead me.   Sweet and loving – like a gentle Savior.

And since restoration is the cry of my heart – complete full circle healing – I will continue to wait – hope and trust – until that day.

And so – this is my never ending struggle – and my never ending journey.

Where are the signs? Which way should I go?
I planned each step but now I don’t know
Tomorrow is a chasm of uncertainty
But, I will go there, if You’ll go with me

Gentle Savior, lead me on
Let Your Spirit light the way
Gentle Savior, lead me on
Hold me close and keep me safe
Lead me on, gentle Savior

Why can’t I walk away from my regrets
And why is forgiveness so hard to accept
My past surrounds me like a house I can’t afford
But You say, “Come with me, don’t live there anymore”

Gentle Savior, lead me on
Let Your Spirit light the way
Gentle Savior, lead me on
Hold me close and keep me safe
Lead me on, gentle Savior

And when I reach the valley, every soul must journey through
I’ll remember then how well You know the way
I’ll put my hand in Your hand like a trusting child would do
And say

Gentle Savior, lead me on
Let Your Spirit light the way
Gentle Savior, lead me on
Hold me close and keep me safe
Lead me on, gentle Savior

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