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Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

I’m trying to Listen, Lord

Does anyone else struggle with the concept of prayer?  Does it make you feel less than “spiritual” because you may have doubts in this department?  Do you believe God always answers?  Even when He answers against what you are believing and praying for?  Do you believe that His will is always done here on earth?   I do.

Somehow when I have doubts as to how I believe things work out (or don’t work out) – it feels like it goes against the way I was raised to feel or believe.  My husband has called me a Calvinist because of some of these doubts and struggles.  It is not that I don’t believe we should pray, rather I believe that God answers even when we don’t specifically pray for something.  I believe that God created, sees and knows the bigger picture of our lives – and His ways and thoughts are so much bigger than ours.  I don’t believe in using prayer as a “rabbit’s foot” – pulled out when we feel we are in serious crisis of mind, body and soul – but rather it should be an ongoing journey to listen and develop the mind of Christ.

Help me not to cry out just when I need something from you.

As Christians do we really believe that God is good all the time?  – has our best interest at heart even though we cannot see it?  Even if we haven’t prayed specifically for it?  Yes.  I believe that.   Is prayer for God to change His eternal plans already set in motion?  Or rather, is prayer for me?  Certainly God does not need me to send my shopping list of requests to Him.  He knows everything already, right?  I believe prayer is a discipline for me that takes years to develop.

Today I found this today on Sandi Patty’s Blog:

Dan Rather, former CBS anchorman, once asked Mother Teresa what she said during her prayers.  She answered, “I listen.”  So Rather turned the question and asked, “Well then, what does God say?”  To that, Mother Teresa smiled with confidence and answered, “He listens.”  Rather didn’t know how to continue.  He was baffled.  “And if you don’t understand that,” Mother Teresa added, “I can’t explain it to you.”

Such a profound thought.  You mean I don’t need to say or do anything?  Yes.  Listening to God’s voice is enough, but often times we cannot quiet our own thoughts to do this.  I believe that prayer changes us.  I believe this is why Jesus told us to pray.  So that we might have understanding and insight.  So that we might have quiet acceptance and resolve.  Even when things don’t go my way.  Even when He doesn’t give me what I want.  Even when my bad choices produce difficulty in my life.  Even when I am unhappy.  Even when I live right and do everything by the book.  Even when I follow all the rules and things still go wrong.  Even when people die.  Even when family members go the wrong way.  Even when nothing happens when I pray.

Change me.

 

I believe that by spending time with Jesus in submission to His plan and wisdom – we become bendable and pliable.  It allows us to look at our circumstances differently.  Maybe not at first – but spending time with Him eventually changes us.  Even when it looks as though we are doing nothing. Even if it makes us look and feel weak, wimpy and submissive.  Even when others around us urge us to be more aggressive in prayer.  How are we going to get an answer if we aren’t willing to go there?  What happens then, when after we are “aggressive” and exhausted from prayer – God does not answer.  Is it our lack of faith?  Is it our inability to “pray through”.  Were we not aggressive enough?  Did we do it wrong?  What about those we pray for that do not get well?  We didn’t pray enough?  Or long enough?  Such thoughts are contrary to the Bible.

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  Matthew 6:7,8

Take away my guilt.

Prayer is listening.  Prayer is developing trust.  Prayer is an open invitation for the Father to know us – and us to know Him.  It is about relationship – not a shopping list of requests – prayed by anxious people.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.” Philippians 4:6

I’m sure I will continue to struggle with this – even though as a believer, I should not.  Having faith is believing that no matter what happens to me or those I love in this life – He has it under control.  Nothing surprises Him or escapes His notice.  Like a loving father who wants to protect, hurts when I hurt and wants so much to reassure even when I don’t understand that he loves all the time – He gets me.  He has a plan bigger than I do.  And even though I doubt and wonder if there is something more I should be doing or praying about – He still has it.  All the time.  This simple truth takes years of trust to develop – and I’m still working on it – one day at a time.

So in the meantime – I’m believing and trying to listen, Lord.

God Bless

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The Power of Addiction

I watched a special last night on Oprah Prime.  The topic was substance addition, prescription drug usage and street heroin.  I had no idea that heroin addiction has doubled in the last 5 years!  The statistics are alarming.  Drug addiction doesn’t look like it used to.  Addicts can look like your next door neighbor, the clerk at the store, a middle aged homemaker, a nurse at a hospital.  Sometimes it starts with a medical procedure and prescription pain relievers and then when that is no longer affordable or available (depending upon insurance and refills) there can be problems.  One alternative:  Buying drugs on the street where they are cheap and available.

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There is a problem in our community with addition – all kinds, from alcohol to meth.  It is so sad to see what it does to families.  The addiction takes over – nothing is more important.  All common sense and reasoning goes out the window.  Simple things like grocery shopping and paying rent become second only to the drug of choice.

What I found interesting in all the stories told from last nights episode was this:  All have an emptiness that needs to be filled.  Some expressed that it is a spiritual emptiness.  And by “spiritual” they don’t necessarily mean a relationship with God (although I believe that is what would help the addiction problem) but an emotional/relationship emptiness and void that needs filling.

We often enjoy watching Hoarders and have remarked that all these people with this condition of “hoarding” seem to also have an emptiness or void that they try to fill through shopping and accumulations of “things”.  It is a very real and growing problem in our world today.  And every one of them – almost without exception,  had something traumatic happen to them at a young or impressionable age.  Sometimes it was even something later, like the death of a child or loved one – a financial reversal or loss of job.  Whatever the reason, there are common elements to addiction and disorders such as hoarding.

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Self loathing, hatred, feelings of helplessness and unworthiness are also a common theme.  Last night in the interview, Russell Brand confessed to his years of struggle with drug addiction.  Now more than 10 years sober – he says every day is still a struggle.  As he explained how the drugs – particularly heroin makes you feel – it is no wonder that it can pull people in and set them up to fail.  It is an unending cycle of dependency and abuse.  He has seen many senseless deaths of friends caught in the trap of addiction and understands all too well how it happens.  But I was struck most by his comment, “There was a voice in my head that wanted me dead”  That made me sit up and take notice.  Do I believe that voice is demonic in nature?  Yes.  Absolutely.  It’s just like Satan.

” The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  John 10:10

Crazy scary stuff!  But it also makes sense.  People lose themselves in the feeling that takes over their lives and nothing else matters.  It is a form of suicide, just like anorexia.  A self loathing of immense proportions.  And I recognize that this is evil and demonic.  Satan wants us all dead.  That’s his agenda, and he’s not good at hiding it.

This makes me very sad.

As a Christian I can see another side to addiction.  I can see life, health, purpose, prosperity of the soul, forgiveness, common sense, kindness, honesty, giving, graciousness and most of all…love.

Darkness-collage

Christianity is not just a crutch – like so many out there looking for something to fill that empty void.   Christ is the filling.  The freedom He gives us is not just a temporary “fix” – it is a way of living.  It lasts.  It endures.  It lengthens life and relationships.  Not just in this lifetime – but the next one too.  It does not rob.  It gives.  When we don’t have to just depend on ourselves for “things” to fix us or fulfill us, but instead can give ourselves over to a loving God who not only created us – but has a plan for us – it changes things.  It takes the pressure off.  Gives purpose.  Gives life, a clear and sober mind, health of body and most of all – fills the void inside.  Because He loves us – it doesn’t matter what others may have done to us – His plan and purpose for us is always healthy, always reassuring and always builds us up rather than tearing us down.  When we are full of love from Him – we are free to love others and give to others out of that love.  It is a release from the prison that others find themselves in.

light-vs-dark

Those of us who find ourselves free from addiction are very fortunate.  But being fortunate does not give license to be judgmental or critical to those who are.  Instead of looking at people with addictions as weak, stupid, or even hardened criminals – we need to look on them with compassion and the love of Christ.  As a Christian this can be the hardest thing of all.  The “I’m OK – you’re NOT OK” seems to fit most of us with a healthy lifestyle.  The “how stupid” or “what a weak person” comments are never far from our thoughts.  If only “they” were just like me.  If only they had real resolve and will power they wouldn’t be in this fix or lifestyle.  We say these senseless things without having any idea the journey others are on.

Dear Jesus – soften our hearts to accept others with their addictions and problems – just as they are.  Help us to see them as you see them – broken but wonderful creations loved by you.  Help us live in such a way that those that are bound by things here on earth will see YOU in US.  And by seeing YOU – they will want what you offer – hope, freedom, peace, forgiveness, love, acceptance, purpose and health.  Help us live in such a way that you are attractive.  That You would be a real solution to a huge unsolvable way of life.  I pray that the inner void would be filled by something that will last – a relationship with you.  And that I would be aware and take an active part in bringing about real change.  This is my prayer. Help us. Humble us.  Teach us.  Break our hearts.   Amen.

LIVETH

I Wish

I have posted this video before – but I ran across it again today and it seems fitting. I love how real Cindy is – how appropriate her lyrics and how cute she is even when she misses some of the words – it doesn’t even throw her off!

This is for all my friends struggling and recovering from cancer – all those who have lost someone they love – and for all those who like me are searching for answers to unanswered questions of life. My prayer is that you will realize that the love of God is deep and wide – big enough for all these questions, problems, sickness and even death.  And that you may know that you are not alone.

God Bless

Happy New Year – Back To A Routine

Vacations and a change of pace can be good.  But I have found that usually after too much change of pace and out of regular schedule, I am more than ready to get back to the way things should be.  An actual regular routine, including and not limited to:

1) Exercise.  I am not a fanatic – but I do see the value in being mobile and keeping active – especially as I am getting older.   I’ve had a few too many injuries because of a stiff back or neck, and know that I could have reduced the recovery time, and maybe even the root of the injury (or at lease lessened recovery time) had I been more active and limber.

Today I do some dance/aerobic exercises almost every morning for about twenty minutes.  Jane Fonda has some great workouts on youtube.com for those of us who are aging but still want to stay fit.  Among my favorites are: Jane Fonda: Fat-Burning Latin Dance Workout and this one: Jane Fonda: Fat-Burning Funk Dance Workout. She also has weight training videos and I would encourage you to try them – they are really fun! On alternate days I do a weight training workout for about 20 minutes to strengthen my upper body and core.

2) Eat Good Food.  Just less of it.  Count calories and you’ll be surprised how they add up.  Have an app like “Lose-It” for your mobile device and log in everything you eat daily.  This works.  “They” actually are right when they say, “move more, eat less”.  Both Greg and I have lost over 25 pounds since August and are still working on it (especially after the holiday foods).

3) Live A Thankful Life.  A grateful, thankful life reduces stress.  It is the only way to live.  Be generous in both words and deeds.  Help those around you – lift another up in spirit.  Count your blessings, smile every day and LAUGH out loud!

And if you are an animal person – get a dog or cat for companionship and to love on.  They will keep you young, and remove the focus from yourself.  They will get you outside and make you smile and laugh every day.  Their love is unconditional and does not disappear.  They are always ready to love on you 🙂

I am glad to be back to a solid routine of daily work to keep me busy, exercise and food to keep me strong and healthy and my doggies to bring joy to every day stress.  And I wish the same for all of you.

Happy New Year – may this new year be a blessed one!

My Redeemer

The song I featured today is by well-known Christian artist, Matthew Ward.  You may remember him in the wonderful group “Second Chapter of Acts” back in the day.  His smooth vocals have always been a favorite of mine.  I read recently that Matthew has really been through it – struggled with his health and cancer – and in his suffering he wrote many songs that are such a blessing to many today.  I’m sure you will agree if you like acoustic guitar and a beautiful vocal.   Here is Matthew all grown up and still sounding AMAZING!  And if you are struggling with something – take a moment and listen to this – sit back and close your eyes.  Draw from that peace that is deeper than any pain you may be experiencing today.

 

Enjoy and God Bless

Here I go again
I’m thinking of the time when I will stand
and look into the eyes
of my Redeemer

Words won’t come my way
And deep inside my silent accolades
I’ll find my voice to sing of my Redeemer

And I know upon this earth I’ll never find
The words that can express my heart of mine

When with His words of life
He spoke and pulled my dark soul from the night
How can I repay my Redeemer

With His wounded hands
He held my broken heart to understand
I never can repay
My Redeemer

And I know upon this earth I’ll never find
The words that can express my heart of mine

Here I go again
I’m thinking of the time when I will stand
and look into the eyes
of my Redeemer
of my Redeemer
my Redeemer

Words and Music by Matthew Ward

Why

Treasures In Heaven

Last weekend and this have been a fun time for Greg and me as we are sorting through all of years of “stuff”.  Having a garage sale is the best remedy to hoarding and having too much of that stuff.  I’ve seen those “hoarding” programs and I’m sure you have too – you maybe even know a friend or two who has WAY too much – and you wish they would give some of it away – or take it away yourself!  A big problem we have in this country is the accumulation of TOO MUCH.  I mean – how many pencils, pens, pictures, purses, folders, shoes, jackets, plates, cups, clothes, electronics and other things does one really need?  Good grief – we even have FOUR TVs!!  (At least until our garage sale last week)  Um yeah.  There are TWO of us who live here.  The dogs don’t watch TV.  It’s pretty crazy.  I’m selling or giving away purses – I don’t really use them – so WHY would I have so many?  And what we don’t sell this weekend we are going to give away – no one needs so much.

I’ve learned a great deal about myself and the “stuff” I posses in the last few months.  In an effort to downsize it just is not practical to take too much – so – what do I really need?  Can I be just as happy with 3 less bookcases?  Do I really need that cabinet sitting under the window in my office?  Why?  So many pillows?  So many shoes, clothes, jackets??  REALLY???  No.  We are stopping the madness.

And we may not get it right – but at least we are moving in a direction that will allow us to lighten the load – not become too dependent on material things.  Reminds me of that passage of scripture which reminds us to keep in simple.

But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal.    Matthew 6:20  Holman Christian Standard Bible

My Precious Jewel

My Precious Jewel (Photo credit: cammy♥claudia)


 

And I believe the whole purpose behind this particular scripture is to gently remind us – that while having material things is not in itself wrong or bad – if our focus and only source of happiness comes from having them – GET RID OF THEM.

What does it mean to “collect treasures in heaven”?  I know what it means down here on earth and for me personally.  It means the things I love and hold onto in my heart.  The things I dwell on and think about.  The things that overwhelm my thoughts.  They are desires, people, pets, things that bring comfort and much, much more.  To “collect treasures in heaven” must mean that God wants my thoughts and desires to be focused daily first and foremost on Him and what is important to Him.  His words of love in the written word tell over and over again how he loves so much that He sacrificed everything – not withholding His only son to save us.  He is concerned for lost people.  He is concerned with showing love and compassion because it is what he provided as an example for each of us.  When we love, show compassion, are kind, gentle, generous and forgiving – we model the very behavior that He came to earth to show.

I don’t know about you – but I am “collecting treasures in heaven” by showing love.  By dwelling on thoughts of being an encouragement and by being kind and generous.  I want others to see what Jesus looks like – by seeing me.  I want others to collect those treasures for themselves too.   And in heaven you don’t have to have a garage sale to lighten the load – up there it will be THE MORE TREASURES THE BETTER!!  I want my treasures to be the people I have influenced and loved.  I want to see them all represented – all the years and investment like shining jewels sparkling and bragging about me!  And I want you to have just as many if not MORE than I will have!

 

God Bless

 

 

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