Musings From A Musical Mind

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The Quiet Center

Dream of the Abandoned Chair

Dream of the Abandoned Chair (Photo credit: garlandcannon)

We sang this beautiful song during our morning church service.  The words are reflective and personal.  With any good lyrics, I find myself searching deep within and relating so well with each line.  The title is simply, “Come and find the quiet center” and invites all to pause and reflect.  In stepping away from the noise and chaos so often associated with our busy lives – I love the times I can quietly retreat and find my ‘center’ – that place reserved for God alone.  A place where He is my focus and steadiness in a world gone mad.  In the second and third verse (which are not on the video) there is a richness of word pictures.  I especially love how ‘silence is a friend who claims us, cools the heat and slows the pace’.  And ‘there’s a place for deepest dreaming, there’s a time for heart to care, in the Spirit’s lively scheming there is always room to spare!’

 

Do you have a quiet center?  A place of reflection?  A refuge in time of  the great storms in your life?  Take a minute today and reflect on these beautiful words – you will be blessed!

 

 

 

God Bless

 

 

by Shirley Erena Murray

 

1 Come and find the quiet center
in the crowded life we lead,
find the room for hope to enter,
find the frame where we are freed:
clear the chaos and the clutter,
clear our eyes, that we can see
all the things that really matter,
be at peace, and simply be.
2 Silence is a friend who claims us,
cools the heat and slows the pace,
God it is who speaks and names us,
knows our being, touches base,
making space within our thinking,
lifting shades to show the sun,
raising courage when we’re shrinking,
finding scope for faith begun.
3 In the Spirit let us travel,
open to each other’s pain,
let our loves and fears unravel,
celebrate the space we gain:
there’s a place for deepest dreaming,
there’s a time for heart to care,
in the Spirit’s lively scheming
there is always room to spare!

 

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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

How Do You Love?

Last night Greg and I watched the movie “Three Men and a little Lady” – made some 20 years ago or so. In the last part of the movie – the leading man finally finds the courage to tell the leading woman how he feels about her. She wonders what took him so long (5 years later) in fact on her wedding day to another man – he finally confesses that he loves her, not just for her 5 year old daughter, but for himself alone. Complicated? Yes. Self serving? I’m not sure. Does he have the right to love for just how it makes him feel? With no regard to how anybody else does? Because it brings him happiness to love her?

This has always been a topic of conversation around our house. Greg has always claimed that love in its most stripped down mode – is selfish. I’m not sure I have always agreed. I’ve had my share of relationships (in the love department) gone sour and very bad. And though I agree with the premis – I have trouble coming to grips with loving someone just because it feels good or because they love me. Aren’t people worth loving even when they don’t love back? How about those who choose to walk away? Are we to stop loving them?

The Bible tells us that God loved us while we were still sinners – and far from Him – Christ died for us. That kind of love is far beyond our comprehension. We as human beings have trouble with it. Most people who hurt us, mistreat us, stop loving us, turn away, love someone else, stop speaking, etc. – we write off as being unlovable and unreachable. Even when we have had relationship with them that has been good at one time. How different we are from the heart of God. God loves even when it is not returned.

Marriage – especially a long-term one is a great example of unconditional love. You don’t always feel like loving all the time. There are disagreements and differences. There is not always romance. You don’t say: “I will love you as long as it feels good for me and as long as you love me back – otherwise all bets are OFF!” Love is so much more than that – it is a choice. 7 days a week, 12 months, 365 days a year. Every year. Through rain and shine – thick and thin – in sickness and in health. Even when the person does not love you back in the way you think they should. Even when they don’t always understand you. Even then.

How do you love? Does your love have conditions? Is your love a selfish love that says: I will love you only if you love me back? I will give of my time only if I get something back from it? Are people worth loving just simply because they are?

I think they are.

 

God Bless

We Are More Alike Than We Think

United Methodist Church, in

United Methodist Church, in (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Greg and I have had the privilege lately of visiting churches on Sunday mornings here in the Pacific Northwest.  We have been open to trying other denominations and have listened and taken everything in with no judgement or bias (well…maybe a little bias) and have appreciated things new and unfamiliar to us.

In our search we have met some really wonderful people, seen and heard some great music and teaching ministries. The most impressive have been the people in these different denominations.  Deep down inside I’m forced to admit, that I expected people who didn’t think and believe exactly like me to be unfriendly, hostile, pushy and illiterate, lacking depth and reasoning skills.  Pretty dumb.  But the teachings of childhood are hard to shake and once we get a preconceived idea in our head – it is very hard to change it.

As Greg and I have journeyed through our denomination and seen many changes happening in the music, it has been both good and bad for us.  Good in that our kids really enjoyed the progressive trend toward all things modern and new and bad for us in that some of it is just too much the same, some too hard to follow, some too loud etc.  We are somewhere between modern and 20 years ago – and to be honest the music of 15 years ago still suits us best.  Take away choir and orchestra music of our denomination and you’re left with just a worship band with not much variety.

So we have explored music of the more traditional denominations that we thought we would NEVER be interested in.  The Presbyterian and Methodist being among our favorite choices so far – for their depth of teaching, variety of music and beauty of the service.  I was never familiar with a more liturgical service (thought it was only in the Catholic church) had been to a Lutheran service once or twice where my Dad is the organist and was convinced that it was not for me.  But there is a beauty to the order and planning of every scripture reading – hymn chosen and scripture song sung for the message.

Nothing can compare to the pipe organ and huge choir at 1st Presbyterian Church in Bellevue.  The pastor is very interesting, uses humor and deep teaching to make his points clear – and honestly, it’s the best music in “church” I’ve ever heard.

But proximity is very important if hoping to become involved – and we are a couple of miles from Fairwood Community United Methodist Church where I visited yesterday.  I’ve always been curious because this is the lovely little church that I rent twice a year to have my recitals with my students.  I’m not sure what I expected – but it was certainly different (in a good way) than what I thought it would be.  The people were so friendly – had two people engage with me (I was late) before I even got into the sanctuary while standing in the foyer while the choir and teenagers being confirmed were on the platform singing an opening number.  They treated me like I was already one of them.  Then I found my seat toward the back and a nice older man behind me helped me as I stumbled a few times, wondering what book they were singing from.  There were 6 eighth graders that had been confirmed in the earlier service and were a part of the beginning part of the service that I was in – with introductions and explanation to the younger children and adults (like me unfamiliar with confirmation) of what was being done.

The pastor of this church is a woman.  I did not know how I would feel about this.  But my concerns were quickly diminished when I heard her speak and saw her with the children.  She uses humor and relevant topics to convey her point – yesterday she spoke on “Heroes” and used “The Hunger Games” as her premise.  It was relevant and interesting.  I looked around and saw many people just like me.  The same needs, concerns and place in life.  Many have never walked the road in ministry that we have – or ever will – they will never know what we have experienced in another denomination – never see things around the country and here in our own city inside a different type of church – and yet – I realized this:  we are more alike than we think.

I’m not sure where our journey will ultimately end – but in the meantime, I am reassured that God is not just restricted to one denomination.  He is everywhere – relevant to those who seek Him.  Ever present in our songs of worship, our traditional choir anthems and in our prayers offered up in reverence.  We have good friends from the Tri-Cities area who have been pastors like us in our denomination and have found themselves feeling quite at home in the Methodist Church.

When was the last time you visited something different from what you’re used to and were forced to removed the box where your God exists for you?  When was the last time you were really open?  Will it surprise you to see some people from other denominations in heaven with you?  We are the ones who put people in denominations and categories of “spiritual” and “non-spiritual” – God does not.  He just sees the heart.

Lord help me to be open to things that are different.  Help me to see people the way you see them.  Help me to engage in a way that I am always open to your leading.  Amen.

God Bless

On A Clear Day

Driving to Seattle on a clear day is very revealing.  It shows me what I’ve been missing all the other days of the year.  The things that are there, yet hidden.  The Cascade Mountains, for one.  Suddenly I’m aware that my world isn’t so small after all – and just beyond my ability to perceive them lies untold beauty.

Views of Gas Works Park and Lake Union facing ...

Views of Gas Works Park and Lake Union facing towards the North East from Queen Anne, Seattle WA. The Lake Washington Ship Canal Bridge is in the background with a backdrop of the University of Washington and the Cascade Mountains. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How many times are we like a cloudy, rainy day in our thoughts – going along through the day with all the correct motions and intentions, and yet perceiving our world as much smaller than it really is.

I was challenged to take a lesson from nature – open up my eyes and LOOK around me – for things I cannot see with my natural limited senses.  I want to reach far beyond the box of “normal” and see with God eyes all the beauty I’m missing.

I thought of the song “On a clear day you can see forever” and was reminded that it is clearness in both our eyes and thoughts that can give us that unique perspective on things around us.  And I want to always remember what is invisible when the storms of life close in on me and I cannot see.

Dear Lord – help me to hang on to that clear vision from those clear days – and to use it when those tough times close in around me.

When was the last time you saw things with “clear vision”?

I heard the following song on Spotify today from a local Seattle band – and have been writing this article with this tune in my head.

Enjoy and God Bless

Tell me somethin’, give me hope for the night
We don’t know how we feel
We’re just prayin’ that we’re doin’ this right
Though that’s not the way it seems

Summer gone, now winter’s on its way
I will miss the days we had
The days we had
I will miss the days we had
The days we had
Oh, I’ll miss the days we had

Loving, leaving, it’s too late for this now
Such esteem for each has gone
Has time driven our season away?
Cause that’s the way it seems
In the world of the speech that is new
I’ll be back again to stay
Again to stay
I’ll be back again to stay
Again to stay
I’ll be back again to stay

To Journal Or Not To Journal

Private journal, Diary of Henriette Dessaulles...

Private journal, Diary of Henriette Dessaulles, 1874, Ink on paper, 21 x 14 cm Français : Journal personnel, Journal d'Henriette Dessaulles, 1874, Encre sur papier, 21 x 14 cm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have kept a journal off and on since I was a teenager.  I would write in it at first to put my feelings, thoughts and dreams down on paper – and then to look back at one month increments and when I had reached a year or more, then I would look back by year too.  It made me feel like I could go back to a certain situation in time and then see how I reacted and came through it.  I found it therapeutic.

I wasn’t as loyal through my early adult life with this – it was like my creative juices were not needed, or perhaps didn’t feel a need for an outlet until I became pregnant with Ashlee in 1986.  I kept a journal then to help me with diet and show progress with the pregnancy – to register names we likes and used it as a way to track gifts given to me at baby showers.  I kept this journal until she was several months old – then got too busy to be bothered.

I started again when I was pregnant with Shawn – though not as seriously.  Every few months and then years I would post an entry while the kids were growing up.  It was so great to look back at my last entry and see the progress of our family – the dream to own our own home before we did – and the dream to go on a cruise (which we did) for our 20th anniversary.

When I became better online than keeping a hard copy journal – I began using “Word” on my computer to keep track of events, feelings, dreams and other things going on in our lives.  While praying for the right guy for Ashlee I began a journey with my walks and prayer life – and typed away on my online journal – keeping many things personal to me there about each guy who came into our family, while dating our daughter.

When Drew entered our lives, I was in full swing so I was able to journal about his arrival on the scene and everything since we had first met him.  I even wrote a letter to be given to my future son-in-law someday – back before I was doing my journal on the computer – I printed it out and kept it in an envelope in my office drawer for about 2 years.

Last night I took a look at the journal saved on my computer that had its last entry over a year ago.  I have kept it for 5 years.  I look back to see where I’ve come from – what was going on with me and the family back then – what hopes, dreams and situations were going on at the time and see where I am today.  And while I still believe it is great to take a peak back where we’ve come from – I also know we can’t stay and dwell there – but must keep looking forward.  I was reminded of this last night when reading about a painful situation and  I did not like the way it made me feel.  The problem with writing about pain, hurt and sadness – is that it is always there in black and white and there is something permanent about it.

I blog because it is my way of expressing myself through writing.  I blog because it is interactive with others who are writers like me – and find the daily encouragement and comments from others to be therapeutic far beyond private ‘journalling’ used to be.

So this has been my journey with keeping a journal – and I prefer to use those thoughts and feelings to help and encourage others just like me – in a blog.  This is my way to turn things around and keep my focus “outward” and “positive” – constantly moving and becoming…instead of looking back and being “inward” and becoming “negative”.

What is your experience with keeping a journal?  Do you still keep one?  Have you found that your blog site takes the place of keeping a personal one?

God Bless

Faithful

English: Image for BBVA EAGLEs article

Image via Wikipedia

 

My puppy puts me to shame

She is loyal

Faithful

She will not leave my side

even in the early morning when she’s hungry

She waits for me

to have my devotions

and coffee

and to fully

get up

and put my slippers on

even though it takes me

several minutes

to finally go downstairs

She does not get upset

or anxious

she trusts

and waits

 

How faithful am I?

How patient?

Can I wait?

Do I run ahead?

Anticipate?

Set my own course?

Am I willing to wait

on God

for the things

He says I must?

Can I sit

and  quietly contemplate

drink in

calm my scattered mind

and just

be faithful?

I’m tired

and need strength

I complain

fuss and fume

I need

to relax

stop the spinning

sit back

and wait.

But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. 
   They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired, 
   they walk and don’t lag behind.  Isaiah 40:31  Message Bible

What about you?  Feeling weary?  Need some fresh strength today?  I know a source of strength that will not only renew – but help you to soar like an eagle.  Imagine running and not getting tired, walking and not lagging behind?

Yes – I think I can – I know I can – Lord help me to...wait.

God Bless

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