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Archive for the ‘Struggle’ Category

Being Authentic

The Sad Clown! She is a teacher at my daughter...

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Yesterday my husband Greg and I had a most interesting and enlightening conversation in the car – while discussing our pastor’s message that morning at church.

Normally I love our pastor’s messages – he is always prepared and seems to have his pulse on what is going on in the lives of his congregation.  This time I felt he was right on – as usual – but must admit, it made me uncomfortable.  Uncomfortable and a little sad – because I simply was not raised with the idea that it was okay to let people know what you are feeling – especially if it is bad, questionable or sad.

I’m from a generation who believed you did NOT let anyone see you sweat – never voiced a fear or regret – or even dared to be sad or depressed about anything.  This was true in our family – and sadly, in the church.

And to further complicate this – about 3 years ago I found myself in a touchy situation with another person and I was going through a bad time – was in a dark hole of sadness and was criticized for posting a SCRIPTURE verse on facebook about being downcast and sad from the PSALMS!  Good grief.  And because I was in leadership – I was not allowed to mourn over a loss – or even hint that I might be having a problem with it.

So it seems there are two very different schools of thought on being authentic:

1.  We should be honest in expressing who we are – how we’re feeling and doing – and not afraid to be real with people and let them know that we struggle like everyone else.

Or

2. Never let people know that you struggle with temptation or sin.  Always be “fine” when asked and only post positive things when on a social network or in person.   Especially leadership.  Because leadership is perfect and never struggles.  We paste on a smile and never let them see us sweat.  We never have problems with our children – we never have illness or marital trouble.  Never.

Well, yesterday – my dear pastor admitted that he struggles.  He admitted that he’s not perfect – in any way.  That he can be and mostly always IS a disappointment to others in his life.  He admitted that he’s a human being capable of temptation and sin like the rest of us.

I loved what he said about those that attend AA meetings.  They have to say their name and then say, “I’m an alcoholic” or “I’m a recovering alcoholic”  and he believes that when we introduce ourselves to others that we should be quick to say, “I’m a recovering sinner“.  Because it’s true.  We are all at level ground.  Even leadership.

Now I’m also aware that people who are lost need to have a role model – and have someone they can look up to.

Here’s the problem with that.  Most of the time – it’s not reality – and the first time that this “seeker” or really lost person has a problem – they fall, because they don’t have it “all together” like the Christian people they encounter at church on a Sunday morning – and they believe they can’t make it.

Instead – I would submit that you do the following:

1.  Stop trying to elevate ourselves by trying to look better than anyone else

2. Have a humble spirit and listening ear

3. Admit that you have problems and temptations like everyone else

4. Admit that you stumble and sometimes want to go the other way

5. Have a testimony of God’s grace and love ready to share with others when they become discouraged.

6. Be a person that is “instant in season” knowing that God places certain people in our path.

7. Do not let anyone tell you  – you can’t express who you are.  Even if that means you have to admit you’ve failed.

I wish I would’ve done that back then – but I’ve learned some valuable lessons about people and myself since then.  I’ve found out that everyone struggles – we are ALL THE SAME when it comes to this.  How you RESPOND is truly the difference – NOT whether or not you get hit with struggles, temptation and sin.  Because if you live long enough – you will.

Here is what you SHOULD do:

1. Respond in an authentic way

2. Admit that you struggle

3. Ask for forgiveness and for strength from the only one who truly understands and can forgive without strings attached.

4. Tell others that it’s only the grace of God that gives anyone ANY hope in times of struggle – including you.

5. Have a fast recovery time from failure to repentance.

6. Be unafraid to be yourself – including gifts of encouragement and hospitality to bring renewed hope to others who may be hurting and struggling.

7. Do NOT let others rob you of your ability to be yourself.

8. Listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit – not to man alone.

9. Develop a deep joy in your spirit even in times of trouble.

10. Pray for your leaders – they are human beings too.

 

God Bless

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Got To Begin Again

Cover of "Cold Spring Harbor"

Cover of Cold Spring Harbor

Several weeks ago I watched a biography program on the life of Billy Joel.  It was interesting – many things I did not know about his life and journey that had led him to write such amazing songs.  Every song has a story – each is a chapter of his life.  I think this is why it is so easy to relate to them.  His lyrics are universal and have layers of meaning for him and everyone else who listens.

I don’t remember where I was when I first heard this song, but I was pretty young.  This song was on Billy’s first solo album “Cold Spring Harbor” written in 1971.  This album was his first after a suicide attempt due to depression from a broken relationship.  The lyrics are of a broken man – rising up to find hope and life again.

I know I can relate to lyrics like this.  No, I’ve never been depressed to the point of wanting to end my life – but I have been sad and felt hopeless at times.  I think we all have.  And it is only because of the love of Christ in me – that I have been able to gain my life back.  He has helped me on more than one occasion to see things clearly and with new purpose and understanding.  I can say each new morning, as I leave yesterday behind with all its hurt and disappointments – “I’ve got to begin again”

When was the last time you felt that God helped you to “begin again”?

God Bless


Well so here I am at the end of the road
Where do I go from here?
I always figured it would be like this
Still nothing seems to be quite clear

All the words have been spoken and the prophecy fulfilled
But I just can’t decide where to go
Yes, it’s been quite a day and I should go to sleep
But tomorrow I will wake up and I’ll know

That I’ve got to begin again
Though I don’t know how to start
Yes, I’ve got to begin again
And it’s hard

Well it’s been quite a while since I lifted my head
And I’m sure the light will hurt my eyes
I see the way that I´ve been spendin’ my days
And reality has caught me by surprise

I was dreamin’ of tomorrow so I sacrificed today
And it sure was a grand waste of time
And despite all the truth that’s been thrown in my face
I just can’t get you out of my mind

That I’ve got to begin again
Though I don’t know how start
Yes, I’ve got to begin again
And it’s hard

Priceless “In The Moment” Moments

The city of Burbank, CA looking east from Univ...

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This month marks the 30th anniversary of the last time I was single and living at home.  I went right from my parent’s home at 20 years of age to another way of life – without ever have lived on my own.

And although it worked out for me – I also see great benefits to living on your own before being married.

Both of my children have had opportunities to live on their own after finishing high school.  And although this can be hard, financially – I believe the lessons learned while living on your own are very valuable.  Some things just can’t be taught while living at home.

With our daughter – she was so determined that she would make it – and it took two jobs for her to do so – she’s been very proud of herself that she was completely self sufficient by the time she was 20 years old.  She learned a lot of about room-mates and finances that she’s never forgotten – and when it came time for her to get married – she was already very disciplined with money and her work ethic.  She’s one of the hardest working young women I know.

Shawn, who will be 20 in October – has moved to California to pursue a music education and hopefully a career with his music training.  He lives with room-mates in Burbank and has struggled to maintain his rent with only a part-time job.  We are grateful he got a job, when so few are available.  And we’re also thankful that his loan money will cover his tuition AND his housing this fall.  But it’s still tough to make the rent and pay for things like food – until then.

Experiences like this are so valuable.  And he will look back on these times as “the good old days” before real bills, a wife and children to support.  All of this – priceless in the big scheme of things to come.

As I chatted on the phone with him last night – I reminded him that this too shall pass – and his present circumstance is what great songs and writings are made of  🙂  Maybe not while he’s struggling – but sometime after as he looks back…

Living “in the moment” – trying to be present – even during hard times of struggle. Being available in the mind.  On purpose and on task.  Learning to get by on very little – to be engaged and still positive about life.  This is what living “in the moment” is all about.

Are you alway “in the moment”?  Does your mind wander to “better times” either in the past – or somewhere in the future?  Can you be content and very present?  Now – today?  Especially when things are not ideal?  And you may be struggling?  Can you find the priceless of the here and now?  Knowing this moment will pass you by – and be no more?

Did you live on your own before you were married?  What did you do without during those years?  What’s your story?

 

God Bless

New Dream

dreams and wishes. 62/365

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I looked for someone

like searching in a fog

chasing after

an endless mist

straining for

that unattainable someone

or something

thinking that it would satisfy

what’s deep within

heart-sick and weary

all my efforts

came up empty

and my searching

and reaching

brought no relief

for I found

that in the searching

it was me that I found instead

alone and empty

sad and confused

“Is what I seek

my dream only?

never satisfied

why do

I continue to pursue?

Are my “dreams” just those I make up

bringing emptiness

and endless struggle

instead of fulfillment

and relief?”

And yet I searched for you

my unobtainable someone

and something

that threatened to destroy

and devour me

The one I craved

the things I craved

could be my undoing

and the searching

and dreaming for them

like a slow death

And at the end of the road

I was still there

running on empty

defeated and broken…

It was when I was at my weakest

and tired of running after

and insisting on my own way

that He came

and I heard

a still small voice

and in my confusion

and tears

which caused me to slow down

be still

and listen

that I heard Him

that voice changed me

as He reached in

and held the broken

and confused me

and finally I don’t need to know

all the reasons for before

I reluctantly surrender

and replace

all the running

and searching

for something unknown

instead of something

that does not satisfy

and begin a new path

with His dreams

and plans for me

and at the end of the road

there is no disappointment

and emptiness

or brokenness

and I have almost 

vanished from view

even though

my selfishness and pride

are still there

but they are covered

and kept in check

and it is He that is waiting

giving me

a new dream

which fulfills

and satisfies

instead of

all the things

I wanted

and thought I needed

He is giving me

much more

than I could ever dream

as He replaces my will

with new people

new things

and a new dream

 

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

 

God Bless

 

 

What’s Making Your Noise?

Animated noise

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Yesterday our youth pastor, Jeremy spoke on a passage of scripture in Ephesians 3.  It is the prayer of blessing.  But it wasn’t so much that prayer that we have all heard a million times in our lives that stood out to me – it was what he said about paying attention to God that made me sit up and take notice.  He talked about things in our lives getting the most attention – the things that are maybe not the most important – but that which make the most  noise.

So I ask you this – as I ponder this same question for myself.  What is creating the most “noise” in your life right now?

Does God allow the “noise” to see if you’re really paying attention to what is important?

Do you still hear Him in the midst of all that “noise”?

What does your “noise” sound like?  Do you spend your time trying to quiet the noise and “put out tiny fires” instead of really concentrating and centering down to the quiet still small voice in your heart?

 

God Bless

How Persistent Are You?

sunny disposition |24

Image by ms.Tea via Flickr

I am a positive person – one who used to jump out of bed in the morning as a child and have a “sunny” disposition most of the time – just ask my mother.  And although I do NOT jump out of bed in the morning now – I’m still the same positive person – for the most part.

I usually see the best in people – not the worst.  This can be a problem.  How – you say?  Well if I only see the good in people – and ignore or avoid the dark side of behavior or tendencies – then it always seems to surprise and sneak up on me when things go sideways.  And not in a good way.

However – because of my ability to “see only the best” I have been able to go places that few ever dare to.  Jumping in and charging full force into something I have NO CLUE about – or what dangers may lie waiting for me there.

I like to think of this as sheer optimism – but others call it reckless abandon and naivety.   And I have paid a very high emotional cost for going there with some.  A price that I still pay today.

How does one truly love and see the good – without holding back and analyzing people first?  Deciding whether or not they are worth my time – or anyone’s time?  I’ve never been very good at holding back.

I’ve also never been one to give up easily.

I am VERY persistent in the things that other deem “impossible”.

You say I CAN’T do that?  I say – Yes I can!

That situation is impossible, you say?  No it is NOT!  Thank you very much.

You say that I will never be able to learn that new task?  I will learn it or die trying.

If there is an unresolved relationship, daunting and scary to revisit and investigate  – You say – “that person will never revisit – ever begin the scary process of starting again  – where there has been silence – suddenly start talking again”.  I say, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”  I will never stop believing – never stop praying – never stop hoping.  My motto is:  “Hope spring eternal” – and that is how I will always see it.  Period.

And if we are Christians and really live like we believe – then SHAME ON THOSE who tell me there is no hope in a situation.  No possibility for reconciliation from a estranged brother or sister – no glimmer of things to be put to right again.  I believe the impossible – because I really live what I believe.  I cannot be responsible for how others respond to pain, loss and hurt – but I can be ready to receive them back – when they finally are ready to come back.  I am ready to give up the fight – and to welcome back what was lost to me.

And I’m just dumb enough to believe that once someone imprints on your heart – they are never really lost to you – and that someday they will come back.  And that love is the greatest motivator we have.  A friendship that had depth and meaning – will always find a way to make amends.  Even when dumb things are said and done.  Even then.

How persistent are you in your faith?  In a relationship gone bad?  In something new that takes patience and resolve?  Don’t wait to resolve it – the other person at the end of your dark journey may just be waiting for you there.

I am praying for you today.

God Bless

Is It Okay To Be Really Angry?

Angry Birds Plush Toy

I’ve been following along with the documentary show on OWN called “Finding Sarah” – about Fergie – the Duchess of York.  She is on a quest to find out why she has turned out the way she has – and why she seems to be helpless to spin out of control and make wrong decisions in her life – resulting in years of destructive behavior including a failed marriage and loss of several careers to reinvent herself.  In this last episode after meeting with trusted friends and experts such as Dr. Phil – she traveled to Arizona to meet with a guru and nature healer.  He was native American – with long braids – a very serene and gracious person who asked her to talk about the things that troubled her.  As she poured out her story to him – he said things very similar to what Dr. Phil had already told her – with a unique spin.  “What you do not acknowledge – you cannot change”.  He used 2 pound rocks to represent all the different aspects of the dark side of her personality – Anger, Rage, Bitterness, Frustration, Jealousy, etc.  He asked her if she had ever felt RAGE?  She told him it wouldn’t have been acceptable to do that – or to even be ANGRY.   Having been in a very controlled environment – that would never have been allowed – even as a child.  And there were some things in her that were buried so deep – and to touch them was very scary.

Then he told her to pick them up – and pack them around on her back while they took a little journey.  He said, “you carry them around now anyway – you might as well take them to know how heavy they are”.  So she did as she was told – and they were heavy.  Once they drove to their destination and walked in the desert for a bit – they came a place where she was instructed to take off the rocks and then he demonstrated for her what he wanted her to do to release these from her life.

He stood facing a canyon that echoed back and yelled, “WHYYYYYYYYY?”  Using his whole body to really take his time – from standing upright to going down on his knees.  Then he did it again – took his time – again yelling, “WHYYYYYYYYYYYY”? And letting it echo back.  He told her – you are doing this for youYou need to release it.  There is no answer.

She was reluctant of course – to look foolish.  But she wanted to comply.  When she tried to do it – it was difficult – especially when the subject of abandonment from her mother came up – and touching that emotion was so painful she couldn’t allow herself to even cry or become angry.  So again – he demonstrated and feel to his knees and sobbed like a baby.  She watched him – fascinated that someone could be so in touch with their feelings – and could release them and not hold on to the darker things.  And though she could not do what he wanted – by watching him – it touched something inside of her – and he knew it would be a long journey of healing for her.

As I watched this “teacher” and “nature healer” speak to her – helping her discover who she is and why she is still so lost – I was reminded of how God works with us.  We all carry around those heavy rocks too – but since no once can see them – we learn to hide and stuff – adjust to the weight of them.  And I realized that I am not so much different from Sarah – I suppress things – stuff them – control my environment so everyone including me is comfortable.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a moment of RAGE in my life.  I’ve been angry – but mostly my anger goes right to sadness – and I am afraid to touch it too much.

I remember pouring out my heart to God in a situation I had about 2 1/2 years ago – and it was scary going to that rage and anger – and sobbing seemed a more comfortable place for me – so that’s where I went.  Even though I know that God can handle my questions, my rage, my anger and my ugliness – it was still difficult to admit it – even to Him.

The dark emotions that each of us have – can be destructive – if inflicted on another – but I also learned that they are important to deal with and release – with just myself and God.  He can handle them.  He made these emotions.  And He can help release something in me – so that I don’t harm and inflict someone I love.

When was the last time you were really angry about something – and allowed yourself to touch that emotion – so that you could deal with it?  When was the last time you let God see that in you?  Is that okay for you?  Do you see it as a sign of weakness – or lack of control?  When is it wrong to be angry?

God Bless

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