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Give Me Jesus

With every problem restated

struggles for daily peace

second guessing resolutions

At the end of the day

and the end of the road

give me Jesus

Is there any problem

He can’t solve

or any dark place

He can’t light

You can have the whole world

but

give me Jesus

Are You Kind?

Yesterday morning our pastor spoke about kindness in reference to one characteristic of the “fruit” of the spirit.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Galations 5:22-23

If you are like me – this is something I used to take for granted.  Especially Christian kindness.  But more often than not, kindness is a lost art.

While he was speaking, I found myself feeling sad because of this lost art.  Like “common courtesy”.  Is it really so common? Where has true kindness, concern and respect gone?  I myself have been a victim of unkind things spoken or done to me.  And mercy – they were by Christians.  

Christians tearing down Christians.  In person, by email and lately on social media.  Yikes.

Lately there has been an tidal wave of things sent around to slander, cut down or at very least to cast doubt about another person – all in the name of Christianity for other people to read about!  Well known people.  Christian Leaders.

Now maybe you think, “FINALLY – someone said something!”  Or maybe you would not be bold enough to write that or even admit that out loud.  But maybe inside you think, “They are getting what they deserve”.  And like so many people on social media who tend to believe most everything they read about – you pass it along.

This is a problem.  No – it’s an epidemic.  Christians are called to be kind.  To be gentle.  To have self control.

Pastor Gerry said it right when he said, “If you disagree with someone you should go to them privately.  You could write them an email explaining ‘this is what I heard” but it troubles me and I want to know if you really said or did that”  This would be the kind thing to do.  It is the biblical thing to do.

Is it kind to write articles exposing someone we feel is wrong? Or off in their theology?  Or differing in their interpretation of the Bible?  What if some of the things you’ve heard or passed on are not entirely true?  Or there is an element of truth – but mostly it is hearsay?  What if it is true?  Is it our responsibility to expose and broadcast?  Should these things make us sad?  Or glad?  At times I admit that I may have had suspicions about someone and there it is in black and white right in front of me!  I think to myself, “well it’s about time someone said that!”  Shame on me.  Instead this should grieve me and cause me to pray.

I believe that Christians are caught between being too forgiving, looking the other way, winking at sin and seeming soft.  But often times the alternative is being overtly passionate and even being a bully for the sake of God’s truth and justice.  There are times when we need to stand up for justice, those that are weaker and need someone to stand in the gap, help others who cannot help themselves, show Christian love.  But I’m not referring to these cases.  I’m referring to gossip, slander and judgement”.

Here is a simple kindness test:

1.  When you read something negative about a leader, Christian or not – are you happy about it?

2. When someone you disagree with hurts you or says something unkind, do you want to retaliate?

3. Are you quick to cast judgement on events you know very little about?

4. Instead of praying for those in leadership, like our president – do you look for ways to undermine them or him and spread negative things?

If you answered yes to any of these – you probably need to practice a little more kindness.

When we practice these qualities of kindness, gentleness, and self control we will have to listen more and talk less.  Bite our tongue in some cases. Be willing to look foolish.  Pray for God’s wisdom and say nothing.

I am a work in progress.  I have said plenty of unkind things over the years.  I’ve had many unkind things said to me.  I’m learning that I do more harm than good by stating my opinion.  I try to weigh everything before I speak – or pass things along for others to read.  I’m not perfect.  I still mess up – but I’m trying to be more sensitive to the things that grieve the Holy Spirit and harm others.  I try to treat others like I would like to be treated.  I am learning that my opinion most of the time is not important.  I realize that we all make mistakes and mess up and that it is God who is the final judge.  I pray for others as I would hope that others would pray for me.  My job is to be more like Christ.  If this means that I say less and pray more – and look foolish for not having an opinion about someone  – then so be it.  I’m willing to risk it.  And I am praying for the same thing for you.

Are you kind?

 

God Bless

 

 

Where There is Faith – 4Him!!

One of my favorite songs! Enjoy and God Bless!

Kristi Ann's Haven

photo3

4 Him Christian Band

Jesus Christ Saves

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Video

Shine On Us

This is one of my favorites written by Michael W. and Debbie Smith – sung by Philips, Craig and Dean. Enjoy!

God Bless

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

In case you missed it on the season finale of “The Sing-Off” – here is Jewel accompanied by the group “Home Free”.  It was a stand out performance for sure!  Glad to share it with you – Enjoy and God Bless!

Video

Wonderful Christmastime

Great version from Straight No Chaser – featuring Paul McCartney – Enjoy and God Bless!

A Bittersweet Goodbye

Tuesday we move away from Seattle. We have lived in this area for 18 1/2 years. Longer than any place we have ever lived before.

When we moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1995 we had already lived in six different States, experienced other climates and cultures, from Alaska to Florida – Pennsylvania to California. And we grew to appreciate everywhere we lived and strived to appreciate all the unique beauty of both the scenery and the people where we were planted.

Today I sit in a local coffee shop. I am taking in the sights and smells of everything that is truly unique of the Pacific Nothwest. Rain and fog outside my window, eclectic music, people talking or reading, the hustle and bustle around me. Coffee inside, the fall chill outside. Seattle. I realize other places have coffee shops – but somehow Seattle has that certain edge over all others.

It is a strange feeling to sell furniture, downsize, walk through an almost empty house in preparation for a change. I remember each room and what happened in each through the years. I still see 10 year old Shawn running up and down these stairs – too “grown up” for a tree house left by the previous owners. And the time he and his friend Connor were going to spend the night in that same treehouse even though it was infested with spiders and wasps!

I remember Ashlee's sweet 16 party with her friends from High School. I remember many late night talks with both kids when they were teenagers. I remember “break ups” and happy moments with both of them. I remember when both of them moved out to begin their own lives – and I remember when Ashlee met Drew and the day she became engaged. I remember getting ready the day of her wedding. Each memory I will hold onto and take with me.

We've seen many changes in this house over the years with each other and our children. They are a myriad of bittersweet. Time has a way of being kind and softening even the most uncomfortable recollections. And I will take the bittersweet with me – loving both the joys and adversity and finding a way to reconcile them both.

I'll be seeing you on the other side.

God Bless

 

How’s Your Nose?

We move next week to Union Gap, Washington – east of the Cascade mountain range in eastern Washington.  Not as far east as Spokane – but more centrally located.  This a great location – about 2 1/2 hours either direction and about an hour from Leavenworth or Tri-Cities area.

When you move – you CLEAN.  At least you should.  And I don’t mean a light dusting over cupboards and surfaces.  I mean deep cleaning in places that haven’t been touched in YEARS.  You know – the crevices.  The dark dingy places too high up to bother with.  I mean – no one sees them, right?  But when you move you KNOW your renters will see it.  And so like good landlords, we are painting and cleaning with vigor and hoping and praying that our new place over the mountains will be as clean waiting for us as we are leaving our home.

Child nose

Child nose (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve never considered myself a “clean freak”.  In fact – I’m not!  Far from it!  But compared to how some people live – I guess I am.  I purposely didn’t choose dogs that shed because I don’t want to deal with pet hair everywhere and in my bed.  And I’m not a fan of bad smells.  My nose tells me something is wrong in the garbage long before Greg thinks it’s time to empty it.  I can sniff out odors better and faster than most people and I am known as the music teacher who always has my house smelling good.  Students used to come and stand in my entry way and “sniff”.  “Your house ALWAYS smells so GOOD”!, They would say.

Much to my dismay, not all people have the same high standards for pet odors, smoke and garbage smells.  I even smelled cat urine upon approaching the entry way to our new home and Greg knows he will have to power wash and do other things to get rid of all bad smells both inside and out.  Thank goodness for new carpets and candles until all the former odors dissipate.

I realize that “smells” are something we get used to.  I dated someone in high school whose home had a really bad odor that I could never identify.  He and everyone else living there had simply gotten used to it and didn’t notice it.

Dirt, grime and garbage are other things we can get used to.  I don’t mean clutter.  I mean dirt, grime and garbage.  Sometimes I may have a lot of papers, and other clutter – or things not put away in their proper place.  But you will rarely find bathrooms or the kitchen intolerable or even downright gross in this house.  And again, I am NOT a clean freak!

Sometimes I wonder if we can take another lesson from real life.  How’s your “heart” nose?  Have you become just used to dirt, grime and garbage filling up your mind and emotions?  Or are you sensitive to the many wrong things happening in our culture today?  Does it bother you?  Do you call it out and want better things long before others do?  Are your personal standards for yourself higher than that?  But do you just slide over the deep cleaning work that is needed for some areas of your heart and mind?  A “renewing” of your mind?  Do you become judgmental to others who don’t appear to have it all together, like you?  If so – you may be one of us who wants and longs for quality in ourselves and others around us.  But you may also be blinded by your own awesomeness.  A true humble spirit and compassion is what your neighbors really need.  You may be the moral compass that God is calling you to be.  A “light” in a dark world.  Not afraid to forge ahead – cut through the garbage and filth to get to the truth.  But BE CAREFUL!

If I learned anything today from watching Russell Wilson‘s testimony and other teammates in the Seahawks – it is this:  You don’t have to clean yourself up to come to God.  He does the cleaning.  Come as your are”  Can my picky clean “nose” really tolerate others who do not get it yet?  Can I keep from judging and love them just as they are?  That is the challenge to all of us who call ourselves Christians.  After God cleans us – we need to let others know that we did not become this way out of our own awesomeness.  We were filthy dirty once.  Can we adjust our nose to see beyond?  To love people where they are?  I am soon going to have an opportunity to do just that.  Love people right where they are and just how they live.  To point them toward Jesus who will love them right where they are and who has the power to clean them up.  Can I do it?  I hope and pray so.

How’s your nose?

God Bless

 

A Minor Discomfort

It has been years since I have suffered with migraine headaches. And though I have not had the intensity of those dark days, lately I have been noticing a shift toward the dark side again. I am pleased that these new headaches seem to lack the intensity and uselessness when I would lose an entire day and night. I was told they were due to hormonal and chemical changes in my body while going through “the change”. And just as was predicted – they eventually went completely away.

But headaches, like everything pesky in this life – have a way of revisiting during times of allergies, stress and even now – weight loss.

Greg and I have been on a strict program now for about 2 months and have both lost almost 20 pounds on our way to better health and fitness. It has been a process and a new discipline for us, especially the snacking out in the evening while watching TV. Instead of paying those high costs for weight loss programs, real or hype – I read up on what to do on a budget and found that by counting calories and recording things like excercise (how much, how long, what kind etc.) and by making better choices about food and portion control (thanks Lean Cruisine) we have seen significant change.

But with any change, comes adjustment and sometimes discomfort. “No pain, No gain” (or loss) rings plainly in my ear night and day. I'm not complaining – just being honest. Losing weight sometimes isn't comfortable. In fact it's downright uncomfortable when going without a lot of extra calories throws me into major headaches!

The other day I had one so bad and was on a road trip with Greg. We still had an hour to drive home and I was so sick – headache and stomach ache combined. I do not like being car sick – and had to have a plastic bag on my lap the whole way home – just in case. It was all I could do to get home, run upstairs and try not to throw up while the room was spinning around me. I ended up in bed for the rest of the evening. I don't like road trips too much anymore because of this. And yet – I know that this too, is probably temporary and my body will have to adjust.

Life is full of minor and major adjustments as we navigate forward toward a goal, or toward something richer and better for us.

We were watching Joel Osteen on Sunday morning and he reminded us of how the winds of change are blowing in our favor. I have heard this before – but it was so nice to hear again! Sometimes we forget to just stop and marvel at the Lord's great provision for us! We are all one phone call or one person away from that big breakthrough moment. As we live in the favor and purpose of God there will be a shift from the impossible to the possible. I believe that and have witnessed that in my own life over the years. God has always taken care of us, even when we stopped believing it for ourselves. Working behind the scenes, bringing people and events into our lives to teach or prepare us for something bigger and better.

I also believe that every discomfort either major or very minor is a learning experience. That is, if we allow it to be. If we can stop our whining and complaining long enough to see the lesson in pain. And I know there are many things I will never understand. Why a Mom has to die and leave behind two girls who need her. Why everyone is not healed that prays for healing. Why families seem to have more than their share of sorrow and tragedy. There are always those who have it far worse than we do. Than I do. It is in the remembering and choosing to focus on that fact that brings simple humble thankfulness.

Do you have pain in your body? In your emotions? Your relationships? The winds of change are shifting. It is right around the corner and often manifests itself when forgetting about yourself and seeing others in need. It is in counting your blessings for the small things in life you have been blessed with and the people who mean so very much. And though I don't like pain of any kind and especially these stupid headaches as I try to navigate to a “new normal” – I am grateful for so much. I've had the really bad ones and am so grateful for these much smaller and “doable” ones – that I can still think, move and navigate. It is just a minor discomfort.


God Bless

 

Rain, Rain – Go Away

Today I rode along with husband from Renton to Arlington – a good hour north from where we live. Usually this is a pleasant and pretty uneventful trip. Usually, that is – except when it rains. No matter how long I live in the Pacific Northwest, I will never get used to driving in rain. Even riding along shotgun while someone else less afraid than me is driving, I still tense up and don't enjoy the ride. Every time we have a distance to drive it is raining – and not just raining a little – the skies open up and it pours. If you haven't heard, Seattle lately has been having HUGE storms, winds and rains breaking all records for this area. And the rain continues…

Someone on my facebook page this morning was commenting to no one how it rains in Seattle all the time and would you people please learn how to drive in it! Case and point – along our travels today we came upon an accident – a truck completely overturned on the side of the freeway. Why you ask? Because he was probably going to fast and lost control and went into a spin, landing him in a ditch and then rolled upside down on the side of the road. And with all the water on the road – it's no wonder. HUGE semi trucks passing small vehicles splashing ALL THEIR WATER on those poor cars. This is something I DO NOT LOOK FORWARD TO when out in the rain. It's amazing there are not more accidents. People clearly DO NOT know how to drive in rain. We drove in the lane next to a young guy driving a jeep – who was swerving and weaving all over the road – scary stuff if you are in the carpool lane and have no escape from crazy drivers!

I get it. Seattle is green and beautiful becauses of all this rain. Other places have great weather year round but cannot boast of the scenery here. However, too much of the stuff is just plain miserable. Our dogs have been inside for days only venturing outside to do their business, (and in a BIG HURRY too) the air pressure because of the moisture is INSANE and the grey skies are really starting to get to me. I've had a headache of varying levels for DAYS. I'm starting to feel like my head will eventually just explode and then that will fix everything. At least if the rain continues – I will have no more headaches!

We could all do with a break from this. I sit in Starbucks while Greg has a funeral – and I look around me at people who seem to be dark and gloomy – just like the weather outside. Everything would be different if the rain stopped and the sun would peak out. I know it. Something about that vitamin D that lifts the spirits and brings a smile to each face. But for now we just muddle through, writing, reading or sitting staring off into space.

This month we are leaving the rainy and grey skies side of the state and heading east of the mountains to Union Gap in Central Washington where we will be property managers. I'm told there are 4 seasons there, it's drier (yeah for my allergies) and LOTS of sunshine. I can deal with that. Cold and snow in the winter with SUNSHINE? I can handle that. HOT summers with no humidity? I can take that. It's a trade off I'm willing to try. We may hate it – but on the other hand – we may really like it.

I will be sending sunshine and lots of love to all of you staying in the rain. After I dry out – that is 🙂 I know we will all appreciate being able to get out and not get soaked – enjoy a good long walk with the pups every day and not worry about tracking in muddy feet.

Stay dry, stay away from crazy drivers and God Bless

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