Musings From A Musical Mind

Posts tagged ‘Christian’

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

32 Things I’ve Learned

This Thursday marks 32 years of marriage for Greg and me.  Many don’t know this – but we were 20 and 21 when we got married – still in College and had no job, prospects or money.  We just went for it!  And it kinda worked out  😉  And although I don’t recommend or even advocate people getting married as young as we were – there is something to be said for growing up together.  We were too poor and stupid to know any better – so we just plodded along and most of the time it worked out okay.  This is not to say that our marriage did not have any bumps and bruises along the way.  I think it’s a given just from living that long with another person!  If someone says their marriage doesn’t ever have any friction or difference of opinion – they are lying – or someone is stuffing their personality and opinions down deep.  This can happen sometimes to save conflict, or to keep up appearances – but is not very real or truthful.

Besides sharing the same faith, belief system and values – there are some other things I’ve learned about our relationship through the years and what has made it work.  We are far from perfect and sometimes I think I am hopelessly flawed.  But somehow it has worked out anyway.  For those of you interested in what makes a long-term marriage work  – Here is my list…

 

1.  A sense of humor is a must

2. Money doesn’t bring happiness – but it sure can help

3. You don’t marry the other person’s family – despite what others will tell you.  You marry the man.

4. No one knows you as well as someone you sleep with.

5. Your partner cannot fill you up.  That’s God’s job.

6. Friendships come and go – your spouse is your only reliable best friend.

7. Always be kind

8. Learn to look beyond the flaws

9. Keep forgiveness in your back pocket

10. Always stick up for each other

11. Don’t take yourself too seriously

12. Appreciate the little things

13. Have children – the only real expression of your love in human form.

14. Appreciate your differences

15. Don’t be needy

16. Don’t be jealous

17. Enjoy music

18. Take a walk everyday

19. Adopt a puppy or two

20. Be happy and content in your own company

21. Love your neighbors

22. Make a difference

23. Learn to communicate and dream together

24. Laugh a lot

25. Walk away from unhealthy people

26. Be totally honest

27. Love those who marry into your family like your own

28. Be friends with your grownup children

29. Leave a ministry job if it is affecting your marriage

30. Be ready to reinvent yourself

31. Talk about everything everyday

and last but not least…

32. Be the person he would fall in love with all over again.

 

wedding picture

A Gift To Be Simple

Gentleness in Mosaic

Gentleness in Mosaic (Photo credit: Nutmeg Designs)

Yesterday, our pastor was speaking on the topic of “gentleness” from the “fruit of the spirit” series he has been addresses for the last several weeks.

As I was listening and trying to break it down to write about it – the song below started popping up in my brain.

Simplicity and gentleness seem to go hand in hand – and I was reminded once again of this truth in hearing the song and reading through the lyrics – a folk tune that many of my vocal students have sung over the years.

Being kind and responding with gentleness rather than with harsh words and reprimand takes strength of character.  And if you have ever had that harsh rebuke when faced with something unpleasant, you will agree with me.  It is the easiest thing to do and takes no control and no gentleness.

No, gentleness, kindness and mercy all of these are…

gifts.

When was the last time you exercised yours?

Enjoy and God Bless

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,
‘Tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when you find yourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight,
‘Til by turning, turning we come ’round right.

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be true,
‘Tis the gift to labor ’til the day is through.
And when you find yourself in the place so fine,
‘Twill be in the cool of the birch and the pine.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight,
‘Til by turning, turning we come ’round right.

‘Tis the gift to be joyful, ’tis the gift to be free,
‘Tis the gift, ’tis the gift, ’tis the simple gift to be!
And when you find yourself filled with pure delight,
The gift to be simple has led you aright.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight,
‘Til by turning, turning we come ’round right.

One Thing Remains

We sang this song yesterday in our worship service – led by our new music minster, Ben Sorte.  The song is from “Jesus Culture” and it’s a great one. The lyrics have been with me from then until now and just had to share this song with you.  The amazing grace of Jesus that never runs out and never gives up on me.

I stood there – letting the words and music pour over me.  It is a mind-blowing concept of perpetual grace going on and on and on.  I don’t think we humans can grasp that kind of love – I don’t think I will ever be able to wrap my mind around it.  The things I’ve done – or ever will do are covered in a limitless amount of payment that I neither deserve or can repay.  It’s a childhood teaching – and something I had heard my whole life – and if I ever get to the point where hearing about His grace is just “ordinary” or “old news” then I have lost something in the true beauty and mystery of it all.  I don’t think I really understand grace.  If it were up to me – there would be a time limit – an expiration date for all the stupid people who keep doing stupid things.  But I’m not God.  Instead – His is without time – there in abundance for those who cry out to Him.  Willing and able to be that constant thing – remaining

in our lives.

Are you ever afraid that His grace will run out?  That He will give up on you?  I encourage you to listen to this song today.  No matter what you’re going through today – I trust that you will remember His amazing grace.   When all else in your life fails – His one thing will always remain.

Enjoy and God Bless

Authentic Me!

I am authentic

I am real

I am down to earth

 

These are all “catch phrases” that we toss around today.  And it’s especially popular to hear this among Christian pastors and leaders.  But how many really are?

Our pastor led the way last Sunday morning, for it to be okay to be “real” and share with us an area that he has been struggling with.  It was honest and had no pretense. He was just a human being with needs and struggles like the rest of us – he experiences good times and bad, highs and lows.  It was the first really honest moment I’ve witnessed from the pulpit in a long time – if ever.

Now that being said, there are some that would disagree with this approach.  In fact my husband and I were both raised in an era where the pastor (or leader) had to be above reproach and almost ghost-like in perfection.  That was of course, because he (or she) would never allow anyone into their world and all that was personal was highly protected.  It seemed that the worst thing they could do was to let people really know who they were.  The thought being, “They cannot lead others if they admit they don’t have it all together”.

Those of us from my generation and older – bought into this.  We believed you couldn’t have close friends in ministry – believed that others did not want a flawed leader – believed that showing anything less than the perfect role model – would hinder the testimony of Christ.  This caused a false sense of security for others trying to live up to that standard.  And much guilt on the part of the minister and his family.

We discussed this dilemma much in our small group last night.  All of us were there last Sunday morning to witness the beautiful worship service – and Stephen’s willingness to “go there” – for the sake of being truly authentic.  And gave permission for everyone to feel the same – reach out and know that there are others that feel the same way.  It was really beautiful.

As we talked about it in our group, I was very aware of the balance between “sharing” and “sharing too much”.  Who can we really be that “real” with?  Is it important to let people know what you’ve come from – how you handled it and how God has worked in your life?  Or is it better to just talk about surface issues and keep it light?

I know it’s a touchy subject and although some, like me – are grateful for this new freedom in sharing – I know that there are some that simply don’t feel comfortable sharing – or having others share with them.  It is a risk, and certainly some will even look differently at you when you open your heart.  But in light of all these things – I still choose to be a more authentic me.

Here’s why.

I am not perfect.

I struggle with thoughts.

I am selfish by nature.

I like to be right.

I like to have the last word.

I don’t have it all together.

Three years ago I went through a traumatic experience of the heart and emotions.  I started writing a blog to express things I was unhappy about and things I hoped to change.  I went on a journey both spiritually and emotionally and my writing was a vehicle of healing for me.  I tried to be authentic about the way I was feeling.  I knew it would be criticized, as a former pastor’s wife – we aren’t allowed to be sad or struggling – but I plodded along anyway.  The benefit was two-fold:

1.  Others read my writings and daily personal thoughts, as I searched for answers and hung on to the fact that in spite of pain – God is still good.  I connected with many people who would either comment – or privately contact me on Facebook or by email – telling me how helpful and encouraging my writings were and are to them.  Being authentic had a purpose after all – to others who are struggling, questioning and hurting.  It provided a vehicle for them to share – and know for sure that they weren’t alone.

2. It helped me personally.  My empathy and sensitivity grew with my writing journey. Things I had no patience with before – I found compassion and understanding.  I found others who struggled and needed a friend to lend a hand.  While helping, coaching and counseling with others – I’ve found a new purpose for things I was allowed to go through.  And the friendships were and are numerous.

But there is a down-side.  There always is.  I have been burned by sharing myself.  It’s made me more cautious – and I question things more.  I wish I did not.  I wish that I still believed that everyone had my best interest in mind – but now I question that too.  It doesn’t entirely stop me – but it has changed me.  Anytime someone doesn’t understand us or does not validate us in some way – it is very hard.

But I still choose to be a more authentic me.  I choose to take the gifts and blessings God has given me – and reach out to those who need that extra help, support and love. I choose to learn from the painful, dry and empty times along my journey – and share with others what I’ve learned – how God has helped me and most of all – how it’s NOT fatal to go through times of failure, uncertainty and darkness.  It’s been in those times that my heart was much more open to hearing what God was telling me.  And the biggest blessings came when God didn’t answer me at all, instead gave me the tools to find joy again – by writing and opening my heart.

I encourage you today – it’s a scary thing to open up and share, but find someone you trust and have a heart-to-heart with them today.  You may find that the person you’re opening up to – will do the same and there will be strength and blessing in your authenticity.  Even if you’ve been hurt before – you need to trust again.

Have you ever had a truly authentic moment?  This last year?  This last week?  How did others around you respond?

God Bless

The Fallen Pastor

Image

Yesterday I received the book, “Fallen Pastor” in the mail.  I got my copy early because I did a pre-order on the book and knew about it from the inception.  The reason?  I’m privileged to know Ray Carroll personally.  We met through the wonderful blogging community about 2 years ago, and have been great friends since then.  He is a former Southern Baptist Pastor who had a fall from grace, and lived to tell about it – but more than that, He lived to write about it, help others, speak, minister and be a living breathing reminder of God’s amazing grace.  His journey has taken him to hell and back again – and he is able to help others with what mistakes he made, and what mistakes others made in dealing with the prevalent problem of moral failure in the church today – especially among pastors.

Ray is happily married to Allison and provides hope, help, advice and counsel for those who are suffering with secrets, pride, or failure of any kind.  Ray is down to earth, funny, practical and has found a ministry through the written word.  This experience has broken his heart, humbled him and made him a human being again after years of being full of pride and arrogance.  I deeply respect him, his great love for people, his beautiful wife and children.

If you would like to read this great book of hope and inspiration, you can order it from Amazon.com right here: Fallen Pastor

You can also follow him on his blog The Fallen Pastor as he journeys through life on the other side of failure – where grace and forgiveness are waiting.

I’m proud of you, Ray.  You are an inspiration to others who are hurting.  Thank you.

God Bless

Thoughts on “A Christmas Cottage”

I love Thomas Kincaid paintings.  I own a small one – of a cabin on a lake.  The only reason I own it – is because I worked at a Christian bookstore, years ago and got a hefty discount on it.  They are expensive – and worth every penny.  Thomas Kincaid is known as the “painter of lights” and so all of his works have lights in them – and because he is a happily married man – he has initials of his wife hidden throughout all of his paintings.  Look for them sometime – it’s really fun!

Last year I bought the DVD of “A Christmas Cottage” – the story of a much younger Thomas Kincaid, struggling to help his mother through bad financial reversal, and of his next door elderly neighbor – a famous painter who mentored and helped to shape ideas of why to paint to the younger Thomas.  It is a story that has heart.  It is about love for family and friends – a passed on legacy and memories that don’t have a price tag.

I think that the behind the scenes interviews with the real Thomas Kincaid, were the most inspirational – as he shared his heart and vision for this film.  It was interesting to note, that while his paintings are bright and cheery – every room in every house illuminated with bright lights – his own childhood was very dark, the house always dark when he would come home from school.  It was his way of making up for the darkness of his youth – and as his mentor taught him – “always paint the light” – he did just that.

If you haven’t seen this movie – I highly recommend it!
Below is the story behind the movie from Thomas Kincaid himself.

Enjoy and God Bless!

Be A Light In The Dark

Candle in the night

Image by jcarlosn via Flickr

Halloween has many memories for me. Like any other child of my generation, I remember when it was safe to go trick or treating. Oh there was the general “scare” about razor blades in apples, and you weren’t supposed to eat any “homemade” candy. But all in all – it was pretty tame.

What’s even more amusing to me – our church youth group used to have a haunted houses complete with zombies and ghouls to scare us and make us scream as we went through it. Our youth pastor was the biggest kid among us. No one thought anything about it. It was just good clean fun.

I even remember singing “The Monster Mash” as a part of a Halloween celebration at our church one year. We had a really goofy guy doing the solo and then a few of us girls backed him up – I must have been in junior high then. Again – good clean fun – not meant to conjure up evil spirits or somehow celebrate a demonic holiday with satan.

It was not until college that I heard any controversy about Halloween. And I learned that some of these students had never gone trick or treating – nor did they celebrate in any way, unless it was a harvest festival or equivalent at their church. They did not hand out candy to children, even turned their lights out in their home to avoid people all together.

We did not agree and always let our kids dress up and go out on Halloween, with us along, of course. It was fun for them – as it had been for us – and I did not see any reason to darken their world with horror stories and controversy over it. Children only know that they are getting candy – LOTS OF IT. And they are excited!

Some years ago our children’s pastor spoke about this subject, and I thought he had wonderful things to say in addressing this issue that the church has been faced with. Do we – or don’t we? His insight was really great – he said, “this is an opportunity – how often do you have CHILDREN and their parents coming to your door?”  He was of the opinion that we as Christians should embrace the moment – impact our neighborhood and shine the light of Jesus everywhere we go – on EVERY day of the year – including Halloween.  He had tracts that he handed out with candy in hopes that the family would get a positive message from a Christian family on the block – with information and numbers of the church and him personally.

It was great advice – and I know MANY people who also practice this.  And although we don’t pass out a tract to children – we DO have our lights on shining brightly and we greet each one with a smile and a welcome – letting our light shine out in a dark world – impacting one child and one family – one at a time.

I challenge you to do the same – be a light in the dark.  You never know who may come to your door that needs – you.

 

Below – enjoy a trip back to my youth group days – with a video of “Monster Mash”.

Have a safe Halloween.

 

God Bless

Blog Sharing Friday – Ladies Only

The two women friends are shocked at a third w...

Image via Wikipedia

I have some AWESOME women I want to share with you this week.

1) Marni Arnold of Relevant Brokenness is someone I have connected with on twitter, google+ and mostly on both our blog sites.  I love Marni’s articles and her great testimony of faith in Jesus Christ and what brought her there.  I had the honor of doing a guest spot a few months back on her blog (the article is at the bottom of this article) and she is generous to share her site with others who have something to contribute and share with others.  She is one of the nicest and most generous people I have met online – always the encourager.

2) Laura Miles of In The Midst is the mom of David Miles, a personal friend and former staff associate of ours – while my husband and I were on staff at New Life Church in Renton, Washington.  I have never met Laura in person – but have been loving her blog, first introduced to me by David several months ago on his blog – where he featured her.  Laura is down to earth and very honest in her approach to life, her relationship with Jesus and her struggles as well.  I feel like we are kindred spirits and it is always fun to have her comments on my articles.

3)  Diana Savage of Hope For Wounded Christians is someone I have had the privilege of knowing for 15 years.  Diana served on staff as well at New Life Church when my husband was on staff.  She is a gifted author and communicator.  She has survived tragedy and heartache in her own life and has become a beautiful and strong woman of God – encouraging others to find ‘hope’ in Jesus Christ.  Her blog has many wonderful nuggets of truth and encouragement from the word of God – as she shares her journey with others.  Diana is also one of the nicest and most beautiful human beings I know, very humble and unassuming in person.

4)  Heather Murdock of heathersfaith is another kindred spirit whom I got to know first on twitter and then our blog sites.  She writes with beautiful clarity – has a testimony to tell of God’s amazing grace and even shares her incredible gift of love and encouragement on a local Christian TV program in the city where she lives.  I have caught a few of these programs, as she interviews others with testimonies of what God is doing in their lives – and she is straightforward, interested and caring.  Heather is also very beautiful inside and out and I know people are just drawn to her.

 

I encourage you to check out each of these blogs sites – I know you will be blessed and encouraged by them – just as I have been.

 

God Bless

Coincidence or Providence?

Cover of "Water for Elephants: A Novel"

Cover of Water for Elephants: A Novel

Greg and I went to see “Water for Elephants” the other night – and while it is not my favorite movie of all time, there were some very thought-provoking things in it.

For starters – a young man after losing his parents in a tragic car accident, starts to walk away from everything he’s known in search of another life.  He chances on a train and jumps on – not just any train – a train of circus performers.  And he finds himself caught up in the life of the circus and meets the woman who will ultimately change his life.

Now while I believe that we make our own choices in life and there are no coincidences – I also have to believe that things happen the way they do for a reason.  I was reading a quote from C.S. Lewis today.

In friendship…we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another…the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting–any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, I can truly say to every group of Christian friends, Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another. The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.

And so if this is true – that people are put in our path to help us through our journey – maybe we should look at adversities in the same way – as a means for helping us on our path – bringing something that we need at that very moment in time.  And maybe I should spend less time in wondering, lamenting, searching for the reasons, blaming and feeling ill-used when things don’t go the way I think they should – and when my path isn’t as smooth as I think it should be.  Maybe – just maybe – these things and people are God’s wonderful providence – provided for me by His great love.

What adversity are you facing today?  What difficult people do you have to deal with?  Coincidence – or Providence?

God Bless

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