Musings From A Musical Mind

Posts tagged ‘giving’

Making A Difference

My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.        Colossians 2:2,3

I was reading my devotional this morning – as I usually do in the morning before getting up – and something that was said in it really spoke to me.  It was one of those moments that I sometimes have – when I will be praying something – or thinking something and then I come across it in something I read – either in the Bible – or online while talking to friends and returning emails – reading the blog articles of my many friends – or just going about my daily activities.  This morning I found what I had just been thinking and praying about in my devotional.  It was simple – it was my prayer – it was just this:  Lord, I want to make a difference.

Making a difference.  Being intentional. Developing a way to create relationships – on purpose. Being willing to go when God says, “Go”. To say, “Here am I, send me”.  It’s a scary prayer.  It’s scary because it demands all of me.  My time, my resources, my energy, my focus – my all.

I want to know that God can use me – speak through me – I want to be available. And though I am flawed and aware that I am not perfect – and in fact have blown it on numerous occasions  – I would still like to believe that I can make a difference.  Touch people with love.  Be His hands and arms to a lost and dying world.

Yesterday our pastor spoke on Isaiah chapter six.  This is the chapter where Isaiah had a vision and saw the Lord – and witnessed His holiness.  In the presence of such a holy God – Isaiah was very aware of the fact that he was sinful – and that everyone around him was also sinful.  And even though he saw  the greatness of the Lord and was undone – He still responded to the call when the Lord asked, “Who will go for us?” – It was Isaiah who said, “Here am I – send me”.  Isaiah knew what it was like to feel inadequate – and flawed – sinful and beyond hope.  But when God cleansed him – in that vision with the burning coal on his mouth – he was a new man with renewed hope and strength.  Isaiah was available for the task.  He was willing to go – Isaiah wanted to make a difference.

And like Isaiah – I also want to be willing.  As I draw closer to God and really see Him – and really begin to understand His holiness – I too want to be available for the task ahead.  To encourage in love – to go and embrace the lost and dying.  It is something that simply compels me – beyond what I can understand.  It is His mission – His purpose and calling.  And mine is simply to do what He enables me to do – love people – encourage those in the faith – and ask Him to shine through me as I endeavor to make a difference.

My prayer for you today is this:  That you would really see Him.  Allow His holiness to permeate your heart today.  Ask Him how you can lead an intentional life – full of purpose and with His mission in mind. As you journey forward may today be a day that is full of promise to make a difference. And if He asks you – you will be available for the great adventure He has for you!

God Bless

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Releasing The ‘Control Freak’ Inside

It starts when we’re babies – it is a very small world.  We have needs and our cry can upset the whole house and have everyone running to find the thing that will silence our cries – fill the need – change the diaper – ANYTHING!   We learn at a young age that we are indeed the center of the universe – and everyone will cater to my every whim.  We find our ‘control freak’.

Unfortunately as we grow – we find out that we are not the center of the universe – but we still try to ‘have our own way’ by exerting our will – exercising our ‘control freak’ – and often times dealing with the consequences from Mom and Dad.

After we’re grown we carefully cultivate our ‘control freak’ –  that selfish part of us that feels the need to manipulate our circumstances and the people in it – especially if we feel threatened – or not safe – we feel the need to exercise our right to be heard – all in the name of  Christian love.   All in the name of ‘self protection’.

The ‘control freak’ in me may not look the same as yours.  I’ve never been classified as a ‘typical’ controlling personality – quite the opposite in fact.  But it’s still in there.  It’s in all of us.  It’s called self. And I have a great deal of it – and so do you.

As life goes on and things happen to ‘rock my world’ – the ‘self’ part of me goes into protective mode.  Each time I am ‘jabbed’ or ‘hurt’ I want to lash out uncontrollably.  I want to redirect my control – order my own steps – manipulate my circumstances to move around the hurt and pain.  But I have learned to control that beast that is inside me – I’ve learned to hold him down.  I have learned self-control over my ‘control freak’.

And with eyes tightly shut and my grasp on my iron will firmly situated – I proceed through life – quietly controlling what lies beneath.

I am so carefully controlled that I won’t realize the ‘control freak’ inside of me is really there – until something happens to rock my world – or someone comes along to challenge me.  And then I realize I have my fingers tightly grasped around the ‘safe place’ deep down inside.  With each incident in life – I push down hard against my ‘carefully guarded’ heart – so that no one sees what is really there – and what I’m really capable of  thinking, doing or saying.

I want my way.  I want to control my life.  I want to feel accepted.  I want to be safe, happy and loved.  I want – I need –  me, me, ME!!!!

This is such a learned and ‘safe’ approach to life – that soon I feel justified and even self-righteous for feeling this way.  Aren’t I supposed to be safe and happy?  Loved and accepted?  Of course.  But what if God is asking me to step away from my ‘controlled’ environment and tight grasp on the ‘freak’ inside – and do something where I will feel I have no control? What if something happens to me and I have absolutely no way of resolving the situation? What if I  have to do something really scary – and let go of my firm grasp of my ‘world’ and everything in it?  What if He asks me to open my eyes – and release my ‘control freak’ to Him?

I’ve been asked to do this – not once but several times.  There are no easy answers for life’s big mysteries involving friends and family.  I do not have control over my circumstances.  Oh – I can close my eyes again and try to hang on for dear life – while things swirl around me and hope and pray that I will not be affected – but in reality my trying to grasp whatever control I may think I have – will be stripped from me in the end and I will be left in a big heap on the floor trying to figure out, what happened?

When I release the ‘control freak’ inside of me – to God – He has a way of handling my stress – way better than I can.  He does not want us to carry any of the control.  He gently whispers to me, “let it go“.   And though it is a scary prospect – I know I must do as He asks me.  But does God really know how to handle my situation?   I mean can God really do it the right way?  The way I want Him to?  What if He doesn’t?  What then?  Can I trust Him?  Can I completely let it go?  I mean – completely take my fingers off and just – let go?

Sometimes I think I understand.  Sometimes I think I even come close to really ‘getting it’ – and then it will happen again.  Another hurt, another jab – and –  Whammo – I’m back in that hole of self-protection – trying to figure out a way to have a great ‘come back’ – to lash out and explain myself – to try to figure it out on my own. My default setting.  My much learned – and carefully protected human response to pain and confusion.

And then the gentle words of Jesus come to me:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”   Matthew 11: 28-30

Is your load heavy today?  Are you carrying around the ‘control’ in your life?  Do you self protect – even to the point where you are unafraid to give the control over to God –  ever?  Afraid He won’t do something the way you want Him to?  Afraid He will ask you to ‘release’ something in your life you don’t want to?

I want to encourage you to release the ‘control freak’  inside – take Him at His word – He can handle it – He will do it right.  His way is the best way.  It will be all right. Trust Him.

Go ahead.  Let go.  Release your ‘control freak’ today.

God Bless

Understanding Those You Love

Today I was reading an article on relationships written by former student, Thomas Reinhard. Finally, a young person who really GETS IT!!  I’m always happy to discover that good relationships – and unfortunately bad ones – are not gender sensitive – nor do they have time restraints and age requirements.  It seems to have very little to do with how long a person has been around – or has ‘matured’ – and sometimes has very little to do with a person’s upbringing and role-modeling.  It is something more.  It takes effort and energy to treat people right.  The verse in scripture about loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself – seems so simple, right?   But at times it is not.  It takes massive amounts of time and energy to do the thing right.

Loving God seems simple.  But when I know the heart of God – I realize there is nothing simple about this.  He demands all of me – all the time.  Heart, mind and spirit – that’s all of me.  This takes effort and concentration to do this – to be in prayer and constant communication with Him.  He is relational. He wants our time – He wants all of us. On the other hand – He is also a gentleman who will not force us to spend time with Him.  He will wait for us to get it right – and be silent while we go off pursuing the things we pursue.  It is easy to ignore and go our way – pushing Him to the side – because He will wait for us – as long as it takes.

People in our lives are not so patient.  Ever try having a friendship with someone who doesn’t want one with you?  It’s a near impossible task.  And those that do – it requires our time and energy.  When we invest time and energy in developing a relationship with others – there is an unspoken expectation that they will do the same for us.  Friendship at its very best – when working right – is reciprocal. I wrote an article about this a few weeks back – and it had some interesting comments from those – who get this and understand it.  There are so many people who are hurt from those they felt they actually did at one time have that kind of reciprocal relationship – only to find out after time or circumstances – that they did not.

For me my relationships are a central part of my life – my relationship with God – and then the many others that circle around my life – encouraging me and being a part of my daily life – respecting me as a person and loving me just as I am.  The best relationships for me allow me this freedom of being me – they are always around – they do not pick at me for the way I am – or wonder at my presence or motives – and I do not question their motives or presence in my life.  I do not have to wonder where they are – or why they do the things they do – why they are there one minute – and then gone the next.  A true friend stays – and you do not have to wonder where they are.  If you have to make excuses for behavior – it is not reciprocal – it’s wishful thinking.

Before you have this kind of relationship – whether it’s with men or woman – you have to ask yourself this question:  Can I accept the bad with the good? No one is perfect – and most of us are capable of many mistakes when it comes to friendship.  But sometimes we expect too much from a friend – and when they are unable to deliver we are disillusioned and depressed.  Some people simply do not handle stress or process situations in their lives in the same way as we do.  And growing and learning is a part of the journey.

There are four basic personality types – I know and have observed these different personalities all my life – and have friendships with all four of these types of people.  It is important to understand how people think and process – and to know how your friends think – so you can understand their actions – and love them better. I am a combination of a couple of these – and most people do not fall into just one category – which ones are you?

The ‘Melancholy’ tends to feel everything very deeply. Usually an introvert – but not always.  They are sensitive and usually have a wide and wonderful gift of humor that is unique to them.  The ‘highs’ tend to be very high – the ‘lows’ very low – and no one can be in a ‘hole’ longer and deeper than the melancholy.  I have many friends that fall into this category – and they are the most wonderful friends in the world – they feel with you – they understand and communicate in a way no one else can – and they are deeply sensitive and complicated.  But in this complicated deep sensitivity they can also seem distant and removed – when encountering too much stress and personal stimulation.  It is best to back away and give them time to recover – to leave them alone and let them process.  A true friend of the melancholy understands this – but it can be a little frustrating. A true melancholy wants people in their life to understand them – the biggest fear is that no one will.

The “Choleric” person is pretty black and white – in every area of life – and especially regarding relationships.  Usually an extrovert – but not always.  They have a few close friends and tend to be suspicious of everyone else that comes into their world.  They are the natural-born ‘leaders’ and most pastors and speakers are ‘Choleric’ – because they can wade through the emotions and pull things and people together sometimes without regard to people and their feelings – but at least the job gets done!  They are extremely witty and can articulate beautifully!  I have a few friends that fall into this area – and can truly say that when you gain the trust and relationship of a ‘Choleric’ – you have a friend for life – they are very loyal. They are also great at giving advice and counsel because they can see things in a very unique way and have a true and trusted track record.  Their biggest fear is being taken advantage of – so you need to make very sure that when you begin a friendship with them that it is not misinterpreted.

The “Phlegmatic”  is the easy-going person – who does not prefer to be in the spot light – but likes to work alone and let others be up in front of people.  Usually an introvert – but not always.  This person can be the little ‘worker bee’ behind the scenes – does not like confrontations or disagreements – and will generally be very pleasant – if not shy and a little backward in social settings.  I have a few of these friends and they are wonderful people – gracious and unassuming.  This is the most subtle of the personalities and can easily be ignored or forgotten – and they will not generally ‘rock the boat’ for attention – or to be noticed.  These people are also very loyal to their friendships – although they are picky about their relationships as they tend to be hurt a lot.  And you must earn trust with them.  The biggest fear:  someone will hurt me again. I will be alone.

The “Sanguine‘ personality is usually very comfortable in a crowd – and can be the ‘life of the party’ because they are easy with people and usually very witty.  Usually an extrovert – but not always – the sanguine has a unique way of viewing life.  This personality has the ability to see everything and everybody as good, honest, kind and respectable. Even when they are not.  This personality is usually the performer, artist, musician or teacher – because they are good with people.  They tend to be very even in temperament – and are ‘people magnets’ because of their ability to accept and embrace others without question.  This naivety can also get the sanguine into trouble – but they still believe the best in people.  The ‘melancholy’ personality loves the sanguine because they feel better about themselves when they are with this sunny disposition – and they draw strength and encouragement from this approach to life.   The sanguine LOVES a project – and loves to ‘fix’ or help people.  If the relationships aren’t right in the sanguine’s world – nothing is right.  They are also very sensitive and take things very personally when something happens in the relationship – or there’s a lack of communication or understanding.  Biggest fear:  Being misunderstood.

Years ago I remember a friend and fellow colleague (a phlegmatic) needed to address her boss (a choleric) and she was give the advice – “walk around in that personality and approach it like you know they would”  So she did!  And she had amazing results – talking straight – talking black and white with no innuendos or subtle suggestions – the language that the choleric could really understand – and she won him over!  I believe that if we also take this advice and know how to respond in our relationships to each other – based on what they can hear and understand – we will have better long-lasting friendships and relationships in our lives.  The next time you don’t understand something – try looking at what their main personality looks like and walk around in their shoes.  Try it!  You’ll see results!  And you will understand them better in the end.

God Bless

Keeping My Eye On The Ball

Heard a great ‘message/personal story’ by new pastor Stephen Collins at LifePoint Church yesterday.  His main illustration and emphasis was about baseball.  He talked about how his Dad taught him at a young age to ‘keep his eye on the ball’.

If you play ball – or know anything about it from others who do – then you know that this advice from coaches is not just a suggestion – but a tried and true method in which you connect with the ball.  You take your eyes off – and you not only lose the possibility of connection – but you can miss altogether.  This is a great ‘life lesson’ as well.

There are many distractions in life – those things that can take our focus off what is really important.  Oh – sometimes they are really little things – hardly detectable by anyone else – but for you – they can mean the difference between having a ‘win’ – or ‘striking out’.

I believe that things happen for a reason.  Emotions and situations are neutral.  It is how I process them – and choose to react to them that makes the difference between a ‘win’ for me – or a ‘loss’.  When I understand this – I am able to find my focus and not let others distract me – or try to pull me to one side or another.  If God is truly the central focus of my life – and He is – then the ‘other things’ become neutral. My responsibility is to do what He asks me to do – nothing else.  That – for me – is ‘keeping my eye on the ball’.

In every heart – in our deepest part of our soul – we have a ‘God space’ – that no one else can go.  It is our ‘secret place’ with Him alone.  Others can not fill us up – it is for Him alone.  When we try to fill it with other things in life – or other people – thinking these things will be enough and satisfy – we are easily distracted and disappointed – become discouraged and can be depressed.  Especially when our self-worth depends on what others think and say about us or to us directly.  When we keep our eyes on Him alone – the rest does not matter – we don’t need man’s approval – or advice to make us feel better.  We can simply rest in Him.

I plan to ‘keep my eye on the ball’ – I will fail because I’m flawed and capable of really messing it up – but after I blow it – I will again pick myself back up and find my focus once again.  I know I will be distracted by ‘well meaning’ people who try to sway me in one direction or another – but my goal is to be secure in spite of these obstacles – and be confident enough in myself – even when others don’t agree – even when things are slipping out of my hands and my world is shaken – even when I don’t handle it right with people.  I want to be solid and unswayed in my belief that I only need to answer to God alone – and NOT take my focus off what I know He is calling me to do.

What is God calling you to do?  Do you stand alone?  Are there many distractions and troubles?  Is your heart heavy from the weight of it?  Welcome to the club!  Welcome to life. Hold on weary traveler – don’t lose your focus – or be weary in well-doing.  Keep your eye on the ball.

God Bless

When Love Is Not Reciprocated

It is easy to be self-sacrificing in friendship when it is reciprocated

We’ve all been there. We have friendships that either ‘work’ or they don’t. People that come and go in our lives – and things we can’t understand. And like Bob Cratchit says in “A Muppet Christmas Carol” – ‘Life is full of meetings and partings’ – so true – but it is still hard to reconcile ourselves to that point sometimes.  I like the ‘meetings’ – but I’m NOT crazy about the ‘partings’.

Friendship in its most basic form is this:

Two hearts that are connected by a common unseen element – where love and respect is shared. Secrets are safe and trust is earned and kept. You know you will not be betrayed because they understand you – and you understand them. And you encourage each other – cheer each others accomplishments and hurt when they hurt.

My good friend Deanna said it best the other day – ‘a friend has no hidden agenda – a friend listens and loves’.

When you have a trusted friend – you don’t even mind carrying stress and burdens from them – especially when you know that they are doing the same for you. You know who the ‘real’ ones are. The ones who stick around – don’t get squeamish at the first signs of ‘trouble’ or ‘drama’. They are the ones who are able to ride it out – and they stay. Offering words of comfort and life – just the very thing we need at the time. They don’t do it for them – they do it for you.  They don’t judge or lecture – they just simply love.

But what happens when friends don’t understand? They seem to be judging – or they do and say something weird? For no reason?   Oh you know what I mean – something great happens to you – and they don’t cheer you on – but decide to go ‘silent’ on you.   Even when you always seem to be ‘cheering’ them on!   What happens when you don’t feel that things are ‘reciprocated‘? What then? When you’re worn out trying to figure out why trust was broken – and misunderstandings take place?  What happens when it isn’t possible to simply ‘talk it out’? When things are complicated and there is no trust or understanding any more? What then? And what happens when they disappear for no reason – at least not one that you can understand? And no explanation is offered? Someone who you just knew would be a friend forever. What do you do?  How do you react?

I don’t know about you – but I choose my friendships carefully. I have been known to give my trust away to wrong people and it has made me careful. But I am also aware that I have a memory like an elephant. Sometimes it’s a curse and not a blessing – and can easily make me ‘self protect’ rather than giving people a chance.

Jesus tells us that we need to love others as ourselves. We need to ‘turn the other cheek’ and to forgive many times – even if we don’t want to. Even if we don’t understand. Even when it is NOT reciprocated. Especially then. He instructs us to do this – not for them – but for us. There is healing in forgiveness – and a release that happens in our own heart – when we simply do this.

It is interesting to note – that in these times of rejection and hurt – in the silent treatment from a friend – or someone I thought was my friend – the powerful words of Jesus come back to me – and I come to realize that sometimes my love is a selfish kind of love.

A kind of love that says, “I will give – if you give back – I will show compassion – if you treat me right – I will cheer you on – only if you cheer me on – I will love you – when you earn my love.”

It is sobering. It is sad. And – it is true. For all of us. At the base of each of us – is an ugly selfish sinner – capable of terrible thoughts – wrong motives and hurtful agendas. We are hopelessly ‘prone to wander’. Our only hope is the love and grace of Jesus – given freely to all who will ask. On our own we mess it up pretty badly. Jesus knew we would. That’s why He came. To save us from ourselves. To clean us up and set us on the right path – even after we ‘blow it’ – even after things seem so hopelessly lost. Even when there is nothing else that we can do. It is then that He steps in and turns even the most hopeless situation – around. He does the work in our own hearts. He gets to the root of the problem. The problem is not everyone else – It starts with me.  OUCH!!

As I write this I am aware that I am struggling with my own ‘issues’ in my life – some that are resolved and some unfortunately – that are not and may never be. Some within my power to fix and others – out of my hands. It isn’t up to me. So I – hope and pray. And I work on me. Maybe some day – I will get it right.  With God’s help – I’m sure going to try – but I’m going to make mistakes – I’m going to get my feelings hurt – I’m going to self-protect and I’m going to accuse – because it feels better to blame – than to point the finger at myself.

I believe I need to have an attitude of true humility when reaching out to my friends – the ones I have in My life now and cherish – and my new friends that I haven’t even met yet. I need to expect that there are going to be times when I will not understand what is going on – and I’m going to try very hard to look into my own heart for hidden motives and agenda – instead of blaming others.  And when I do reach out to others I need to let my attitude toward them be an attitude of giving – without expecting anything in return. To love them unconditionally – just as Christ has loved me – no matter what. And if Christ can accept me – with all my flaws and imperfections – then I can also be free to love you – with no fear of rejection – and with no guarantee that your love will be reciprocated.

I also want to say – that although I love everyone – there are only certain ones that will be close friends – those that I will let into my confidences and my world.  And those that will do the same.  And those I will not.   And those  ‘others’ – either through something that has happened – or something unhealthy that I sense –  it is not wise to continue to heap on myself ’emotional’ abuse from them.  Those  that I thought at one time were my friends.  Sometimes I have to assigned them ‘an outer orbit’  – while continuing to love them as Jesus would.  And sometimes – I have to be okay with that – hard as it is.  And leave it there.

I want to appreciate life’s blessings – EVERY DAY – and the wonderful people who are in it. I want to know that I can be a giver – even when it is not returned to me. And when it is – I know I have found another good friend and ‘gift’ from God.  It’s like God smiling and whispering, ‘you’re finally getting it – now treat them right!’

And I’m happy to report that after living this long – I’m finally getting it – and I have many wonderful friends in my life who have all played such an important role on my continued journey.  Strong men and women who I am in daily communication with – who inspire me, lift me up and reciprocate friendship and love – in the most basic form.  I am blessed.  And I pray that you too – would be equally as blessed with a love that is reciprocated.

God Bless

How’s Your ‘Love Bank’?

Last October I posted an article entitled,  ‘The Love Bank’.  It was an idea from a friend of ours, Jeff Davis whom we were on staff with at New Life Church in Renton, Washington – about 14 years ago.  He was teaching our Sunday School class and talking about how each of us has a ‘Love Bank’ and we can either make deposits into it – or withdrawals.  The deposits come when someone speaks life and health into our lives – the withdrawals come when someone rejects or speaks unkindly to us.  He was talking about the way married couples speak to each other – either good or bad and that can result in a healthy or unhealthy ‘Love Bank’.

This ‘Love Bank’ theory can also be translated into our everyday relationship with our friends and family.  The more I live and have observed people, both in ministry and just in my ‘world’ I feel that there are 4 different kinds of people.

The ‘With-holder’ This person will not give a compliment or say anything nice to you – even if you’re standing right in front of them with a new outfit on – a new haircut and have lost 60 pounds.  Nope.  They ‘with-hold’ because if they give you a compliment – it depletes their already limited amount that they have in their own ‘Love Bank’ and they can’t afford to give any away to you.  The mind-set is this:  anything I give away – will NOT come back to me.  I will simply LOSE it entirely.

The ‘Unaware’ This person is usually a male – no slight on the male sex – just speaking the truth in love – and now understanding a little about the male ‘psyche’ being married to one and also having a son I realize that this is just how males are ‘wired’.  It often is not meant as a ‘slight’ – it is just simply that they are ‘unaware’ that anything is different or needs to be said.  No one has corrected them on simply being polite in a social situation and that the right thing to do IS to say something kind to someone – they don’t know – so they simply with-hold because they don’t know any better.  If taught – they would not be opposed to learning.  They do not realize that communication and words are very important when relating with others – especially females.

The ‘Manipulator’ This person will give a compliment if it makes them look better – or better yet – say things only in front of the right person because somehow they feel that will give them more ‘deposits’ into their ‘Love Bank’ for saying something nice.  This person has an ‘agenda’ for being nice and is as changeable as Seattle weather.  Just when you think this person is truly on your side and is a ‘friend for life’ you find out that there was some other ‘hidden motive’ for being in your world – to make their ‘Love Bank’ richer.  When that doesn’t happen – they quickly move on to someone else.  They are incapable of really warm intimate relationships because of ‘fear’ – fear of losing themselves and becoming smaller – and losing all their reserves in their own ‘Love Bank’.  Fear that you will ultimately get more attention than they will.  Or that others will like you better.

The ‘Giver’ This person is someone who naturally is – or has learned to be – ‘a giver’.  Someone who knows the secret to filling up their ‘Love Bank’ is to give their love away.  The more they deposit into others – the more is naturally deposited into their own.  This person is the one who understands risk and of getting rejected and misunderstood – but who doesn’t let it stop them from giving to everyone they come in contact with.  This is the person who is first to give a compliment and mean it – without thinking they will get anything in return.  The person who often times has to say ‘hello’ first – or make the other person feel good about themselves.  The ‘giver’ never asks ‘what’s in it for me’?  They just give.

Which one are you?  A mixture of a couple of these?  Did you say, ‘Ouch’ when reading anything  above – or did it make you feel sad?  Do you know people like this – in each category?  How do they make you feel?  Are you on a road to self discovery and wanting to learn how to make your own ‘Love Bank’  healthy and full of deposits?  Invest in others.  Love God.  Love people.  You can’t go wrong when you do this.  And like the parable of the ‘talents’  – you will not be like the servant who the master gave one talent to – and when the master returned he found that the servant had been worried he would lose it – so he hid his talent in the ground.  That one talent was taken from him and given to the one who had 10 talents.  I believe the person who had been given 10 talents was the one who had learned the secret in investing in others. So – invest in people – watch your investment grow with much interest as you see your own ‘Love Bank’  fill up to over flowing!

God Bless

Roots and Wings

Several years ago – after living in our present home for 2 years – we had a major problem with our sewage pipes.  And naturally, like most any disaster – if it’s going to happen – it will be when you have company.  Our daughter’s boyfriend was here from California where he was stationed as a United States Marine.  We were happy to meet Jack and were excited that he came up here to see her for a weekend.  As soon as we picked him up from the airport and dropped by quickly at our home – they were off to a mutual friend’s church party – and left Greg and me at home to do some last-minute chores.  It was a Saturday night and I was trying to finish up some laundry and was working in my office when all of a sudden I heard a peculiar gurgling sound coming from the guest bathroom just down the hall from my office.  I got up to investigate and the gurgling noise became louder until water bubbled up from the toilet and started spilling out ALL OVER THE FLOOR at a rapid pace.  I screamed for Greg who was upstairs and he sprang into action trying to ‘plunge’ whatever had backed up in the toilet.  We could both see that it was a far worse problem then just a simple clog – the water just kept coming – spilling over onto the floor – spilling out into the hallway and making a HUGE mess EVERYWHERE!!  I had every towel I owned in the hallway to mop up the water.  We called someone to help us and thankfully we knew someone in the plumbing business.  Because this was late at night (of course) the problem did indeed have to wait until the next day – so we mopped up the mess as best we could after the water slowed down to a stop and told everyone NOT to flush ANY toilet in the house.  This was not a good weekend to have a guest!  Luckily Jack had family in the area and was not staying at our house over night.

The next day our wonderful friend (John Beck) came over and donated his time and equipment – a hose with a camera on it – to dig up and diagnose the problem in our front yard.  It was temporarily ‘fixed’ – but a week later would you believe it – the same thing happened – and back John came only this time it was a water line with the same problem – ‘roots’.  This time the WHOLE YARD had to be dug up to run a new water line – And by ‘dig up’ – yeah – well you get the picture.  It was determined that because of all the trees in our yard (we love our shady trees in the summer) we had a ‘root’ problem.  Roots were growing in not so great places – like our sewage pipes and water line – thus creating a nasty back up for the sewage line anything thicker than water.  And for the water line – the same back up and mess all over the house.  Yuck.    Roots had to be cut and our pipes were FREED!!!  Yay!

Two years ago we had the same problem.  It was an emergency of the same magnitude and our friend no longer had the equipment or was in that line of business any more – so we needed to hire someone to come.   It was REALLY EXPENSIVE and we took every precaution since then to make sure it NEVER happened again – including pouring things into the drain to dissolve the nasty roots and to discourage them from growing back.  But those roots are persistent – and it seemed that no matter what we did – they kept coming back!

So today while getting ready to go to church – Greg heard the familiar ‘gurgling’ and ‘bubbling’ sound coming from the downstairs bathroom again – and he thought, “Oh oh” – I was happily taking a shower upstairs and was oblivious to his rushing around downstairs and out the front door – taking a look at the pipes to access the backup.  As soon as I was out of the shower he informed me that he was going to have to rent something – and soon or we were going to have the same problem.  Long story short – after church we rented a snake with cutters on it to insert in the pipe and ‘cut’ the roots and clear the clog.  It worked like a charm – and was ever so much cheaper than hiring someone – like we did 2 years ago.

Roots.  What to do – what to do??  They are with us – they attach themselves to us – we cut them down – they grow back.  They are persistent.  They follow us.  And if roots are grown in the wrong place – they cause damage and clogs – and need to be cut and re-directed.

Roots in human beings are similar to those in trees.  If they are well nourished and have the right ‘direction’ shown to them – then they grow straight and strong.  Roots are the things that grow beneath the surface – the things you can’t see.  You can tell a healthy tree by its roots.  It is not so easy to see this in a person – or is it?  Is there such a thing a ‘bad roots’?  Can they hinder our growth and development?  Can our past affect us?  Prevent us from getting everything we need in this life?  Sometimes because of the ‘voices’ from the past we do not continue to reach and grow – and explore things for ourselves.  The teachings of childhood are always in our heads – good or bad.  We can actually be ‘stunted’ instead of going our own natural way.  Those ‘voices’ can clog our minds until we are not sure what we believe anymore.  Is it because we are taught that?  Is it our belief?  Can we risk believing something different – or new?

Roots – are good things – If you had loving parents and leaders/mentors in your life that spoke great things into your life and instilled beliefs and teachings to help you grow – then you were blessed. But you may not have that legacy.  You may not have had good parents that spoke great things into your life – and your ‘roots’ may be broken and bent.  Regardless of which category you fall into – it is now your responsibility to nourish your own ‘roots’ and to help them grow in a healthy way – to ‘unclog’ the  voices in your head and to clear a path for your life that does not just include the past – but that opens up a way for you to be all you can be.   Ask God today to show you the special things He has in mind for your life – He will make your path clear – as you step out in His unconditional grace.  He will give you  ‘clear’ thinking – and  help you to ‘unclog’ the tangled mess in your mind and replace it with His own sweet presence and love – flowing freely through you and bursting forth with newness, strength and health.

I believe we need to take all we can from our good parents – things they taught us – things we learned in school and what our church taught us.  But I believe it is not enough.  We need to build on that – good past or bad past – it’s up to us – it is a choice.

Be someone today with healthy roots – choose to pass that on to your children and their children.  Allow them to be who they are supposed to be – give them roots – but also give them wings.

God Bless

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