Musings From A Musical Mind

Posts tagged ‘Philippians’

Blast From The Past

Two friends

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Yesterday I spent the day with an old friend.  Sue is someone whom I spent an entire year with – when we were 7th graders.  Her family was in Seattle on a year furlough from where they served as missionaries to the Philippines.

7th grade is a very awkward time for most kids – we were no different.  Our junior high school building had burned down while I was at 6th grade camp – we heard the news on the bus ride home.  What would we do?  Since no school could be built that quickly (it took 2 1/2 years) it was decided that we would bus to another district – for our 7th grade year – some 45 minutes away from our town.  This was a brand new school – sitting empty due to a failed levy in their district.  The school was an “open configuration”  freezing cold – this is Washington State where most of the year it is overcast, cold and/or raining in the fall, winter and spring months.  The school had outdoor  breeze-ways  between classes and all the lockers were outside too.  Brrr.  It was at this frozen place that I first met Sue.

She was fresh off the mission field and feeling very lost and alone.  Junior high is brutal – EVEN when you’re from here – but if you are not – good grief – it’s humiliating and cruel.  She remembers two HUGE girls on her bus (must have been 9th graders) that wanted to beat her up – and they kept calling her a “Lesbian”.  Something she didn’t understand until much later.  Yes – we were pretty sheltered back then 🙂  Most of that year is a blur to her – it’s probably better that way.  What I can remember of it – it was horrible – from the LONG bus rides to the freezing hallways – to the P.E. classes and school bullies that once put snot and blood all over the front of my locker.  I never used it again after that.  I can remember more things than I want to.

Sue and I did everything together that year – it was back in the day when you could actually let your 12-year-old kid go on a city bus ALONE to the mall or Seattle center – or anywhere else and they weren’t in any danger.  That’s what we used to do.  Sue also remembers choir tour that year when our church youth choir “hit the road”.  We had tons of fun and used to laugh A LOT at everything.  She had a younger sister, Pam (now a missionary herself  in the Philippians ) who at that time was in the 5th grade.  I spent a lot of time at their big rented house not far from our own home.  Her Mom made this incredible “Sticky Rice” and I finally got that recipe about 4 years ago from Pam and made it myself – great stuff!

After that year – Sue’s family went back to the mission field and I saw her only once more – right before I got married – she even gave me an idea for one of the songs that I used in my wedding – some 30 years ago this fall!  But this was the last time I saw her.  Before internet – it was hard to keep in touch.  She got married to a pastor and so did I.  We both moved around so much – and addresses, phone numbers and email addresses changed as frequently as the wind.

Then about 4 years ago – her parents were at the church where my husband was on staff at the time.  They came for a missions conference and as it happened – I was sitting right by them during lunch on a Sunday.  As we started to talk – I looked more closely at their last name and suddenly put it all together and said – “Do you remember me?”  I told them my maiden name and they remembered and we started to talk about their girls – where they were and what they were doing.  Sue was not on any of the social networks yet – but I got an email from her sister Pam – who was living in the Philippians.  It was so great chatting and catching up.  I emailed Sue – working at the time and very busy with 5 children.  It took a while to hear anything from her.  But I finally did and we did a little catching up through email.  About a year ago – she joined facebook and I saw pictures and chatted with her here and there.

Fast forward to about 3 weeks ago.  I received a message in my inbox on facebook from Sue – saying she had MOVED up here to Olympia – just an hour from my home.  Her husband is the new pastor of Evergreen Christian Community Church – a church we are familiar with because the former pastor’s wife from New Life Church had ties there –  her father used to be the lead pastor there for several years.  And her mother and brother still attend there.  What a small world it is!

We made plans to get together and yesterday she appeared at my front door.  I opened the door and all of a sudden I was 12 years old again looking into the face of Sue’s Mom!  WOW – it really surprised me!  She looks so much like her Mom used to look when we were kids 🙂  I can’t tell you how great it was to see my old friend and to see the years completely melt away in a matter of seconds.  I felt at home with her immediately.  Sue has a very warm and gentle heart – the perfect pastor’s wife.  She and I talked and talked and TALKED – all afternoon – remembering funny things about that crazy 7th grade year.  And feeling blessed that we had each other.  It warmed my heart to hear her say that I saved her that year – even though I felt like I was lost too.  We never realize the impact that we make to others when we’re making it, do we?

This was proof positive for me – that we don’t change that much from the time we are children.  We stay pretty much the same people inside – even though we gain perspective and wisdom as we experience life.

I am so glad to have my friend back in the area – and look forward to many more of these special times – shopping, laughing, remembering and being friends – even after all the time and space between us.

What’s your “Blast from the Past” today?  Something or someone you remember?  Someone who made a difference in your life as a child, teenager or adult?  Who are you investing in today?  Remember to make each moment count – you never know who you are impacting.

God Bless

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What Are Your Chains?

The following is an excerpt from my daily devotional:

It has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ (Philippians 1:13).

Joni Erickson Tada is, in a sense, in chains for Christ. One day she was a carefree teenager, the next she was imprisoned in a quadriplegic body due to a diving accident. Yet her chains not only encouraged others but also increased her faith as she grew into more and more reliance upon Christ. Because Joni took her tragedy and gave it to God, He has used her in a mighty way.

Confined to a wheelchair, Joni creatively adapted her lifestyle and learned to paint by holding a brush in her teeth. Soon God began calling her to help others with limited abilities.

What would her life have been like if she hadn’t taken that dive? Would she still have a worldwide ministry? Would she have developed the strong character and courage to move into such a ministry?

From great tragedy can come great character. Reflecting on the ministries of both Joni and the apostle Paul, I ask myself, “What are my chains? What adversity or physical infirmity can I give to Christ for His glory?

Author Unknown

As I was reading this devotional thought this morning – I was aware of the fact that all of us have ‘chains’.  They are not always physical – as in the case of Joni – sometimes they are invisible and are harder for us to define and recognize.  Anything emotional can be dicey and complicated for us and because we cannot see it – we also cannot see the damage it has done or the scars that it has left behind.   But like anything that holds us down – visible or not – it can be a very difficult thing to ‘rise above’ it and simply move on.  Especially if those ‘chains’ leave us with feelings of regret and desperation.  But the real strength of character comes when we are at our weakest – lost and hurting.   It’s when we allow those ‘chains’ to change our course that the real miracle comes about – in our own hearts.  And sometimes a change in our hearts begins a new journey – a change in our course that God will use to bless someone else.

In my own life my ‘chains’ are invisible.  They are not something you can detect.  They are emotional. There was a hurt and a tearing apart of something that I thought was unmovable and strong.  It caused me to rethink everything in my life.  It caused me to ‘pull in’ and protect.  It took time to heal – I think I am still healing from it in some ways.  But I realized something after this happened.  I realized I had a choice.  I either trusted God or I didn’t.  I had to trust that He saw the bigger picture and that I didn’t need to.  That had to be good enough.  And then – I had to decide whether or not I would go on – or stay still and struggle in my own pain – alone.  I chose to go on.

I began a journey of healing through writing.  I wrote because I felt compelled.  I felt I had something to say.  I felt God speaking through me.  And though ‘handicapped’ now because of my ‘chains’ – I continued to write.  It was the only thing I could do – and I did it.  Along the way I met people in my life that had a powerful influence in my life – and their words of love and encouragement was like God speaking directly to me.  And that encouragement gave me courage over time – and soon I was able to help and encourage people – even when I myself was still hurting.

Those were my ‘chains’ used to glorify God.  Would I have had this tremendous opportunity without them?  Would I have had anything to write about?  Would God have been able to use me?  I don’t know.  But I do know – that He took my brokenness and my willingness to move forward and bless others.  And in blessing others – He has blessed me.

And so like Joni – I can truly say that I cannot regret this path and the journey I’ve been on.  The very ‘chains’ that I thought would break me and destroy me and my witness – have made me stronger and my witness more powerful than before.

What are your chains?  Is it something that you need to experience in order to better serve others?  Are you finding your life journey changing course because of those ‘chains’?  It may not be just a ‘coincidence’  or something that you’d like to think of as a ‘mistake’.  It may be something that God is going to use to make you stronger and increase your influence with others.  And like those ‘chains’ of mine that will always be with me – even though I have survived and am moving forward – those ‘chains’ will always be a reminder to me that He is stronger than any chains that would threaten to bind me or destroy me.

God Bless

Making Marriage Better

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; Philippians 2:3

Today Greg and I were having one of our “discussions” in the “talking room” over coffee. We were discussing a very heavy topic – “Christ and the Church” which led to the topic of how it says in the Bible that “marriage” is to be a model of that concept. However – it is a poor example – especially in light of all the bad marriages in our world today. It would be like trying to explain how God is like our “loving Father” to someone who has been abused by her earthly Dad.

But I believe this is a “picture” – just a glimpse, if you will – of how God intended for marriage to be – even though we are imperfect and fail at His model – over and over again. Why do we fail at it? Because we are flawed human beings – everyone of us at the core is selfish and wanting our own way. Our hearts are incredibly wicked – holding in them, secrets that pull us in directions that are in direct contradiction to what was intended for us. We are “prone to wander” – and we do.

Because of this selfish, willful nature – we become imperfect mates to our spouse and vise versa. It goes against our nature to “submit” – or put our own desires aside and prefer our mate’s desires and wishes – over our own.

We have all seen this happen – either in our own relationship – or in someone close to us. Feelings are marginalized. People are not validated. A marriage that may have started out full of life and passion – loses something over time – feelings change – life happens – people grow apart doomed to lead very separate lives. Lifeless, dry and empty. We have all heard the saying if we have been Christ followers all of our lives – “we don’t believe in divorce – MURDER yes!! But not DIVORCE!” And life continues on that “happy” note – lives of “quiet desperation” – seeking fulfillment and understanding from somewhere else – or from someone else – people of like minds – who validate us and encourage us in our daily journey to try and understand the life that has been “tossed” at us – and the “feeling” that may have changed for one reason or another.

But to “regard others as more important than yourselves” takes an act of my will. A daily discipline of my heart and mind. It means I still may want to have my own way – even hold things in my heart as a “secret” – but still – I will honor you – because I value you. I will even try to let go of those things that I want – and concentrate on loving you in the best way I can demonstrate it. And the “secret” things that I hold onto – the things I “stuff” so that you won’t see them – in time will not have as much of a hold on me anymore. And in time – by leading my heart – I will be able to let go of it entirely.

Ephesians 5:21,22

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

This is such a key scripture. We do it because we reverence Christ – not because we always feel like it. And in doing so – we become more like that model that He originally set up for us. Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her – how much more should we be willing to at least make an attempt at it?

Now do marriages fail in spite of this great principle? Yes. Usually because people lose sight of this model – are simply unwilling to submit to one another and give themselves – all of themselves – heart and mind in preference of the other. In those cases – there is usually no hope for that couple. And they usually live in a “cold war” situation – leading very separate lives – finding fulfillment elsewhere – or leaving the marriage entirely.

I want to challenge you today – just like you must be willing to be a friend in order to have friends – you must also be willing to prefer your mate over your own desires. It does not mean that you will hit the mark every time – that is impossible because we are human – but if our hearts are right – and we make the attempt to value that person in our lives – be the very best mate that we can be – then this is a start to making a better relationship – and a better marriage. Learn your mate’s “love language” and speak it to them every day. You will see a turn around very quickly in your own heart and attitude as you “serve” the other person in love – and you will find a sweet surprise of your own – that what you give away – will soon come back to you. And you will be blessed.

Have an AWESOME day – as you prefer one another.

God Bless

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