I'm just a wife and mother who earnestly desires to grow in my faith and it's demonstration. DISCLAIMER! I have absolutely no problem with women in the clergy. As a matter of fact, I have several female pastors who I consider friends. In my home, the pastor is a male so the pronouns I use to refer to a pastor tend to be male. This is not a statement of any kind. Just a reflection of my every day life!

Archive for July, 2013

Random Thoughts Inspired by an Act of Kindness

Why are we so quick to throw the word “love” around about inanimate objects or people that we will never meet – “I love that movie!”  or “I just love the lead singer of (insert name of favorite band here) – but we are so hesitant to say it to those that would be most touched and built up by it?

Why do we allow one critical statement to have more influence on our self-image than a positive statement?

What would happen if we each went out of our way to do one kind deed for another or say one kind word to another each day?  Imagine if everyone in your circle of friends, family and workplace made this a goal!

See, someone took the time to write me a personal note in which this person expressed their gratitude to me.  We’ve shared some performing arts experiences together and, according to the note, I have been lucky enough to help inspire this person.  There was nothing profound about the experiences.  And I was extremely surprised by the depth of his gratitude.

Just reminds me AGAIN that we never know the power of a “You can do it” or “I believe in you.”

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It Takes Effort

Nothing terribly profound in what I’m about to say.  It’s just something I’ve been reminded of lately.  Here it is – all relationships take effort.  I’m not just talking about marriage although that is probably the most popular focus of such a statement.  It’s also true of all the other relationships in our lives.

Want to stay close to your parents or siblings after you grow up and move on with your life?  Put in the work to stay in touch.  Want to build stronger, closer bonds with your friends? Take the initiative, plan a get-together and work on those bonds.  Think that you and a new co-worker could be really good friends?  Don’t sit around waiting for it to happen.  Invite them to lunch or out for drinks. Do something!

That work may take the form of making plans.  If you are anything like me, you have let fear keep you from taking chances and putting in the work to make relationships last.  Fear of rejection, fear of not knowing what to say, fear of looking stupid . . . you get the idea.  But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten a tiny bit braver.  Especially since moving to Iowa.  I could choose to sit around and wait for my friends to contact me and make plans to get together.  Or I can send out a Facebook message or a text to a group of friends and set up the event myself.  And guess what – I usually get at least a couple of people to say yes.  Some of those get togethers last for hours and some are shorter.  Some are filled with lots of laughter and noise and others are calmer experiences.

That work may also take a tougher form – that of mending hurt feelings.  Be willing to apologize.  More importantly, be willing to forgive.  Yes, there will be those who will consistently fail you and you may need to set very clear boundaries with them to keep the relationship healthy. But even the best friend may say something hurtful or do something thoughtless. That includes you and me.  Forgive quickly and apologize even faster.  That’s the tough part of working on relationships but if you can weather the storms, you’ll come out stronger on the other side.

Most of all, let your friends know they matter.  A quick note through the mail, a text message, a quick message via social networking . . . any of these can do wonders for building up your friend, letting them know you are thinking of them and strengthening the relationship.

Tough Choices

It’s in our human nature to want to hit back.  When we are wrongly attacked, when people accuse us of things we haven’t done, when others judge our actions without even bothering to understand our motives . . . it’s our gut instinct to put on the gloves and get ready to go a few rounds!  And then there is the whole issue of mothers and their children!

As wonderful as vengeance might feel, it’s not what the Jesus-follower is called to do.  I know, I know.  It would feel so good to lash out at that person who is causing so much frustration.  But the scripture is pretty clear –

Romans 12:18 (NIV)

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Or maybe this will register with you better:

Romans 12:18 (MSG)

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone.  If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody.

Hoo boy.  Nothing unclear in those statements!  I am the only person whose behavior and attitude I can control so I need to focus on living peaceably.  Does that mean I deny that the actions of others have hurt/caused frustration/made life difficult?!  Nope.  It just means that you acknowledge all of that stuff is true and choose to live peaceably anyway.  An older generation would have put it this way – “Kill ’em with kindness.”

I’m not called to set myself up to be misused by others.  I’m simply called to control my actions to the point that all I can be “accused” of is trying to maintain peace.  It isn’t easy.  Without divulging details best kept private, I’m walking through a situation like this right now.  I have in my possession some emails that would change the information and impression that others have been given.  But it would also mean exposing someone else as a liar and a manipulator.  Since I was the direct recipient of the lies and manipulation, I’m not yet fully convinced that I need to share the information I have.  Don’t get me wrong – I have rearranged some things in my life so that I am no longer “in the line of fire.”  And I will continue to do what I can to repair and rebuild the relationships that this other person damaged with their words.  But I will not retaliate.  It’s hard at times.  Especially when the hurt wells up again and I just want to get a tiny bit of revenge.

There is no out clause in that verse.  There is no “live at peace with everyone unless they (fill in the blank).”  No escape clause or loophole – “live at peace with EVERYONE.”  It’s not easy.  But whatever needs to be revealed will be in good time. Romans  12:19-20 goes on to say –

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

God may decide that “payback” is necessary.  But that’s his decision to make and carry out. Our job is to be peaceable with everyone.  Never easy, but always the right thing to do!

No Quick Fix

My girls were big Glee fans when the show first came out.  To be brutally honest, the interest of at least a couple of them waned somewhere around the second season.  Regardless of their feelings regarding the show, they were stunned to see that one of the show’s stars, Cory Monteith, had been found dead in a Vancouver, Canada, hotel room.  No cause of death is yet known but so many people I know are speculating based on the fact that the 31 year old had struggled for years with substance abuse.

This is only the latest story of a “star” taken too soon – Mindy McCready, Heath Ledger, and Amy Winehouse just to name a few.

Much of my life exists in the world of the Performing Arts.  Many of the people I encounter are young people – middle school through college age – and a common sentiment that I hear from them is a desire to be somewhere other than where they are.  They believe – very sincerely, I might add – that a change in location will solve all of their woes.

I lived in a large metropolitan area and the young people wanted to live someplace even bigger.  I lived near a city of 100,000 and heard numerous statements regarding wanting to “get out”.  A village of 650, a town of 25,000 . . . it doesn’t matter the size, they all have one thing in common – there are young people living there who believe that the only thing in the way of their everlasting happiness is what recovering addicts refer to as a “geographical cure”.

But there is a sad fact they forget – when that young person relocates, they take themselves there.  All of them.  Their hangups, trust issues, painful past, lack of confidence, bitterness, anger, fear . . . it all goes with you!

We all have baggage.  Every last one of us that is still living.  A change in location WILL NOT cure our issues.  The junk that weighs us down in our current location will travel with us to the new place unless we deal with it!

Prov. 14: 30 – A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.

Learning to be at peace – with yourself, with your past, with your fears, with your failures, with all of it – will allow you to find happiness anywhere regardless of the size of the location.  Wanting something more/different/better/larger/smaller -whatever! – will simply make you miserable.

The various new media formats are full of stories about celebrities in trouble with the law, battling substance abuse issues, dying from overdose, taking their own lives, failed celebrity marriages and more.  Financial success is obviously not the answer.  Finding a way for your heart to be at peace just might be what you need.

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Song for Sunday

Dreaming at My Age!

When do we reach the point that we begin to believe we should just stop dreaming?  At what age do we believe we are obligated to stop chasing our dreams?

I’m not sure what the magic number is.  But I know that I had reached a point  some time ago that left me ashamed to talk about a dream that I had.  I hid the information for quite some time; nearly ten years, in fact.  When we ended up in Fort Dodge, circumstances presented themselves that allowed me to talk about my dream without admitting it was a dream.  After discussing what I calmly referred to as “an idea” or “something I was inspired to consider” things started happening.  Before I fully grasped what was happening, the wheels were in motion to make my “idea” a reality.

When I got the email that stated my dream was official I was excited.  I opened the email and clicked on the attachment.  Reading through quite a bit of legal jargon, I got teary-eyed.  With those tears came the admittance to myself and to my hubby that this wasn’t just an idea.  It was dream; a long-standing one at that.  This dream has been with me through more than a decade of my life and living in three different states!  I don’t why it didn’t start happening until now.  The sane side of my brains says that I’m a little old to be chasing dreams.

But I’m going to keep chasing!  Stage Door Productions has been bouncing around in my heart and head for more than ten years.  That dream has become an incorporated, non-profit entity in the state of Iowa and we are working our way through the process of becoming a non-profit organization in the eyes of the IRS.  Our first production is being planned for early 2014.  I have amazing friends – and fellow theater lovers – who have come alongside to share the adventure as board members, supporters, etc.  It’s one thing to have people encourage you to chase your dreams; it’s quite a different thing to have people join you on the journey!

I have felt overwhelmed, terrified, thrilled, freaked out, ecstatic, nervous, panicked, ambitious, driven, numb and a thousand other things.  Yes,  I’m in my mid-forties and some might think it’s insane for a woman my age to start a new adventure like this.  Then call me crazy!  I have no idea what this will all look like in the end but I’m going to enjoy the ride!

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