Saturday, March 22, 2014

Hiking Solo

I took myself for a hike today, solo, aside from my doggy Rain who accompanied me.  She's my little hiking buddy.  She loves to hike so much, she usually runs far ahead of me blazing a trail and chasing any wildlife there may happen to be in the area.  As I was about halfway to my destination, a peak which overlooks the town I live in, I was kind of wishing I had a human hiking partner... someone to share the great view, the exercise and my love of nature with.  A companion.

As I hiked upwards, my lungs and calves burned a little but it felt great!  I didn't want to stop to rest until I reached the very top.  Once I got there, and after I had a chance to catch my breath and drink a bit of water, I climbed to the top of a boulder which was resting at the peak.  From this vantage point, I had great views on all sides.  I could see the valley below with the town in which I live nestled within it.  I could see the beautiful, colorful mountains nearby.  Down below me were rolling hills and trees and meadows and tiny little rooftops that looked like toy houses.  The highway looked so small and the cars on it looked like ants on a trail.  Everything was so far away.  Quiet.  Surreal.  I felt like I was on top of the world.  I smiled and breathed deep and soaked in the sunlight, thankful to God for the beautiful world in which I live.  The afternoon was perfect.  Even Rain was smiling.

After a long while of just sitting and absorbing the sun's rays and admiring the scenery and cloudless, powder-blue sky, I remembered the thought I had had on my way up to this place... the thought of wishing for a partner.  Now, that thought seemed kind of silly to me.  I wanted nothing more or different than what I already had in the very moment I was spellbound within.  I was blanketed with contentment.  Alone, but not lonely.  Though there have been many times that I felt it would be nicer to have a partner, the reality is: everything I need, I already have.  Life is perfect just as it is.  It is okay to be alone.  More than okay.  Hiking solo is wonderful.


A few pics from today:


Monday, March 17, 2014

"You Mend Me"

“You Mend Me”  
~MG ~ (F/Dm)

Vs 1:
Dear God,
I could pray and pray
And waste each day
Wishing 'til I'm gray,
But I,
I have just enough;
More than I'd dreamed of.
I have all Your love.
Oh Lord,
Help me not to see
Any empty things,
How they pull at me.
I can-
Not imagine now
How life would be without
Your power.

You mend me.
You’re everything that's
whole in me.
You’re faithfully
At work in me
‘Til I’m complete.
You mend me.

Vs 2:
How far,
Jesus, have I come?
When the day is done,
You’re the only One
Who saw
Past my broken dreams,
Heard my silent screams,
And loved all of me.

You fill my void.
You melt my fears.
You hold my heart.
Replace my tears.

You mend me.
Through the storm
You shelter me.
When I am lost
You search for me.
You kiss my scars,
And cover me
With iron wings.
You mend me.
…You mend me.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A letter Re: Gratitude

Dear Person-who-is-struggling-with-negative-thoughts-or-a-complaining-spirit,

As I was lying on my couch trying to squeeze in a nap before working on some new songs for Worship practice, I could hear loud footsteps coming from the roof.  No, Santa had not come to town.  It was my parents, who live right above me.  I tried to ignore them because my eyes felt so heavy and I just wanted a little bit of sleep before diving into work.  But the noises would not go away.  I put a pillow over my head, trying to drown out the noise and thought, “Man, I wish I had my own house and didn’t have to live in the basement apartment below my parents!”  Immediately, in my half asleep state, I rebuked myself and this negative thought, and thought instead, “No!  I am thankful for having a roof over my head, and parents who live above that roof who love me enough to help me out during a rough patch in my life!” 

Immediately and instantaneously, my head felt lighter and my outlook was brighter.  It was as if a light switch had been turned on, mentally.  My thoughts jumped from negative “whys” to positive “thank yous” and my spirit felt worlds lighter.  It was kind of shocking to me just how quickly my feelings and mood had changed just by experiencing a little genuine gratitude.  I could feel the crease between my eyes relax (the one which always forms when I am grumpy).  I took a deep breath and sat up.  In my quiet, dark little living room, I found myself no longer wanting to nap, but instead wanting to praise God for the many blessings I take for granted.  

I was suddenly full of energy, consciously finding more and different reasons to be grateful.  Before I knew it, my cup was overflowing, and I was on the verge of happy tears.  I knew I needed to sit down and write this all out, because there was so much brimming within my heart.  I wanted to put to pen this pleasant little moment of epiphany and this desire to perpetuate the joyful lightness of spirit that came along with it.

If gratitude can transform me this quickly, it is quite a powerful tool!  In that moment, I realized I have been doing a lot of mental complaining about certain circumstances in my life lately, and have found myself in a bit of a funk.  The moment I reached out and seized gratitude, it was if I had taken up a big shield or even a weapon.  The darkness vanished and was replaced by good feelings.  Gratitude is an underutilized spiritual resource that God has given us.  Gratitude is not the act of merely saying “thank you” for the things we know we should be thankful for, it is a way of life… a mind-set… a genuine acknowledgement of blessing… a completely authentic feeling of thankfulness… a humble and happy acceptance of a gift meant just for me …and you.  Gratitude can banish the darkness of self-pity with one split-second thought.  Gratitude can obliterate the threatening despair of what-ifs and whys faster than you can get the words out: “Thank you!”  Gratitude is powerful indeed.

The dictionary defines gratitude as the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.  In psychology, gratitude is defined as an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has as opposed to a consumer-oriented emphasis on what one wants or needs.  The Bible contains many verses which deal with the topic of gratitude.  Very plain and straight to the point of it all is 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 verse 18 where it states,  “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” ……ALL circumstances.

The sub-conscious tapes playing in my mind lately have not been good.  I have been learning over the past few years to become aware of my self-talk and control my thinking, but I will admit that over the past week or so, I have let my negative self-talk speak louder than I wish I had.  Embarrassing as it is to admit, I have a feeling I am not alone in this.  I think many of us struggle with negativity, poor self-talk and bringing our thoughts into captivity.  Everyone’s struggle is a little different, but just so you know how not alone you are, here are a few of the tapes that I was mindlessly allowing to play in my head: 

“Gosh, it’s sure hard to be where I am right now.  I cannot believe I am almost 40 years old and am finding myself a single parent, unemployed and living in a basement apartment underneath my parent’s house!   None of this was in my plans!  I wish I had my own house and a great career with good pay.   I was supposed to have been happily married and stable at this point in my life!  I wish that I would stop being rejected for job applications I know I am over-qualified for.  I also wish I weighed less and had fewer wrinkles.  I wish I had made wiser choices and was less self-sabotaging in my past.  Maybe all of this is my karma.  Maybe I deserve to be alone in this valley.  Poor me.”  Do you see how slippery of a slope it is to allow those negative tapes to play?  Before you know it you are drowning in the problem and don’t have the energy to see a solution.  And that is just where the enemy wants us.

Instead of listening to those repetitive, “whoa is me” tapes, I am pressing stop.  I am ejecting them, consciously, and I am replacing them with Gratitude.  I am turning the negative thoughts into motivation.  Anytime they pop up, I will use them as a reminder, or an alarm clock of sorts.  I will then take a few moments to speak the opposite to myself...  to shut out the negative and to speak the positive… to pray thankful prayers to God.  Prayers like:

 “Thank you, God, for giving me a blank canvas in my life right now!  This gives you room to paint the picture You would have for me, even if it is not the one I had originally planned.  I know my life not exactly what I had expected, but I trust You when You say You will work ALL things for my good.  I am asking you to take my life, my whole life, my past as well as my current situation and use it all for good.  Please use both the areas of strength as well as every last piece in my life to form a harmonious mosaic that brings You glory.  And help me, Father, not to impatiently try to place all of the pieces myself or to push to understand everything too fast, but to trust Your hand as You skillfully create art out of my brokenness.  Please transform all sadness and doubt into peace and joy, Lord Jesus.  Every last corner of my heart is yours.  I am holding nothing back from you.  Thank you so much for giving me so many blessings!  …My 3 beautiful, incredibly gifted and special children… my wonderful, godly, loving parents… a car that runs… a roof over my head… food on the table… the wisdom to make better, healthier choices regarding how I live my life… the gift of music… the emotional outlet of writing… the freedom from burdens and addictions that used to consume me… my health… my freedom… my very life… how can I complain about anything when You have blessed me with so much!  I know that I am a beautiful creation in You, and am willing to walk through whatever door You open for me, Lord Jesus.  Thank you for loving me so much that you never, ever gave up on me.  You always see beauty in me, even when I don’t.  You have created me with a purpose, Lord Jesus, and I want to walk in Your light all the days of my life.  Illuminate me and guide me, Father God.  But most of all… just thank You. ” 

If you, fellow human who sometimes struggles with negative thoughts or a complaining spirit, ever find yourself feeling lost in thoughts of, “I wish I had…”, or “Why is this happening???”, or “Life just sucks!!!”, please remember that you have a shield and a weapon at your disposal.  Gratitude.  It can make darkness bright and heaviness light.  Use it.  All it takes is a choice, a thought and a prayer.

Peace, blessings and love,