Category Archives: Inspiration

Angry, Angry Birds

Angry-Birds-LogoAngry Birds may have turned into an obsession or addiction, but it did teach me a few things about anger.

If you’ve ever played the game, you know there are different types of angry birds.

  •  A little red one that does damage on its own.
  • A little blue one that will morph into 3 blue ones for extra power.
  • A white egg-shaped one that will spin off into another direction when tapped.
  • A yellow triangle-shaped bird that will speed in for the kill at the right moment.
  • A black one that will hit the target, then in a few seconds explode doing even more damage.

I got to thinking that they all represent different ways we can exhibit anger or maybe different styles of anger.

  • Some people are like the red bird, they just spout off, and that‘s that, very direct.
  • Others are like the blue bird, they clone themselves, they bring several with them to spout off.
  • Then there are the people who are like the white bird, they position themselves to be deadly by hitting a target, but also aim for other strategic spots- sometimes they miss their mark and just spin out of control.
  • The yellow bird typeS start out to spout off and along the way gets more steamed up and hits hard at their target.
  • Then there’s the people who are like the deadly black bird, they hit their target then just explode killing or maiming the target and hurting a lot of other people in the process.  They really set off a fire storm in their wake.

Hmm, wonder which one I am when I get angry.  Can you pick out your style?  Or maybe we use different approaches at different times.

All I know is that each type of angry bird leaves a path of destruction, some worse than others.   And that’s what anger does.   It tears down and destroys.  Good word to live by:  be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.  James 1:19

Angry Birds, thanks for the lesson in anger and I wonder if you could find a gentler, kinder way to accomplish your goal.

A Joyful Noise…or is it?

Music cross
As a musician, I often struggle with my feelings on church music.  On one hand, I know that worshipping the Lord in song and by playing instruments is pleasing to the Lord when the performer’s heart is in the right place.  By right place, I mean with intentions of pleasing the Lord with his/her gift and not simply doing it out of obligation or with goals of impressing others.  Here’s the thing: there are times when I’ve heard people sing/play during offertory, prelude, or special music and I knew that their hearts were in the right place, but to be honest, I found that my heart wasn’t in the right place as I was cringing in my seat as a result of sour pitches, nasal tone quality, no expression, etc.  I know that’s mean to write and my husband says I’m too harsh, but I’m just being honest.

In college, I studied music and had this certain professor who used to say that if God’s perfect, He must have perfect pitch.  I wonder if that’s true…  Anyway, he would go on to elaborate how he thought only gifted musicians should be the ones ‘performing’ in front of the church.  He felt that others that weren’t so ‘gifted’ musically could offer up their joyful noises to the Lord during congregational singing.  This always sounded a bit snobby in my book.  Also, who is the one to determine if a musician is ‘gifted’ enough to provide the music in the service?  Is there some sort of standard?

Really this is just something that’s been on my mind over the past few days.  We’ve been starting our search for a new church after relocating two months ago and decided to try a local church a minute (literally) down the road.  The people were so welcoming and went out of their way to make sure we were comfortable.  When it came time for music, let’s just say they had the noise part down, but it didn’t make me joyful…But boy, were they sincere.  I can’t help but think that had to be a pleasing offering to the Lord…..

This is where I open it up to you.  What’s your view on church music?  Do you think it’s reserved only for the finest church musicians or should be open to anyone with a sincere heart?

Angry Birds, Goodbye!

official-angry-birds-addict-t-shirtIt’s a harsh reality when you realize that your life is filled with many addictions.  Major  and minor ones.   Technology may be a major one, but who would’ve thought that a silly little game could actually become an obsession or addiction.

Yep, I realized that I wasn’t only addicted to surfing the net, but also to a seemingly harmless game called Angry Birds.

It’s a hugely popular game.  The idea behind it is that you sling shot birds across the air so they can strategically hit all different shapes, sizes and formations of wood, glass, rock, etc. in order to kill pigs, monkeys, free birds, etc.  And of course there are levels, so it increasingly gets more challenging.

I could sit for hours and try to figure out how to kill those monkeys with the amount of angry birds I am allotted for a particular level.  And I literally was sitting for hours trying to do that!

So, “Angry Birds, Good-bye!”  You are no longer going to take up space on my iPad or in my 24 hour day.  You are deleted!  I mean, gone!  I had to do it, it was a tough decision but I decided I had to push that little red negative circle because it was wasting precious time.  I was foregoing conversations with real people, ignoring family, limiting my availability to attend a community meeting or helping at a local charity.

Am I going through withdrawal, you bet I am, but I’m betting that I’ll be a healthier person because of making the decision to say ‘enough is enough.’

Stay tuned for another lesson learned from Angry Birds coming later this week.

Face Plant

A few weeks ago on my way home from work, I couldn’t help but notice the most beautiful bright shining moon. I pulled into the driveway, shut the car door and decided to get the mail. My arms were full, but I thought I could handle a few more items. I proceeded to walk down the driveway with my eyes pinned to that moon, mesmerized by how radiant it looked in the night sky. Before I knew it, I went from vertical to horizontal…I did a nose dive smack into the green grass in my yard. I had ventured off of my driveway, twisted my ankle off the side of the pavement and had no time to react before doing a face plant. I got up confused at how that could have happened. I thought I knew where I needed to walk without looking…boy was I wrong!

I think that’s how we can be sometimes with God. We get so distracted by things that look so enticing and bright and beautiful that we’re not watching and focused on where we really need to be going. We can get so caught up in things that really have no meaning in life and that take our focus from God. A painful face plant into truth is sometimes needed to bring everything back into focus after which we need to get back up, ask God to mend our cuts and scrapes and hop back onto the right path.

Do you love yourself?

Love yourselfYesterday’s blog referenced one of the most popular passages on the topic of love,  I Corinthians 13.  Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy….I’ve always thought of this passage in one way: relationally.  Am I patient with my students?  Do I show kindness to my mother?  Am I envious of my neighbor who has a nicer car than I do?  Do I keep a running tally of all the times I’ve felt that my husband’s done me wrong?

Yesterday, it dawned on me that these verses can also be applied to how you view and treat yourself as well.  Am I patient with myself?  Am I kind to myself?  Do I forgive myself?  After all, love isn’t supposed to keep records of wrong.  So if I genuinely love myself, I will forgive myself when I mess up.  That’s a tough one for me to do.  So often, I find myself holding on to past mistakes.  I harbor these strong feelings of guilt over mean things I’ve said and wrong actions I’ve committed yesterday, last month, and even years ago, sins of which I’ve already been forgiven.  Psalm 103:12 says “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”  I’m not saying we should attempt to forget about our past sins.  On the contrary, I do believe we should remember so that we can learn from our past.  But we should not live in defeat and let our past rule us or define who we are!

It’s the Little Things (that make an impact)

Love-IsSometimes we don’t realize the lasting impact the little things of life will make.  This was driven home in a recent conversation with one of my kids.

We were talking about love — what it is, what it isn’t, how you express it.  Not just romantic love, but exhibiting the characteristics of love in relationships, on the job with co-workers, in everyday circumstances when interacting with others.

I was going to look up I Corinthians 13 in the Bible because to me, that describes the characteristics of love in a way that I can understand and is so practical. My daughter began quoting it word for word before I could even google it.  Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy ……  I asked how she knew it, she said ‘Mom, how could I not, when I was growing up you had a picture on my bedroom wall with the words of those verses on it.  I read it every night before I went to sleep.’

Right then, I realized that it’s the little things that have lingering effects on our children, for the good or bad.  Making every effort to speak, show or allow them to read the truth of scripture in natural ways allows for it to settle deeply within for development of their character and be available in their memory for instant recall when needed.

Contentment and the What ifs of Life

the grass is greenerContentment.
All of us want it, yet it seems like so many of us don’t have it. Why are we unable to accept and make the most of the circumstances we all find ourselves in? I know I so often get caught in the ‘What if’s’ and ‘If only’s’. ‘What if I would have decided to go to a different college? What if I had gone with that major instead of this major? What if I would’ve said this or that, would it have changed things?
If only I could do that over again, things would be different.’ I think all of us do this at one time or another. If only we had that job. If only we made that kind of money. We think if only we knew certain people or had certain things then life might be more like we envisioned it and how we wanted it to be. We are so focused on wondering how our lives might have been better and we can sometimes be caught in the rut of jumping from one level of discontentment to another.
How do we really become content? I heard contentment defined as freedom from the relentless pursuit of more. And I think there truly is freedom in giving up that pursuit, in remembering what we already have and the amazing people that surround us. We can disillusion ourselves into thinking that the grass might be a little greener..if only. The truth is that we will never find real fulfillment from anything life has to offer; our true contentment and fulfillment only comes through having hope in Christ.

Striving for Perfection

Janine and Rob2I come from a long line of perfectionists.  I’m not going to list names because I don’t want to embarrass anyone, but you know who you are!  That personality disposition has manifested itself in my life and I’m seeing it now more than ever.

It hurts to say it because the truth hurts sometimes, but at this moment I’m unemployed.  I wasn’t forced or asked to leave; I chose to leave to relocate with my husband.  This is the first time since 2004 that I’ve been without a job.  At first, I thought I’d love the freedom and the break that unemployment would provide.  I’d spend time renovating the house, sleeping in, meeting new friends, and exploring my new stompin’ grounds.  But in reality, it’s been none of those things!  It’s actually been quite the opposite.  I find myself getting up when my husband gets up, so there goes sleeping in.  I have made a couple of acquaintances, but haven’t even invited them over.  How am I to make friends that way?  I would like to work on house renovations and improvements, but have learned that it’s not as easy Janine and Rob 1as it looks on tv!  I don’t know anything about installing light fixtures, sewing and hanging scarf valences, staining wood trim, tearing down walls, and all those things that need done in this old, new house of mine.  Sure, I can watch videos, but when it comes right down to it, I’m scared to try it.  Why?  Because I’m afraid of messing up.  I’m worried I will fail.  I’m fearful of not being perfect.  I liked it so much better when my life was centered in and around people, places, and things that were ‘put together’ and established: my organized house, my decorated classroom, my talented students, my chorus lessons.

I was reading in my devotions this morning and came across this one sentence that really put everything into perspective.  In her book “Jesus Calling,” Sarah Young writes the following: “Instead of seeking perfection in this fallen world, pour your energy into seeking Me: the Perfect One.”  Psalm 46:10 (NET) echoes this. “Stop your striving and recognize that I am God!  I will be exalted over the nations!  I will be exalted over the earth!”  I like the sounds of that….sounds so…perfect!

What did I just say!

oopsDid you ever say something you wished you could take back?  You know, open mouth and insert foot.  In our families don’t we just sometimes say the meanest, most thoughtless things?

I know I have and do at times.  One time I was so exasperated at the shenanigans of my daughters, that I blurted out ‘you don’t have half a brain between the two of you’.  Not exactly the nicest thing for a mom to say!  I guess I can justify it a little since I’ve read that humans only use about 10% of their brain capacity, so added together that would be 20% and that’s less than even a quarter of brain power (am I stretching it here?), but I really can’t get around that it just wasn’t appropriate not to mention positive!

Actually, it left a visible ‘scar’ on their memories.  I know, because they have never let me forget it.  It has become one of those family jokes.  Their excuse for any number of silly, nonsensical things they come up with when together.  And it became a catch phrase for Chris, their brother to use when he was exasperated with their actions.

Even though we laugh about it, I still have a suspicion that it still hurts a little when they remember the instance in which I said it.  I can’t take back those words, but I’m sure trying not to open my mouth as quickly as I used to.  Maybe, just maybe, I’ll avert making other really stupid, hurtful comments.

Good words to live by — Rash language cuts and maims, but there is healing in the words of the wise. — Proverbs 12:18  The Message

Five Unusual Signs of Blessing

‘Gblessing stoneod bless you.’  I’ve said that to people, have you?  What do we mean when we say that?  I think I’ve meant – ‘may everything go your way’.

But some of the ways Jesus described blessing in the Bible seem to be a little different.  In Matthew 5, in what is called the Beatitudes, Jesus refers to a whole range of people being blessed that I wouldn’t think of having a blessing  —-

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit
  • Blessed are those who mourn
  • Blessed are the meek
  • Blessed are the peacemakers
  • Blessed are you when people insult you…because of me

Jesus puts us in a topsy-turvy world with these words.  Maybe blessing will bring about circumstances that humble us, so that we are poor in spirit.  Maybe to be blessed will bring about mourning, so we can understand comfort.  Maybe to be blessed will bring about strife, so we can learn to be peacemakers.

Our self-centeredness makes us want exactly what we want.  What God is about is having a close relationship with Him and making us more like Him   Sometimes that means having the opposite of what we think will be a blessing occur to us so that the blessing can follow.

So, when you are going through troubles it might just be God blessing you, you just haven’t seen the end results yet.