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Archive for the ‘Thoughtfulness’ Category

Men are the stronger sex; they work, build, and provide for their families. They don’t cry. They don’t get overrun by “feelings” like women do. Men are tough; they are not sensitive and do not get emotionally hurt easily.

Or do they?

Something that I have observed over the years is that there is a little boy inside every grown man. I see it in my husband, I see it in my father, and I see it in many of my friends. The same things that delighted them as a boy, the same things that made them sad, still affect them on the inside, thought they may not show it. My husband delights in fixing things, taking things apart and seeing how they work and then putting them back together (he recently built a computer). From the stories I’ve heard of his childhood, this is something that he has always enjoyed. My father has always loved story-telling: the adventure, the struggle between good and evil, the hero persevering, etc. This shows even now in the things that he writes, and the stories that touch him.

My little brother (now a teenager) was always a very sensitive little boy. He would cry when characters on TV got hurt, and he didn’t like scary movies. He never tortured earthworms, or pulled the wings off of flies, or any of that. He was always considerate of other people and animal’s feelings. One year when he was 8, I had a bad birthday and I cried because no one in my family cared (it was a special birthday too), and I was going to have to make my own cake etc. all by myself. My brother made a card in the shape of an alien (complete with antennae) and wrote inside “greetings earthling, our leader wishes you a happy birthday” and stuck a dollar inside. That card was so very precious to me. I still have it, and the dollar he gave me, as a reminder of the sweet sensitivity of my eight-year-old brother.

The little boys I teach piano to also exhibit some sensitive traits. Very often, if they have a choice between Thomas the Tank engine and Littlest Petshop stickers, they’ll choose the pets! Between Buzz Lightyear and animals, they’ll go with the animals most of the time. Even when they pick the Toy Story stickers they want Ham or Rex or Bullseye more than the others. The sad thing is that many older men (and women) will tell these boys: don’t you want the rocket ship? Or will reprimand them for crying, or for enjoying something that might be a little “girly”.

This is important: the sensitivity of the little boy that you raise will dictate the kindness and courteousness of the man he will become.  That gentle little boy that you treat to respect others, to value life (even the life of a worm), to love his family, and to cry when he sees injustice and suffering will grow into a man who respects everyone, who fights to protect life, and will not stand for injustice. That little boy needs to be loved and nurtured so that he can grow into the type of man our society needs today. There is still a little boy inside of every man. If you look carefully, you may see him. But be careful not to frighten him away.

Here is what the Bible says about living peaceful lives:

1 Corinthians 13:11 – “Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”

1 Thesselonians 5:12-18 – “But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.Rejoice always;pray without ceasing;in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Proverbs 15:1 – “A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.”

For more on this concept read John Eldredge’s “Wild at Heart”.

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In our fast-paced society today people fill their lives with things to make life more convenient. Americans have created a drive-through for food, banking, medication, coffee, and even grocery shopping. Unfortunately, this “I want it now” attitude has lead people to look for  “McAnswers,” those quick-convenient answers that can be found by searching Google, polling the internet, asking a friend, or reading a few sentences. Oddly enough, people do this with the most important aspect of their lives, their belief systems. Americans frequently base their opinions and “knowledge” on the information at their fingertips rather than investigating the linguistic and cultural context of the passages they found their beliefs on–we have become so closed-minded a culture that some even refuse to do their own research, claiming that there are many paths to choose from, or that we can never truly know what is right.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary there are two definitions for the word context; the term may be used to describe to the parts of a discourse that surround a word or passage and can throw light on its meaning. Context may also refer to the interrelated conditions in which something exists or occurs, such as the environment or setting (ex: historical or cultural context). It seems often today, particularly in Biblical interpretation that passages are taken out of context in both ways.

One of the more common misinterpretations of context occur when a person reads an isolated verse (or two) in the Bible and neglects to read the verses preceding and following their selection. I’ve seen this in multiple hot-button issues, but a simple example is when people wear what I call the “If-then blinders.” This simply refers to passages in the Bible that give an if statement: “If you do this…” which is then followed by the consequences of that “if”: “then you…” A frequent occurrence of this troublesome blindness occurs when someone memorizes a verse and either forgets the rest of it, or neglects to memorize the preceding portion. A common example is the phrase, “The truth will set you free.” Did you know that there is more to this verse? The full verse from John 8:31-32 reads: “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” The qualifying statement that allows the truth to set a person free is to know it. In order to know this truth you must hold to Jesus’ teachings. Ergo, IF you hold to Jesus’ teachings à THEN you are really his disciples. IF you are really Jesus’ disciples THEN you will know the truth and THEN it will set you free.

Another common mistake that Americans today make is to view Biblical and historical passages through modern glasses. The Bible was not written in English, it was not written today, and was not written by a single person. To understand the context of a chapter of scripture (or any historical writing) one must first understand the linguistic connotations. Hebrew is a very rich language, and often a word may have more than one direct meaning; a word may denote one thing by connote another thing in addition to the English translation. When the Bible says in Isaiah that “all our righteous acts are like filthy ragsthe word filthy literally refers to a garment stained from a woman’s menstrual cycle. This brings me to a second key to interpretation, historical context. While the translation of the word filthy is gross to us today, in Biblical times it would have had a far greater impact. In the book of Leviticus we see that a woman would be considered “unclean” for a week during her period, along with anything she sits on or anyone who touches her during this time. To be unclean, depending upon the context, would require a person to avoid contact if they were unclean, vessels to be burned, meat to be discarded, etc. Seeing the linguistic and historical context of this verse gives new meaning to “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.”

One other aspect of interpretation is the person who is speaking, who they are, and when they were writing. We must discover whether the speaker is writing during the time the events occurred, long after that time, or if they are hearing the information second-hand. It is also important to know a little about the person who is telling the story. For example, Luke was a doctor while Matthew was a tax collector; both would view the events of Jesus’ life through their own personal experiences and would notate things that they saw in light of what they found important. Luke may be detailed in some descriptions, while Matthew may have a propensity for including numeric values of things.

I hope and pray that you will continue to seek out the true meanings behind common verses and catchphrases so that your faith may be made firm, secure in the knowledge that you have researched so that you may “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). Do not fall into the trap of saying that there are “many ways” or that we cannot ever know the correct way. There are many interpretations, this is true; however, one may be sure to find the correct answer by accurately studying the contexts of a passage and finding all the information before making a judgment call on something—you cannot hold a belief and be firm in it if you do not understand why you believe it. Think about it.

2 Timothy 2:15-26 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.”

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I’m sitting here in a little coffee shop in downtown Safety Harbor with my boyfriend, looking out the window at the still-lighted trees and watching all the passers-by in the fading twilight hours of a rainy Florida day. I felt inspired to write what I have been thinking about; how two souls, with two very different personalities, can come to be one.

The Bible says in Mark 10, “…at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” While we all know that this passage, in its most basic form, refers to the sexual (and also emotional) union of a husband and wife, I think there is certainly more to it. In our society, where we spend so much time with our significant other before marriage, we become far more connected and “one” with each other before marriage. The time we spend together, talking, praying, attending church, snuggling, kissing, etc. brings us close together and helps us to form a very unique and tight bond, that we will never have with another person. This is one of the reasons why we are told to guard our hearts above all else, because our heart is the wellspring of our life, everything we do is affected by it. (Proverbs 4:23)We must be careful that we don’t become too emotionally attached before we are married to our sweetheart.

While we need to be careful how close we get, I have been realizing how wonderful it is to have that person to connect to, and how wonderful our differences are. My boyfriend and I are very different in many ways; we have differing backgrounds, tastes, preferences, mannerisms, dispositions, and ways of analyzing things. As we go through our lives together I realize that, because of this, life can be twice as beautiful and twice as sweet. I get to see beautiful things and hear wonderful music through two sets of eyes, and two pairs of ears. Things that I may notice and appreciate in a passage from a book or a portion of a sermon may be different from things that my boyfriend notices, and we both benefit from these insights. When we eat together, we try different things that may be unusual to us, and we often share the meals we eat; this makes the world so much more delicious and twice as sweet. We learn new traditions and share our unique cultural heritages–the world is twice as colorful. Through two pairs of eyes, two minds, and two hearts we experience the world together as one, and it is so much more sweet, and beautiful, than it would be alone.

Two souls, two eyes,

One heart, one mind.

Beating, blinking,

Loving, thinking.

Sharing all the earth,

Sorrow and mirth.

Two hearts, four eyes,

One love, one life.

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“for love of You
i’m a sky on fire
for love of You
i come alive
it’s Your Sacred Heart within me beating
Your voice within me singing
(out for love of You)
it’s all for you”

It’s amazing to see what we will do for the love of our most beloved one. A popular country song by Faith Hill says, “I’d go and capture the moon/That’s what I would do/Just to hear you say that you love me.” It a beautiful sentiment, and it touches my heart deeply; there are days when I cannot listen to that song without crying, because I love Justin so much. In every love song there is an echo of God’s love for all of us; every precious promise to always be there, each tear shed for a loved one in pain, and every heartbeat that longs to be near the one it loves. This is how Christ feels about us. How deep the father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that He would send his only son to make a wretch his treasure. If only we could love Him as much as he loves us.

It’s astonishing to me to see what I do to show my love for my sweetheart, and sometimes it’s things that I do that help me love him, even if he doesn’t see it. I try to maintain a good appearance, and attitude, and do things that will bring joy to him. I have been on a diet and exercising, to lose some weight and be healthier in general. Before I go to see him I make sure that I am wearing something cute, and that my hair and makeup look good; I particularly try to wear things that he has said that he finds attractive, and I avoid wearing things that he dislikes. I always try to keep a positive attitude and be cheerful for him, particularly when he’s down. I try to encourage him daily, telling him the sweet and uplifting things that every man likes to hear their woman say. I pray for him; for his specific needs, for me to be the best girlfriend I can be, and for our relationship to honor God. I study the Bible, and try to develop good womanly skills like cooking, sewing, encouraging, and making my home a welcoming and peaceful place. I also try never to say or think anything that will tear us apart…many women get into the habit of bashing their sweethearts to their friends, in public, or mentally, and then they become bitter and stop treating their husbands/boyfriends right. Justin deserves better than that; all our men do.I thank God for Justin every day, and that in itself is a form of blessing. When I worship and praise the Lord, I also think of Justin, and I praise God for the wonderfulness that He has brought to me in our relationship. 🙂

Justin is a very busy guy, he does a lot with school, work, and the musical he’s working on, in addition to spending time with me. I know that simple things can bring pleasure, so I try to do things like bring him dinner at school (sometimes I get to stay and eat dinner with him), bring snacks when I know he has late night ahead, run errands for him, and sometimes I’ll leave a frosty (his favorite treat) in the fridge at his work so he can find a yummy surprise when he goes in to an overnight shift. When I see him and I know he’s had a long day, I make sure I: let him take a nap, cook dinner for him, give him a massage, talk to him, and let him pick what we do that night (movie, puzzle, video games, etc.). I try to do things in my life that will honor him: not get too close to other guys, do things that will help ME love him more, etc. Communication is very important too; I wish I could have him close to me always, or at least be able to talk to him whenever I wanted (I am very sad when I don’t hear from him all day). Sometimes I leave him letters at school, and messages on facebook, to encourage him and help him through the day. I always try to tell him what’s on my mind, to help me think clearly, and to keep him from having to guess at what I need in the relationship (boys aren’t always good at that. lol.). On those days when I do get to see him I am so excited I can barely contain myself; when we’re finally together I don’t want to let him out of my sight!

If we do all these things for a flawed human being, doesn’t God deserve even more? What if we thought so much about what God was going to see us wearing? Would he see an attractive and modest girl who wants to look her best and protect the eyes of the men around her? Would he see women and men who want to take care of their temple (their body)? What if we desired to be in contact with Him daily; if going a few hours without talking to Him would bring us as much sadness as not talking to our sweetheart does? Maybe we wouldn’t be able to sleep until we said goodnight, or couldn’t make a major decision without talking to Him first. Or perhaps we would change how we talked (and thought) about God and about other people; we would keep a closer watch on our words and keep profanity and perversity from our lips. Would we make everything an offering to him? Our time, our money, our talent? Would we share the things God has given us with others, as we do with our lovers, or would we keep every good thing for ourselves? It would be wonderful if we were always excited to be close to Him, if we would hate to be away from Him. Imagine if we loved God as much as we loved our sweethearts; the world would be a better place. Just a thought on the parallels of love.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17b-19

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“What you have made me see,” answered the Lady, “is as plain as the sky, but I never saw it before. Yet it has happened every day. One goes into the forest to pick food and already the thought of one fruit rather than another has grown up in one’s mind. Then, it may be, one finds a different fruit and not the fruit one thought of. One joy was expected and another is given. But this I had never noticed before–that the very moment of the finding there is in the mind a kind of thrusting back, or setting aside. The picture of the fruit that you have not found is still, for a moment, before you. And if you wished–if it were possible to wish–you could keep it there. You could send your soul after the good you had expected, instead of turning it to the good you had got. You could refuse the real good; you could make the real fruit taste insipid by thinking of the other.”     –from C.S. Lewis’ Perelandra

Perelandra

This is too often true in our lives, particularly my own. We set out to obtain something that we desire…a particular school, a mate, a job, etc., and the one we receive is not what we were looking for in the first place. Often we are so caught up in thinking of the joy we expected to find, that we cannot enjoy what we are given, and so make the blessing we have been given taste insipid by thinking of the other.

Recent developments in my life that pertain to this concept, and that others may relate to as well, include my job, school, and my relationships.  I needed a job in early May, and was disappointed that I couldn’t find one after sending in dozens of applications. I finally got a job, much later than I expected but still in the nick of time, at Sam Ash Music. I quite enjoy working there, and there are some slight irritants in scheduling that I’d hoped to avoid, but this is the good I have been given. As far as schooling is concerned…I was uncertain of what to do with my life, wanting to do something great…but also wanting to have a very family oriented life. Where am I now? I am transferring to USF in the fall as a music education major. I didn’t particularly want to do either, because I didn’t want to go with the flow and do what every other music student in the area does…major in music education at USF. But God has worked it all out in such a way that this will be the perfect set up for me.

By far the biggest example in my life of expecting one joy and receiving another is also one most people could relate to…relationships. I’ve always had an idea in my head of the kind of person I’d like to be with. Since my experience in the romance department was limited (i.e., no official relationship ever), I didn’t know quite what to expect.  As I met people through the years (I quite enjoy making new friends), my ideas of what I wanted in a future husband changed a little with each serious interest, as usually happens. I eventually found someone who was very much like me in personality and values. He is a strong Christian, talented, a good man, and someone I might consider spending my life with. I prayed often about him and the potential for relationship with him, as well as conferring with trusted counselors, getting to know his friends and family (I’d be doing that anyway though, because he is still a very good friend) and other such things. In the end, however, he was not interested, for whatever reason. I was alright with that at first, because interest can develop as the friendship progresses, and I was very much looking forward to continuing the friendship without any of that awkwardness between us. All was well until Justin came along. lol. One joy was expected and another given. Justin and my other friend get along quite well, and are very much alike in personality, as well as in some mannerisms. But their differences are great when you compare them in context of relationship potential, and what I had been expecting from someone I was interested in. I was in great turmoil between the two; both wonderful men, one I had been praying about for almost a year who was not interested, and the other newcomer who was interested and already quite devoted to winning my heart. I realized during all of this that I may be ruining what should have been a blessing (Justin’s appearance in my life), by focusing on the good thing that I had been looking for initially. (And I actually thought of this quote at the time.) Now I am happily in a relationship with Justin, and the other guy is still a close friend, and like a brother to me. As my relationship with Justin progresses I discover many things about him that make this relationship better in the long run than the other would have been. Had I continued to focus on the good thing that I had initially wanted, instead of accepting the blessing that God was trying to give me, I would never have discovered these things, and would not have found my sweetheart. ^.^ One joy was expected and another was given.

I encourage you, my friends, don’t ignore the blessings that God sends your way by focusing on the things that you haven’t gotten. Sometimes things happen for a reason, such as losing a friendship or not getting something you sincerely desired, but God wants to bless us abundantly, all things will work out for good in His plan. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) The choice is yours, my friends…you could refuse the real good; you could make the real fruit taste insipid by thinking of the other; or you can accept the joy that you are given, rather than focus on the good expected.

Be blessed.

Lewis, C.S.. Perelandra. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1965. Print.

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Hope beyond hope,
Stars in the sky,
Asking me questions,
Wondering why.

“I have not the answers,”
I quickly replied,
“My friends, I am frightened,
With nowhere to hide.”

Hope beyond hope,
Stars in the sky,
Asking me questions,
Wondering why.

“I dare not be hasty,”
I said to my friends,
“For haste will show clearly
How quickly it ends.”

Hope beyond hope,
Stars in the sky,
Asking me questions,
Wondering why.

“A Love or a friendship,”
I briefly explained,
“When pressured too deeply,
Completely is drained.”

Hope beyond hope,
Stars in the sky,
Asking me questions,
Wondering why.

“I have not the answers,
My friends you must know,
It’s straight up to Yaweh,
Your questions should go.”

“I can’t comprehend it,
Nor can I explain,
The questions keep spinning,
Around in my brain.”

“But now I must slumber,
My brain for to sleep,
The stars will still question
As watch they do keep.”

Hope beyond hope,
Stars in the sky,
Asking me questions,
Wondering why.

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A lazy tree, a summer’s day.

Tilted branches bend and sway

‘Neath sweet scented summer rain;

Bringing peace and easing pain.

 

Laughing children dance and sing,

Soon they’ll hear the school bells ring,

Sending them upon their way,

Free again to laugh and play.

 

Two young lovers sit and smile,

As they pass away the while,

Savoring the hours long,

They rejoice in true love’s song.

 

A man and woman, oh so grey,

Rock and watch the young ones play,

Looking back on yesteryear,

And their memories, so dear.

 

 A lazy tree, a summer’s day.

Tilted branches bend and sway

‘Neath sweet scented summer rain;

Bringing peace and easing pain.

Summer’s here, once again.

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