A Girl Worth Fighting For?

What kind of expectations do we place on ourselves? How about what we expect of others? Are they true and real ones, or are they more often based in fantasy or unreality?

I’ve been exploring this topic for myself lately, and I’d like to share a few thoughts about it. While sick with a horrible cold, I decided to take a couple of hours over a few days and watch the charming Disney movies Mulan and Mulan II. There is a song in Mulan that reprises in Mulan II, and it became the subject of my thoughts, and thus this post. Here’s a video link to the song in the first movie: A Girl Worth Fighting For

The song is charming, expressing the longings of men heading into a dangerous situation, who only want to know what they are about to face is worth it for someone back home. They express their hopes and dreams of what each believe is their ideal female, and how much they want the presence of these ladies in their lives when they go home. In the second movie, the song is taken further, by heroes come home who still don’t have the women of their dreams by their sides.

At first, I listened to the music and just enjoyed it. It speaks of what Wild At Heart by John Eldredge details. It says how all men really want is a battle to fight, a beauty to rescue and to be a hero. As a woman, I find these concepts somewhat foreign, but I’ve studied enough on the differences between men and women to understand these compelling needs. After all, as a woman, I find myself often yearning to be the beauty to be rescued, to nurture my hero and guard and care for the helpless, particularly those closest to me.

The problem came as I thought more about the song. Because as I did, I started to change the lyrics. I started to make them personal. Instead of a man wanting a girl worth fighting for, I wanted to be that girl worth fighting for.  I started to think of whether or not I was worth fighting for, if I wasn’t slender enough, pretty enough, smart enough or just enough of whatever. I started to wonder if I was too much of whatever. I started to think the expectations of the lyrics to be a girl worth fighting for were on me.

It was then I realized I was giving in (yet again!) to our culture’s domineering critical nature against women, and my own self-doubts and fears I battle daily. I next realized as a daughter of God, a born-again Blood of Christ covered repentant sinner, I am enough! I am enough in the sight of God, and if HE says I am enough, it ends the matter.

The problem next happened that I started to put it on my poor long-suffering spouse. Now, instead of thinking why I couldn’t be a girl worth fighting for if there wasn’t a problem with him seeing me as a girl worth fighting for. So I started ladling unrealistic expectations on him, instead. I wanted him to be instantly something he is not, instead of who he wonderfully is and allowing him the same process he allows me daily to change and grow.

How often we put unrealistic expectations on ourselves and others, instead of simply realizing we’re all a work in progress and being patient with everyone’s process, including our own!! It’s so subtle and sneaky, too! I thought I had it beaten, but then this darn song went and proved me oh, so wrong, giving me yet another opportunity to repent, change and grow. As I realize what happened and what I did to both of us, I feel so absurd. But then, that’s what unrealistic expectations are, really. They’re absurd, and the sooner we recognize them for what they are, the happier we’ll all be.

Now, I need to go watch another movie and find a new song, so I can get this dratted one out of my head!!

Impossible!

What seems impossible to you? What idea or plan or dream seems so unlikely as to be almost impossible right now?

In the 1965 version of Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, the Fairy Godmother (played by Celeste Holm) told Cinderella (played by Lesley Ann Warren) it wasn’t impossible for her to go where she most wanted, to the prince’s ball. In my favorite song from the show, the Fairy Godmother sings “Impossible.” Here are some of the words:

Impossible! For a plain yellow pumpkin to become a golden carriage! Impossible! For a plain country bumpkin and a prince to join in marriage! And four white mice could never be four white horses! Such folderoll and fildeedeees, of courses! Impossible!

 

But the world is full of zanies and fools who don’t believe in sensible rules! And won’t believe what sensible people say! And because these daft and dewy eyed dopes keep building up impossible hopes . . . Impossible! Things are happening every day!!

In the musical, because Cinderella believes what the Fairy Godmother says, she goes to the ball. Because she goes to the ball, the prince sees her and falls in love with her, and she falls in love with him. They go through trials (what good story doesn’t?), and eventually celebrate their love by getting married.

Wouldn’t it be great if all our impossible dreams worked out so well (and so quickly!) as Cinderella’s? However, the story tellers had only a scant hour or two (including commercials) to tell a tale. Real life usually takes quite a bit longer, unfortunately.

According to the Fairy Godmother, what was the key to Cinderella dropping her dirty appearance and socially unacceptable status, and walking into the ball like she belonged there? It was in Cinderella’s own beliefs the world could be, and should be, a better and kinder place to her. Cinderella was a princess in her heart and soul before she was one on the outside. The Fairy Godmother just supplied the magical window dressings.

We can apply the same principles of belief Cinderella used for ourselves, if we learn how and properly use them! Now, mind you, I’m not advocating some hokey “Name It and Claim It Because You Tell God (or the Universe) You Should Have It” kind of mumbo-jumbo. I am talking about real belief, real faith and real trust that you can and should have what you earn and deserve in life.

It’s a mind-set, really. So many of us get ourselves convinced for whatever lousy reasons we don’t deserve good things in life, so we self-sabotage ourselves into not getting them. We want them, we yearn for them with all our hearts. But until we convince ourselves we’re worthwhile and worthy of them, until we believe they are possible in our lives, they won’t happen. Because until we do, all our work will be in vain, as we continually self-sabotage all our efforts.

I have been an expert at this. I see good things in life and I want to work to get them. But my underlying image of myself always told me I didn’t deserve them, so I would self-sabotage any efforts of working toward them. It hasn’t been until I’ve begun to deal with my self-image that my efforts are finally starting to bear fruit.

So, if we get our self-sabotage under control, how do we believe? Unfortunately, I cannot tell you how to believe. I only know it’s necessary, and it’s a decision.

It’s like the boy who is the main character in The Polar Express. The boy is on the train because he’s a skeptic about Santa Clause. He’d like to see before he believes. When he gets to the North Pole, he sees all the evidence around him, but cannot see Santa for the crowds of elves. He cannot hear the sleigh bells, either. Finally, he just decides to believe, saying,

Okay! Okay! Okay! I believe! I believe! I believe!

It is in that magic moment of his decision to believe that he hears the sleigh bells, and sees Santa Clause, too. His belief opens the door to a personal encounter with Santa, and a life long joy.

During the closing credits of the movie, a song sung by Josh Groban plays called Believe. Here’s the words of the chorus, in hopes you can believe, too:

Believe in what your heart is saying

Hear the melody that’s playing

There’s no time to waste

There’s so much to celebrate!

 

Believe in what you feel inside

And give your dreams the wings to fly!

You have everything you need

If you just believe!

As I write this, it’s 3 days before Christmas 2014. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

May your 2015 be filled with impossibilities, because you believe . . . 

Easter In Song

For Easter, I am giving you a few videos of some of my favorite Resurrection Day music. I hope you like it as much as I do.

The first is by one of the early bands of the Contemporary Christian Music genre, 2nd Chapter of Acts. It’s called Easter Song.

The next is by Dallas Holm, another pioneer in Christian Contemporary Music, called Rise Again.

The next is by Don Francisco, known for his story-telling through music, Too Small A Price. (Warning: Graphic images inappropriate for small children. But don’t let the images scare you away. The ending is positively amazing!)

The last one is another by Don Francisco. It is my absolute favorite, the joy-filled He’s Alive.

Photo: After Eden: The Difference

 

Re-Post: Gratitude – A Thanksgiving Prayer

This is a re-post.  I am also very grateful and thankful for our U.S. military, who serve us at home and abroad so thanklessly all year, and for our first responders, who do the same at home!!

I’m thankful for the flowers.

Fall Foliage at the New York Botanical Garden

I’m grateful for the trees.

I’m awestruck with all nature

And all its wondrous beauty.

I’m thankful for the animals,

For the ones so wild and free,

And for those who life as friends

Among us, loving me.

Blubbertail in the window

I’m thankful for the heavens

And their great bright starry host.

And I’m grateful for the seasons;

There’s not one I don’t love the most.

I’m thankful for the valleys,

And the mountains soaring so high,

And I’m grateful for the oceans

And the water’s abundant supply.

The 2007 U.S. National Christmas Tree is lit o...

I’m thankful for my family,

My children, bright and strong,

And how my spouse still loves me

When I am in the wrong.

And I’m grateful for the people

Whose love will never end,

Both family and others,

The ones I’m proud to call “Friend.”

Our Family Portrait, 2008

I’m mostly thankful, though, Lord,

For the love I’ve come to know

In the ways You gently touch my heart

And cause me to quietly grow.

I’m grateful also, dear Lord,

For the gifts You’ve given me,

And the way You teach me how to use them

So you can set other spirits free.

Lord (Jesus)

I’m thankful for it all, Lord,

For this life that I call “Mine,”

And I’m asking You to help me

To be thankful more of the time.

And I’m asking You to shake me up

When I have a bad attitude,

That others might be drawn to You

Through my life of humble gratitude.

A Little Bit Of Heaven

What is Heaven like? I remember asking that question as a child. I suspect if we were raised in any kind of religious home, or had any experience with the death of a loved one at a young age, most of us asked it at one point or another when we were children. For the most part, unfortunately, I think it went largely unanswered, or insufficiently answered. I know it did for me.

Somehow, the picture that springs to mind, largely fueled by the media, of cherubs fluttering around with harps and lounging on clouds, is at best unsatisfying. At worst, it seems patronizing and trite.

Wenceslas Hollar - Concert of cherubs in the c...

So, what is Heaven like? It’s a subject preachers don’t often mention, because they don’t have a lot to go on, save for the words of Jesus and the visions of prophets like John in Revelation, Ezekiel and Isaiah. Jesus gave us analogies, mostly picturing what He wanted His Church to be like. Jesus’ word pictures were largely centered in people’s relationships to one another and to His Father. John, Ezekiel and Isaiah spoke of when the world finally ends, and what will happen. Though if you ask Bible scholars of differing theologies, you will get at least 4 or 5 different interpretations of what they said. This ends up being confusing at best.

Preachers don’t often mention it in sermons also because most Westerners don’t want to face the inevitability we will all eventually die. We are often perpetually self-deluded individuals, who act as if we will live forever, when we know at heart we will not. We find the topic of death uncomfortable, and put off discussions about it. This can also lead to eternal damnation for those who do not face it and acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord in the here and now.

So, what is Heaven like? I heard someone speak once about music and worship, and what he believed it would be like in Heaven for those who believe in Jesus as Savior. He said everyone who wrote music to praise God would sing it before Him, with everyone else listening. All the different music styles, languages and cultures throughout the ages would give their music in a huge concert of praise to God.

He also said all the different cultures through the ages would bring before God what made them special, what God put in them to be unique. Tribal dances, animals, costumes and patterns, music and traditions would create a gigantic parade of splendor. Folks from Africa might come with lions, zebras and gazelles, dancing and singing. Folks from China might come with pandas and silks. Folks from India would bring elephants and tigers. All the wealth of every nation and diverse cultures would be on display, all for the glory of God.

I think about it, and am reminded of the scene from the movie “The Ten Commandments,” when the wealth of Egypt’s subject peoples were brought in tribute to Pharaoh. It would be like that, only on a far grander, vastly more epic scale than our human minds can comprehend. Talk about your concerts of praise!

English: Chris Tomlin performing a concert in ...

Chris Tomlin

I was reminded of all this when I saw a video on FaceBook this week. It is Christian singer/songwriter Chris Tomlin, singing his popular worship song, “How Great Is Our God.” In the video, he is joined by church worship leaders from around the world, singing in Spanish, Chinese, Swahili and other languages. They were all singing the same song in their own languages, sometimes at the same time. The joyful rendition reminds me of that picture of Heaven I was taught, which is the best description of it I’ve heard so far.

Here’s the link. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-ZtKzw-ipo

And, if you are not someone who has acknowledged Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of your own life, I invite you to do it now. Heaven eventually awaits those who follow Him, and He gives a full and complete life to them in the here and now as well. If you do, please let me know in the Comments section. I will keep it private, and I will do what I can to link you to a local church in your area, where you can grow in your new faith.

Going Outside of The Box

Have you ever gotten way out of your comfort zone?  What’s it like for you, to try something new?  How do you feel when you do something you’ve never done before?

A couple of days ago, I learned our local minor league baseball team, the Tri-City Valley Cats, were holding open auditions for people to sing The Star Spangled Banner at their home games this season.  I have been told I am a good singer, so I figured, why not?   The worst I could do was not be chosen, and perhaps be a little embarrassed in front of a few judges and a couple of other contestants.

Little did I know.  The larger of our local malls was packed with Saturday shoppers.  There were over 50 contestants, and more arriving as I finished, at number 44.  All of the others had friends and family along for moral support.  I had me.  My husband was on his way home from a visit with his family in Maryland, our kids couldn’t come, and our friends had other commitments.

There was a cameraman from one of the local network affiliates, who filmed some of the contestants.  I breathed a sigh of relief when he left!  Unfortunately, the photographer from one of the local papers arrived right after he left, and she stayed.  My photo was chosen for one on the front page its Sunday local section, and is now in a slide show on its website.

http://www.timesunion.com/news/slideshow/ValleyCats-anthem-tryouts-43255.php#photo-2958649

I have my eyes closed in the photo because they were closed the whole time I sang.  I was concentrating on the tempo, the music and getting the words out properly.  They had us singing it a-capella (that’s with no backup music, for the uninitiated), and it’s not an easy thing to sing, especially without backup.

In my opinion, it is, by far, the least flattering photo taken of me in my entire life!!  Thankfully, the folks at church hadn’t seen it before services Sunday.  Unfortunately, the nurse at my doctor’s office Monday morning and about 1/2 of my coworkers have.  I had it mentioned to me all Monday, and learned they will be posting a print of the website photo to the department bulletin board after our monthly staff meeting Friday.  Oh, my goodness, what a fuss!

Getting outside the box is not easy.  I was nervous, I’ll admit it.  I’ve sung in front of larger crowds.  I just always had moral support someplace, and backup music.  It was never just me and my voice.

But I did it.  And if I did it, that means you can get out of your boxes, too.

P.S. I heard from  the judges a few days later. I was not chosen for the next round.

Christmas Canon

Pachabel’s Canon in D, the Canon for Peace, is one of my all-time favorite pieces of classical music.  It is right up there at or near the top of a list that also includes

  • Beethoven’s 8th Symphony (most especially Ode To Joy)
  • Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata
  • Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (not exactly classical, but classic jazz)
  • Camille Saint-Sean’s Carnival of the Animals Finale (one of the funniest clips of film the Disney studios ever did in Fantasia 2000)
  • Poncelli’s Dance of the Hours
  • Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker
  • Beethoven’s 6th Symphony (The Pastoral Symphony)

This particular version of Pachabel is a favorite.  It’s a piece my family loves to play at Christmas time.  It is performed by Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  (TSO to fans.)  This version includes the lyrics.  Enjoy!!

Merry Christmas!!

Christmas Canon

Promises To Keep

My husband Bob and I love to listen to Christmas music at this time of year!  One of our favorite sources is Trans-Siberian Orchestra (aka TSO to fans), a band that does classical and Christmas music, with a rock flavor.

One TSO song I have particularly come to enjoy this year is Promises to Keep from their Christmas Eve and Other Stories CD.  I just love these lyrics!  Unfortunately, I could not find a video online that had the original children’s choir, as performed on the PBS video and CD.  Here is a live version someone recorded in the TSO concert in my hometown, last December 26.

Merry Christmas!!!

Promises to Keep

Christmas time, on a cold December morning

All is calm, and the world is still asleep

Christmas lights, that have been caught without warning

Gently glitter on

Stars to wish upon

All the world is at peace

*

Christmas time, and the year will soon be leaving

Cloaked in time, till it’s just a memory

Christmas stays if we don’t forget its meaning

Days go quickly by

Years they multiply

We go searching for thee

*

And the dream is still alive

From that first December morning

And it always will survive

As long as we can see

That the dreams that we find in life

Are the dreams we tend to seek

And Christmas has its promises to keep

*

Christmas time, and the world is just beginning

On last night, when we wished upon the star

And if this kindness we feel is just pretending

If we pretend long enough

Never giving up

It just might be who we are.

The True Story on TEAM LIFE’s 3 C’s – Community, “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”

What is it about Community?  Why are Communities like Team so important?

Image representing Michael Dell as depicted in...

Image via CrunchBase

In 1999, entrepreneur Michael Dell spoke to a luncheon hosted by the Detroit Economic Club.  Attending were several leaders of a Community building organization called Team, Orrin Woodward, Chris Brady and Ed Zentnter.  What they heard excited and energized them.

Michael Dell said for businesses to be successful in the digital age, they had to be online, with a web presence that worked, and called it Content.  Businesses also needed Commerce, the bricks and mortar to back up Content’s click and order.  Flashy Content is unworkable without a way for consumers to pay for and get what they order.

The third piece, Community, got the attention of the leaders of TeamCommunity, Dell said, is the loyal and even fanatic customer base, people who buy products, fall in love with them, tell others about the products and order the products again and again.  Dell said without a loyal customer base, Content and Commerce are useless.  It takes a Community to really make any business succeed.  Dell said he was frustrated by this aspect of Community, because he knew customers were using his older Dell computers that needed upgrading to go online and

Image representing Dell as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

buy another brand, because it was on sale.

Hearing about Community and its importance energized Team’s leaders because that is the area in which Team has always excelled and been industry leaders in their market arena.  They knew about Community, how to build Communities of loyal and even fanatic followers and how to keep Communities healthy and growing.  But it wasn’t until that moment they realized what they had their hands on, how potentially powerful a tool they developed.

Why are Communities so important?  The digital age has brought with it much that is good: the flow of information and its availability; the ability to communicate with people around the world; the increased efficiency of workflow; entrepreneurship in arenas totally unheard of by previous generations.  All of these are benefits of living in a digital age.

Yet, along with its many benefits, the digital age has brought some things that are not so good.  People are overwhelmed by information, and have a hard time sorting out the good, bad and simply ridiculous.  Work has increased, instead of decreasing, as was initially predicted.  Online entrepreneurship is still hard work, and often made harder when the entrepreneur’s friends and family don’t understand what they are doing.  And there is a definitely increased feeling of disconnectedness among people.

This feeling of disconnectedness leads to a longing for Community among many people.  According to the numbers, members of FaceBook have made it equivalent to the 3rdlargest country in the world!  Yet, for all the people having FaceBook accounts and

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

in friend lists, many feel more disconnected than ever.  A growing number of people find the relationships on FaceBook to be shallow, superficial and one-sided.  Some derisively call it “FakeBook,” and “Unfriend” and “Unfriended” have entered the dictionary, describing the growing feelings of disconnect.

Human beings are creatures that have a need to be in relationships, to be a part of a Community.  Children who do not develop positive connections with adults as babies can fail to thrive, and even die.  When an older child or adult has a mental or emotional inability to connect, it may be diagnosed as a developmental, psychological or psychiatric disorder.  These can include Emotional Detachment, some form of Autism or Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  These are serious issues, often requiring therapy, medication and ongoing support.

People need to be connected, to somehow be a part of Community.  The theme song from the popular 1980’s sit-com “Cheers” highlighted this need.   .  We all need and want to be a part of a Community “where everybody knows your name.”

What does it mean to be a part of a successful Community?  It is a group or a place where we can be comfortable with being vulnerable with its members.  We all have a need for safety when we are emotionally vulnerable, and a Community provides this for its members.  When “everybody knows your name” they know who you are, what makes you tick and there is a high level of acceptance within that knowledge, encouraging us to trust fellow Community members and follow the Community’s leaders.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Resized, renamed,...

Image via Wikipedia

It is a place where we can reach toward the heights of Professor Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and continue on a journey toward self-actualization.  Self-actualization, according to Maslow, only occurs when the other needs are met.

First, needs of physiology, shelter and food, are required.  This is living at its most basic, and can be seen in Third World countries.

Second is safety.  This includes everything from larger concerns of terrorism to more immediate and intimate ones as abuse.  If we do not feel safe, we cannot look beyond ourselves.

Third is a need to love and be loved, and to belong.  As humans we are relational beings.  Communities are particularly good for this need.  They can even serve as substitute families for those who are either distant or estranged from their families.  Communities can fill this need in negative ways like gangs, or positive ones like sports teams or churches.

Fourth is esteem, a need to have good self-esteem for one’s self, and to be respected by others.  If we do not feel good about who we are and what we do, if we have no respect from others, we cannot look to larger purposes in life.  Again, Communities are especially good for this need, providing people who respect us and like us for who we are, encouraging the growth of positive self-esteem.  Often, they are project-oriented, and contributing to a worthwhile project is an excellent way to increase self-esteem.

Self-actualization, the final entry, is the search to find purpose in our lives.  We all seem to have a place within ourselves where we ask, usually in secret thoughts, “Why am I here?  What is my purpose?”  Here is where Communities excel.  Often our very choices of the Communities we seek out and to which we belong can point us in the direction of where are purpose lies, if we are unsure about it.

While some authors have scorned Maslow’s Hierarchy, others have praised it.  After he

The fallen

Image by c@rljones via Flickr

survived the Holocaust, Victor Frankl, psychologist and renowned author of the classic Man’s Search for Meaning, proposed adding self-transcendence to Maslow’s list.  This is the going beyond ourselves and our purpose, and seeking God, however we perceive the concept of a Supreme Being.  People who are secure in who they are and their purpose in life often will say it is because of their sense of being certain of their position with God, or whatever version of eternal belief they possess.  Even those who are skeptical about God, or do not believe in a Supreme Being at all, can reach this as they ponder the questions, “Is there more to life than what I see?  Is there more than this?”  Certain Communities, particularly religious ones, specialize in this last need Frankl suggested.

Communities are often a good place for personal development.  Many Communities, like Team, are oriented in this direction as their primary purpose.  Even among those that are not primarily directed in this regard, some personal development is usually bound to take place among the members.  As places where the members care for one another, Communities provide the freedom to grow and the friends who love us where we are, and who also won’t let us stay that way.  There is often a culture of personal growth among various types of Communities, and it is in them personal growth almost becomes inevitable.  It is “almost” because in Communities, as in all things, human choice is still entirely operational, and members can resist growth.  However, these members will quickly feel a separation from the shared culture, and will either succumb or disappear from Community life.

In joining Team, my husband and I found all the positive aspects of Communities.  Within the structure of Team as a whole, the growth of smaller Teams is encouraged, as a strategy to grow not only Team as a whole, but also for the mentor-ship, connectivity and success of its members.  We love and are loved by people who know us and make us feel we belong to the group.  We are encouraged in our self-esteems, by people saying good things about us and encouraging us, and by the positive things we do as Team members.  We have found a purpose in helping people and in seeing Team’s goals come to fulfillment.  And Team encourages us in self-transcendence, by being an organization that promotes an active faith life for all its members.  Team is a wildly successful organization because it fulfills not only Maslow’s entire list, but also that of Frankl.  I cannot be strong enough in encouraging you to find such a Community for yourself.

Cathy