Tag: Blogging

In Search of Inspiration

I have needed some inspiration.  I have been through some dry spells when it comes to my writing before but this last spell has been a rough one.  I usually could come up with something to write Inspirationabout even if it was basically a repeat of something I had written about before.  Not this time… I could not bring myself to even type a word.

No words… no ideas… nothing to say.

I have to ask myself, “Is it time to close the book and pack this blog away with the other million or so blogs that are not being read by anyone?”

I wanted to make it last… I wanted to reach 500,000 visitors.  I am roughly 14,000 visitors short as of this writing. That sounds so self-centered… so… self-serving. But if you honestly know me, you know that I do not write to get recognition. I have turned down opportunities to try to promote my blog on different media sites.  That was not why I started writing in the first place.

I started writing again to fill a place in my life that was empty.  A place that was emptied by the choices I made in life and I needed to fill that place with inspiration and thought. With life running so fast, there’Young man reading small Bibles little time and energy left to try a muster up some inspiration to write.  To be honest with the truth, I long to have another opportunity to teach from the Bible again.  It has been over twenty years since I have had the honor of sharing from God’s Word in a classroom setting. There was always a small part me that believed that I would get the chance to once again be a part of a ministry besides sitting in the pew.  

It is evident to me as I think on these things that God has another plan. As much as I try to believe, I do not believe that it will ever happen. Through the small things and the biggest things, life has certainly taught me this lesson over and over. Things are harder for those who don’t believe. And they’re much easier for those who do. Lord knows that I’ve created a thousand life obstacles by crowding out my faith, or by blatantly ignoring what it was whispering to my heart. It has made life harder because I had to tear down a thousand walls brick by brick by finally believing they had to fall. This is one wall that I have not been able to tear down.

That being said, I must say that I have witnessed others who have endured a divorce and/or failure brickin marriage go on and teach and “do things” in the church as if it never happened.  That opportunity has never been offered to me.

I am not bitter about the price I have paid for my failure or the opportunities that others have been given. It just saps my ability to be inspired at times.

So it’s becoming more important to me that I not waste too much time dwelling on what will not happen and focus on what can be done because my time is running short.  Now before that gets misconstrued, I am not dying, at least I don’t have any plans on dying anytime soon. But blogs and websites like mine are dying daily.  I cannot help but think that this website… this blog… my stories… my words that I write will be the only voice that I will ever have. In no time at all it will be silenced.  

So what can keep me inspired until that day comes? I thought it would be nice to share one thing that has always brought inspiration to me.  As many of you know, I love music.  All types and all styles. It brings me inspiration and I never write unless I have music blaring through my headphones.

One of my favorites is one that I am sure not many people have ever heard of. I am blown away by the composer, Ólafur Arnalds. I discovered him on Spotify.  His album called, “Living Room Songs” is a masterpiece.  Each note has purpose.  The melodies are unique.  Emotion is ever-present.  It Living Roomtakes me on a journey every time I listen. Sometimes it breaks my heart. Sometimes it heals it. I always feel something.  I’m always inspired.

The story behind the album is that he committed to writing one new song each day for a week.  At the end of each day, he gathered a small string section, and there in his living room, they recorded  what he’d written that day on a live microphone. No editing and no overdubs.

It’s beautiful in its imperfection. Each time the piano bench cracks, the pedal squeaks or a violin string falters in pitch for a moment, I smile to myself.  I love that they moved ahead, not feeling the need to repair or hide the ‘mistake’. And somehow, the song actually becomes more beautiful for it.  At the end of the week, it was done, finished – created and shared with the world… all it’s flaws exposed.

That gives me hope.

I’m inspired by what he was able to accomplish in a day – in a week.  And I can’t help but consider what I could do if I lived with that kind of intention and fearlessness.  If I’m honest, it’s scary for me to commit to something before I’ve got it figured out and know what the outcome will be.  Listening to this music makes me want to fly without a net. And it makes me think I can.  It makes me braver.  Not because it’s perfect and grand – but because it’s imperfect.  The flaws are evident… but they still are powerfully touching.

Just like you and me.

We spend so much of our lives trying to cover up our flaws and shortcomings, but what if we could just embrace them and move on?  What if we didn’t let them stop us?  What if they simply became part of the story we’re sharing?

What if I didn’t have to have it all figured out before I was willing to begin? What if I were willing to fly without a net?  What if I lived my life with more intent and focus? What if I made peace with my imperfections and shortcomings?  What if I even embraced them and made them a part of my story? What could I share with the world? What might it inspire in others?

Regardless of the type of music you like, I think almost everyone reading this will fall in love with “Living Room Songs” by Ólafur Arnalds.  It’s perfect background music, especially on rainy days and Saturday mornings. It has become one of my favorites – because it’s more than a piece of music.

It’s an exercise in fearlessness and exposure to what is real, flaws and all.

And that… inspires me.

NOTE: I have attached a video of the process and recording of “Living Room Songs”.  Enjoy!!!

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More Than Just Words On A Page

The other day I was talking to a good friend of mine about blogging. He was asking if I took a special class or studied it in college. I had to be honest and tell him that my English teachers would find it ratherhands-on-keyboard hilarious if they knew I was keeping a blog and writing on a regular basis. Let’s just say I wasn’t the best student (as evidence by the frequent rate with which I destroy grammar and the English language on this blog).  Sure, I’ve dreamed of writing a book one day, but whenever my thoughts get semi-serious, I bail. A blog is so much less intimidating.

So why even keep a blog?

In 1862 a 16-year-old kid named William Ralph Featherston put pen to paper to write a love letter of sorts. I like to think that if blogs existed back then, William would have just written a post and clicked “publish.” But there were no blogs so his letter went unnoticed. William would pass away at the age of 27. Three years after William passed away, a man named Adoniram Gordon put music to William’s “Love Letter” and got it published in a hymnal the same year. You may know the love letter by it’s official title…..

My Jesus, I Love Thee

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ’tis now.

I love Thee because Thou has first loved me
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ’tis now.

I love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ’tis now.

In Mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

Near as I can tell, William Ralph Featherston has no idea that his love letter ever made the impact on the world that it did. Just today, more-than-just-wordsthe words of that love letter have been rocking my world as I heard the song. I’m just one of the many, many people who cherish this old hymn. I’ll never get to meet William this side of heaven. I’ll never be able to thank him (or Adoniram Gordon) for putting it together. Yet it’s words have impacted my life.

His poem is so much more than words on a page.

At the end of this road, I guess that’s the goal of this little piece of real estate on the internet too. I don’t have a platform, vision or even mission statement. I’m not looking to write books or sell advertising space. I guess I just put it to paper (or the web) like William did all those years ago.

My greatest hope is that my kids and grandchildren will forever have an archive in my own words to look back on.

Hopefully they see my heart.

Hopefully they read my thoughts.

Hopefully they’ll know that for me… what I write is more than just words on a page.

Write On

Sometimes you just can’t win. 

Some well-meaning friends have taken a portion of their time recently to provide some insight into my writing.  It’s not that I am not appreciative of the input.  Like everyone else I like to be liked. 

Some encouraged me to write the same way I have been writing for the past few years.  Short illustrations of what God is doing in my life and trying to be an encourage people to live for Christ.  They tell me to write for the sake of others who are facing similar struggles and goals for their life. 

Others feel that I write too much about my relationship with Jesus Christ.  Even a few asked me to spare them the gruesome details of the failures in my life. They say,  “Don’t hang out your dirty laundry for all to see.”  They tell me that it is self-serving and it shows that I have not truly moved on in life.

Honestly, I don’t feel that I’m doing that.  But what do I know?

So, who do I listen to? 

I see the casualties in the blogosphere.  Dead, unfinished, incompleted blogs that were started with good intentions.  People who get the idea that they want to start a blog and start writing.  Some with the delusional idea that they even want to write a book.  It starts with the premise that they believe they have something to say, something that will be a help and will be an encouragement to another person.  It is done with all the vigor and excitement that they can muster.  The ideas are just flying all over the place. They sit down and empty themselves into a post and when that first post is revised a 1,000 times they finally post it and in many examples it usually isn’t that bad.  

Then the problem starts.  It doesn’t take them long to realize that writing is hard.  They spent so much emotion and personal information in that first post that they find,as they sit at the computer, they are staring at an empty page.   If they are lucky, they may post a few more and then it happens.  They quit. 

As it does for the vast majority of those that start a blog it sits empty and eventually deleted because of inactivity.  It is like the one-hit wonder of a rock band.  They get one good song and they can’t seem to get past it and eventually the creativity is just a rehash of the original song.  They all just start sounding the same. 

If anything I struggle with that.  I am open to the fact that my writings may be repetitious on some level.  I have fallen in to the cycle of being torn between wanting to quit or being compelled to continue on.  Then just about the time I am about to quit, I ask myself,Have I caused others undue heartache and pain through my actions in this life?”   Without a doubt!  Am I pleased about that?  Absolutely not!  “Do I want to correct the pain I caused others in this life?”  Of course! I have found that the only avenue I have to try to make these crooked paths I once walked straight again is to write.

There is no doubt that my failure in my life is something that is still not completely healed.  The pain of it sits just under the scar that I carry on my heart.  Sometimes the fog of life only lifts long enough to allow me to see the face of God, the Scriptures He left to be our lifeline or even the outstretched hands of family and friends.  I am thankful for those times when I see Christ so clearly but does one’s heart or spirit ever become truly immune and insensitive to heartache?  Immune in a sense but the pain still persists.

At times I am blinded by circumstances and need God’s healing hand lovingly applied to my scars that I carry.  The evidence of a scar does not always show the true damage that was done in a person’s life.  That scar we carry on our heart and in our life is only an indicator that the healing process has begun.  It is no longer an open wound but is still a long way from being completely healed.  I fear that some of the pain I carry will be with me until the Lord calls me home.

But this I know… in my heart,  I know that for every scar I carry and the pain that sits just below the surface, I am reminded that it is just another opportunity to tell another story.  

At this point in my life, I will listen to these promptings and I will continue to write!

So here I sit, baring my soul.  Some will be blessed by my comments, encouraged to know that they are NOT alone.  Others will be critical that I have been so honest and transparent.  Some will stop reading because all I talk about is my relationship with Jesus Christ.  For those that would stop reading because of my relationship with Jesus Christ I am honestly saddened.  It is not my intent to cause offense.

Because only the sovereign God knows my heart, my struggles, my joys,  my pain, my all. 

He knows why I do what I do. 

In the end, only God will be my judge and for now He wants me to “write on”.

And so I shall…

Choose A New Direction

Even after more than three years of writing this blog, I am still amazed at the direction it has taken me.  Over the course of the last two weeks, I have been shocked at the total number of people who have visited my blog site.  I have already exceeded my record of monthly total visitors and have set new daily records five out of the last seven days.  In the past six months, I have had more visitors than the previous two years combined.  It has been fun to watch.

I do not want to come across sounding brash or over-confident about this.  Truth be told, I am extremely humbled by it.  I am aware that my writing skills are not up to par to ever be truly considered a writer and most times the thoughts in my head come across somewhat different when they get translated by my hands on the keyboard.   

I look back at the time when I started to write.  I  intended to make my writings private and only for my children to read.  I called it “Letters to my Children”.  I started to write and share some stories about my life.  My children do not remember the time in my life when I was in the ministry and they are filled with memories of a man who was in a free-fall in his life.  Their memories tainted by images of a man who lost his ministry, his marriage and a man who was consumed by bitterness and unforgiveness.    Their thoughts poisoned by gossip and accusations from people who are Christians and once called their father a friend.  Now that my children are now on the path of adulthood, they have shared some of the things that they were told.  I am sure they have only shared a small portion of what they truly endured in order to not have to relive the memories or to not stir up the past. 

I know that one day I will stand before God, He will address my sin and my responsibility in how I dealt with my children.  However, there will be others that will have to give account for their actions that affected my children.  I have had a number of these people come to me over the past few years and ask for my forgiveness.  Honestly, I had forgiven them years ago in my heart, but the damage has been done.  The rumors and accusations simply were not true.  But that does not change the fact that my actions and theirs impacted my children more than I want to admit.

Father’s Day is still one of the most difficult days for me to endure.  Over the past few years it has been better.  I think that my children have seen the change in me and that I am no longer wandering  in the backside of the desert like Moses.  That still doesn’t mean everything is ok.  My children have emotional and spiritual scars and as a father I am responsible for many of them.  

Now back to my blog site…  I shared that I have written a private blog for my children.  It was during that process that God started to melt my heart.  It was during those early days of writing that God held me in His grasp and helped me to ask for forgiveness and to forgive those that hurt me.  He softened my heart and took away my bitterness.  I struggled for a few years with forgiving myself but eventually, that too was taken away. 

Make no mistake… sin has its consequences.  On this earth, I will pay for many of these sins for the rest of my life.  In eternity, I know that God has forgiven me and I will be judged by the One who is allowed to judge. 

As a divorced man, I was no longer qualified to be a pastor.  This was made very clear to me over the years.  I believe that a man is “called” to be a pastor and I never believed or felt that I was “called’ into the ministry to be a pastor.  However, I still longed to be involved in a ministry.   I was not the man that I once was.  I was more than I had been and I still had something to give.

God’s Love will break you.

On a whim, I started another blog called “Maybe It’s Just Me”  It was blog to where I could share my perspective on my journey to find forgiveness and how I dealt with the spiritual scars that I had earned in that process.  Soon I changed the name to “It’s Just Me” to better reflect that this was who I was and not just my perspective.  Just as I have grown and journeyed  down a path filled with stepping-stones and stumbling blocks, I wanted to show that I had changed and God was working in me to soften my heart.  It was great to just put my beliefs and what God was doing in my life in words.

I’ve learned that God’s direction isn’t a path clearly marked out for years to come, but instead its guidance for the moment.  God’s direction for life are much like a GPS… “In 1/4 mile turn left…”

The directions of the GPS are as you need them.

Walking with God is much like that.  It’s not a course revealed for the next 40 years, but a walk of steps and turns and moments.  Each day is a new day.  Finding God’s direction for you in the moments, in the encounters of your life.   As it clearly has done for me, the direction, as it looks to you, might go around in circles for a bit, but God has a plan and it’s only revealed as we come to each turn in our journey.

That leads me to announce the  latest change in my blog.  I have made a change that will probably be the last one as it concerns my writingI have changed the name to, “Footprints of a Legacy Left Behind”  I chose the name as a reminder to me that I leave a legacy wherever I go.  I leave a “footprint” and  an influence on those I come in contact with.    My prayer is that for the rest of my life that I will leave a legacy of faithfulness and love for Christ in the footprints I leave behind.

For so many years, I had been caught up in waiting for God to open doors for me to be able to teach from God’s Word again, that I made myself walk that desert longer than I needed to.  Somewhere near the absolute end of my journey is where I began to find myself.  I realized its okay to start over. 

The same is true for you as well. 

For now… this is my ministry.  I embrace it and am thankful for it.  Now I know that I am not doing anything epic or maybe not anything significant that changes lives, except for mine.  But it is what God has provided for me where I am allowed to express my love for Him.  I have a ways to go in growing in Jesus Christ but I honestly want to live for Him with the same compassion that He had when He died for me. 

Maybe it’s not to late for my children to see that.  Hopefully there will be clear footprints of a legacy that I show for the rest of my life.

You don’t need to know the route, you simply need to obey God’s direction for today and forget about tomorrow.  You may not know all the turns and twists in your route, but you simply need to trust the guidance you receive as you walk with God through the moments of life.  

Walking with God is a fascinating adventure.  You never know who you will meet, where it will take you.

Want a new direction in your life?

It’s up to you.

 

 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make your paths straight.
Prov. 3:5-6
                                                                                               

“Maybe it’s Just Me”… is Coming to an End.

The  “Maybe It’s Just Me” Blog is coming to a end. It was a wonderful and enlightening experiment. My last post will be on December 31, 2008.

I have had over 2700 visitors in the the four months since I switched my writing from a private blog to a public site.  I have learned much and I will always appreciate the kind and not-so-kind comments and observations that people have shared.  Most on them I never approved to be seen on the site itself.  It seemed to me to be a little self-serving to post comments about something I wrote.  But in times of weakness I gave in and approved a few over the past few months.

Some observations that I have learned about a public blog site.

  • Bloggers are all about controversy.  The more radical your position the better, or least the more attention your blog gets.  I guess that is good if that is what you are looking for…attention.
  • I write for me.  I write so that my family…particularly my kids Crystal, Nathan, Adamm and Cassidy will one day be able to look back and read some stories that made up my life.  Something I feel like I was  cheated from because I now struggle to remember stories my Grandfather told me.  I wish I would have written them down or recorded them so I could enjoy them now some 20 plus years after his death.  SO… my writing is not really for anyone else.
  • My vain attempts over the past few months at writing to get responses was futile. I simply am not good at writing about something that garnishes that much attention.
  • I love to write  about things that actually happened to me personally.  That, in of itself, is not what public blogging is all about.  No one wants to read about my sad/happy little stories of my life, they want a place where they can comment and give an opinion.  No offense…but your opinion does not matter to me.
  • I am an independent political person.  Registered  as a Democrat but have voted far more times Republican.  I tried the political world of blogging and to be honest…it sucks.  Most of it sounded like spoiled little brats screaming louder than someone else to get more attention. Most everything I read was only written to get a response.  More importantly…MOST OF IT WAS CRAP…  On both sides of the aisle.   I will leave the political comments to Ben Stein, which by the way, is the best in political satire and positions that I read during the entire election process.  I will continue to read his stuff, but the rest is not worth my time… nor yours.
  • Most of what I read on many blogs  was a  re-posting…meaning someone else wrote it.  Not really a whole lot of independent thinking/writing going on in the public blogging world.  I, in fact, intentionally copied and re-posted a story to see what kind of response I would get.  The response were interesting. I even had people re-posting and taking credit for something  that I wrote.  It’s a cynical world.
  • There are some good sites out there.  Many people have excellent perspective on the world and are able to convey it in a way that reads well.  More power to them.

It is time for me to focus on other endeavors, like finishing my MBA. I start back to school to finish my Master’s degree on January 12th and I need to focus on that for awhile.  I will still post to my private blog site and anyone who would like to subscribe or would like to read occasionally, please write to my email account  thelegacybuilder@aol.com.

I love to write…I never said I was good.   Thank you to those of you that played along.

I love to write more than I have ever expressed to anyone growing up.  It is probably something that most people missed about me.  I am not what most people think I was or have become.  The experiences that I have lived have made me who I am…the good and the bad.   I have had success in life and I have failed in life.   I have picked myself off the the floor (in times of failure) when there was no one to lend a hand to help me up.  I have re-invented myself in a successful new career and occupation.  Something that many people said I couldn’t do. I have made my way in spite of the detractors and ney-sayers.

Make no mistake, however, I do understand that all things that I have been given has only been allowed because of the Grace of God. I understand the importance of God’s grace and I am thankful for what He has allowed me to do with my life.

No…most people do not KNOW me…they only know what they choose to believe.  I only care about what the Lord knows to be true about me.

In closing… this is the truth when it comes to describing me…

I love my GOD, my WIFE and my CHILDREN.  They are what I live for today.

Anything else…really doesn’t matter.

But then again…maybe it’s just me.