A Word From The Sponsor~July 31

Isaiah 61:3

Isaiah 61:3

When the Wasteland of Illusion Falls Away

Wasteland of illusion

Photo by Beth Odell

A Wish

My wish this year has been to slow down, watch and become aware, Joyful, accountable. Then to wander, embrace with gentleness, and wait. Always waiting. Watching, nose pressed to the window.

Artist: Michael Gungor Band

365 Days

colored rainToday I reflect on another year gone by.
365 days of living and loving,
of rising and falling,
of questioning and answering,
of sharing and safeguarding,
of learning and stretching,
of succeeding and stumbling,
of laughing and mourning,
of giving and receiving,
of resting and moving,
of planning and leaping,
(of posting and reading)
of being surprised and amazed,
challenged and humbled.
Thank You for such a wonderful gift.
Thank You for another day lived.

By Patricia Woodside

start each day

Wholehearted Living~Rex Pemberton~July 28

For awhile, Thursdays will provide a  Because of Grace Wholehearted Living Story

In 1885, Clinton Thomas Dent, president of the Alpine Club, suggested that climbing Mount Everest was possible in his book  Above the Snow Line.  On 31 May 2005 Rex Pemberton, at age 21 became the youngest Australian to climb Mt. Everest. Rex’s love of challenging heights began early. By the age of 10 Rex wanted to climb every hill and mountain he could find, by 16 hewas on an expedition to Bolivia and Peru where he climbed 6,025-meter Mt. Huclca Huclca.

Before he could even step foot on Everest, Rex had to overcome the financial challenge of raising in excess of $100,000 from cynical sponsors. He also had to find a climbing team he could trust in such a demanding environment. His sister Caroline, a future Miss Austrailia wrote some of his climbing updates from basecamp.

The effect on the human body in a hostile, high-altitude environment has been described by Rex as ‘taking one breath feels like you are running back-to-back marathons and then swimming 50m pool lengths.’ But, as Rex said,

I am connecting with the mountain, I am not battling her

What mountains do you need to connect with instead of battle?

This is a 6 minute video highlights of his climb

Prayer for Today…

tassle prayer

Photo by Helen, text Phil Ware sermon, 7-10-11

Must Remind Myself

The Mystery of Grace

the mystery of grace

I do not understand the mystery of grace~
only that it meets us where we are,
but does not leave us where it found us.

~Anne Lamott

A Word From The Sponsor~July 24

Psalm 41:!0

Artwork by Dennis Rey

                                       Raise Me Up~Psalms 41:10

Saturday Digest~July 23

Saw this post 12 Little Instant Health Boosts  featured on Dyamond’s blog …Thanks, Dyamond! So many times I read articles like this and they advocate buying elaborate things or ingredients such as “eye of newt”~~~but these suggestions are possible to do!

A great perspective on dealing with difficult people from Kate Swoboda who says, “Clearly, they were not raised to believe that they would be respected and heard if they spoke their truth, or they’re afraid that they won’t know how, or they know what they want to say but they’re too angry to say it and they’re fearful of their own anger.” Read this post!

To offset the difficult people post, now two positives:

An awesome visualization and description of the ripples of kindness:

Kindness in Motion! Watch this video! I am beginning a version of this here in my town!

Have you ever felt this way? “I want there to be an Option C. This is the option where I get to do what I want to do once in awhile. It doesn’t work that way with God. If I do not obey God then by default I am obeying the enemy. Satan is a murderer. He kills the ‘good’ inside of me because he cannot live or dwell in the same space with what is of God. ” Read more of Jody’s amazing devotional called, “Choose You This Day

And what about when our circumstances reflect something good? Tara Mohr in Real Celebration  writes, “people resist slowing down and really experiencing whatever is happening in their lives. That rang true.”

Mohr continues with this caution tale: “people tend to be even more resistant to celebrating, to acknowledging accomplishments or blessings, to slowing down to bask in them.”

Our egos’ rapacious appetites for more – more accomplishment, more productivity—drive us to ask, “What’s next?” and get on with the next thing, the very moment after something important has occurred… But more than anything, I think, we resist celebrating because it’s vulnerable, intimate. Celebrating something in our own lives requires being present to ourselves, really showing up for ourselves.

when i forget the plan and The Planner

and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us… Hebrews 12:1 (Amplified Bible)

So many times, I read a verse and think, “oh, yeah, this one…I got this…” and then a devotional message or a sermon or song will call out a layer of meaning I missed.

When I first read Hebrews 12:1, I focused on the endurance part. I concentrated on not giving up, not becoming overwhelmed by my own weaknesses and need for a easy path. 

But Rick Warren in his devotional “God Has A Plan for Your Life” points out something I overlooked.

We run the race set by God. God is the one who has the plan. Um, not my will or plan but God’s plan takes prominence.  

“You are supposed to run the race God has set for you. Not the race you set for yourself, not the race other people set for you, and not the race culture sets for you. You only run the race God has set for you. If you try to run any other course, you are going to fail and get discouraged.”

 In light of this, I wonder…Would it be God’s plan or a husband’s plan to leave his wife for a younger, counterfeit version? Would it be God’s plan or a driver’s, who is under the influence, to drive home impaired? Would it be God’s plan or a wife’s to leave her husband and three small sons because she is “bored”? Would it be God’s plan or a patient’s to disregard his or her cancer doctor’s prescriptions and treatment because one of the medicines causes insomnia?

There are some questions that puzzle and vex us. But some questions, Because of Grace and Hebrews 12:1, we can parse out the answer by remembering that we are running the plan that God has set for us.

Wholehearted Living~Beatrice Arinyula~July 21

For awhile, Thursdays will provide a  Because of Grace Wholehearted Living Story

Hope Enough…

Beatrice Arinyula lives in Lutacho village. She joined a new type of farmer’s co-op, One Acre Fund, and is waiting for her harvest. She is suffering from hunger and faces the daily reality of doing work in her fields on an empty stomach. So do her children, Loreen and Rukia. Their father, who was a policeman, died in 2007, and since then, the family has faced an uncertain future.

But Beatrice is now optimistic. Her half acre of maize is full of strong, dark green stalks, and she anticipates one of the best harvests of her life in August. With the seed and fertilizer she received from her co-op, combined with the training provided by her field officer, Beatrice is on her way to producing more than enough food to feed her family.

Story from Nick Handler, the Kenya Country Director for One Acre Fund

Day 24~Cheerfulness~Be Gentle, Be Love

“A new study found that the average child is more likely to own a cell phone than a book. I guess that would explain why he’s average.” -Jimmy Fallon

A man is madly in love with a princess and wants to propose, but an evil witch has cast a spell on him, and now he can say only one word a year. So he waits 14 agonizing years—accumulating all his words—before approaching his beloved.

Finally, the big day arrives. When he sees her, his heart skips a beat. He gathers his nerve, drops to his knees, and intones, “My darling, I have waited many years to say this: Will you marry me?”

The princess turns around, smiles, and says, “Pardon?”

 Cheerfulness. As the song should say, “I get cheerful with a little help from my friends.” Both of the jokes above are from them.

Most of my friends are my age. We have kinda gotten into a rhythm at this age. We do not call each other after 9:00pm. We laud the IQ of the one who knows all the lyrics to the “Big Bang Theory” theme song. We have impassioned arguments about pension plans. We support each other’s gourmet gadget, make-up, jewelry, and home decorating parties. We sit with reverence during each other’s doctors’ appointments. We applaud each other’s progress on BP numbers. Anticipating the osteo- apocalyptic crack from our knees, when one of us drops a quarter, the one in closest proximity points far-left and says “look, Robert Redford!”

We actually turn giddy when “the Skype thing” works and friend each other fiendishly on Facebook, Twitter, Polyvore, Pinterest, and Animoto. And we have all adjusted to communiqués of less than 420 characters. We advise each other in the digital manners of social interactions.

For example, when I dove into the Facebook moshpit, I received an email with the Subject Line: Important Facebook Etiquette. It read:

ALWAYS check who has Liked something that you would like to like because sometimes some dude you don’t like is liking something you like and it is likely going to be, like, awkward..

And, there’s more:

Resist the temptation to “Friend Request” your daughter. The rejection is more painful than the C-section that brought her here.

We are also Cheerfully patient with each other’s waning eyesight.  A recent Facebook exchange proceeded as follows:

Friend 1: Spent the morning cleaning my condo
Friend 2: Why in the world are you cleaning your condoms! Oh, sorry, didn’t have my glasses on 

One of my dear friends is particularly adept at sending videos to cheer me up. Recently, during a difficult time, he sent an email with the Subject Line: “I know you are going through some hurdles right now” followed by this link  in the message box:

To boost each other’s Cheerfulness, we have started playing the “Here All Week” game. This game can be played while skyping, lunching, texting, chatting, or conference calling. Here are a few excerpts:

“Duty Free Store Manager needs to relax: All I did, was to go into a fitting room, shut the door, wait awhile, then yell very loudly, ‘Hey! There’s no toilet paper in here. My court date is in July.’ Here All Week!”


 “I am proud that my parents taught me to respect my elders. It’s just getting harder to find them. Here All Week!” 

“Last night was asked if I was on drugs. I said yes – was drug to church for wedding/funerals; Drug by my ears when I was disrespectful to any adults, including teachers, my parents/grandparents/uncle/aun​ts. Thanks Mom/Dad for drugging me. Here All Week!” 

“If at first you don’t succeed, then skydiving is not for you! Here All Week!”
“Radioactive cats have 18 half-lives. Here All Week!”
“Just wondering: If you jog backwards, will you gain weight? Here All Week!”
“We have enough youth: how about a fountain of ‘smart’? Here All Week!”

 And, my personal favorite, “Heck is where people go who don’t believe in Gosh. Here All Week!”

We are cheering each other on through the aging process which is helpful since two of our tribe were former cheerleaders, one was our high school mascot, and all of us were born before man walked on the moon.

We are developing the perspective of a vintage, wiser tribe and Cheerfulness is leading the VisionQuest. (I intentionally omitted the joke about the Readers’ glasses.)

Day 24 Cheerfulness in the Be Gentle, Be Love class is dedicated to my Cheerfulness tribe!

Cuz’ we are Here. Here All Week and Beyond!

Ritual~I breathe out the weight of my ego


I clear the space that surrounds us.
I set aside the clutter of my day
so the chaos does not obstruct my view of You.

I clear myself.
I breathe out the weight of my ego
so my heart is opened to You.
I open my eyes.
I find You at my side,
waiting for my frantic mind
to settle finally on You.

We meet,
joining in the sacred ceremony of our routine
in the quiet motions that still my wild heart.
It’s time to be in this moment.
I am with You and nowhere else.

~Abigail Wurdeman

Helpfulness~Day 23 Be Gentle Be Love

Day 23 of the Be Gentle Be Love class, considers the virtue of Helpfulness.

Helpfulness is a worthy intention of being attentive and aware, and offering assistance when circumstances feel like there is no way out.

However, Helpfulness can be a tricky intention absent the dual aims of peace and gentleness. In the hands of an elitist, helpfulness is fickle medicine to give. What if the object of my Helpfulness doesn’t feel they need my help or your help? What if the patient is not really sick?

My idea or method of helpfulness may feel condescending to another. Charging in like the cavalry often is counterproductive. It may feel controlling or intrusive to another if they have not invited me to become involved. I need to be aware of the world inside the worlds I occupy and anticipate opportunities for Helpfulness.

A gentle principle to remember in offering help it is to:

Go Gently

It is also helpful to know your audience. My very Southern-mannered colleague was visiting in the Northeast and thought it very was helpful to open doors at his hotel for women carrying packages while saying, “let me help you with that.” Turns out a couple of women did not desire help and let him know. Loudly. So now he has decided to never open doors for women again.


Even if he is not in the Northeast.

Um, baby, meet bathwater.

Maybe it was his manner or his audible “let me help you with that.” It is possible that he ran into a couple of gals who were having a bad day. They may have even been from the South instead of the North. Or  perhaps the doorman for the hotel organized a covert op against what he perceived as a threat to his job and tips. (Ok, time for me  to turn off the NCIS marathon.)

Perhaps pausing for an invitation to help is wise. Or anticipating who may best benefit from my Helpfulness first. Or committing to be gently helpful without becoming invested in the outcome.

be kind

be kind~be helpful

Sometimes the best help I can give is to continually remember the dignity and worth of those around me. Choosing not to participate in the daily grinding of souls may be the most radical act of social change ever. Especially if I invest in helpfulness for myself so that helpfulness and kindness flows from within me.

My best daily helpfulness says, “I accept you as you are.” My Helpfulness can support another’s progress and express faith in their journey. I love what Ije Ude says, “Because I’ve traveled this road so many times on my own, my faith that they’ll find their way through lights their path.”

Ann Voskamp phrased it this way:

words for the soul

Wouldn’t that be the best form of helpfulness? To only speak what is true, helpful, kind, loving, and supportive of others? (Philippians 4:8)

A few years ago,  friend introduced me to planned helpfulness. She think ahead six months. When another undergoes a trauma, either good or sad, she goes to her calendar and circles the date six months in the future. Then, after six months she makes a special effort to check in with the person or family again. Usually by this time, the intensity of most people’s attention has dissipated and the day-to-day routine has resumed. Offering help and a listening ear, at this time is often extremely appreciated and welcome as sometimes people feel forgotten or more alone than usual.

Beyond hotel doors, beyond daily opportunities for Helpfulness there are efforts of greater scope.  For these invitations toward Helpfulness, I ask two questions:


I love what fellow BGBL student Amanda Fall expressed:

Never think your contribution isn’t good enough, big enough, far-reaching enough, because you never know how far your ripples may reach.

Networked ripples get things done!

In the meantime, see the dude with the big, bulky Humvee stroller? Anticipate that he will need the door opened. Then run like dickens if he tries to run you over with it.

A Word From The Sponsor~July 17

Proverbs 3:6

Saturday Digest~July 16

Maybe it was because my dad turned 84 years-old this week, but there seemed to be a theme this week:

What a great gift this writer has: Activating Hope

Willpower vs. Soulpower with willpower, you might succeed at doing something new for a few weeks, but your own efforts only go so far. Knowing the right thing to do doesn’t mean you have the power to do it. Lasting change will only come when your inner nature changes, when you live by soulpower. Read the rest at Remembering What Jesus Did For You…

Emailed from my friend Garrett is this wonderful post about what Mark Twain Can Teach Us About Living.  My favorite quote from this blog post: “Drag your thoughts away from your troubles… by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it.”

By being watchful, we can let the right thoughts in and the right ones go~~Gently click here to linger a moment

My favorite poet, Pablo Neruda, had a birthday this week. Give yourself a gift and read one of his poems
Pablo Neruda wrote all of his poems in green ink because he thought it was the color of esperanza, hope.

Hope …there it is again…maybe if I can’t go a day without thinking with hope, then I need to continue to embrace it.

never give up

...or someone... :)

God, what’s the plan here?

The poet Robert Frost said poetry could make you “remember what you didn’t know you knew.”  I think waiting steadfastly in a challenge also can help us remember, reconnect, and re-center with what we didn’t know we knew too.

 If my thoughts, fears, anxieties swirl out of balance, temporarily, I can remember it is only a phase and it will pass.

 It is definitely not a time to “rewind videos of condemnation” as Jody Neufeld describes.

 Each time we face a “God, what’s the plan here” moment, we can know that we’re also nearing the “but God” moment, where we’ll see our story unfolding for God’s glory and for his good plans for us. (Jeremiah 29; Romans 8:28)

As we wait, Jesus changes us. We no longer see the need to know how we’ll be delivered. We come to know that, no matter how the story ends, it includes the phrase, “but God is our Deliverer.” (2 Samuel 22:2) ~Jon Walker

When the “Why” days arrive, (and they will arrive often unexpectedly), we have a choice: abandon faith or await with faith…hold on to our control or let go and trust.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)


especially never give up on you :)

Wholehearted Living~David Arms~July 14

For awhile, Thursdays will provide a  Because of Grace Wholehearted Living Story |

Pain is a Part of It~But Not All of It

Artist David Arms has a thoughtful blog called “Coffee Break” In this post, he writes of the pain of creating, “Pain is a part of the story~~NOT the end of the story.”

But I knew without a doubt that all of this “discomfort” was an important part of the process for this particular painting – and I was able to rest in it. I somewhat “embraced” it. I was confident that these discomforts were necessary as I painted through the pains of someone else’s story.

Enjoy a summer break and read this post. http://davidarms.com/coffee-break/2011/06/story/

Let Go of Expectations

I have heard the verse and admonition to die to self for many, many many years. but I did not know exactly what it meant. I knew the absolute literal application would not work but I needed a word concept to help me understand.

Then I read a blog post and the writer said that the best course of action is to let go of the expectations about life.

As I crest into another decade wondering “how” my life “should” have turned out is a gnawing irritant, growing sometime to the point of pain.

It is such a relief to link dying to self and relinquishing expectations. My expectations of 2.5 kids, an almost paid off house, vacations with a loving, faithful husband, growing retirement account, a dog that never pees on the pristine white carpet are self-filled. Relinquishing these expectations is one of the most liberating and age-defying actions I have ever attemped.

Counselor Carl has said that “expectations are premeditated resentments.”  They are also anchors of a preoccupation with self. letting them go may get me closer to losing my life and finding my soul.

Luke 6:35

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