Roses and My First Blog Give-away


Photo by Joyce Takeda

1975: Walking one day with my dad in San Diego’s Balboa Park. I was a younger version of me and dad was a younger version of him. What he said during that day stayed with me all these years.

There was a popular song by Mac Davis called “Stop and Smell the Roses.” It played over and over on the radio (note to young readers: “radio” was an iPod before iPods were the brainchild of Steve Jobs).

We stopped to look at rows of delicate pink roses. The roses grew straight up and blossoms proudly opened to reveal layers of soft petals.

“You know, people always say that we should stop and smell the roses,” Dad said that morning,
“But please remember that someone took the time to plant them and nurture them so we can stop and enjoy them.”

Creativity/Virtues/Values are a bit like those roses: they grow best when we take the time to tend to them. When we accept our Creator’s invitation to partner in our own tending.

We cannot outsource our own Nurturing.

My adventure in the Be Gentle, Be Love eCourse  gave me the tools and the support. I (finally) slowed down and began to tend.
By (finally) taking the time to pause, ponder, read, reflect, synthesize, and create, my awareness and gratefulness blossomed. The experience has been reminiscent of sophomore English class only without the vocabulary to memorize. Or maybe a new vocabulary to internalize!

What I know: I am different after Day 30 than I was on Day 1


via sweetbluephotography

Like the rose, I have blossomed. I’ve been nurtured by the course, Amanda, and the course community.
…and especially by an Abundant Creator.
These gifts were there all along from the Creator to (me!)
I continue to regain my once-(loud) voice and remove the
parentheses around (me)!

I am also the first nurture-tenderer to finish the course!

As a fun celebration of crossing the BGBL finish line, Amanda Oaks, course and book creator, has offered to give a free course ebook to a friend who also wants to tend to the blossoms of her own Creativity for awhile.


Whether you're an artist, writer or someone that doesn't think you're creative at all, this book was tailored to help you dig deep inside yourself & then use what you find to create meaningful, life-shifting art.

Is that you? I hope so!
If you would like to be entered into a drawing to receive a BGBL e-coursebook, please leave a comment below describing a way
you tend to the blossoming creativity of your life. (journaling, music, dancing, praying, reading, cooking, baking, painting, etc…)

Feel free to comment each day through Wednesday, August 31.
On Thursday, September 1st a new month will start with a new gift (my first blog give-away!) for a randomly selected special someone.

A Word From The Sponsor~August 28

Though the mountains be shaken   
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken   
nor my covenant of peace be removed,  says the LORD,
who has compassion on you.
~Isaiah 54:10

And a song by Jimmy Needham based on this verse

Saturday Digest~August 27

This Saturday Digest calls on reflection, time to ponder, time to brew in your mind like a glass of sun tea in the waning hours of a late summer day.

Something to read slowly and then think about and re-read:

Catastrophizing is how we make our own soul-cages. That fear’s always the flee ahead. That he really could take one long, deep breath and just relax. Abide. Because it’s never about your capabilities. When you’re in covenant with Christ, it’s His responsibility to cover your cracks, to be all your competency and completeness. Inabilities, in Christ, are made all-sufficient, just-right abilities. Abandon worries — and wholly abide. Ann Voskamp


The Lord wanted me to NOT live by my emotions, feelings and circumstances, but by His power, His strength, walking in faith and trusting Him in all things. ~Charlene Steinkamp, Rejoice Marriage Ministries

Great Thoughts I saw on Our

~Unless we rely on God’s power within us, we will yield to the pressures around us.

~Teach us, Lord, to trust Your hidden hand, leading in ways we may not understand.

 My Favorite Pinterest Pin: this butterfly with little hearts:

Sip tea and Praise God!

Devotion~Day 30~Be Gentle, Be Love

Devotion Quote

Muse on what could symbolize devotion, a ring, two hands holding each other, animals that mate for life
… and then create something centered around your thoughts.

His hands and Our hands carry, epitomize, and manifest devotion.

Rembrandt, painted  Return of the The Prodigal Son as a portrayal of reconcilitation. He portrayed a feminine hand receiving the Prodigal upon his return. The feminine hand is delicate, nurturing, consoling and devoted.

rembrandt the prodigal, feminine hands

The world that the prodigal ventured to was punishing and chaotic. Rembrandt painted a masculine hand with the resolve of strength and firm devotion, the fingers spread to encompass and protect. Rembrandt The Prodigal masculine hand
Together both hands embrace the Prodigal devotedly.
Together both shelter, comfort, and love with agape’s unconditional love.

Rembrandts The Prodigal Both Hands
Hands of Devotion beckon, welcome the prodigal in all of us.


Just as He does…..Because of Grace.
And we prodigals receive it, the comfort, the acceptance, the rest…Because of Grace

God never stops waiting for us, just as the father never stopped waiting for his wandering son.
~Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son

Are you waiting for a return? of a love, a child, an outcome, a miracle?
Do you need to return? to a love, to a parent, to your family, to your miracle?
Please Begin Today.

This is Day 30, the final day in the Be Gentle, Be Love ebook and ecourse.

A Word from The Sponsor~August 21

2 Chronicles 16:9

Collage by Helen

Saturday Digest~August 20

*”Love and I tend not to see eye to eye all the time and we argue and call each other names.”

Wow! What a powerful thought-nugget about openness. Being open is about vulnerability and adventure.
By Aleathia in La Spectatrice

*Was catching up on unread emails and found a thia thought in a post from Alia’s Inner Bliss Blog

“If you have been feeling uninspired or unfulfilled with the work you do or things that you do during the day, try waking up and asking, ‘How can I be of service to the highest good of all today?’ Make sure to include yourself in there, too!”

Thanks, Alia!

*As I read through the gospels and note where Jesus’ focus is, I can learn from His example. Jesus regularly spent time alone in prayer. To read Jody’s post on Jesus in Prayer, gently click here

*Don’t Give Up When Times Are Tough: God is more interested in what you are becoming than what you accomplish. To read this Purpose Driven Life post, gently click here

*Finding Balance: To gain balance—remember one thing: quality not quantity. Don’t get caught up doing a little bit of EVERY-thing and not focusing on THE-thing that matters most. Gently Click Here to read more

*Favorite Idea I’ve Seen in awhile: A great guestbook idea: use a calendar accompanied with the sign: “Find your birthday, sign your name.” Click Here to see a sample

Whole-hearted Living~Mary Stroebe~August 18

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

“I think I’m young, so I act like it.”~ Mary Stroebe

There is a picture on my office vision board of tulips, Huntington Beach pier, the rock I climbed on my birthday, and Mary Stroebe.

In 2006 Mary Stroebe, took part in her twelfth triathlon.

                                                                      …at the age of 88

The silver-haired great-grandmother from Wisconsin competed in at least twelve triathlons, an event that combines swimming, biking and running. She competed despite a titanium rod in her left shin and you know, being on this earth for nine decades.  In her first triathlon in she joined her son Bruce and her granddaughter in a three-generation team. Each one competed in one leg of the race.

“I just watched them and said that looks like fun,” she said. “I can do that.”

Despite doctors’ orders that she not participate, in 2006, Mary, with the titanium rod firmly in place, competed anyway. Maybe it was her life-long athleticism or her training in the Navy Waves or as a public school teacher. But Mary Stroebe competed until

“Each year I think it’s my last,” she said. “Sometimes I think it’s time to hang it up. Then it comes and I think it’s fun to do it one more year.”

And so she did, until 2008, when at age 90 she retired.

“It’s been nice – more than I deserve,” she says of her notoriety. “I won’t let it go to my head. I just think it’s something other people could do if they put their minds to it. You have to train for it, but that’s part of the fun.”

Day 29~Vision~Be Gentle, Be Love

Would I rather have vision or sight?

My best sight has occurred in hindsight, when I look back and know what I should have done.
My best vision sees beyond masks, my own and others.
These masks deceive and twist my perspective. It is yucky wearing a mask.

I would like to be near-sighted and far-sighted:

Near enough to be aware and notice the beauty of each day

Far enough into the future to sustain hope

I recently had to choose new glasses when going the bi-focal route.
When the doctor gave me the glasses, he said it would take awhile to adjust to “corrected sight”

How correct he is.


Day 29 Be Gentle, Be Love eCourse and eBook

Day 28~Gratitude~Be Gentle, Be Love

gratitude is the harmony of the heart

created by Helen

Always let your prayer take the form of thanksgiving, on the assumption that God is giving you great and wonderful things. ~Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

Day 28 Be Gentle, Be Love eCourse, eBook

Visit the wonderful Gratitude Community at We Love Gratitude!

Day 27~Justice~Be Gentle, Be Love

Justice Word Art

From my dad's talks: the question in the arrow is what he would always ask. The squiggled lined phrases are what was said about him.

No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do
only a little. ~Edmund Burke

From Day 27 in the Be Gentle, Be Love e-course

For a verse that helps when we seek Justice, gently click here

A Word From The Sponsor~August 14

Exodus 1414

There is also this post on Justice

It All Adds Up

One night while baby-sitting, a grandfather passed his granddaughter’s room and overheard her repeating the alphabet in an oddly reverent fashion.

“What on earth are you up to?” he asked.

“I’m saying my prayers,” explained the little girl. “But I can’t think of exactly the right words tonight, so I’m just saying all the letters. God will put them together for me, because he knows what I’m thinking.”

this moment

Day 26~Courage~Be Gentle, Be Love and Wholehearted Living

For awhile, Thursdays will provide a Because of Grace Wholehearted Living Story.
Today it is <tentative pause> about me.
This is not a post about superhero, admirable courage akin to those who fight for us and protect us.
This is a small incident report of a few of my small steps.

Every step is a step toward taking back your life.

You deserve this. ~Amanda Oaks

A couple of weeks ago, on my birthday, I hiked.
Solitary but not Alone.
Surrounded by Abundance
Reaching the summit.
I was not at all self-conscious about making the climb sing-glee
until a younger version of me commented about it, as she took my picture.
For a long minute
or two…

my spirit fell like Peter’s did when he walked on water toward the source of his joy.
and then started thinking too much. Too much in his head.

I smiled. Pointed to a hawk, felt the breeze

And I took tender steps away
from another’s idea of companionship,
my mind filled with possibilities of

hearing the voices the Indian’s still claim to hear in the breeze
getting the t-shirt that proved I climbed
soaking in the pedicure
the iced latte(s)

The breeze swirled with this reminder…

 Baby souls follow.

Young souls lead.

But old souls are happy to dance alone. ~Mike Dooley

What to do When Memories Hurt

Your pain has purpose. Nothing is random. Embrace it… Dive into it… Don’t run, attempt escape, hide from or ignore it. Be real with yourself… Not to wallow in it but so you can recognize the gift… Your power is in your pain. – Simran Singh
I cannot directly know your pain. But I know that sadness can be consuming. Memories…that’s what comes to mind…remember and cherish any happy memory.  If your memories hurt, then that means there are deep impressions left by another in your life. It is tough. Please be patient with yourself and look, for the blessings.
When wounds begin to heal, the protective skin comes together and sometimes it feels itchy and irritated. That is a good sign.
It is growth.
Sometimes memories are like that too. They pull together fragments of thoughts, shards of impressions. Sometimes they float in our consciousness slowly; sometimes they burst through like flood waters.

Day 25~Reverence~Be Gentle, Be Love

Roots of Reverence

Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.  ~John Milton

My Reverence and Focus sharpen when I remember to extend gratitude for everything.


Even when I am confronted by another’s betrayal. Especially, during these times, I can calm down if I will only ask,

What is the gift in this moment and have I given thanks for it?

IS there a gift in betrayal? Is there anything to be thankful for when the lies of another pierce me?

Yes. There is gratitude for clarity. For eyes to see it (this time). And thankfulness to The Creator who never lies and always is safe to trust. Everytime. In Everything.

My Reverence and Focus gets blurry when a sense of disregard and entitlement replaces my gratitude. In these blurry places, a skewed perception of myself as a victim produces an egotistical reality. How could he/she/they do this to me? I don’t deserve this. Or worse, for the over-criticized soul like mine: What did I do wrong?

Everything is a blur of irreverence. Everything Hurts. Everything is Blurry.

everything blurs
If a man loses his reverence for any part of life, he will lose his reverence for all of life.  ~Albert Schweitzer

And that is where bitterness begins. Or re-enters.

It is time to grab on to the Rescue of 4 words. All the words begin with the letters R-E.

re- a prefix, occurring originally in loanwords from Latin, used with the meaning “again” or “again and again” to indicate repetition


Return to those friends and family who love you and me powerfully and  unconditionally. Remember that God loves you and me even more.

“My prayers continue for your happiness, contentment, courage and guidance,” my friend Lori consoles.

Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39

By surrounding myself with only that which is positive, life-affirming, and nurturing, I begin to regain my footing. I read verses that focus on God’s love. My friend Garrett reminds me of the book by Brene Brown called The Gifts of Imperfection. He sends an article to me titled “You are stronger than you know.”

Restore boundaries. Refuse to participate, especially in any continuing form criticism which although subtle, still is, as damaging as physical abuse. **

Return to the Root of Reverence

Reverance Root photo by Helen Teague

Since, in this fresh pain, I have been hurt by someone close to me, I must remember to go to the root of the pain and ask God to gently heal this wound with His love.

Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Ephesians 3:16-20

With gratitude I can be aware of any insights but stop short of blaming myself, remembering, as Lori said, “There is no way you could have foreseen this behavior.”

Sometimes, I have not been hurt by another but have hurt myself through busyness and preoccupation. In these times, returning to the good roots of Reverence, Faith, and Gratitude gets rid of both of my obstacles of arrogance and ego.
Moving quickly to the Reverence of Beauty  is nourishingly helpful. Carol Burnett said to end everyday with “3 Gratefuls and 3 Did Wells.”  When I am in the downward spiral I have to begin and end everyday with this practice. I will begin (again) to do this.

The Creator is worthy of Reverence. And…You and I  are worthy of our own reverence too.

This post reflects Day 25 in the Be Gentle, Be Love e-Course created by Amanda Oaks.
Take A Walk in Reverence by gently clicking here
See also A Word from The Sponsor on Reverence by gently clicking here

**A CAUTIOUS NOTE: In situations where it is impossible to distance completely from a toxic person, Restore boundaries. Refuse to participate, especially in any continuing form criticism which is subtle, but still is, as damaging as physical abuse. You may have to leave. It is easier to type that sentence here than to put it into practice. I know. I have lived in a relationship of near-constant criticism. Please seek the help of those who truly love you.

A Word from The Sponsor~August 7

Sunset at Enchanted Rock Photo by Helen Teague

Sunset at Enchanted Rock Photo by Helen Teague

See also the Roots of Reverence by gently clicking here

A Walk in Reverence

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Let parents bequeath to their children not riches, but the spirit of reverence. ~Plato

Day 25 Reverence in Be Gentle, Be Love e-Course

See also the Roots of Reverence by gently clicking here
See also  A Word from The Sponsor on Reverence by gently clicking here

Wholehearted Living~ Ruby (but not my Ruby)~August 4

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

Ruby is 17 months old and now that we’re in the homestretch, I’ve been thinking a lot about our time together over the past year. I hold so much in my heart, but one thing above the rest.

I think any of us would say that when we’re out alone or with friends – at restaurants, movies, or particularly when we’re shopping – we don’t interact much with the people around us. Why would we? Everyone is busy, preoccupied with their own errands and agenda. Not much eye contact or connecting with random strangers. All of these little worlds doing their best not to collide.

The scene is altered when you’re out with a service puppy.

Time For a Smile, gently click here to read the rest of this story then please cast your vote for Raising Ruby for “Best Blog Post” at the 2011 Petties Awards & help us spread the word that smiles, rather than stares, can make a world of difference for individuals with disabilities.

When you feel like giving up…

Think about all he endured when sinful people did such terrible things to him, so that you don’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin!” Hebrews 12:3-4

When you feel like giving up and you start to feel sorry for yourself, and you get discouraged and have a pity party, stop and think about what Jesus endured for you.

Think about the attacks and the criticism he went through. Think about the abuse and cruelty he experienced not for his benefit, but for yours.

You may be facing some very real, discouraging challenges in your life. But what you are really going through is a test of your faith.

It’s easy to trust God when everything is going your way. It’s tough to trust him when you’ve been out of work for a year or longer. It’s tough to trust him when you don’t know where you will get the money to make ends meet. It’s tough to trust God when somebody you depended on has walked out of your life. But these are tests.

Will you endure? Will you persist? Will you make it to the end? Will you be disciplined? Will you finish well?

What are you being tested in right now? Are you going to give up, or are you going to persevere? What have you started that you need to finish?

Gently click here to finish reading this post from Rick Warren

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