Roses and My First Blog Give-away

joyceTflowrs

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

butterflysweetbluephotography1

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.

BGBL3dcover

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.

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.

rembrandt_prodigal-son-detail-hands

Just as He does…..Because of Grace.
And we prodigals receive it, the comfort, the acceptance, the rest…Because of Grace
Rembrandt-The-Return-Of-The-Prodigal-Son

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.

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.

vision

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

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
and
getting the t-shirt that proved I climbed
and
soaking in the pedicure
and
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

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.

everything.jpg

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~Remember

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

Regain~Restore~Refuse
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 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

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!”

 And

 “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!

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.

Ever.

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:

Helpfulness

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.

Openness~Day 22 Be Gentle Be Love

Elizabeth Lesser Poem

I meshed the quote above by Elizabeth Lesser with the background for Day 22 in the Be Gentle, Be Love class.
Then, when re-reading the course content for Day 22, these words, previously read,  resonated loudly:

if you open your heart & mind, life begins to show you its greatness, that you would’ve never experienced had you kept your viewpoints sealed shut.  ~Amanda Oaks

The gentle challenge for me is to keep my eyes open and not retreat to the safe and familiar.

Maybe,  Because of Grace I can :)

Openness

A page from my journal caressed on a shimmering blanket of hearts

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
{Gently click on the picture to see what I am openly accepting}

Crowdsourcing Gentleness-Facebook Responses

crowdsourcing gentlenessGiven Wikipedia’s definition of crowdsourcing as an “act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor to a large group of people or community (a crowd), through an open call.”

I wonder…Can We Crowdsource Gentleness? Can we extend an open call for Gentleness?

Here is the question posted on my Facebook wall and some of the wise responses I received:

…been spending lots of time thinking about two separate concepts: crowdsourcing (for work) and gentleness (for my blog and upcoming talk). In the pink blender that is my mind, I wonder: Can Gentleness be Crowdsourced? Can an open call for Gentleness be extended?
Can you, wise Facebook friends help me {virtually} think this through?

Linda: I’d say, YES, Gentleness can and should be crowdsourced. We’ve had presidents who make an open call of sorts for gentleness. “Kinder/Gentler Nation.” Oprah has also done so in some form over the years. Not totally sure where you’re headed with this…but I like the train of thought!
Joyce: Yes and Yes!
Beth: there can never be too much gentleness in the world.
Karen: I think any kind of “fruit” would go good in a blender. Galatians 5:22
Jacqui:  It looks to me like you just attempted what your question asked; didn’t you?  From my understanding a “problem” or idea is given to groups of… individuals (who can be experts or perhaps just an unknown selection of the general public) and they decide the best answers/solutions and the winning group of individuals in the crowd are sometimes compensated. That being said…the expression of gentleness as a crowdsourcing question – I’d say yes, it’s possible to crowdource that one. Ideas anyone? How is gentleness best expressed? Can we teach gentleness? The list goes on for possibilities here! :-)
Donna:  love the ‘pink’ blender!!!! it would be wonderful if it could be done…
Me:  Wow! This is getting good! I appreciate your comments SO much. If I stay only in my head—whooosh, that is a neighborhood I should not cruise in very long! Would you continue to help me with this?
Karen: thank YOU Helen for giving me something to ponder today.
Jacqui: I believe that when one comes from the heart – the expression is LOVE… there is so much gentleness in Love. The focus on Love and BEing gentle has so much more power than a hard-handed (headed?) approach, which can appear (for example) as… an attempt to “control” others behavior. Therefore the expression of gentleness (I would think) would have a much more positive affect on the outcome in the long-run than the “gitter done no matter what the cost” approach. It is the essence of “playing the long game”, so to speak! :-) I believe you hit the nail on the head Helen…out of the head and coming from the heart breeds that, which one desires for the highest good. “To achieve gentleness, you need to have a great power” is an awesome statement which I might rephrase to: “When gentleness is expressed, there is a great power which comes from within”…Also, the good news is that this “power” within us is innate…it requires only (in my opinion) to be tapped and expressed with the greatest of Love! :-) ♥ As a wise man once told me…”The answers are ALWAYS soooooooooooo simple; it is in our humaness that we tend to complicate things!” – Shanu Tanya
Sue:  Wow Helen! You ARE crowdsourcing! What a great topic. I think gentleness does require great power and a strong sense of who (and whose) we are. Gentleness is possible when we are not the center of our world and when we understand on a deep level that we will never know enough about others to be in a position to judge their hearts or their motives. My own behavior should not depend on the actions of others as in just reacting to their poor behavior, rather on being who I want to be. I agree with Jacqui, gentleness is an expression of respect for the other individual – and for me too because that is the kind of world I want to live in.
While I believe there can be a ‘corporate’ call toward gentleness, ‘crowds’ are not gentle, the individuals in the crowd are. Can we teach it? Absolutely! By example first but also by instruction. The Bible is full of examples of gentleness and specifics on how to treat each other. Eph 4 is great. Of course, the examples of Gandhi and Mother Teresa come to mind but everyone knows someone they consider to be a gentle person.
Can you change others to be more gentle? Only if they are open to be changed…
Beth: just want to thank Sue & Jacqui for those incredibly beautiful words! I actually felt a peace wash over me in reading them.
Donna: I definitely think that gentleness is a strength that God gives us… something that hopefully grows in time as does our knowledge and love for Him.
Mary: So, I had to google that crowdsourcing phrase, but isn’t that what Jesus did in His Sermon on the Mount?

###
Echoing Jacqui’s question in this blog space, “Ideas anyone? How is gentleness best expressed? Can we teach gentleness?”

Day 21~Gentleness Digest~Be Gentle Be Love

gentlenesspicIn a squishy definition of the concept of  “Day” 21 in Be Gentle Be Love’s focus on Gentleness one day became a week. Here is a digest of the week’s  posts.

Day 1:  Proverbs 15:1

Day 2:  Images of Gentleness

Day 3:  Pausing for Gentleness

Day 4:  Gentleness Do This First

Day 5:  Gentleness What Does Not Work

Day 6:  Gentleness Despite Hurt-What Does Work

Thank you for your comments and thoughtful emails…toward a more gentle weekend for all of us! :)

Gentleness Despite Hurt- What Does Work

Gentleness Symbol

Picture Collage by Helen

 

Yesterday’s post described what does not work with Gentleness.

There are many, many, many temptations derailing gentleness. Especially when unearned blame—what Counselor Carl calls my “core issue” is hurled my way. Especially when, even when they are not blaming,  people are harsh.

But some people are harsh. It is their default response.

“When people get emotional, they become accusatory and start blaming,” G. Richard Shell, Wharton School of Business.

How can I be Gentle despite hurt? Here’s what’s working for me in my fourth decade of Gentleness workouts.


Resist.
(But not obsessively.) What we resist often becomes the thing that tempts us (don’t eat the cake/don’t eat the cake/can’t believe i ate the cake). Resist with detachment or observation.

Then…Pause

Guide thoughts of fighting back, running away, etc…back to breath. Breathe in Firmness. Take a deep breath and remember the real goal.

Sometimes, Because of Grace, this pause is enough to quell the other person’s attack. I have seen and experienced people stop in mid-tirade when I quiet myself. Sometimes pausing to breathe brings enough clarity to me and I do not reply to the email or respond to the phone call.

Sometimes, I just say “Ouch.”

Nowadays, in the quiet wake of the incident, I tell God my honest feelings about the people involved.

My friend, V and I used to do this for each other. We would call and say, “I am going to vent for 3 minutes and I want you to love me through this and then say “__________” at the end. The blanks often were filled in with “you did the right thing,” “i can’t believe so-and-so did this!” “Bravo” and other variations since our Junior High friendship days.

This approach really worked for me in my twenties and thirties.

But my focus now is a gentle response beyond venting. A better way toward gentleness, I am finding, is to vent to God. I do not leave anything out. He has the biggest shoulders and can carry everything and the hurt I feel from every person. Wearing myself out, if needed, while telling him everything…

I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. Psalm 6:6

Love. Practice sending love to those who are abrasive. Recognize they are losing a battle of self-control. Love and pray for healing for them and healing for the place where their pain bleeds to me. I pray for my own heart to heal. I admit I struggle to pray for the other person and at the end, then ask God to bless him or her.

 “Don’t retaliate when people say unkind things about you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God wants you to do, and he will bless you for it” 1 Peter 3:9

 
Have you struggled also with responding with gentleness, especially when you are hurt?
Would you comment here and share? Sure would help me :)
 
To Read Today: What Does Gentleness Look Like?
Tomorrow: Crowdsourcing Gentleness

Day 21 Be Gentle Be Love


Gentleness: What Does Not Work

Psalm 141: 3

Thinking and writing about gentleness has been a workout almost derailed for me as I was confronted with several non-gentle episodes right in a row. It was as if a barrage of taunting wasps bombarded me.

If gentleness is a cherished authentic for me are these incidents tests of my truth?  

  1. a co-worker’s email tirade
  2. a community colleague’s greeting of “I’m mad at you” as soon as I entered a meeting
  3. another co-worker asked me a very, extremely personal question in front of a group of people, including my boss
  4. the brother of a long-ago friend still carries a misperceived grudge and greets every person but me at a restaurant
  5. cars at a party at our new next-door neighbor’s house blocked our driveway/mailbox and the postal worker complained angrily to me even after I tell him the party is next door.
  6. a threatening email arrived spoofed from an account of someone who I trusted (it  required a different level of response than the other five)

 My habit- reaction is to kick a** and take names. But after you kick a** and take names, what is left but bruised butts and long lists? 

Our Be Gentle, Be Love course content  advises, “To achieve gentleness, you need to have a great power. This must be a power that can bind a power. You need to be stronger. You must have a great strength that can manage your own strength. Furthermore, you must have a self that can control yourself, or in other words, self-control.”

My friend, Jacqui rephrases the concept this way, “When gentleness is expressed, there is a great power which comes from within.”

It takes great discipline for me not to swat the wasps of nastiness or spray them with a serum of verbal poison. And believe me, I do not need to “buy a vowel” –several words and compact phrases (and a few gestures) readily come to mind.

Some approaches I’ve tried offer zero-sum results. They have not worked for me.

1. It does not serve me well to deny that I am the recipient of abrupt unkindness. My soul does feel it and the hurt is palpable. Acknowledgement is empowering, even if I never speak a word.

2. It does not help to anesthetize the pain or blow off steam with a myriad of unhealthy distractions. (i.e. new shoes don’t help my heart)

3. It does not serve me well to attempt a “go-to-my-happy-place” escapism. When I tune others out, it is  tacit permission for them to continue.   

4. It certainly does not nurture me to try and find the grain of truth as an explanation. This was such a BIG one for me during the last eighteen months when I tried anything to quell an angry man. In the car insurance business percentages of shared damages are analyzed and figured. But hearts are not cars. Pain is pain. knots

Twisting myself into a metaphysical pretzel to reason away another’s unreasonableness is futile and disingenuous. It sets me up to be accountable for you.

And I am kinda busy these days, with, you know, me… :)

Tomorrow’s Post: Gentleness Despite Hurt– Responses that Work
Day 21 Be Gentle Be Love

Gentleness: First Do This

Maybe a good place for gentleness to begin is with being gentleness to myself.
Pausing for Gentleness is more difficult to do for others if I am not gentle with myself.

We can only give what we have.

When I received this drawing from Kristen Noelle’s blog, it became the center of my Gentleness ToDo list.

Gentleness is: “Starting to criticize yourself and giving yourself a hug instead.”

Not once or twice, but always. We can only give what we have. And often we/me has one heckofa inner critic to silence.

Geneen Roth writes so well about “The Voice” as she calls it in Women, Food & God

The biggest obstacle to any kind of transformation is the voice that tells you it is impossible. Geneen Roth

Perhaps it is time to “speak the truth in love” to ourselves. Then, perhaps, we will give  to others out of our abundance.

“Spend as much time caring for the inner you as you spend on the outer you,” says John Ortberg, When the Game is Over It All Goes Back in the Box 

And, for those, like me, who love a concrete center for an abstract idea: How, specifically, can I take care of my inner self?  How is this done?

1. Acronyms help. Perhaps remembering an acronym such as GDMJ that I saw on a button on my mom’s bulletin board (God Doesn’t Make Junk).
2. Or, read/memorize verses of value .
3. Or praying these same verses with my(your) name inserted (“Helen” has been adopted as God’s child -Eph 1:5…”Helen” has been bought with a price-1 Cor. 6:19-20)
4. Spend 5-10-up to 15 minutes a day pausing/breathing/noticing/
5. Write/type/draw/express items of gratitude. My favorite website for this is We Love Gratitude

I would love to add your ideas, too…

To Practice Today: Be Gentle to yourself. Be Gentle with yourself. Pause before you (self) criticize. Please let me know what you encounter when you do this.

To Visit Today: Please comment with your email (which will not be published),  if you would like an excerpt from the powerful chapter on our inner critic from Geneen Roth.

Day 21 Be Gentle Be Love

Tomorrow: Gentleness Despite Hurt


Pausing for Gentleness

Still parking on my fluid definition of “Day” 21 on Gentleness.
Yesterday’s post had Images of Gentleness.

Today, I wonder, what powers Gentleness?

What is the fuel that powers Gentleness?

Is Gentleness predicated on a pause? Jesus paused.
Jesus modeled gentleness in the way he paused.
He paused in the middle of swirling accusations.

Pausing in the storm

It takes great power to pause. pause collage

In the Be Gentle, Be Love course materials I read, “To achieve gentleness, you need to have a great power. This must be a power that can bind a power. You need to be stronger. You must have a great strength that can manage your own strength. Furthermore, you must have a self that can control yourself, or in other word, self-control. This also means that you must become your inner self, rather than your external self.”

Gentleness may be just a pause away.

Being gentle sounds simple, but so hard to do (especially with my temperament)…I need a great Power to do that. “The greater Power that can overcome the power that makes me rough is one that is more eternal – one that lasts longer and even forever. That power is found in Spirit. It is the spirit that comes from God, which pulls all the spiritual things you need to possess gentleness. It is the spirit that is founded by love.”

It is a pull all right. And not a stretch of my patience, yet sweetly resisting taffy pull…no, I am talking full-contact sumo-wrestling tug-of-war.

But…Because of Grace, He is there with His promise:

For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13

To Read Today: Let Your Gentleness be Evident

Tomorrow’s Post: Gentleness: First Do This

Day 21 Be Gentle Be Love

Announcing Gentleness

…Take delight in honoring each other~ Romans 12:10

Encourage anyone who feels left out, help all who are weak, and be patient with everyone. 1 Thessalonians 5:14

When you are feeling neglected, overlooked, or ignored, what is your natural reaction? It depends on your personality, but you will probably either want to withdraw and take the approach of “you ignore me and I’ll ignore you,” or you’ll seek out a way to get that person’s attention. Either way, it’s all about you.

God wants you to choose a different reaction. With his controlled power, he wants you to make the gentle choice to focus on others. If you’re feeling neglected, chances are somebody else is feeling that way too, and you have the opportunity to do something for him or her because you can empathize.

Finding someone to encourage will get you out of the downward spiral of self-pity; you are now looking out for others and seeking to make a difference in their lives.

As 1 Thessalonians 5:14  tells us, it’s important to look for someone who most other people wouldn’t encourage…by Tom Holladay*

giving gentlenessGentleness is the storm Before the eye of the storm for me right now.

Because of Grace
, in God’s appropriate timing, it is also Day 21 in the Be Gentle Be Love class.

So, in a first for this blog, next week, Gentleness will be the week-long focus.

Actually it has been a life-long focus for me. You too?

*…To read the rest of Tom Holladay’s devotional, gently click here

Day 20~Truthfulness~ Be Gentle, Be Love

Day 20 in the Be Gentle, Be Love  class, considered the attribute of Truthfulness, specifically the truth of who we are. To represent both the qualities we show to others and the self we are in private, we were to take a photo of our face or any part of our body, or draw a simple self-portrait, or pick a shape or object that represents us. In thinking about the self we show to other and the self we are in private, we were to fuse all of these attributes into one image.

“Be proud of who you are!” Amanda encouraged. (Have I ever mentioned how very, very difficult that is for me?)

So I chose to construct a digital collage using in the pattern of my first initial. See if you can find the words: hopeful, loving, lover, happy, loyal, trusting, listener, sensitive, soulful, reader, wanderer, risk-taking, talker, giggler, needy, organizer, open and redeemed.

letter h collage

Some notes:

“Soulful” is in the shoe picture…because I just love the pun
“Needy” outlines the picture with the words, “you are loved” because, much as I project myself to be self-confident, inside, I am not.
“Redeemed” is not something I am; it is something that has been done for me.
The “risk-taking” I have done is with my heart. I think it might have been less painful to risk money.
“Trusting” holds the center spot in the collage under the bowl of hearts because most of the problems/challenges/pain in my life are the result of being too trusting in relationships.
“Open” was added at the bottom under the paper heart because as much pain as there has been in the last 12 months, I want my heart to stay open to all abundant possibilities and blessings.

I wonder: What words would you use? Are there different words for you for your public and private selves?

Day 19~Hope~ Be Gentle Be Love

Hope

Picture taken by Helen while looking up in Bryant Park.
Be Gentle Be Love: Exercise Prompt: “Hope is usually associated with light. Focus your art or photos on light today. Find the light in your life, abstract or tangible & capture it.”

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