Tag Archives: missional communities

Silly Fences

“Some of us may just, in one-on-one conversations with our family, with our friends, over the back fence with our neighbors, talk about the reality of our lives and realize that we’re not alone.” –Patricia Ireland
If we could only see the irrationality of a fence
We would soon come to know what complete nonsense
It is to think that we could hold close inside
Behind a gate those things we wish to hide.
Or that sharp pickets fail to defend
Against relationships we do not wish to mend.
So break the lock, open wide the gate
Reach out, reach in for those that wait.
– by Trish Hernandez (2014)


Fences…everyone builds them.  Some put up a fence to keep things out and some to keep things in.  We needed one to keep our small dogs safe and to give them a little space of their own.  It was one of the first things completed after we moved in to GraceStone Sanctuary.
Putting up a fence isn’t easy work…all that measuring and post hole digging; then setting the posts, attaching rails, and finally nailing up the pickets one by one.  It is tedious hard labor.  And no matter what the purpose of the fence, someone always comes along and leaves the gate open so that very thing that you were trying to keep in or out gets through anyway.
It makes me think about our own internal fences we create as an attempt at protecting ourselves.  We go to great lengths to put up borders between us – huge privacy fences surround our hearts so no one can see our wounds.  Long clanging metal chain link provides a strong barrier against further hurts and vulnerability.  Even sharp pickets painted bright white send a pointed message of “keep away”.  Out here in the Shenandoah Valley long rail fences run alongside highways.  They mark territory.  “This is mine”, they say.  “Keep Out!”
Fences do often serve a purpose.  But what if we took a look at our inside barricades that keep us apart from one another?  What would happen if we once-and-for-all opened the latch on the gate of our heart and gave – fully, vulnerably, without fear?  I believe that it could be a beginning of honest conversations about the real things we have in common.  We may just discover we are not alone.


If you would like to know more about GraceStone Sanctuary, please visit our website at gracestonesanctuary.com

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The Seeds of a Sanctuary

sanctuary%20(2)When I was a little girl my momma planned a perfect surprise birthday party for my sixth birthday.  It was the first party… and the last one… she ever gave me.  That was not because she was mean nor uncaring, but because she realized all too late just how terrifying the whole ordeal was for me.  I was a shy child.  This may be difficult for some of you who know me now to believe.  But I was. It didn’t matter what size or age they were. All people seemed to me to be the monsters, ogres, and evil queens come to life from fairy tales.  People came with expectations that I didn’t understand and rules that I didn’t want to obey.  People.  I didn’t like them and I believed they didn’t like me.  So that day, at party time, when I opened the door to a room full of ghouls shouting at me I turned and ran.  I don’t remember exactly how far or how long I ran, but I do remember after all that running finding myself tucked safely away in the extra quilts at the back of my closet, far away from the sights and the sounds of my surprise birthday party guests.  Long before that day I had created this little place of sanctuary in my closet.  I loved the colors and feel of the soft quilts and blankets momma had stored in there. Under them, I had tucked a paper from Sunday School. Printed on it was a picture of Jesus carrying a little lamb.  He was standing on the words I LOVE YOU.  Behind The Shepherd were dark mountains, but he stood there loving that little lamb, surrounded by rays of light.  That picture made me feel safe.  Other things had become part of this safe place, too. I had gathered a small rock that fit in the palm of my hand that felt strong and cool and also a handmade paper fan that I used to stir the air of the musty dark space.  And on that day with the party celebration raging outside my window I felt safe with Jesus in my closet.  I did not know then that I had created a sacred space, only that I felt loved and safe and I could breathe.  I also did not know that this little space would be a seed of what my husband and I have now joined hands with God to create as our home, as GraceStone Sanctuary.


As an adult I have a very different attitude toward people.  Simply put, when I am able to see beyond the wounds and scars of someone’s life  and see the beauty God perfectly created in that person, I love through Christ’s eyes.  His view has no fear, no running away, no hiding.  Instead His eyes beckon us to come into the safe surrounding of His love and care.  My hope for GraceStone Sanctuary is that it will be a sacred and safe place for all people to come in, to be loved, to be renewed, and to celebrate.  That birthday long ago taught me something important.  That is – sometimes we all feel burdened, weary, and afraid.  And sometimes we just need to find a safe soft place to rest with The Shepherd, holding firm to The Rock, being renewed and revived by the cool breeze of the Holy Spirit.  And then we can once again go out into the world carrying with us a spirit of joy and celebration.
GraceStone Sanctuary c.1930...a long history of celebration!
GraceStone Sanctuary c.1930…a long history of celebration!
This is when it was known as Greystone Lodge.


A Lenten Renovation

Day 69 March 10, 2014

So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates.  -Matthew 24:33


  Renovation and construction continue at our home in Virginia with Duane, our contractor.  

A Time For Renewal

A Time For Renewal

Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! For he strengthens the bars of your gates; he blesses your children within you. He grants peace within your borders; he fills you with the finest of wheat.  He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly.  He gives snow like wool; he scatters frost like ashes.  He hurls down hail like crumbs— who can stand before his cold?  -Psalm 147:12-17

“True compassion does not sit on the laps of renovation; it dives with an approach to reconstruction. Don’t throw a coin at a begger. Rather, destroy his source of poverty.” ― Israelmore Ayivor

Living Water

Day 220  August 9, 2013

But whoever drinks of the water that I will give will never be thirsty again.  The water that I will give will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.  -John 4:14

Living Water

Living Water

“Nothing but blue skies.  Work only with blue materials today.  Try working on a blue surface for a real challenge.”  -from 365 A Daily Creativity Journal by Noah Scalin

“Christ is not a reservoir but a spring… It is, therefore, not so much a perpetual fullness as a perpetual filling.”  -A.B. Simpson

During an earthquake it sometimes happens that fresh springs break out in dry places which water and quicken the land so that plants can grow. In the same way the shattering experiences of suffering can cause the living water to well up in a human heart.- Sadhu Sundar Singh

“It is life, I think, to watch the water. A man can learn so many things.”  – Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook

Patchwork Diversity

Day 207  July 27, 2013

“Dear Lord…patch this work. Quilt us together, feather-stitching piece by piece our tag-ends of living, our individual scraps of love.”  -Jane Wilson Joyce


“Use paper like it was fabric.  You can weave it or sew on it-what else?”  -from 365 A Daily Creativity Journal by Noah Scalin

“We are all the same and we are all different. What great friends we will be.” ― Kelly Moran, The Tiny Caterpillar and the Great Big Tree

“While we may be of different faiths, we have a strong sense of faith, family, community. We hold the values of freedom and human rights very high and I think that those are all a part of a very strong quilt that binds us together.”  –Robert Menendez

“I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort, where we overlap.”   ― Ani DiFranco

Mojo, Me, and Grace

Day 205  July 25, 2013

Mojo Burger

Mojo Burger

“Make a meal that doesn’t look like what it actually is and serve it to friends.”  -from 365 A Daily Creativity Journal by Noah Scalin

OK…So I didn’t actually make the hamburger, but I did serve it to one of my best friends…my dog Mojo.  In this picture he is brand new, only a few weeks old.  We didn’t know each other very well yet.  I didn’t know that he and I would have wonderful snuggles during afternoon naps on the couch, or that he was so smart he learned thirty five tricks.  (Well maybe not thirty five…but a whole bunch!)  I also didn’t know that I would stay up all night worrying and watching over him after his surgery on his back leg.  My husband and I carried him a lot while he was healing, too…up and down the stairs, outside and back in…to his dinner and water dishes.   I did that because I love him.   When we took this picture I didn’t know yet that, although he is very smart, he has a problem with his brain…he has seizures and has to take medicine everyday…twice.
What I did know on this day was that there had been a little puppy born in the midst of madness…a puppy mill in West Virginia….and that he needed a safe home, some food, and lots of love, all of which were abundantly available in my house and heart.  And I also knew I needed him, too.  He had wonderful love to give and willingly received all that I offered…even a giant rubber hamburger.  He is always ready to forgive with a wag of his tail if I forget or make him wait.  I forgive him when he doesn’t remember his “good puppy manners.”  We give each other grace.
Mojo is a great teacher showing me everyday how to be in good relationship with the people that come into my life.  He reminds me to share what I have whether it be food or love or time together.  He teaches me to be forgiven and to forgive quickly and move forward.  He shows me how to give and receive God’s Grace without question or demand.
Isn’t that what we are called to do as Missional Communities?  Aren’t we to go to the people born into a world of madness and offer them a place at the table and a room in our hearts?  And when we find their broken parts that need healing or the stinking parts that need forgiving are we not asked to offer those things as well?  And the beauty of these relationships is that in our giving we find our own healing, forgiveness, and God’s wonderful grace filling our lives with joyful celebration.
Thank You God for all your creatures that reveal to us your nature and teach us how to live.  Amen!

A Community of Christ

Day 155  June 5, 2013

“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities”   ― Stephen R. Covey

Community of Christ


“Use fingerprints/thumbprints to create an image or portrait.”  from 365 A Daily Creativity Journal by Noah Scalin

“What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.”  ― Kurt Vonnegut

“One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn’t as individuals. When we pool our strength and share the work and responsibility, we can welcome many people, even those in deep distress, and perhaps help them find self-confidence and inner healing.”    ― Jean Vanier, Community And Growth

Chocolate Labyrinth

Day 147  May 28, 2013

“Pas a pas, se va luenh.
Step by step, we make our way.”    ― Kate Mosse


“Make something inspired by your favorite movie.”  -from 365 A Daily Creativity Journal by Noah Scalin

My favorite quote from the movie Chocolat:   Père Henri the Village Priest:   “I’m not sure what the theme of my homily today ought to be. Do I want to speak of the miracle of Our Lord’s divine transformation? Not really, no. I don’t want to talk about His divinity. I’d rather talk about His humanity. I mean, you know, how He lived His life, here on Earth. His kindness, His tolerance… Listen, here’s what I think. I think that we can’t go around… measuring our goodness by what we don’t do. By what we deny ourselves, what we resist, and who we exclude. I think… we’ve got to measure goodness by what we embrace, what we create… and who we include.”

“Guilleaume left La Praline with a small bag of florentines in his pocket; before he had turned the corner of avenue des Francs Bourgeois I saw him stoop to offer one to the dog. A pat, a bark, a wagging of the short stubby tail. As I said, some people never have to think about giving.”    ― Joanne Harris, Chocolat

Practice Celebration

Day 132  May 13, 2013

“Share our similarities, celebrate our differences.”   -M. Scott Peck


“Create something on a T-shirt and wear it for the rest of the day.”  -from 365 A Daily Creativity Journal by Noah Scalin

“A party, like a meeting for worship, is not operating on the level of reason…. It transcends logic. It slides willingly and consciously (if it is a good party) toward a celebration of the fact of being alive. The celebrants at a party share bread and wine and reach toward a communal touching, for a moment, of an existence that is not limited by the individual ego. The sound of a party is a sound of amity, of human beings who have become for a moment, and for nonaggressive reasons, something outside themselves.”  -Jessamynn West

“Robots do not celebrate anything. Celebration is an expression of joy, which cannot be mechanized.”  ― Ravindra Shukla, A Maverick Heart Between Love and Life

“And I say, How could I be lonely?  I’m the one in charge of celebrations!”  -Byrd Baylor

I’m In Charge of Celebrations is a great children’s book by Byrd Baylor.  It is about a young girl who finds the joy of celebration in everyday life.  You can fine Byrd Baylor’s book here:

 I’m In Charge of Celebrations


No More Excuses

Day 126  May 7, 2013

“Don’t use your past as an excuse, excuse your excuses and take action now!!!”   ― Bernard Kelvin Clive

Excuses Flying Out the Window


“Make something that can fly and test it out.”  -from 365 A Daily Creativity Journal by Noah Scalin

“It’s time, we’re waiting for you. We’re tired of your excuses, your complaining, your everything else. We need you now more than we have ever needed you before, so it’s time for you to use your boredom wisely. Yes there will be time for you to have fun, and life is indeed meant to be fun, but if you fill every waking moment with something to amuse you, then you will never accomplish anything worthwhile – which makes me concerned for you, because after all, if you were not meant for something worthwhile, then why exactly are you here?” 
― Osayi Osar-Emokpae, Impossible Is Stupid

“We weave our excuses around events.
Thin, poor quality cloth of justification
Poor substitutes for the heavy tribal blankets
Once we wove to wrap our children.”
Phillip Pulfrey, “Cloth,” Beyond Me

Check out this group:  Flying Mission Care Ministries.  They are an international group of people who are bringing ministry  to regions in Africa in many ways.  Check out how they are using their flying skills to help others.   Click HERE to read more about Flying Mission Care Ministries