Tag Archives: sanctuary

Fruit That Lasts

“A man watches his pear-tree day after day, impatient for the ripening of the fruit. Let him attempt to force the process, and he may spoil both fruit and tree. But let him patiently wait, and the ripe pear at length falls into his lap!” ~ Abraham Lincoln

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Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote “There are only ten minutes in the life of a pear when it is perfect to eat.”  That may sound like an exaggeration, but as I have watched the fruit on our pear tree ripen I’m beginning to believe his point.  Soon after the snow melted the tree stood alone at the crest of the hill wrapped in spring green leaves, beautifully dressed in her frilly white blossoms.  By mid-summer the branches dripped with the promise of buttery fruit as blossoms took the shape of tiny pears.  As August ended the limbs of the tree bowed with the weight of the fruit and now I watch like a sentry waiting for that day when the fruit is perfect for picking.
But each day brings new threats that the fruit will not last until that ten minutes of perfection.  It seems that others also have been watching and waiting in hopes of a taste from the tree.  Little by little I am noticing the fruit I have guarded is disappearing and I have spotted the thieves!  One evening as I passed by the window overlooking the fruit tree I noticed a beautiful young deer nibbling some of the fruit that had dropped on the ground.  I watched as she munched away clearing the ground around the tree.  And it was ok when she nibbled a fruit off of a lower branch.  But when she suddenly danced up onto her hind legs to reach a little of the higher fruit I felt conflicted.  The tree was loaded and I was glad to share with nature, but my less-than-generous side felt alarmed and afraid that she might go tell her friends of her find and there would be nothing left for me to enjoy.

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And tell her friends, she did.  The next evening she came back with a friend.  The following evening there were three of them.  Others have been coming, too.  Several evenings a doe and her wobbly fawn dined at our tree.  Other times a red snarly-looking fox cleaned the grounds.  And when none of the others are there I have noticed the rabbits nibbling on left-overs as well as large black crows taking their portion from the top.  You would think that with all these visitors having their meals for the past few weeks that there would be little left for human consumption.  But, ironically, as I let go of the fear of “not-enough-for-me”, the pears in the middle branches are beginning to ripen to a perfection that I would not have enjoyed if I had hoarded the fruit from the animals.  The joy of sharing is making that portion all the more sweet.
I love that pear tree in every season, but it is most enjoyable at harvest time when I can share the abundance with the animal community that surrounds GraceStone Sanctuary.  I have learned much about nature as I have observed these evening dining rituals.  And my belief in fearless generosity is expanding as I am learning to graciously share with my human community as well.  My prayer is that I, too, may bear fruit that will last.

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You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. – John 15:16

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

“As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple.”  2 Chronicles 7:1 (ESV)

One Day in December

THIS:  IMG_2842BECAME THIS:

burning stove

THEN THIS:

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What’s so special about that?

THIS:

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*note: This is the logo for the Adora line of stoves by GE

The renovations were complete, and though we had lots of unopened boxes and unplaced furniture, our first Thanksgiving in our home was an opportunity to fill the house with guests, fellowship, laughter, and soul-nourishing food.  As friends and family arrived the house came alive, filled with warm conversation and holiday fragrances wafting from the kitchen.  The old stove in the kitchen was doing its work grinding out turkey and casseroles and hot bread for our guests.  I felt confident that day in our decision to wait to replace the kitchen appliances until after getting more settled.  Little didn’t know that a week after cooking that turkey dinner we would have our family and friends replaced by the local firemen.
Transforming fire.  I know it well.  God knows what needs to be burned away in my thoughts, attitudes, and habits to transform me into a disciple that can fully worship Him and live a sacrificial life of mission and ministry.  And from living those experiences, fully connected to God, sharing Christ’s Grace and Hope comes a deep felt Gratitude that brings me into a spirit of Adoration and Praise for the One Who Created Me.  Through the fire of the Holy Spirit, the old is brought to new brilliance and the mundane becomes uniquely beautiful.
“What does that have to do with my old kitchen stove on fire?”, you might be asking.  Here is the rest of the story.  One evening, after Thanksgiving was just a memory, I had prepared dinner in that oven – a roast with potatoes and carrots and onions.  Max and I sat down at the kitchen table to eat.  After saying our prayer of blessing and gratitude,  I  noticed a red glow in the bottom of the oven.  I went to the stove to turn off the oven, thinking I had forgotten to do so.  I reached for the knob but saw it was already off.  I turned it on and off again, but the gas burners in the oven continued to burn hotter and brighter and smoke began swirling around inside.  Not knowing what else to do, I reached for my phone and connected with the fire department.  Max did some quick thinking and pulled the stove away from the wall to reach the gas valve behind the stove.  He turned it and the flames went out.  Just a few minutes later the firemen arrived.  They checked out the stove and the wall, cabinets, and floor that had surrounded it and announced all was well.  After some investigating they told us the fire had started because of a broken gasket inside the stove that it was probably was the result of it sitting for a long time without being used.  Gaskets don’t like that, and like our leaky pipes, the lack of being put to use had allowed them to break down, creating a leak, resulting in the fire.  As they took the stove outside we offered our gratitude to them and to God.  We were thankful that only the stove was lost that night.
So our plan to put off replacing the old appliances began.  We searched online and in stores for a new stove.  We finally found one that had all of what was on our list of “must haves”, ordered it and scheduled delivery.  The day it was installed was like an early Christmas!  New shiny metal gleamed and the spotless stove beckoned me to cook.  As I got out pots and pans and sat them on the burners I realized something very special about my new stove.  The brand we bought was the Adora from GE.  The word was splashed across the control panel, an ever present reminder to cook and bake and create all the meals here at GraceStone Sanctuary with a spirit of adora-tion and praise to God.  So, if you ever have a chance to come and share in table fellowship with us, you will know that the food we have prepared for you contains a story of transformation, reverence, and praise.

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

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Just Playing Around

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Does Spiritual Formation sound like hard work to you?  Is it something on your daily to-do chore checklist?  Does the idea of playing seem incompatible with building strong discipleship?
As my husband, Max and I have worked to settle into our new home we have discovered just how important it is to take time to play.  In fact, it is so important that we have set aside a special cabinet we refer to as “Our Toy-Box.”  As we unpacked our moving boxes we learned to check deep down in the corners before sending them off to be recycled.  Many stray paper clips, pennies, and game pieces were saved from being lost forever.  And marbles.  Lots of marbles were found in the depths of those boxes.  I can’t say that we had lost our marbles because I don’t remember having them in the first place.  I am not sure where they came from, but now the beautiful sparkly glass orbs have a special place in Our Toy-Box.

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Max recently shared with me that when he was a small boy he would go to his special spot, his sanctuary in the back yard. It was quiet, cool, and shady behind the place his father had stored some old wood and construction materials.  I asked him what he would do while he was there.  He told me he practiced playing marbles.  He wanted to be ready to play when the guys all got together for a game.  I smiled at the thought of him practicing playing to be ready to play.  Isn’t that also one of the reasons to have daily spiritual formation practices…to strengthen our discipleship to be prepared to participate in our world?  We practice to be ready.
“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)
The Toy-Box is always open and available to anyone wanting to play.  It’s filled with an assortment of books and games and toys.  But what I love most about it is to watch as the bowl of marbles is removed from the shelf and our guest digs their hand into the bowl searching for just one to take out and hold up to the sunlight.  It is a kind of a ritual.  I see it as a sacred practice.  A play-prayer of seeking out inner beauty that can only be seen through the light of God.  Each of those marbles has gone through quite a creation process of heating and forming to become that Objet D’art that Merriam-Webster defines as “a small object that is valued because it is beautiful or interesting”.
Playing, then, can be good for the soul and community, so how will you practice play today?

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If you would like to see the process of marble-making this is a beautiful vintage video by the Discovery Channel:
Marbles-How Its Made by Discovery Channel You Tube Video

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.

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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.

 


365 Days of Creating Missional Sanctuary™

June 17, 2015

“If we could make our house a home, and then make it a sanctuary, I think we could truly find paradise on Earth.” –Alexandra Stoddard

IMG_3065It’s been a little more than a year since I have published a blog page on 365Missional Practice.  Does that mean I took a vacation?  Did I find some other way to express my creativity? My last post contained these words of Fernando Sabino:

“In the end, everything will be okay.  If it’s not okay, it’s not yet the end.”

How many time have I said these words to myself throughout the past year?  Did I give up on the importance of Missional Practice in my daily life?  Where have I been?  Here’s the answer:  I have been on a journey, experimenting with living a deeper expression of daily mission in my life.  I, along with the enormous help from my dedicated husband, Max, have been creating GraceStone Sanctuary, a home that promotes the mission of haven, hospitality, and refuge in today’s world.  In the past year we unexpectedly sold our home and moved across the state of Virginia into our new very old house.  We have deconstructed and reconstructed our new home with a mind toward creating a sacred space that promotes a community of love, joy, hope, and peace.  So far, it has been a faith  journey of discovery and creativity.  Each day grants glorious options, as well as obstacles to be surmounted, as we continue to discern what God has in store for this remarkable place in which we find ourselves.

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It has been clear that this is not an endeavor for self-satisfaction, but a joyful journey meant to be shared.  I want to share with you the continuing story of our expression of God’s love and care for the soul through GraceStone Sanctuary, a place we have only begun to create!  My prayer is that as I share the story of our home and community, you may also be encouraged and inspired to join us in our pursuit of God’s peace.

“I trust that God has made the plans to finish the good work He has already begun. He will continue constructing the life He knows I’m meant to lead as I travel freely in my journey of “becoming.” ―Michelle Aguilar

Visit us at our website at  GraceStone Sanctuary (gracestonesanctuary.com) or see our latest posts on FaceBook 

 


Stillness of the Mind

Day 37  February 6, 2014
Meditation-Quiet the Mind

“Even when in the midst of disturbance, the stillness of the mind can offer sanctuary.” ―Stephen Richards

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Abide in me as I abide in you. -John 15:4

“Let it be your business to keep your mind in the presence of the Lord. If it sometimes wander and withdraw itself from Him, do not much disquiet yourself for that: trouble and disquiet serve rather to distract the mind than to re-collect it: the will must bring it back in tranquility.” ―Brother Lawrence

“Lord, as I draw near to you let your Word quiet my mind.  Help me to re-collect my thoughts and align them with your will.  Amen.


Praise the Lord in the Sanctuary

Day 322 November 20, 2013

“Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord.”  Psalm 134:2

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“Make alternate signage or images for men’s and women’s (restroom) doors…” from 365 A Daily Creativity Journal by Noah Scalin

“Sanctuary, on a personal level, is where we perform the job of taking care of our soul.”  -Christopher Forrest McDowell

“Finding a sanctuary, a place apart from time, is not so different from finding a faith.” ― Pico Iyer

 


A Living Sanctuary

Day 277  October 6, 2013

“Sanctuary, on a personal level, is where we perform the job of taking care of our soul.”  -John Lubbock

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“If you could do or be anything in the world, what would you be?  Make something as if you were actually doing or being it.”  -from 365 A Daily Creativity Journal by Noah Scalin

“Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us, not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence. It is hard to find. In its presence we can remember something beyond the moment, a strength on which to build a life. Silence is a place of great power and healing.”    ― Rachel Naomi Remen

“In worship an increased power steals its way into the heart sanctuary, and increased compassion grows in the soul.  To worship is to change.”  -Richard Foster