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Monthly Archives: September 2011

One & Only You

Every single blade of grass
and every flake of snow
is just a wee bit different
there’s no two alike you know.

From something small like grains of sand
to each gigantic star
all were made with this in mind
to be just what they are

How foolish then to imitate
how useless to pretend
since each of us comes from a mind 
Whose ideas never end

 

There’ll only be just one of me
to show what I can do
and you should likewise feel very proud
there’s only one of you

That is where it all starts, with you…..
a wonderful unlimited human being.

                                            -James T. Moore

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Posted by on September 30, 2011 in Something Beautiful

 

What is Beauty? PART 2

Yesterday, I asked you to explore your idea of Beauty with a journaling exercise and an opportunity to read a number of other people’s entries on the topic. (If you missed it, or want to review, click here.) And I think they are right on target with where our hearts and minds go when we are asked to consider what is beautiful.

And yet … I am finding that initial reaction VERY incomplete.

If my personal goal is to make it to 1,000 beautiful things – and more – what is allowed to make the cut?

Is it Ok to be grateful for, to find beauty in, to consider it a gift of God in some measure when the topic is Yo-yos? Slim Jims? Contact Lenses?

ABSOLUTELY!!

I have LOVED exploring the musings of other hunters & gatherers of awesomeness, and they have pushed me to be even more creative in my definition of beauty.

For example, on his way to 1000 Awesome Things, author Neil Pasricha, discounts NOTHING in his life as a blessing. Don’t miss his commentaries on…

And here are some more from Neil that are so fun, you just have to trust me and click blindly to these links…

Beauty. Awesomeness. Things that Make you Smile. Gifts. Glimpses of God. I don’t care what you call them — just start NOTICING them!

 

What is Beauty?

If we have dedicated ourselves to this task of finding beauty in our everyday lives, it only makes sense to pause for a moment and ask: What is Beauty?

Inspired by the Five-Minute Friday  Journaling concept from blogger Gypsy Mama, I encourage you to explore that question for yourself in this way.

1. Get out your journal – Write “What is Beauty?” at the top of a page
2. Set a timer for 5 minutes
3. Write WITHOUT editing, thinking, or stopping. If you get stuck, just write “what is beauty” again and keep going.

GO

Here’s mine:

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But I don’t think that’s true. Beauty is in the eye of the creator. It doesn’t matter, frankly, what anyone else can see in it. Being labeled beautiful by someone else is NOT what gives anything its beauty, its value. Whether you can see it or not makes no difference to what it ALREADY is – beautiful, awesome, created with a purpose, fully and deeply loved by its creator.

If an artist creates a painting under constant worry over what you or I will see in it, the art can never become what the artist needs it to be – it can’t be a full expression of what the artist sees as beautiful, or necessary.

It is good and right for me to be on the hunt for the beauty in my life – to expand my awareness and train my eyes and heart to see in new ways. But my flagging things in my life as beauty only aligns my sight with what they ALREADY ARE. My victory cry of “I Found Beauty” does not transform anything into beauty that was not already so. I am simply agreeing with the Creator that I can see the innate beauty in His workmanship.

The only thing transformed in the experience is me.

STOP

Now, you do it. And post your 5 minutes in the comment section or link to your own blog post on the topic or if you prefer to share in a more private way, email me at bethhess328@gmail.com.

Read how others responded to this challenge when Gypsy Mama did her 5-Minute Friday Challenge on the topic of Beauty. Click here.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2011 in Abundant Life Small Group, Challenge

 

Worship Song Wednesday

I am constantly amazed by the way the Holy Spirit works through songwriters to speak right to my heart. So, I am launching Worship Song Wednesdays. Check in here each week to link to a video of a song that has helped me to HEAR BEAUTY.

Up first… Shane & Shane with Be Near.

“Be near, Oh, God. Be near, Oh, God of us. Your nearness is to us our good.”

What song helps you find beauty? Leave the title, a lyric, or youtube link in the Comments below and maybe you’ll be featured on an upcoming Worship Song Wednesday.

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2011 in Worship Song Wednesday

 

Make this Your Prayer

Come thou Fount of Every Blessing … Tune My Heart to Sing your Grace
Streams of Mercy, Never Ceasing Call for Songs of Loudest Praise!

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2011 in Abundant Life Small Group

 

5x a Day

CHALLENGE: FIND & RECORD 5 THINGS EVERY DAY YOU ARE GRATEFUL FOR

Certainly 5 is the floor and infinity is the ceiling. You’ll discover that when you start to pay closer attention to things, you’ll see more like 5 things in 15 minutes that make you smile, or give you pause, or show you a glimpse of God in the midst of your everyday life. (If you missed the post on how to pay attention, find it here.)

What do I mean by record? Personally, I most often use journaling to capture my thoughts and lists. But if you’d rather photograph, sketch, voice record, write a poem, plant a flag at the point of pleasure — or any combination of those — by all means, go for it.

When I started my list, I bought a small journal that would fit in my purse, so I could just jot a few words when I spotted awesomeness. Inevitably my purse would be in the car or the house or anywhere but right next to me when I wanted that notebook. So I started a “Note” on my SmartPhone, and I type away at that more than anything now. (Afterall, I am hardly ever without my phone.)

Maybe you want to keep several index cards around the house and/or office and/or car, so you always have something to write on. Or start a file on your computer. Or make friends with a tatoo artist. There is no rule that says you have to write one master list. Or write everything in the actual order you noticed them in. Or, for that matter, even write them down at all.

Personally, I love to journal what I count as gifts throughout my days because it’s a good place to turn when I’m feeling less than blessed at any given time. BUT — and this is REALLY important!!

The magic of doing any kind of Gratitude List is NOT in writing it down.
The magic is in noticing IN THE FIRST PLACE!

So give yourself some grace if you just know there was something you wanted to write down and now that you have paper in front of you it’s not coming back to memory. God will give it to you again!

And if the recording part of this is giving you ANY anxiety at all, then just do this. Start each day with 5 pennies in your left pocket. Each time you “Find Beauty” move a penny from your left pocket to your right until all 5 are on the other side. It won’t take long before you notice you’re doing a lot more noticing.

If you dare, join me and countless others across the world who have set our goal at 1000 Gifts. See how my list is progressing here, then share your own list (or blog link) in the Comments section.

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2011 in Abundant Life Small Group, Challenge

 

Learning to Pay Attention

It’s not that God is hiding. In fact, He usually puts Himself and His gifts to us right out there in plain view. It’s that we often don’t really pay attention.

Finding beauty, as it is described in the writing of Ann Voskamp that inspired the name of this blog — and my life’s mission (read it here), is “Never anything purchased with paper or change … only that which can be bought with attention.

This is the foundation of the journey we embark upon together. Whether you are a member of the Abundant Life Small Group at Manna Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina or a friend of a member who wants a piece of what we’re doing together or a ragamuffin who has stumbled upon this blog, God is inviting YOU to see him in a new way.

It’s kind of like those crazy Magic Eye posters that were so popular in the 90s that on the surface look like nothing at all. But when your eyes relax, and you look long enough, a 3D image appears. And once you see it, it’s nearly impossible to see the “nothing” ever again.

What does this look like when it comes to Gratitude? How can we give the things we experience and encounter all the time our full attention?

Try this. Picture yourself at the beach — any beach real or imagined — and then engage your senses. What can you see? What can you hear? What can you feel? What can you smell? What can you taste? (Note: This is easier with your eyes closed, so you may want to pause here for a few minutes and get into the scene.)

Now. Write it down. Write it ALL down. EVERYTHING you saw. EVERYTHING you heard. EVERYTHING you felt. EVERYTHING you smelled. EVERYTHING you tasted.

Too many times our Gratitude List begins and ends with an entry like this: “I am thankful for a Day at the Beach.” OR … “I praise you God for the beauty of the ocean.”

But with 5 ladies in 5 minutes, we got THIS….

  • Surf breaking on the rocks
  • Bonfires with embers floating to the sky
  • The space where the sky & water meet
  • A full moon
  • The entire Milky Way
  • Crabs running along the sand
  • Layers of all shades of blue
  • Clouds
  • Surf over the sand
  • A pier
  • White sands
  • Rock cliffs
  • A long stretch of golden sand
  • Moss on rocks
  • Painted toe nails
  • Time to be alone
  • Shells
  • Stars
  • Sailboats
  • The sound of crashing waves
  • A seagull’s call
  • Boat horns
  • A crackling fire
  • Laughter
  • The feel of sand in my toes
  • A cool breeze
  • Sun-kissed skin
  • My hair blowing in the wind
  • The smell of salty air
  • Coconut oil
  • The smell of the fire
  • Banana sandwiches
  • The salty taste on my tongue
  • Cold ginger ale
  • Beach houses
  • Tears
  • Stillness & Quiet
  • The rhythm of the waves
  • A feeling of peace
  • Noticing my own breath

Then, after a moment of silent watching, one friend calls out “I see dolphins!”

Now THAT’S a Gratitude List! And that’s paying attention to what God has ALREADY put in your life.

Ok, I’ll admit, it’s an easier exercise on the beach than in the grocery store, or your office, or in traffic, or at a 3rd Grade orchestra concert. OR maybe it’s not… once you learn to pay attention.

Share your list (from your beach visualization or ANYplace else) in the comments below!

 
 
 
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