Welcome! Thanks for stopping by.

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The concept behind Some Grace With That is pretty simple, even if some of the topics turn out to be complicated.

I want to find a path to a more holistic and authentic life than the modern day rat race supports. And, being a Christian, I need an authentic Christianity to be a part of that.

I can’t help noticing the distance between how modern Christianity is played out (at least in my country) and the Biblical mandates for how Christians are to live. I mean, we have come to a place where otherwise intelligent, caring, sensible Christians are terrified of voting for the people who best represent our own needs and situations, fight policies that echo everything Jesus taught, and where as a group we are best known for what and who we hate – am I the only one  who finds this rather curious? 

So, I want to see if I can’t crowd source a little bit more authentic Christianity and  support a little bit more wholeness in life.

I just don’t buy it that being a Christian and still actually caring about the world God created, and the things he most prioritises in nearly every word of his written revelation, should be a radical act.

Nor do I think that living a life of freedom, hope, faith and love should be a that radical an act – though if it is, then I think we need more radicals!

Why crowd sourcing?  

I sure don’t have all the answers.

And no one I know seems to have them all either. (At least no one whose opinion I trust.) But together we seem to come up with a decent start.

So, I figure multiplying that across an even broader group of folks can only increase our collective wealth in answers.

Why authentic Christianity? 

Well, foremost, as a Christian, I have this sneaking suspicion that living as Christ asks me to live is probably important. And, being TRUTH and all, he strikes me as pretty serious about authenticity.

Also, I see a lot of people who aren’t Christians trying to get over wounds they’ve received at the hands of  Christianity. (I very much doubt this is cool with Jesus.) Simultaneously I see a lot of people who are Christians wringing their hands, wondering why on earth  more people don’t want to be Christians.

I think both problems have the same solution.

The new testament church wasn’t very PC, didn’t have much entertainment value, and certainly wasn’t very professional or well administered, but those guys didn’t have any trouble filling pews.

Even when attendees could easily find themselves on the business end of a hungry lion, before a crowd of cheering Romans.

And even though the early church didn’t fit well with the predominant culture, and didn’t pull punches; even though they called sin sin, and called each other out on it, they were a people of healing, of redemption, of hope.

They didn’t conform, or water down the facts to attract more converts, but they did accept one another with flaws, bear one another’s burdens and provide a safe place to confess sins and weaknesses and expect support and help.

I don’t think that was meant to be a short term characteristic. I think authenticity requires us to be humble, and to be safe people for the hurting, the confused, the fallen to come to and expect love, help, support, GRACE. And I think that is God’s intention for us.

Why a more whole and authentic life? 

Really? If you happen to be that rare person with such a whole and authentic life that this is actually a question, please join the discussion! You’re the person I’m looking to learn from!

Why a blog? 

Mostly because I have neither the energy nor the personality to deal with a big discussion group, but I think I may just be able to handle a blog.

Also, since I am not well known for any of the traits I’m seeking to build into this discussion:  patience, calm, grace, openness, gentleness… meekness… self control … I thought I’d have a much better chance of being at least less offensive and closer to Christ-like in a setting that forces a little lag time and permits a bit of thought time within the conversation. We’ll see how it goes.

Who I Am

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Oh MY. These little ‘about me’ blurbs have always been so cute and cool and fun… right up until it came time to write one about me.

Egad.

Let’s agree to look on this as a work in progress, shall we? (And since I am a work in progress, maybe that’s okay…)

For now, if you happen to be someone who wandered onto this blog without knowing me first, let me introduce myself:

  • I’m a textbook introvert! And an unapologetic one at that.
  • I consider good books, good conversation, bread, tea, and cream to be the essentials of life.
  • Reading is by far my favourite thing to do; writing, conversation, and everything else dealing in good words, well used, are at the top of my list of perfect ways to spend a life.
  • I am a diehard fan of the editorial ‘he’ and the Oxford comma. (And while I reluctantly accept the need to compromise the editorial ‘he’ on occasion, the Oxford comma is a whole ‘nother story.)
  • Hiking and walking are next on my list of favourites.
  • I LOVE rain, clouds, storms, fog. LOVE. To a degree that has caused at least occasional speculation. But, since I am a vegetarian, and love garlic, and since my skin does not actually burst into flame in sunlight, the general consensus to date is that I am not, in fact, a vampire.
  • I am definitely not a morning person. Unfortunately, I am not a night person either. And being a ‘kind of midmorning-into-the-evening’ person is at the top of no one’s list of ideals!
  • I have absolutely no aptitude for any sort of team sport. Just none. Ballet, weight lifting, and hand-to-hand combat are the only sports I’ve ever enjoyed, and lazy hiking far outranks those.
  • I once bought an 84 year old house, which taught me that I also have precious little aptitude for DIY.
  • But I am a decent analyst, a good thinker, and I can write pretty well.

 

I want to be clear that I’m not starting this conversation because I’m a naturally nice, pleasant, lovely person from whom grace flows endlessly, and therefore clearly well designed to lead this charge.

Not so much.

 

My natural inclinations tend more toward irritable and crabby, difficult and judgemental. (Hence the strong interest in grace.)

Nor have I got the secret to living a full and vibrant life nailed down.

My special qualification here, if any, is that I’m the girl who talks about all those things you don’t mention in polite society and asks the questions that make decent people cringe. And I certainly have a strong passion for living a more meaningful and free life than the one I see at the end of the rat race.

Also, though I’m not naturally nice person, I do believe that if I’m going to claim to follow Jesus I have some responsibilities. The themes of this blog require, and hopefully support, fulfilling those responsibilities, so my hope is that hosting it will impose some much needed discipline and shove me a bit closer to some of my pet goals.

If they assist someone else along the line, or open an interesting conversation or two, all the better.

A little revolution

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I decided it was time for a revolution.

But I don’t really like to be cold, or dirty, or hungry for very long, so guerrilla warfare was out of the question.

I also try to avoid politics as much as possible.

My revolution, however, requires a liveable country. Some place people can make a living while still having time for, you know… a LIFE. Where they have time to spend with their families or participate in the occasional leisure or community activity. And still sleep. One where we can afford quality healthcare that focuses on being well, not on being a life support system for the food and pharmaceutical industries. One where opportunity is real, not an advertising slogan.

So, alas, I must focus at least some on politics.

I try to avoid religious arguments as much as possible too. But since I’m a Christian, I have at least some responsibility both for and to the church. Thus, since we are part of the problem I find that I’ll have to focus some on us as well.

A grim prospect, indeed.

How, then, to engage in a revolution on this theme and not either lose the will to live, or end up a bitter curmudgeon brandishing my cane at anyone who nears the entrance of my cave?

It took some pondering.

I think though, that if I spend most of my time on the potentials that exist beyond these arguments, and the kind of life I hope to build through this little revolution, I might just bypass the otherwise inevitable slide into misanthropy. It’s worth a try.

So then, what ARE these potentials? What IS this kind of life? Now, I don’t have it ALL figured out yet; I’m new to the revolutionary gig.

What I know so far is:

  • It is imperative to decouple Christianity and American political parties. But I think that once we do that, we can begin to have important conversations across political lines and we can make the kinds of changes that will transform the United States into the kind of country it deserves to be.
  • I am certain that if we can stop looking at narrow ideological (or much, much worse: political marketing) definitions, we can accomplish far more of what the Christian mainstream says that we want to accomplish. (1)
  • That whole ‘be the change you wish to see’ thing? Appears to be true. Hatred, bigotry, scare tactics and oppression just aren’t cutting it in spreading the gospel of love. I think that if we accomplish more of the truly important things that our world and communities need, and accomplish them in a more Christlike manner, it will inspire a heck of a lot more interest from non Christians than the way we’re living now.
  • I believe firmly that life is meant to be abundant.  So many of the things that weigh life down and limit it are not necessary. Nor are they Godly.  And clearly they aren’t healthy. But very few people can successfully defy a rigged system alone. I think that the church should be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
  • I don’t think that all the contention that proliferates in my media, especially political and religion focused media, reflects the hearts of most of the real people in my country. I think we are at grave risk of getting caught up in it, sure, but I don’t believe it is who we are, when we are paying attention.
  • I know from personal experience that understanding people, groups, problems –  really understanding them –  usually makes them less scary. (I know, I know; it’s not 100%. Probably doesn’t work with serial killers, or Robert Mugabe… understanding them probably makes them more scary. But let’s start with the easier stuff, okay?)
  • I suspect, indeed assume, that these things that concern me about life, and the way my country is shaping up, concern at least a handful of other folks too.  And that comparing notes might be encouraging to all of us. Who knows? It might even generate some solutions!

So, as best I can tell, those are the things this blog is about.

 

(1)  Okay, I doubt I can be called a mainstream Christian in the American sense. It would offend some mainstream Christians to be placed anywhere near the same group as me. In this case, I use the inclusive pronoun only because I want many of the same things as the mainstream Christians I know of want. I promise not to try to come to any mainstream parties or stand at the back of group photos pretending to be part of the crowd.)

MY Abundant Life

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In a prior post  I asked about YOUR version of an abundant life.

Thank you so much to those who chose to share some of your thoughts with me! I am honoured that you would share your abundance, and your struggles toward it, with me, and pleased that my questions were of some use.

I figure that anyone who was going to take time to ponder their own version of abundance will have done so by now, so I’ll add some of my own thoughts on abundance. (If you are coming into this post cold, check out THIS ONE first, to avoid cluttering up your abundance with mine.)

I tend to be a little odd (those who know me are currently rolling on the floor laughing at the understatement there), but for me an abundant life has never been about the big house, the new car,  granite counter tops, career advancement. By far the most important elements of an abundant life for me have always been TIME and PEACE.

Time has always been far more valuable to me than money, or things, or status. The richest I could ever be would be having no obligations on my time except those I choose. Time to linger over coffee and deep conversation, time to walk in the woods, time to read, to lend a hand; that is wealth beyond measure.

PEACE is the other critical ingredient in MY abundant life. I like for life to be low stress, quiet, calm. I love to move slowly through the days, finishing what I start and enjoying the process.

Aren’t I boring? I am. I know.

I would be even more boring if I could afford it.

I was enormously gratified though, when I first noticed 1 Thessalonians 4:11 and 1 Timothy 2:2. Mine is certainly not an ‘ambition’ I’d heard encouraged here in the US of A, but God, at least, seems to be cool with it. Who knew?!?

So, then:

1)   What does ‘an abundant life’ mean to me?

  • Having an abundance of time! (Big shock there, right?) Not living for work, not filling my free time with a host of activities morning to night, but using it on the things I truly value.
  • Living fairly frugally and simply, in a way that does as little harm as possible to the world around me, and preferably even improves the world a bit.
  • Taking great pleasure in the decadence of simplicity – eating simple, delicious meals, walking in the woods, growing a garden, savouring a perfect cappuccino, talking far into the night with dear friends.
  • Not being in pain every day. (If you’ve not lived it, that may sound like a given, but trust me, it’s a luxury of enormous value.)
  • It’s not important to me to make a lot of money, but I do feel that handling it well, and making enough so that I am not stressing over how to pay the bills every month, are requisite to abundance.
  • I want to buy a house again once I get settled somewhere. I miss feeling that my home is truly mine.
  • Maintaining strong friendships, and contributing to community. I will never be a social butterfly, but I love that I have a strong group of friends (some of whom are family) from many different parts of my life, and I want to be part of building the kind of society I want to live in.
  • Having a broad margin in all the critical areas of life, so that I am able to invest myself in what I value rather than wishing I could have, but being too broke, too busy, too ill, or whatever.

2)   Am I living it?

Some pieces of it, yes, but I am far from the whole picture right now.

I hit a significant road block on the path toward my idea abundance and it’s taking me far more time to dig my way out of that than I’d have preferred. I imagine it will ultimately set me back 3-5 years. I am slowly getting back on track now though, and once again looking forward (mostly) hopefully toward buying a house in a place I truly enjoy, realigning my time to my values, hiking more, contributing to like minded community, and enjoying FAR more quiet than I do where I am at right now.

3)   If so, what brought me to it?

SOMEDAY I’ll be able to fully fill this in! Hopefully soon!

For the little pieces that I have been able to achieve, God’s blessing is certainly a huge part of what has brought me here, and the other part is that I decided what I wanted most – what I wanted enough to sacrifice for.

If I succeed in this quest, I know it can only be because I sacrifice the many options for the one that matters most.

4)   If not, what is the next thing that will inch me closer to it?

Well, this blog is one thing. I hope that if I keep at it I’ll eventually stumble across like-minded community here, maybe some mentors, maybe I’ll even help someone else reach whatever step I’ve gotten to on this path.

I’m getting ready to vote in my state’s primary.

And I am currently planning a trip of exploration to the area I really want to live. I don’t know if I can afford to live there, I fear that I simply can’t, but I’m going to at least go see.  🙂

Working From Home

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I get lots of questions about working from home.

Interestingly, most fall under one extreme or the other:

Wow, you are SOOO lucky! … 

or

Ohmygod I could NEVER do that. … ’

Really, both are right.

Whether working from home is the greatest thing on earth, or the worst, depends on who you are.

I LOVE working from home.

Love it! It improves my focus, increases my  productivity, reduces my stress, and gives me back hours of life that would otherwise be collateral damage to a commute.

But, for extreme extroverts who need the energy of interacting with other people to fuel their energy and creativity, working from home probably ranks right up there with dental work.

What it is and what it isn’t 

  • Working from home is NOT necessarily being your own boss. Most of the time I’ve worked from home I’ve been a regular employee.
  • Working from home can mean setting your own hours, but not necessarily: depends on your work agreement. Good ol’ 9-5 is very common, even from home.
  • You can get work done  more efficiently at home, since you have more focus and fewer interruptions.
  • Meetings are usually different, taking place via technology, instead of in person.
  • But reading, writing, ‘rithmetic, assembling widgets – whatever it is you do,  is about the same regardless of where you do it.
You DO still have to work

The weirdest misconception I  get about working from home is that you can do whatever you want to do all day.

Technically, I suppose, you can. But, just like at the office, if what you want to do isn’t your work, you’ll quickly find yourself without a job!

No one yet has offered to pay me simply for being on their payroll.

Even when I’m working as a consultant rather than an employee, I still have a job to do, which only gets done if I do it, so, much of what I ‘want to do’ each day has to be my work!

Working from home perks: 

NO COMMUTE!

This ALONE makes working from home worth it! For me, commuting equals unpaid work time in an especially unpleasant environment, so giving up the commute is like gaining several extra hours of life each week.

Interruption control

If you’re compelled to answer every knock on the door or ring of the phone, working from home may not help your productivity.

But I have no problem ignoring  the doorbell or phone, so for me working from home is nearly distraction free.

(Skype is my version of someone dropping into my office, but that is still less frequent than people wandering by on the way to the water cooler and stopping in! And at least conversations I’m not even part of don’t filter into my home office!)

On the other hand

However, when I DO have a letter to sign for, or the dreaded 4-hour window for a repair person to arrive, it’s nice having the flexibility to be home to answer the door without taking a whole day off.

Break time is productive! 

Okay, I know there are folks with yoga mats in their cubes, but that just isn’t me.

At home, however, instead of spending a break at the vending machine, or interrupting a colleague’s concentration, I can spend it on my yoga mat, washing the lunch dishes, going for the mail … the possibilities are endless!

When I know a commute awaits, I take the shortest lunch possible. But at home I usually take a full hour, because I can run errands, do a workout, or just enjoy a long refreshing pause in a place where I can truly relax. I may even cook a proper lunch!

Comfortable clothes. 

I’ve read countless articles by people who insist on wearing suits, makeup, dress shoes, whatever, to work at home. And you know, if that’s your thing, more power to you.

But I have NEVER found uncomfortable clothing motivating.

Nor had less respect for myself in comfortable clothes. So unless I have a video conference, I work in yoga pants or sweats, depending on the season.

I can’t begin to tell you how much my productivity flourishes when I’m not tugging at fussy clothes all day!

Many blessings

I have colleagues whom I consider dear friends, all over the world, and I’m not quite old enough to have spent that kind of time in THAT many offices! They are all blessings of working remotely.

Working from home caveats:

Manage thyself

A realistic concern I hear frequently is managing your own motivation and time. This doesn’t happen to be one of my challenges, but definitely: if you need someone to keep you on task, working from home is not for you.

Remote, actually. 

I have a friend who needs lots of regular feedback from her boss.

I’m not saying this couldn’t work in a remote situation, but my experience has been that managers comfortable with employees they never actually see don’t tend to be the really hands on types.

They may still be extremely supportive; I’ve had GREAT remote bosses. They just aren’t necessarily checking in regularly.

Also, if your friendships always tend to be current officemates, working from home may make a lonely, unhealthy, little island.

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Working from home can be a real snare for workaholics!

Once the boundaries are blurred, work can push family, friends, healthy activities, everything right of your life.

If you can’t ‘leave it at the office’ it may not be wise to bring the office home for good.

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Some people work from home so that they can take care of their kids while they work.

I can see how this would be a huge perk if you can do it, but for me this absolutely would not work! 

The whole reason I thrive working from home is uninterrupted focus. So, for me, trying to combine these would make both parenting AND work more stressful and less effective!

Fiberoptic ceiling?

When I joined my last company, my boss asked me to work from the office for a year before going remote because he believed that if people didn’t know my face, I wouldn’t move up in the company.

I suspect he’s right.

Moving up has never been my goal, but if climbing to the top, fast, is your goal, working from home will probably limit you.

 

So, there are liabilities to working from home, and benefits.

If you’re a good fit for it, you naturally overcome the challenges because of all the benefits you find.

And if it’s not a good fit for your personality, there are plenty of jobs that include an office!

 

 

Be well.