August Hope Whispers

Messages and chalk creations on lawns and sidewalks or in windows breathe hope as they encourage love and kindness.

Every seed of kindness we plant,

However small, noticed or unnoticed,

Can bloom hope in the heart of a hurting soul,

A soul aching to be loved and cared about.

Every tiny seed planted will grow

And sprinkle seeds to others,

Making a difference in the lives of many.

Lessons from Charlotte’s Web

Recently Charlotte’s Web was on TV, not the animated one, but the one with real life people and animals who talk. It brought back such fond memories. I loved that book as a child!

The right words can change someone’s world for the better.

Kindness unrecognized doesn’t make it any less of a kindness. (When Wilbur was taken back from the fair to the farm, Charlotte died alone at the fairgrounds. She showed kindness from her loving heart, not for recognition.)

Having a true friend is a tremendous thing. (Charlotte had saved Wilbur’s life, and Wilbur wondered what he could do for her. Charlotte told him he has been a friend.)

Acts of kindness have a ripple effect in many lives. (After Charlotte’s kindness to Wilbur, many people started acting kinder to each other.)

Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.

Nature is a Retreat of Hope

“All God’s creatures are a unique expression of life,
whether on earth for 100 days or 100 years.”
Anthony Douglas 

Thank you to my brother John for these stunning photos.
(🙂 Please respect copyright laws. 🙂)

Couch’s Spadefoot – Did you know they spend up to 10 months buried underground and come out during the monsoon season to breed?
My, what big ears you have! “The better to hear you with, my dear!” 🙂
Big feet for balancing 🙂

Here in SD, I have only seen one Dove species, the Mourning Dove, but John was able to capture photos of the five main dove species in his area of Arizona.

Common Ground Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
Inca Dove
Mourning Dove
White-Winged Dove


Seeking Approval from People Will Never Make Us Happy


“Are you happy?”

A man who was following his heart asked this of a woman who was success-driven in her career. A woman who was always striving for perfectionistic performance to please her mother, never stopping to think what will make HER happy. (Movie: Stranded in Paradise)

Striving to please. Sound familiar? Do you long for success? Do you think it will make you feel happier or more approved by the people around you?

I sometimes slip into questioning the impact I make as a writer. I start thinking of numbers. Number of followers, likes, or comments. I start needing validation again or approval. I start thinking I’m not a success as a writer if I don’t write a book.

Unmet expectations, some I heap on myself and some pressures from society, make me feel I’m a failure in making a difference in this world. I think I should be making a bigger splash, like some book writers do. I start feeling pressured to write a book. But then I have to ask myself… Is this a guilt thing or a God direction? Am I just afraid writing at my blog does not make enough of a difference? Am I just seeking for approval and validation from people?

In The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction, Jeff Gerke shares how his “lifelong addiction to the approval and validation of others was nothing but false thinking.” Jesus freed him to “begin writing – and living – simply for Him.”

I sometimes lose sight of that. Sometimes I think I have recovered from approval addiction, but then it floods in and consumes my thoughts again. Even though I am happy when I write, a discontent stirs in me that I’m not enough of a writer if I don’t write a book. Or my inner critic starts beating me up and telling me I’m not doing enough. I’m not making a big enough splash. But what I should be focusing on is writing and living simply for Jesus.

“Success” is never going to make us happy. And if we want to make a bigger splash in making a difference in this world just for the sake of more pats on the back, we are serving from the wrong motive. What matters is living simply for Jesus in whatever we do.

Seeking approval from people will never make us happy. Their accolades will never be enough to fill us up. What matters is our approval from God, and we have more than enough of that. He not only approves and qualifies us. He even favors us and delights in us. What more do we need?

We don’t have to even be concerned with whether we make a ripple or a splash. Happiness is to follow Jesus no matter what and to ask His Spirit of power to fill us to overflowing with His love, approval, and acceptance. Then automatically, that love will brim over into other people’s lives, and the need for success, performance, and approval from people will be forgotten.

Jesus first, no matter what we do, and we will be happy. No, it won’t always be a rose-petaled road here on earth. There are going to be bumps, potholes, and deep valleys of darkness and pain, but He’ll get us through it, and in the end it will be out-of-this-world, eternal bliss.

“Now am I trying to win the favor of men, or of God?
Do I seek to please men?
If I were still seeking popularity with men,
I should not be a bond servant of Christ (the Messiah).”
Galations 1:10 AMP

Praying we will remember Jesus loves us,
has pre-approved us, and accepts us no matter what!


21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

A Soft Gentle Voice

New This Month: Links, Quotes, Books & More


In case you’ve never seen this video, here’s a smile for you:


“Tears of joy are like the summer rain drops pierced by sunbeams.”
~ Hosea Ballou

I hope you’re enjoying these summer months. I love the warm times of the year, so it’s flying by far too quickly for me.

I hope you find sunbeams of hope and healing in this month’s new links. May tears of sadness turn to tears of joy!



the Storm Inside The Storm Inside: Trade the Chaos of How You Feel for the Truth of Who You Are by Sheila Walsh

I just finished this book. Sheila experienced many storms herself, so she shows genuine empathy and shares what she has learned to help us rise above the storms of life.

“There are lots of storm pressures that brew around and within us each day. Many days can feel so out of control. Our sometimes overactive lives & responsibilities cause our minds to play havoc with our emotions and bring us crashing down. We fret, we worry, we play the blame game, we sometimes live in the past. But when the storms come we do not have to be afraid and depressed. We can rise above the storm and overcome the chaos. Sheila’s book offers examples of how to get through one’s storms and come out stronger on the other side. The 10 chapters within give examples of how failures, struggles & fears can strengthen us. How we can overcome these by redefining ourselves, by using ‘HOPE & positive words”‘ to replace negative thinking and how to help each other through life’s difficulties. This book also offers an end section of helpful tools to overcome the storms, like Bible verses, journaling and prayers. We can fight the chaos by standing on God’s word and promises. Sheila’s quote, ‘Fair doesn’t live here anymore but Jesus does,’ is life affirming that through our ups & downs, Jesus is still walking on storm waters with us!!” (Amazon Review)

Love Idol Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval – and Seeing Yourself through God’s Eyes by Jennifer Dukes Lee

I just started reading this book, and I’m already hooked:

“We all want to be valued, to be respected. To be loved. Yet this yearning too often turns into an idol of one of God’s most precious gifts: love itself. If you, like so many of us, spend your time and energy trying to earn someone’s approval—at work, home, and church—all the while fearing that, at any moment, the facade will drop and everyone will see your hidden mess . . . then love may have become an idol in your life.

Love Idol will help you dismantle what’s separating you from true connection with God and rediscover the astonishing freedom of a life lived in authentic love.” (Jennifer Dukes Lee)

Pardon's Price Pardon’s Price: One Young Woman’s Dramatic Journey of Faith as She Faces the Ultimate Test by Diane Yoder

I was deeply moved by reading this book. Though this is historical fiction, it is based on what Christian martyrs experienced in A.D. 258 under Roman rule. It really causes me to reflect: What would I do under persecution? Would I still hang onto hope and cling to faith in Jesus even when lions’ teeth are tearing my flesh and cracking my bones or hot flames are burning me up? God, please help us to be faithful no matter what! Please hold up all persecuted Christians throughout this world!

“As a young woman growing up in the third century, Rachel Gallus has access to all the attractions and excess Rome has to offer: the games at the Coliseum, vivacious friends, and slaves to attend to her every whim. Yet questions haunt her thoughts—questions of human justice, of purpose in life, and of her own identity. After viewing a particularly striking martyrdom in the Coliseum, Rachel finds herself in a surprising set of circumstances, bringing her face to face with her own gripping desires and deepest sorrows. As she learns about the faith of the Christians, she is astonished at the price they pay for their beliefs. But she cannot forget what she has seen and heard. Join Rachel as she battles tenaciously through her anger, questions, and fears until she can accept pardon’s price.” (Amazon Review)


Hope Harbor

❀  7 Steps to Self-Love: Self Compassion – “Many people ask me, ‘How do I become my own best friend and stop the negative self-talk in my head that just beats me down and makes me feel not good enough?’; well, today’s video is your answer!”

Chronic illness can be difficult to live with, and it’s important to know the words that hurt and that help:

15 Things Not to Say to Someone with a Chronic or Invisible Illness – Some things you say to someone with a chronic illness may hurt their feelings, even though you may not mean to. A lot of the time you are just trying to understand or sympathize. Well, from the perspective of someone who lives with a chronic illness, here are 15 things you should never say to someone with a chronic illness.

 What Those With Chronic Pain or Illness DO Want to Hear – An article at Psychology Today written by Toni Bernhard, J.D. who knows what it’s like and had to retire early due to chronic illness.



Nature Retreat

The Common Potoo
One of Nature’s Best-Camouflaged Birds

 ➺ All About Birds – “The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a world leader in the study, appreciation, and conservation of birds. Our hallmarks are scientific excellence and technological innovation to advance the understanding of nature and to engage people of all ages in learning about birds and protecting the planet.”

 ➺ Audubon – Pursues the mission “to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity.”

 ➺ BirdNote: Stories about Birds, the Environment, and More – Believing that birds connect us to the joy and wonder of nature, BirdNote strives to transport listeners out of the daily ground into the natural world with outstanding audio programming and vivid stories about birds and the challenges they face.




❤︎ “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” ~ Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

❤︎ “The value of compassion cannot be over-emphasized. Anyone can criticize. It takes a true believer to be compassionate. No greater burden can be borne by an individual than to know no one cares or understands.” ~ Arthur H. Stainback

❤︎ “With compassion, we see benevolently our own human condition and the condition of our fellow beings. We drop prejudice. We withhold judgment.” ~ Christina Baldwin