Welcome to AWBA

Monday, August 18, 2014

Friday Blessings on Facebook

If this blog is your primary means of connection with AWBA, we want to make you aware of a new offering on Facebook.  You can find us on Facebook at "Always We Begin Again".  From our most recent newsletter (you can receive this monthly news by providing your name and email on the home page of our website at www.myawba.org):

In his book To Bless the Space Between Us, author John O'Donohue writes in the introduction, 

"It would be infinitely lonely to live in a world without blessing.  The word blessing evokes a sense of warmth and protection; it suggests that no life is alone or unreachable.  Each life is clothed in raiment of spirit that secretly links it to everything else.  Though suffering and chaos befall us, they can never quench that inner light of providence."

When we make the decision to begin again as one impacted by a chronic condition, this act of blessing seems a critical piece of our support system in making that daily and, sometimes moment to moment, choice for a new beginning.  Recently, AWBA began posting a brief quote, an image, and a blessing on its Facebook page every Friday morning.  The instant response indicated by likes, shares and new followers told us there are some seeking a sense of blessing.  If a "Friday Blessing" would support your journey, visit our Facebook page and follow us for this weekly blessing if you are not already doing so.  You can also access our page by clicking the Facebook icon on our website at www.myawba.org.  If you have a favorite quote and/or photo you have taken that you would like us to consider in the future, email it to director@myawba.org.  

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Our New Logo

When determining where to place precious financial resources, AWBA has been very intentional about budgeting as much as much as possible directly to our programming.  Keeping our fees within reason for those tending to the unending flow of medical bills has been the best way for us to remain accessible to those we serve.  Your donations have helped tremendously in  that effort.  At the same time, we also appreciate the value of getting our message out in a way that is simple and consistent.   A logo helps identify us within the community we serve.  After almost four full years of ministry, our Board decided it was time to create a logo.   Two donors were generous enough to offer a reduced fee and an in kind donation to make this a reasonable project for AWBA at this time.

When meeting with our design team at Miller Strategic Marketing, their process helped us better identify our brand that resides within our mission and vision statements.  We determined that there are several things the logo needs to communicate:

~ AWBA offers a warm, friendly place where people are accepted just as they are.
~ It’s a friendly place where people can go to catch their breath and build faith and hope.
~ It’s a community of caring individuals who will provide loving support to those with chronic illnesses.

To capture the essence of this brand, the word we chose to “own” is “Community”, and the gate within the logo serves as the entrance to that community.  The team at Miller developed a look and feel to reflect this identity, and to communicate these important points to the public. We believe that the warm, relaxed type font combined with the gate image delivers the look and feel we were going for.   Our full color beloved gate image used up to this point will remain on our website, blog and in other places.  There is much affection for this "secret garden" image and it is our intention that the logo builds on that.

None of this is of any use if we do not deliver on what we desire to accomplish in those points mentioned.  If at any time there is something we can do to provide an even more welcoming community environment as one impacted by a chronic diagnosis,  please let us know.  

Welcome to our new logo.  Over the next few months it will begin to appear in our print materials as well as on the web.  One person noted that she likes the "connection" depicted with the letter "A" touching the "W".   What do you notice?

Learning to Walk in the Dark

Since moving to the country, my husband Roy and I are developing a new relationship with the darkness.  We travel winding back roads on our way home from evening meetings in the city hopeful that we remember the twists and turns, and that we can see the deer before they decide to appear in the middle of the road.  We are consistently aware of the lunar cycle anticipating the bright evenings offered by a  full moon, and the clarity of a starry night in the darkness of a new moon.  We took deep delight in gorgeous July nights when the lightening bugs danced amid the corn fields in front of our house and essentially made us lose track of time as we watched them prance and twinkle -- thousands of them lighting in that mysterious movement that only a creative God could have dreamed of.  To see the Milky Way after many years of suburban living is a deep delight that takes my breath away.  We have adjusted to the darkness of our bedroom at night without the street lights.  We keep a night light on in our bathroom but there were a few "stumbles" as we re-learned furniture placement and how to walk in the dark.  Roy rises at 4 a.m. on weekdays and is the most skilled at navigating the darkness.  

As I have l made these adjustments and observations, I am mindful of the metaphorical "dark" that many walk when living with a chronic diagnosis.  I often hear people speak of dark night of the soul, living in darkness, a time of confusion and darkness, pushing away the dark -- none of it good and, often, lacking hope that light will come.   On one level, I understand that light is so much more beautiful when experienced within the darkness as I have experienced with this move.  Yet, when it comes to the seeming "dark" places of sadness, loss and difficulty, any sign of light or beauty is so much harder for me to claim.  I can see it in retrospect but it can take a very long time to be known by me.

I am a fan of writer Barbara Brown Taylor and knew that her most recent book, Learning to Walk in the Dark had been released earlier this year.  In the chaos of our move, this fell off the radar and I forgot about it.  The title found its way to me again a few weeks ago.  I found a copy at the library and could not put it down.  When someone is impacted by a book as I was with this one, the first response is that "everyone must read this book."  We all know that is not often the truth of the situation.   It is simply a book that found its way to us at just the right time.  However, I do pass it along as an option to consider if you find yourself navigating a season of spiritual darkness.  Ms. Taylor offers a perspective that we don't often hear taught but is one that, at its core, I suspect many of us have wondered about and couldn't quite articulate.  She writes,

"… I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion.  I need darkness as much as I need light."

Whether or not you pursue this book for yourself,  I pray that your seasons of darkness do not overwhelm and that points of light make themselves known when and where they are most needed.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

For Parents of Children With Autism

AWBA is preparing for two upcoming programs featuring Touch Drawing.  Recently we have been contacted by parents of children with Autism about their interest in our developing a program to serve them and, possibly, their children with a Touch Drawing experience.  If this is an event that would interest you, click the survey link below to provide us with your input.  The survey includes eight short questions and should take only a moment of your time.  If you know of others who might be interested, please provide them with this link and ask them for their input. 


Monday, August 4, 2014

Are You a Leaner or a Lifter?

What is it that causes us to make things more difficult than they need to be?  I heard a wonderful message on Sunday from a retired United Methodist pastor.  It is to important to keep our ears open to the wisdom of those who have walked this earth longer than we have!  He was talking about our tendency to be a "leaner" more than a "lifter."  When I choose the hard way, the worrisome way, the anxious way, the distrusting way, the doubting way, etc. everything in me leans and becomes a weight on myself and on others.  That is not how I have chosen to live my life these days.  To be a lifter is to choose being in the present, trusting that God will provide the right thing at the right time, and inviting hope more than doubt.  It is a daily beginning again to choose this better way to live.  

I am growing into my artist self (she is definitely a "lifter"!) and there have been times that I have made the creative process more difficult than it needed to be.  I recall one day last spring so incredibly beautiful that I had to capture it somehow.   I tried to paint it but God's creation so overwhelmed my senses that day that everything I painted was inadequate.  I then chose the simple way to capture only the colors of the blooms that caught my attention.  When I look at this picture below, I remember the colors, the warmth of the sun on my skin, the smell of spring - it all comes back.  Rather than leaning in to create a perfect image, I am now lifted whenever I see this image.

I am also relearning how to pray in a way that is "lifting".  Poet Mary Oliver shares that desire so well …


It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

~ Mary Oliver ~


Thank you, Bob, for a "lifting" message as I continue to re-create a more life-giving way of being present in the world.  Thank you Mary for always stating the truth so simply.

For those who have not visited our Facebook page recently, we are now posting a Friday morning blessing if that would be a support for your journey.

May you choose an attitude of lifting for this day and may you, then, be equipped to lift others.