Daily Guide — July 2006


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
June 2006~ Days 29 – July 2 Hope


When you lose hope, you also lose vital energy. Think back on a time when you finally gave up on something or someone. Do you remember feeling exhausted? Well, hope carries with it the energy to move forward, the energy of anticipation and desire.I recall times when after fighting to hold on to a sense of hope, I finally gave up and let go of my desire. The exhaustion that followed was, I think, indicative of the amount of energy tied up in the hope itself. Maintaining that sense of optimism, or hope, about the future energizes the spirit and enables you to work tirelessly in order to meet your goals. But unless that hopefulness proves out over time and demonstrates that it was well placed, your mind and body will lose energy until finally, you begin to shed your desire and vitality.It hasbeen my observation that some people tend to lose hope more easily than others. If something doesn’t quickly show signs of working out, they grow weary and begin anticipating failure rather than success. There’s a huge amount of psychological energy tied up in preparing for failure.Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.— Proverbs 13:12

Days 29 – July 2GuideHope is the key to life-giving energy. Work this week to maintain a positive and hopeful view of the future.© 2006, Levi Hill


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
July 2006 ~ Day3 Experience


If you’re like me, there are some things that you want never to experience again. To say that you learned something the hard way means that you came away from a bad experience with at least a breath of knowledge. It’s the only good side of a bad experience: a lesson learned.The Intellectual Mind draws only lessons from bad experiences, discarding any emotional distress that may otherwise be attached to them. The Intellectual Mind enjoys the fruit of bad experiences without having to taste the bitterness of its rind. It is the Inner Mind that recalls the feelings of experiences – both the good ones and the bad ones. And by memory we relive them, at times shedding tears of sorrow or laughter.

Day 3 GuideThe soul thirsts for experience. Immerse yourself. Get involved.© 2006, Levi Hill


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
July 2006~ Day 4 Faith


You can’t predict the future. But you can trust in some things about the direction of human thought and the power of the spirit. We humans like to work on things. We like to make progress. We like to be with people. We enjoy solving problems and making things better. But there is also in the world those destructive forces of spirits filled with hate, greed, and malice.It’s hard to make sense of a spirit that desires destruction, isn’t it? It runs counter, I believe, to the more natural tendencies of a mind that wants to defeat, not create, problems. But it is present nonetheless. And you can trust in the fact that these worldly dark forces will remain intact until the final days.So where does that leave us? Should we lose faith in tomorrow? Should we give way to the evil? Certainly not. We should continue to fight with the hope of tomorrow. We should continue thinking of and doing things that would mend the torn fabric of community and belonging.No, we can’t predict tomorrow. But we can have faith in the preponderance of minds filled with creativity, love, and the desire for invention and problem-solving.

Day 4 Guide

Have faith in a tomorrow that would heal the pain of today. Face life with the hopefulness of a faith expecting the prevalence of goodness.

© 2006, Levi Hill


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
July2006~ Day5 Progress


Walking along the road leading to town, my great-grandfather, according to my father, routinely turned down offers from passers-by for a lift. “I’m in hurry, so I’d better just walk,” he’d say. I don’t know, maybe a car-ride was just a little too comfortable for him. I mean, sitting may have given him the feeling of getting nowhere.At timesI feel that way, too, don’t you? When I have to wait in a line of traffic just to make a left-hand turn, I quickly lose patience. So eager am I to move along that somtimes I’ll give up on making the turn at all. I’ll exit into the right lane and even go well out of the way to make it to my destination. It’s an unreasonable decision prompted by that feeling: “If I’m moving, I’m making progress.”Day5 GuideBusy as a bee? Ask yourself: “Am I making the best decisions along the way?” What might I do differently to leverage my time and my energy? How can I put more time into planning so that my actions will all count for something?”© 2006, Levi Hill


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
July2006~ Day 6The Sense of Beauty


Pat’s PancakesAs far as I was concerned, Pat made the best pancakes in the world. Growing up, I did everything I could to try and make them according to her recipe. But I never could get it quite right. I had all the steps memorized. I made the batter with milk, Jiffy® Mix, oil and flour. I added wheat germ and beat the egg-whites until they stood up with a consistency of whipped cream. I carefully folded them into the batter and prepared a lightly greased griddle. I even bought the right brand of maple syrup.Over and over I tried. But my pancakes never tasted as good as Pat’s. Oh, mine were pretty good. But they weren’t nearly as light and fluffy. The exterior of her pancakes were slightly crisp and sweet. They tasted like a fine confection.Because I never could make those pancakes I thought of them as a special treat – something that I might enjoy only occasionally. As I’ve grown older, I realize that a lot of things are like that – meant to be enjoyed occasionally. I realize that no matter how hard I might try, some things can never be replicated or repeated. They’re intended to be special and rare. And though it’s hard for me to accept that certain delights might come around only once, I realize that it just must be God’s way of demonstrating the precious rarity in life.Day 6 GuideTry your best to enjoy the moments. Awaken your senses to remember the taste, the aroma, and the touch of life’s sweetest times.© 2006, Levi Hill


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
July2006 ~ Days7-9The Principle of Beauty


My best times are when I experience a certain unity in my thoughts, when everything seems to fit together, and I have a clear understanding of where I’m going and what I’m doing. You know what I mean, don’t you?But then some difficulty or burden creeps in and spoils the “wholeness” of that state of mind. One day things just seem like they’re falling into place, and the next, they’re falling apart. Why is that? Why does the feeling of unity have to be so ephemeral?The mind of God is one of eternal wholeness, a mind of infinite meaning and understanding. His is the mind that created the binding forces of the universe, the order and the continuous movement towards the fulfillment of His divine purpose.We easily lose vision, at times growing near-sighted and impatient when things don’t seem to be going our way. We lose sight of the fact that God is using every moment of every thought and every feeling to accomplish His plan. Your best chance of hanging on to that “unified” feeling is to see yourself as a vital part of God’s plan.Days7-9 GuideWhen things seem to be falling apart, try to widen your vision to include yourself as part of a greater plan.© 2006, Levi Hill


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
July2006~ Day10Life


MorningsWhen I was a young boy, if I ever woke up in the middle of the night, I was afraid of the eerie stillness and presence of those wee morning hours. I’m not bothered by that any more. In fact, I love the stillness and the solitude of those tender segments in the morning. Life seems different in the quiet of a “sleeping world.” It seems more manageable, not nearly as impatient. For me, it’s good – even healthy — to often experience that quiet time of the day. I feel as though I need that time, when the world is sleeping, to organize my thoughts and get a better grip on things. It’s my time to get ahead.Day 10 GuideIf your days are filled with noise, try the stillness of the morning. You might find that some of the best thoughts surface then.© 2006, Levi Hill


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
July2006~ Day11Ideas


Trash Can Omelet“One day, I’ll be working with chef Emeril Lagasse, he just doesn’t know it yet.” – That’s what Deloris, the spunky, forward-thinking cook at a small South Carolina restaurant, told us when we ordered her trademark breakfast-dish, trash can omelet. Loaded with everything you can imagine, from avocados and onions to sausage and cheese, Deloris’ three-egg omelet was one of the tastiest surprises I ever put in my mouth. Not long after our food was delivered, she walked up with yet another pleasure, a pan of fresh baked muffins prepared from her own secret recipe. So secretive, in fact, is she about this particular recipe that she mixes the batter at home and takes it to work, just in order to keep her fellow cooks from identifying all of the ingredients.Meeting Deloris confirmed the principle that attitude makes the difference. And from our brief encounter it was apparent that her heart was in pleasing her customers. “Thursday night,” she said, “is fried chicken, turnip greens, and macaroni and cheese. Y’all come back.”Oh, if I could just have a taste of that spirit every day.Day 11 GuideHow do you start the day? Does your first step reveal a good attitude? Tomorrow, check your baggage at the door and enter the day with a good and strong spirit. Be the light that would inspire others to action.© 2006, Levi Hill


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
July2006~ Day12Poetry


Growing up near East Lake golf course in Atlanta, the great golfing amateur Bobby Jones had this to say about practicing his putting as a youth:I remember back in my high school days, I was living within the range of a good iron shot form the East Lake course, and on nights when the moon was out, I used to go over to the club and putt, with a friend and neighbor, on the practice green near the tenth tee. The moonlight, of course, revealed the hole, and it also made visible the more prominent slopes and irregularities – wormcasts and the like. In this half-revealing light, it was a source of wonderment to my friend and me that we invariably putted better than in broad daylight, especially when it came to holing out from distances up to eight or ten feet.

There must be something to be learned from that moonlight putting. I believe it to be this – the men who putt well on greens good and bad must have schooled themselves to see a putting green as we used to see it in the moonlight.

Sometimes it helps to look at things in a different light. The lights of New York’s Times Square tell of a land of opportunity and achievement whereas the myriad of pinpoint lights cast by God against the black winter sky appeal to one’s senses of wonderment and curiosity. Shadows of trees painted by the light of a full moon are intriguing; they draw one to have a sense of belonging in nature.Day 12 GuideThink today of how various kinds of light make you feel. In what light do you most enjoy seeing the world?© 2006, Levi Hill


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
July2006 ~ Day13Poetry and Life


Sweet YesterdayA cool September morning lightThe yawning of a southern pineA misty glaze covered sillThe quiet hint of cloudsA wooden spireA cardinal’s perchA bed of strawA sleeping soundAll bring to mindSweet yesterdayWhen you, dear loveI found.© 2006, Levi HillDay 13 GuideWhat arouses the life of memory for you?


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
July2006~ Days14- 16 Art


ImagineImagine water droplets squareAnd feathers coarse as sandEliminate the pastel curvesDrawn by the artist’s handImagine voices soft as springBecoming city noiseAnd dance as light as angel wingsLosing all its poiseImagine but the ocean’s breezeCeases then to blowAnd waves that splash the sandy shoreFind somewhere else to goAll would urge this pilgrim’s tearTo plead for answers whyThe hardest thing I ever knewWas telling you goodbye.© 2006, Levi HillDays 14-16 GuideWhat are life’s most meaningful things? Where are you spending your time and energy?


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
July2006~ Day17 Art and Morality


You Don’t SayHe chose the leastOf men to paintA soul without a storyFor yesterday was newsTo himOf Sunday’s sporting gloryWilted from hisTattered coatA flower from the dayThe horse he bet onWon a raceA mare named “You Don’t Say”He sharedThe winnings from his dreamWith two eternal friendsThree crackersThat his luck had boughtIn hoping he might win.The artist chose the leastOf menTo paint an honest face –To say that loveBetween old friendsIs not about the race© 2006, Levi HillDay 17 GuideEveryday there’s something to celebrate. Make yours the life of song, not the trail of anxiety.


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
July2006~ Day18Interpretation


Body language: it says a lot, doesn’t it? In some ways, more than words do. Words by themselves can easily mask the truth, especially the written word. A speaker or writer might choose to downplay or ignore significant facts. But body language — including both voice inflection and eye movement — tells a different story. A person’s posture, his or her tone or coloring, facial expressions, dryness of the lips or mouth – they all mean something. And in my opinion, the eyes and facial expressions speak louder than words.Unlike most of the muscles of the body that are attached to the skeleton, those of the face are attached just below the skin, making very small movements possible – and highly visible. The number and flexibility of the facial muscles allow for a great amount of different expressions. And since we are the creatures with the most to say, it stands to reason that we should have the greatest flexibility to communicate.It’s been said that the eyes are the “windows to the soul.” The eyes tell of fear, of longings, of desire and love. They tell of pain and confusion, exhaustion or exhilaration.Day 18 GuideIt’s hard to hide your true feelings. So be careful what you think. Your body language is probably showing it.© 2006, Levi Hill


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
July2006 ~ Day19Education


I once took a vocabulary class that was part of an adult “continuing education” curriculum at our local college. It was an interesting class in that the teacher had a huge etymological dictionary from which he’d explore with us the backgrounds and histories of the subject words. The images that these histories would arouse made the words come alive.Let me give you an example: The word coward is easy enough to know, right? Everyone knows what a coward is. But the etymology (origin) of the word shows that it is somehow rooted in a reference to animals, namely lions. Here’s what The Oxford English Dictionary says of the word: Said of a lion or other beast borne as a charge: Having the tail drawn in between the legs.Now, think back on the movie, The Wizard of Oz. Remember the Cowardly Lion? Do you remember what the lion would do whenever he was frightened? He would hold the end of his tail – which was tucked between his legs – in his hands. For me, it’s an image that confirms the meaning and gives new life to the word.Day 19 GuideToday, ask your children about their teachers. Find out who among them makes the subject matter most interesting, and write them a short note of thanks. In whatever way you’re able, help your children to understand the value of knowledge.© 2006, Levi Hill


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
July2006~ Day20 Knowledge


I remember the man who used to take care of several lawns in our neighborhood. He drove an old, light-blue Ford LTD with a padlock mounted on the outside of its trunk. Riding my bicycle up the street, I’d pass by his parked car quite often. Most of the time he was up in someone’s yard raking leaves or mowing the grass. But sometimes he’d be sitting on the rear bumper of that old car with the trunk wide open. Curious as I was, I’d do my best to glance over and see what he kept in there.I tried not to appear nosy, but I’m sure he must’ve been aware of my curiosity. He would look up as I rode by. We would exchange glances. And he would nod his head as he sipped an iced-drink from a glass jar – tea, I suppose. (We Southerners are big on “sweet iced-tea”).I learned that whenthe trunk hood was up, it usually meant lunch-time for the man. I figured that he must’ve stored his lunch in the trunk and that maybe the open hood gave him a needed bit of shade on those hot summer days.I saw nothingunusual in the trunk. Everything in it was neat and orderly. There were small assorted jars and boxes, each one, I thought, most likely storing something important for his work – maybe oil for his lawnmower, or trash-bags, or tools. I was impressed to think of just how well he took care of his possessions.After many years of my seeing the man parked on the street, one dayhe just stopped coming by. He may have retired, or he could’ve grown sick and unable to work. And whileit’snow been close to thirty years since I last saw him, the thought of his old blue Ford LTD with the padlocked trunk is still fresh in my mind.Day20 GuideThink about the things you possess. Think about your knowledge and your health. Consider what you’re doing to care for them.© 2006, Levi Hill


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
July2006~ Days21-23Growth


Autumn ChildAcross the field of tender sleepI heard two whispered voices speakOf one whose radiant autumn smileThey always will remember,Within the hurried sands of time

This child will sweep a gentle climbAnd shape the world she came intoThat sweet day in November.Then the voices turned awayAnd left a breeze as if to say,

My precious angel, never fearBut trust that love is boundless here.

© 2006, Levi HillDays 21-23 GuideToday, consider your future. Think of how you might live. Think of the lives that you might touch with yourwords and your smile.


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
July2006~ Day24Emotion


UncommonMy heart grew hurriedThinking of you,The storm clouds gatheredAnd hid the moon.Leaves at my feetSent swirling about,And street-lights flickeredBeneath the boughs.The fragrance of rainAt once kissed my face,And ushered me backTo the beauty of this place.© 2006, Levi HillDay 24 GuideIt could be an unusual light or an uncommon breeze that makes you think of earlier times. Be attentive in your surroundings and look for the things that would replace the doldrums of today with a delight from yesterday.


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
July2006 ~ Day25Memory


Generally speaking, we love new and modern things, don’t we? I mean who doesn’t like a new car or a new electronic gadget? It’s awesome to have telephones that you can carry in your pocket. But it’s also easy to get carried away with modernism, wanting at times to jettison the beauty of the past in favor of what seems to be a progressive mind and a better life. Today, the fiber of tradition is being challenged in most every area of life: art, design, and language – even religion.Call me old-fashioned. But I think much of what we should treasure in life is that which maintains an important connection with the past. Tradition is but one example of holding on to the past. Memory is another.The father whose daughter matures to become a wife and mother sees her both — and at once – as the little girl sleeping in his arms and the beautiful woman that she has become. It is a special and treasured joy sewn by the threads of a father’s memory.Day 25 Guide“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.”http://ask.yahoo.com/20031027.html© 2006, Levi Hill


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
July2006~ Day26Retrospect


“Where’d I go wrong?” It’s the question we sometimes ask ourselves when we’re facing a difficult, awkward or painful situation. The question itself places blame upon the shoulders of the questioner. It’s a confession of sorts. But it’s also a plea for answers: Some look to heaven for guidance: “Lord, tell me where I went wrong. Am I being penalized for something that I have or haven’t done?”We’re confused by a universe that doesn’t respond according to our hopes and expectations. In our minds, hard work and honesty should always pay off, right? But often times it goes the other way, with dishonesty generating a fair-share of millionaires and good deeds often going unrewarded or unnoticed. How then should we live?Day 26 GuideKeep your eyes on the road, friend. Follow the steady course. Don’t let the precarious winds draw you into dangerous waters. There is great promise and hope written into God’s plan for us.© 2006, Levi Hill


Joyous Gard: Daily Guide
July2006~ Days27-31Humor


It was back during the late 1970s that the movie “Smokey and the Bandit” was a big hit and had everyone wanting at Citizens Band (CB) radio. My friend Fielding had one at his house, and I remember that late summer night many years ago when several of us gathered over there to listen to the chatter coming across the airways.There really wasn’t much going on, until we heard this call from a highway trucker: “Breaker, breaker,” said the gruff voice (that’s CB language for “Excuse me. I have something to say.”) “East bound lane of I-20, mile-marker 150, there’s a female driver stranded and in need of help.”Well, that was all we needed to hear to spring into action.Our idea was simple: we’d pack a can of gasoline and drive ten miles out on the highway to help that poor damsel in distress. Fielding recommended that we take his father’s car. That sounded like a good idea, but his parents were out of town, and he had a hard time finding the keys, which were obviously hidden for good reason. While Fielding searched, the rest of us rummaged around in the garage and found a half-filled gas can.”I found the keys,” yelled Fielding. And so we all piled into his father’s Cadillac and took off to Intersate-20 with a half-filled can of gas.After fifteen or so minutes of traveling on the highway, we approached mile-marker 150, the supposed location of the stranded motorist. It was dark. It was late. And there were very few cars on the road. We did, however, spot a car parked on the other side of the highway, and so we traveled to the next exit, made the turn and headed back east to check it out.Approaching the mile-marker, we all noticed something rather strange. What we saw through the windshieldwasn’t an ordinary automobile. It looked more like an unusually large station-wagon. And that’s when things got real quiet in the car.Pulling slowly into the emergency lane and easing to within about ten yards of the parked vehicle, we saw that it wasn’t a station-wagon after all, but rather a hearse. Stopping immediately, Fielding put the car in park and we all sat motionless. And with our headlights shining, we watched through the front window as the hearse’s driver and passenger doors opened and two old men got out. They walked towards our car:”Thank heavens you made it,” said one of the men. “We’ve run out of gas, and we didn’t think anyone would come out to help us this late at night.””But the trucker on the CB radio said there was a stranded female on I-20,” I said.”Oh, come on. Do you really think anyone would’ve come out to help two old men driving a fully loaded hearse?” said the driver.We gave them the gas and got the hell home.

Days 27-31 GuideThe world doesn’t always give you what you expect. And that’s what makes a great story. Enjoy the unexpected.© 2006, Levi Hill

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