Poverty Strongholds #9 – Blaming & Excuses

Poverty Strongholds – Post Nine – Blaming & Excuses

  1. Demons
  2. Poor Stewardship – link to past article
  3. Lack of Knowledge (common sense)
  4. Mind Sets (faulty thinking)
  5. Lack of Holiness
  6. Agreements with the Enemy
  7. Bad Theology
  8. Blaming & Excuses
  9. Refusing to be a Blessing
  10. Pain Upon Pain

Let’s take a look at the 8th Poverty Stronghold – Blaming & Excuses

Blame Wheel

We begin in life with the ability to take responsibility for our own lives within our specific context and circumstances. We would say that we have 100% ability to be responsible for our lives – this could be described as having the power to move our lives forward — As in DIAGRAM  A

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A New Normal

the glory of GodIt is a sunshiny day on the west coast of Canada. Something that we do not always have, so when we do we must comment on it!

There are a lot of things going through my heart and mind this morning. The communications have been many this week from various parts of the world. I’ve still to respond to a gentleman from India today.

Playing on the world stage is interesting to say the least. I always knew I wanted a bigger sand-box to play in, and it appears that I’m in it.

But like with any game the bigger the stage the different our thinking must be. My own thinking has gone through many shifts. Once afraid and suspicious of many things today I am simply worn out by the fear of others. There simply is not time or space for fear.

There are things we leave behind any time we step out beyond our normal. Ways of thinking, the lenses by which we see the world, the expectations we carry with us.

Sometimes I have no idea how I have moved beyond the person I once was, yet move I have, glory be to God!

All this to say, if you are wanting to live and play a bigger game, work hard on your paradigms and the lenses by which you see the world.

Different lenses, different world.

No matter what change you might be looking for, it can only come about by you changing your thinking, by you shedding your fears, and by you doing the hard inner work to stretch farther than you ever imagined possible.

Thing is though, your new normal is just waiting for you. Will you take hold?


070 compressedThe day has become a white one. We have snow here on the west coast of BC, something that doesn’t always happen, and when it does creates all sorts of outcries.

Ranging from ‘Yeah!’ to ‘Damned Snow!’ we become a divided people.

Now we hardly get snow here in the Vancouver area. I could probably count on both hands the number of ‘big’ snows I’ve seen during my entire lifetime here. Most of the time we don’t have any snow arriving till late January or February.

Having snow before Christmas is quite the deal!

Yet here we are, snow has taken up residence.

The gridlock early yesterday was terrible. Drivers were in exasperation as normal commutes of 15 minutes lengthened to 5X that long. Sitting for an hour in an intersection is not anyone’s idea of fun.

Today I hope we are all a little smarter.

There is nothing like snow (at least snow in a region that is not used to snow, does not have the machinery or infrastructure to remove snow, and has many who have never grown up in snow) to put a full-stop into the middle of an otherwise busy week.

My own appointments today just may be cancelled.

Schools are having snow-days. Many among us are hunkering down and staying home.

Enforced pause and rest days are some sort of hidden gem from God I’m thinking.

A gal I am coaching has decided to take the weeks around Christmas off. Her life of recent months has been one grand push alongside numerous hurdles in the road. She simply needs a rest.

I see her taking the time she needs as incredible strength. It is really hard to stop moving, hard to stop that hustle to get more work, hard to see the big picture when the little picture has us running as hamsters on a wheel.

I’ve been so proud of her for taking the break her spirit and whole being needed.

And I think snow days do the same thing for all of us.

We are given grand opportunity to simply stop. How stunning is that?

A Re-Birthing

light of the worldIt amazes me how much time is needed to find ourselves.

As I write this I am sitting at my dining table on a quiet Sunday morning. Outside the wind is blowing and the rain is falling. It is cold and wintry.

Inside the fireplace is on, a few candles are lit and I’ve a cup of tea beside me.

Pure bliss I say.

This time last year I was in Uganda, and so it feels that this transition of fall into winter is a new fresh wonder.

I am loving the smell of the air when I go outside. The crisp tang is invigorating and in contrast the soft lights of inside warm me through and through.

I’ve been relishing in all of it these last weeks, thinking the delight in it is just because I missed it last year.

But upon further contemplation and a real ‘listening’ to my inner being I realize that something much bigger and deeper is going on.

Just over three years ago I stepped away from my very chaotic marriage. At the time I intuitively knew that I would need five years to recuperate so to speak, and so I settled in my mind and life that goal of five years.

It’s been just over three years now and things within me are still coming back to life.

You see, chaos is a thief. It robs us blind of our very heart and soul.

The strongest fibers of our life’s weave are mightily attacked, things we were once naturally good at are destroyed and in that process we forget our passions and the deep yet simple gladness of being.

For me it shows up in the little things. Sure I may be writing books and creating education and building people in various places. But these things are the easy things for me. I’ve always been about the odd and the extravagant.

The chaos attacked in me the simple things and the undercurrents of a ‘normal’ life. For instance, in chaos I lost my ability to make a meal. Chaos destroyed my pride of a clean home and the energy required to keep it so.

Chaos robbed me of simple hospitality and that easy place of having company for dinner. And through the years I lost the gentle expectation of holidays and the celebration around them.

Chaos made celebration a chore.

But this year, this fall season, there is fresh momentum as it continues to come back to me.

The cooking has been returning for over a year now. Bit by bit a desire to make this dish or to create that meal comes to my heart and soul and as I watch myself set about to cook I wonder at the birthing of my old self.

I’m three years past deliberately stepping out of chaos yet it is only in the last couple of months that it feels chaos is truly out the door.

For the thing with chaos is, it follows us. We gave it permission after all. Invited it, mentored it, soothed it, gave it all our time and attention and basically said by action, ‘Sure you can stay.’

It has taken some years to undo all that. It has been an uphill battle all the way.

It is why I am so tickled pink at the holy giddy hush pervading my soul as we gear up to Christmas. I am experiencing within myself that deep gladness of peace and celebration, of contentment and satisfaction that, if I peer back through the curtains of my past, I recognize in myself some twenty years ago.

I am coming back to life again.

Does it ever feel amazing.

So while I knew I needed five years I wouldn’t have even been able to say what exactly those five years were for. The scales and the weights needed to drop off for sure, but what really would be the new, what would replace that yuck? This I couldn’t have named.

Standing back and watching my own life is an interesting thing. The working of the Lord through all my parts is amazing. And so to is this re-birthing.

If I’ve learned nothing else it is this. Take the time to find ourselves. When the core of who we are has been lost in the mix, invest in the months and years needed to reclaim old strengths and fresh vision.

Walking deliberately and intentionally always reaps its own rewards.

It won’t be time lost.


P1300777 compressedI’ve many things coming together all at once; like a threshold that has been crossed, when a vast room opens up before one, with options stacked upon each other.

Thankfully I learned years back the power of constraint and of deliberate limitations.

Some years ago now I was hit by a car. My knees and the car’s bumper were the initial point of contact, and as I flipped and rolled onto and then off of the hood of the car, many things would change after that.

That accident, while breaking no bones, created enough soft-tissue damage to dramatically alter my life. All of a sudden I could not stand for more than 10 minutes at a time, could not sit in a chair for more than 45 minutes at at time and walked oh so slowly for some months.

I look back, and am so grateful and thankful for that accident. For it created limitations that would prune my life, creating a catalyst of growth just and only where the growth should be.

When our lives are thrown into the air, like a fruit-basket upset, we don’t know what will land.

Often, up till that point, we would say that everything in the basket is absolutely necessary. But I’ve found this is not true.

There are many things in our baskets, that need not be there. That if they were not there in fact, we would be stronger for. Things that if removed, would actually harness our energies and lives in a different and better way.

But in the midst of a full basket, we can’t see it, are afraid of it, and until some event pries our fingers loose from the clasps around all that is not… we just keep hanging on.

I wonder what would happen if we stopped hanging on.

If the fruit-basket of your life were tossed into the air, how might you feel about that.

And what, in the secret intuitive place in your inner core, do you know wouldn’t come back to you. What part of your life, wouldn’t last the upset.

I am pretty convinced that those things that won’t last the upset, are the false things, the weak parts of our lives, the ineffective places, the black holes sucking all our energy.

So, why do we hold onto them so tightly?

I guess we are afraid. Not able to see farther than our little pinky, we are terrified.

And into that space we gather all the control we can muster, with all the manipulations of life and limb that we can manage.

Like small children hiding in dark closets clinging to dusty teddy bears.

I’ve been there, done that. For years and years in fact.

Thank-You God for fruit-basket upsets, for car accidents, for health issues, for relationships that die, for business ideas that fail, and for ideas that just don’t come together; for goals pruned down, for years spent in personal growth and healing, for the focus of our lives narrowing in, for the power of limitation and constraint.

There is incredible strength once we’ve had our lives tossed to the wind. For what lands, what comes back to us, is the solid, the tangible, the real, the rest is just chaff blown away.

And once we’ve got the solid, the tangible, and the real… those are the things we can do something with.

Lives aren’t made out of chaff. Let it go.


doing with lessI’ve been on a minimization quest for some years now.

With death-by-stuff the norm in North America, it is a quest that can take some years and quite a bit of process.

So every six months or so, I take a good look around my home, peer into the bookcases, rummage through the closets, and generally get rid of at least a box or two of stuff that I simply don’t need anymore.

With every box gone, I feel lighter and freer.

Enough is enough.

Some months ago I stayed in another’s home for a few days. It was a beautiful home. Well laid out; brick-a-brack nicely placed with multiple memories represented here and there and everywhere.

It really was quite nice, and yet at one point in my stay, as I really looked around and really took in the stuff, there was a distinct sense of panic and claustrophobia.

I remember what it was like, to care for that much stuff.

To dust that many pictures.

To clean that many items.

To manage and care and steward…

Some years back now, I had the privilege of cleaning out the home where my Aunt and Uncle had lived for 20 plus years. It was one of the best things I ever had to do, for in the process I came starkly to the reality that when we die, 97% of the stuff we have, will mean nothing.



Not A Thing.

But we spend so much time on things. So much energy on stuff. So much…  I’m pretty sure it is choking out our lives.

Where there might be action we have care-taking.

Where we might have passion we have pretties.

Where we might have meaning we have must-haves.

Imagine, rather, that your home had only 1/2 the stuff in it.

Imagine your walls 1/2 clearer and cleaner than they are now.

Imagine your closets 1/2 emptier and freer than they are now.

Imagine your floor space 1/2 more open than what it is now.


Just imagine.

Gifts for the Journey

Mbale March 2012 398 compressedThere are those moments I wish I could have taken a hidden video recording.

This particular day in Uganda the video would have shown myself with hat on my head, water bottle in hand, and my smaller backpack on my back, simply standing, and being watched, stared at, observed. I’m not sure what to call it.

Have you ever climbed a hill or mountain, or stood looking around at the scenery, well this was me that day. I too just stood there, taking in the sights of the soccer game going on nearby, of the traffic on the one-lane road nearby, and of whatever I could amuse myself with.

But unlike that experience of climbing a mountain and beholding a view alone or with a few companions, this day I beheld my views with an audience. For in an almost complete circle around me, were about fifty people.

Mostly children and teens, but adults also, they gathered, and stood, and looked, at me.

And there we all stayed for some 45 minutes.

The nurse was busy distributing medications to those who were in need, and so there were many around him. Pastor Kakuba was busy chatting to those who were around him.

And there I was, with even more around me. Though we did not have the luxury of a task at hand like the nurse. Nor did we have the luxury of a shared language or culture and therefore something to talk about like Pastor Kakuba.

No, we just all stood there. Now I did shake some hands, smiled lots of smiles, jostled with the boys as they dared each other to shake my hand.

But one can only smile at the same people for so long, greetings are meant for greetings, not 45 minute greet-fests. And so we did simply fall into silence for some minutes. I watching the soccer game, looking down the road, taking in whatever I could manage to find interest in.

And they continued to stand and stare.

And in those minutes, with time to think, I recalled how throughout my entire life I have always been stared at. (I don’t know if I really have always been stared at, but my experience of life and how it feels to me is that I have always been watched and looked at.) And there I was, in Uganda, in a remote village, the center of attention, with little to do but stand there and simply be the center of silent staring.

With stark recollection I realized how I had been prepared for that moment (and many more like them) my whole life. How I had been groomed so to speak, to receive the frank stares of others. For it did not bother me, having everyone round about staring. I didn’t feel uncomfortable, or claustrophobic or irritated.

I was simply glad to be there, they were glad to stare, and we got along famously.

After some time of the silence and the standing, I would feel the odd finger on my hair, as one of the gals reached out to see what my hair felt like. I turned, smiled, offered my head even more for her to touch, and then touched her hair. A funny exchange in many ways, but rapport and camaraderie that worked and warmed my heart.

Or the finger along my arm, feeling the ‘white’ to find of course, that it feels no different than their brown. And I was struck with how prepared I was for this kind of attention. How normal it actually felt to me, and how it didn’t bother me in the least.

A simple thing perhaps, this being okay with being stared at, but to me it is so much bigger than that. For as I have traveled to Africa there have been many many little things that I clearly recognize as small preparations and grooming to enter into this work; the freedom to be stared at just one of them.

The point is this. God does not call us into something without our being made ready for it. Our lives are in many ways like an orchestra, with years of numerous parts and some seemingly random experiences all adding up to one amazing piece of work.

We often hold back on certain works of our lives, for fear of not being ready. Just a little more preparation, a little more learning, a little more… something.

But we must remember that we are not the only one looking out for our journey’s. There is a co-author of our lives, one who knows so much more than you or I, and whose heart is all about preparing and making a way for us to enter into something bigger than us.

Whatever you are facing or looking ahead to, whatever you are journeying toward, trust that you have been prepared more than you will ever know.

Settle into a confidence that all the good the bad and the ugly of your life are key, and in fact gifts, to the rest of your journey.

Laid Bare

P1320286 compressedEvery so often there are moments in our lives where there are intersections of sorts. We cannot see them coming, often don’t realize the occurrence when in the midst, and can barely put words to them on the back end.

I had one of these intersection ‘moments’ my last trip to Uganda. The whole trip was an intersection moment, and I’ve been pondering it ever since, and I’ll try to put some words to it today.

We go through life with a buffer system of sorts, ways of coping with our days and managing all that comes to us. It is a system that we rarely think of except in those times when it isn’t there.

For instance, have you ever been very ill, with not only your physical defenses down, but your emotional ones as well. Where everything is heightened and responses are that much more intense and critical, where sadness is that much deeper and comfort harder to come by.

This was my experience on my last trip. While you can read about the work of that trip HERE, the experience of being laid over with weakness was its own thing entirely.

While in that weakness came a deep work for the Lord for others, and in that weakness God had the most space to work, that same weakness facilitated a deep work in my own being.

So many things have shifted since that trip, I look back and will be forever grateful and thankful. With weakness laid over, I cried and cried on that trip, prayed and prayed, and with my innards stripped bare, laid every part of my life at the feet of the Lord.

I sat in sorrow, rested in silence, and walked in the moments. There was nothing else to do. I was simply there, and in that time and space some sort of earthquake deep within my being took place.

I can’t give all the particulars, but my kids lives are different after that trip, my own days are changed, and the outflow from deep inside has a different tenor.

And I think about how we so avoid these deep works. It obviously took me going to Uganda, allowing a weak space in service of others, with a stripping of all regular coping mechanisms, for the Lord to break through some deeply held constructs within my own being.

So why do we doggedly avoid the laid-bare places?

I recall a conversation I had with a fellow some years ago. He was intentionally not entering into an area of giftedness and a specific ministry because he knew he would come face to face with his pride. So instead of going forward and dealing with his inner stuff, he held back, refused the gifted ministry places, and consequently, hung onto his pride quite effectively.

The logic is off. But I think his candid decision marks a lot of us at times. We hold back from the gifted places and the intense ministries of heart and mind, because we do not want to confront our inner demons. We don’t want to find out what is lurking behind the shadows. Mediocrity and less-than serve us very well, thank-you very much.

It is no secret that giving of ourselves is the best way to personally grow. We cannot help but mature when we make our life about others and not ourselves. The fellow who avoided ministry and advocated self protection, personifies selfish living to the extreme. It might feel nicer, but nothing changes, growth isn’t given a chance, and no one is blessed. No one.

And the intersections whereby the Lord moves us, and where transformations take place, are ultimately rejected.

Rather than this sad scenario, go for the ministry, go for the gifted places, make space for intersections and deep movements. It won’t be nice, but it will be good. For as the writer of Proverbs says, “The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.” 11:25

The weakness by which I was brought low, completely lifted off of me at Amsterdam airport. Halfway home I ‘was back’. Feeling strong and normal, but never the same. Thank-You God

Sabbath Rest

the Glory of GodSundays are a day for pausing, for reflecting and for worship.

It’s a day where we live out our inner convictions of whose we are in this world.

Of how the universe works,

And our part in it.

In a world where the work never ends, it is imperative that we take a day to stand back from the work, and to give thanks.

Not that we don’t worship or give thanks on any other day of the week, there is something powerful when we put action to our gratitude in the form of pause.

Work hard, play hard, rest hard

And worship.

For many, resting is hard work,

And worship is foreign,

But these are the power of constraint in full force.

Taking a day to pause, to consider, to rest our bodies and our minds, gives greater force to the rest of our week. Pausing to gather strength and reapportion passion, and we are well set to take on our days throughout the week.

Resting is all about changing it up a bit. It doesn’t matter if you live in the city and resting is getting to the country, or if you live in the country and resting is getting to the city – rest is about shifting the pace and depth of life, if even for just one day.

Worship is all about gratitude and giving thanks to the one who has given it all. For no matter our circumstances we can all find things to be deeply thankful for, and to bring those thanks in intimacy to God.

Sabbaths are especially made for this.

Rather than some old-worn relic of a habit, Sabbaths ground us, and they release us. Gathered into your Sabbaths are the memory of your days, the knowledge of your purpose, and the voice of your life.

Sabbaths give room for these and give voice for these.

Without a Sabbath, we are increasingly isolated, both from ourselves and from the one who fashioned us and gave us breath.

“For whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his” Hebrews 4:10

Invest in your Sabbath, mark it in some way, acknowledge it, create a habit of rest and refreshment in it (whatever that might be for you), and be prepared for your life to settle into place, like a home on its sure foundations, strong, tall, proud.

Quiet Deep Inside

creativity and joyCreativity is a hard thing to grasp, and even harder to really go after.

I can always tell when there is some great piece of writing beneath the surface of my day, because I avoid writing like the plague.

There are always a number of things I can do rather than invest in the writing I am to actually be about.

My most favorite distractions, eating and television. Oh, and facebook.

Not that any one of these things are bad in and of themselves, yet when I circle around from one to the other and then back again, I can be sure I am simply avoiding creative work; avoiding digging into the deep of my spirit and soul to share and to put words to the latest thing pressing through me.

Reading a book earlier in the week, I was reminded that work is sacred.

It jumped off the page at me. Just like that. ‘Work is sacred’

I wanted to get away from what it was telling me. I wanted to pretend that it didn’t stand out at me so boldly and with such conviction. But it hasn’t gone away. And won’t go away.

Because I get it. I get that the work that any one of us are to truly be about, is a sacred act. A place where we step out of the ordinary and we enter into the holy.

This is the way writing feels to me. And when I am most tapped into the words I am to be putting to paper, I often feel overwhelmed with awe and that I must remove my shoes or get on my knees, for I am on holy ground.

So why do I avoid it? Why, when writing a book, do I spend 20 000 words skirting around the thing I most want to say? Why, when it is time to write a blog, do I sometimes make yet another cup of tea and find some other little thing to do for a time?

I don’t know about you, and how your work plays out in your life, but in mine, I think I am simply afraid. Afraid of entering into holy, that place in the true center of the work given me; afraid of the glory of God changing me.

Deep calls unto deep,

…and a lot of the time, I just want to stay shallow.

I imagine the greatest artists and sculptors and writers over the centuries, and I wonder how they got past the threshold of magnificence in their work. How did they enter into that holy, quiet and damning place in the center of their being?

All I know is that the only viable and useful work, comes from this place.

All the rest, is a sham, a pretend sort of work. Just great enough in its own way to make us feel good about ourselves, and just great enough in its own way for others to applaud us.

But the artist knows when they are not really producing the real goods.

It is time to get real quiet deep inside, make friends with what is there, and invite it and facilitate it out and into the world.

We won’t ever be the same.

And neither will the rest of the world.

With Space for Strength

strength in people“We are glad to seem weak if it helps show that you are actually strong.”

This is a Bible verse found in 2 Corinthians 13:9 and is really the theme of my last trip to Uganda.

I’d come across this verse a week-plus before the trip, and I knew it was to be the theme, I just never knew how hard it would be.

Being weak is not easy.

Thing is, standing in strength that appears weak, is in fact part of the space that we are determined to hold at Capturing Courage. For the express purpose that the people we are standing alongside, might know they are strong.

The plan for this trip was to bring a Conference and Crusade to the people in Madudu, Uganda. Then following up on that with a couple of weeks of Pastor Training.

The first ‘weakness’ became apparent before I left – we were not taking enough money to cover the Conference and Crusade; we contributed only 22% of the necessary funds.

I was excited about this, as I knew in my gut that God was up to something, and that we were going to see some mighty work. I just didn’t realize how very brutal it would be in the middle of it.

There may not be many things worse than watching the last of the food being dished out, and with some still needing to eat; the disappointment and disbelief and frustration and anger spreading across faces, with frantic digging through pots to find those stray sweet potatoes hidden amongst the banana leaves. With the lead guy exclaiming, “I followed your advice and now we don’t have enough!”

– We will appear weak so that you might know yourself strong –

Nothing worse than figuring we must cut the conference short a day, disappointing about 300 attendees, and swallowing our pride, and more in the process.

Nothing worse than maintaining that space of ‘God will do something’ and therefore I myself or Capturing Courage, refuse to do anything, “We will not fix this.. ”

– We will appear weak so that you might know yourself strong –

And strength came through. After hours (days) of crushing pressure and disillusionment in the unknown, refusing to lift a finger to ‘make anything better’ other than to pray and pray, that strength came.

It was presented to the people the state of things. That yes I was there to help sponsor, but not all the way. That yes we had food yesterday (barely), and yes we have food enough for today’s lunch, but after that, we are done and everyone will have to go home.

BUT – “If you as the people want to contribute, the conference can go on another day as planned.”

And into a basket went donation after donation, with the people raising over 400K Ugandan shillings, some $200 Canadian. Enough for the rest of the Conference.


A knowing for them that they are strong, they can do this, it doesn’t all depend on money from the west.

Amen and amen.

This was the work, the real work. Sure I spoke a few times, prayed over a few folk, blessed on the young and old alike, took some medicines to the sick, encouraged the leaders and visited with many, but the real work this time, was holding this space.

– We will appear weak so that you might know yourself strong –

I didn’t call any shots, simply held the space.

From deep within my person living out my rock-solid belief that the people themselves are strong and sufficient and capable of making things happen.

That Sponsors are not the answer. Strength from outside themselves is not the answer. They carry strength and sufficiency deep within. I was determined to prove this, by doing next to nothing, to fix anything.

It was oh so painful, and oh so amazing.

The deepest works of our lives are like this I’m thinking. Where there is not much to show in the midst, but much to look back at and see.

Holding spaces is something we all do. With some spaces such that we wouldn’t want to enter them, and other spaces such that we are ever-after never the same. Some spaces are destructive, others build us.

What kind of spaces are you holding for others?