An inside peek to summer 2015

Look a regular blog post…wow!

If you’ve visited this website over the years, you probably noticed that I’ve usually published a post (article) about 2-3 times per week. Not so this year.

I’m broadening and enhancing my own process of creation this year; I learned how to podcast and I’ve been releasing audio here (and on iTunes and Stitcher) each Wednesday since late April.

• Some fantastic guests have been on the show and some wonderful ones will be coming on the show soon and it’s going to be a lot of fun!

For tiny glimpse…Mako Fujimura, Shane Claiborne, and Nicole Unice will be guests in the next weeks and months, (and plenty more who aren’t as famous but super insightful and interesting as well).

Because, I’ve had the unique experience of working at a winery and vineyard, I have also included a “wine education” segment each show.

• After episode 15, I’ll be pulling that segment out, and adding it back in when (and if) listeners submit questions about wine that they want me to cover on the show.

• I send out an update newsletter 2-3 times per month to alert you to shows and new stuff. So, if you are not on the list…please sign up! (HERE)


Other things I should mention.

• I will be making some things available for patrons only. (sponsors)

Extras, documents, resources, transcripts and other goodies are to be included.

See how to get in on that here.

• I’m hosting a relaxing retreat and gathering for creatives. There’s just 10 spots.
Want to come? Find out more here.

• I have a little summer challenge for you. See if it sparks your creative muse.
Question Quest

• I’m deciding whether or not to release two episodes per week. I need to hear from you. Does one seem like enough, or would you enjoy a double scoop? :)

Will there still be blog posts?

Yes. A few times per month…plus….

• Video updates.

(That’s the plan anyway.)

So, I’d like to hear from you.

1. What are your favorite things here at the site?

2. Which podcasts have you like the most? (and why?)

3. What’s missing?

(Do you have suggestions? I’d like to hear them! Just leave your comments below or contact me privately, here.)

Episode 13 – “We cannot encapsulate God in our Theology” guest Doug Jackson

Episode 13 – “We cannot encapsulate God in our Theology” guest Doug Jackson

If you’ve listened to the show…
Please click our audience survey button so we can better understand who’s listening.
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Spark My Muse
Thank you!

Shownotes for Episode 13  Wine lovers have God to thank + guest Doug Jackson

First, I want to feature the book Doug and I wrote …

entitled Dog in the Gap because of a C.S. Lewis quote “Man and his dog close a gap in the universe”.


And there’s a BONUS EDITION with lots of goodies!
Read a sample here!

Will you fan the spark?

Inspired by how musician Amanda Palmer put it, “Don’t make people pay [for art]. Let them,” I am altering how Spark My Muse stays alive…from bottom to top (literally).

How does it work?

It’s up to you. I need at least $75 per episode to keep it solvent.
Every little bit helps!
So, I invite you to just listen, read, and give as you can.


Thank you! Enjoy the show!

With love,



Who do we have to thank for wine?

God and the Church, actually.

Wine lovers in Western civilization have the Church in Europe (and the Roman Empire and the Holy Roman Empire–which was neither holy nor Roman ) to thank for the large-scale production, the prevalence and the excellence of wine!


Because liturgy involving wine for communion was central to Christian religious practice. Wine was ingested as the saving holy blood of Christ (and bread as the holy body of Christ), usually each and every day. The sacraments of Communion served as saving grace afforded to the Church.

As Roman Empire became officially a Christian Empire (circa 313 CE) many vineyards had to be planted, properly cultivated, and harvested. Grapes had to be made into a lot of to support the daily practice of communion throughout the Empire.

Communion served as wine was the norm among Christians world-wide until recently–in the era of pasteurization. To keep juice from grapes in a state were they would not ferment meant it had to be sufficiently boiled so the natural yeast would die. 

Vehemently opposed to alcohol, Thomas Bramwell Welch, a physician, dentist, and Methodist pastor from Vineyard, New Jersey, figured out the process in 1869 with Concord grapes. Most churches did not accept the switch as proper and stayed with wine.

The juice later became more popular during Victorian era because of prominent values of abstinence. A shift then began in the U.S. that made grape juice the main communion beverage (at least among certain Protestants sects).

Several hundred vineyards operating in Europe today can trace their history to monastic origins.

In the 9th-15th centuries almost 1,000 monasteries dotted Europe. They were centers of education, stability, and technical innovation. Monks and nuns could read and write–this was quite uncommon then.

Monasteries cared for the sick, helped the poor, created places of education, and invented Universities. They could not fund all this through donations. Surplus wine was sold to finance ministry work (and also beer, fruit brandies, and cheese, among many other things..even prayers and Salvation ..which–in hindsight–appears to have been a mistake ) .

So, basically, thank God (and many monks) for wine!


Sparking your muse

 Enjoy the fantastic chat with Doug Jackson!


Douglas Jackson, D.Min.
Director of the Logsdon Seminary Graduate Program

Doug Jackson came to SCS in 2006, after serving as pastor of Second Baptist Church, Corpus Christi, since 1993. In addition to teaching courses, Dr. Jackson functions as a liaison between Logsdon Seminary and local churches in Corpus Christi. His areas of specialization include spiritual formation and pastoral ministry. Dr. Jackson has published and presented several articles and essays in religious and literary venues, including articles and lectures on the life and writings of C.S. Lewis.
• D.Min. – Truett Seminary (2006)
• M.Div. – Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (1985)
• B.A. – English Literature, Grand Canyon College (1982)

His blog is here.


Interview / chat notes:


MIN 8:00
on Doug preparing for a his Fall class.

A resource he is using by NT Wright – “The new perspective on Paul”
The covenant people God has saved.

Reformers and the necessary correction in contemporary times.

Confronting individualism
and thoughts on human flourishing.

on the idea of being “spiritual but not religious”

on his work about CS Lewis

Mere Christianity

The importance of imagination for understanding that isn’t covered by rationalism.

on his Oxford lecture
Owen Barfield an influential life-long friend of CS Lewis

Another lecture on Walter Miller – A Canticle for Leibowitz
Apologetic self-proclaimed validity on the rational scheme of knowing.

“Scholarship is about knowing more and more about less and less so that eventually you know everything about nothing.”

James Sire

Malcolm Guite
Chaplain of Gerton college and Cambridge
“Faith Hope and Poetry”

He covers the imagination as a way of knowing (an epistemology).

Holly Ordway
Houston Baptist University
“Not God’s Type”

Her 2-track movement toward conversion

18:00 Maria Popova (an admitted secular atheist on a continual spiritual search)

on Spiritual atheism

….if we come up with a system that covers everything (Christians and Atheists alike)…

“Humans are sensitive and emotionally vulnerable to a wasteful degree evolutionarily speaking…highly valuing the arts.” (Lisa)

Christ in the Desert Benedictine Monk and Abbot
Philip Lawrence, New Mexico
…slipping in and out of atheism….

HG Wells, and the fundamentalist reaction to him and others of his ilk.

on how science and religious circles have had an absolute unwillingness to be in one another presence and (have not wanted) to admit any weaknesses and (instead) just shout louder.


“The best apologetics can do is make Christianity credible and I don’t think it can make it inevitable.”


22:30 “Any belief in any ideal is still a leap of faith for anyone… like Justice, Love, Hope…” (Lisa)

on How people appeal to a standard outside themselves. (CS Lewis)

Theories of “survival behavior value” for Morality and Justice kicks the can. or it lands on simple absurdity and meaninglessness where suicide becomes a valid option.


Doug answering the question….”Is fundamentalism evolving”?

Richard Foster’s classic over 50 years old “Celebration of Discipline”

A story of a crucial pivot point for Doug.

How the psalmists had to cry out to God when the answers didn’t suffice any longer. For us, this is a return more than a departure.”

“I have gained the gift of being able to respect other traditions and admire things they bring us, but I talk to people across that spectrum that have that experience.”


“We go from trusting our denominational address or theology address to trusting Christ but it doesn’t mean an abandonment of it. Choosing a room in the same house to live in.”

Spiritual disciplines most meaningful to him:
On solitude and privacy (the difference). Henri Nouwen explains the difference.
 Henri Nouwen explains in “Out of Solitude” 

Doug: Solitude is for battle. Privacy is to be alone.

Demons come in our solitude (Desert Fathers). The outcome is awareness and purification.

Wanting “the listening heart” (what Solomon really asked God for).
on the importance of listening to God…

My Stockholm syndrome at parties. (Lisa)


“(My) Inability to be with people was driven by a failure to have a real self.”

“you are nearer to me than my own self.” Augustine

Doug realized:

“My real Self can’t be with people because it’s threatened by them, because they’re going to colonize my Self and going to make me into something I’m not. As opposed to having a real Self that can listen because God is protecting that Self.”

Father Francis Kelly Nemeck wrote
The way of Spiritual Direction (his director)
…Doug and I discuss Detachment and Holy Indifference…

St John of the Cross
(Exploring the spiritually obscured times and darker emotions.)

“the nada” (God is “no thing” the silence before God

…on staying in the problems and not panicking.

…on the crucial lesson from his mom that revealed his theology

(unknowing) Apophetic theology

“John of the Cross didn’t want that we should abandon the metaphors but move through them.”


“We cannot encapsulate God in our Theology.”

(which is terrifying but life-giving)

Further exploration in a future episode of John of the Cross with Doug coming soon!


If you enjoyed the show please give it a stellar review on iTunes here!

Watch for new episodes each Hump Day (Wednesday).

Episode 6 – The Skinny on Wine Spritzers and Friendship as Creative Fuel

Episode 6 – The Skinny on Wine Spritzers and Friendship as Creative Fuel

Hey! Thanks for coming to the website. I’m thrilled at how well the show has been doing. Thanks for listening to Spark My Muse. I had to share this cool photo (below) with you. Yep, it’s from iTunes! I’m officially “popular” and YOU made that happen. Thank you!

One thing that is still pretty shabby is the iTunes reviews for the show. Can you help?

Just a few words of “I love the show” or “whoot whoot”  (or what-have-you) would really help!

Click HERE to write a review.
It’s time to see who the audience is, officially. This quick survey takes about 30 seconds. Thank you for helping. I have some great things coming up in the show that you will enjoy.
Spark My Muse

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 1.16.23 PM

Show notes –
Spark My Muse podcast: Episode 6 – The Skinny on Wine Spritzers and Friendship as Creative Fuel

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 3.10.44 PM
Photo by Brett Bastello – Personal Creations (click for link)

Today’s episode covers the skinny on wine spritzers and also how friendship fuels our creative muse.

This episode is brought to you by
the book Dog in the Gap
10 essays inspired by the life lessons learned while befriending with the family canine. Heart warming, full of wonderful photography and good humor. Click the links to learn more to get a copy.

The Bonus Edition is just a $1 more and it contains lots of extras and goodies.


What is a wine spritzer exactly and why now is a good time to make one?

First, what’s up with the word “spritzer”?

The word “spritzer” comes from the German spritzen “spatter, squirt, spray, sprinkle”.

(additional note: just saying it involves some spritzing, right?)

The wine sprizter is just a simple drink combination of chilled wine and something that sparkles, such as sparkling mineral water, club soda, or seltzer water.

It’s consumed more for refreshment than anything else!

(It’s easy on the liver.)

• Drinking wine in warm weather or in the hot sun is always a bad idea. The spritzer is a good choice for summer because of its lower alcohol content, less calories, and being less inexpensive than straight wine consumption. Serving them is a great a way for you or your guests to not drink too much before the hambergers are ready at your cookout.

Too much wine (or any alcohol) during the summer will dehydrate you and you can quickly feel tired or ill.

Spritzers are mixed in various ratios and sometimes fruit juice is added.
The two most common are 50/50 or,
1/2 cup club soda to 1 cup of wine.

• The Spanish use red wine, fruit, and lemon soda. That sounds delicious!

I think wine or juice Spritzers are the go-to outdoor party beverage that provides a less expensive refreshing treat for outdoor entertaining and outdoor fun, sunny get-togethers, and bonding with friends. (They can be made without alcohol for teetotalers or children too–just skip the wine and add more fruit juice.)

• For parties, you can fill a punch bowl with the right ratios.

Some of my favorite wine spritzer recipes!

The Super Simple Spritzer

Just two ingredients:
6 ounces of a reasonably priced of white wine – or a blush wine–
plus 6 ounces of 7-Up (or try sprite or ginger ale).


Sublime Citrus Spritzer
2 lemon slices, 2 lime slices, 5 ice cubes.
4 ounces of your your favorite white wine and 2 ounces of lemon-lime seltzer.

Peach Dream Party Bowl Spritzer

6 quartered peaches and 2 tablespoons of honey.

Mix into a blender and puree. Place in a pitcher and chill for about two hours, then mix in a bottle of white wine, and stir well.

Finally, add a liter of cold sparkling water or seltzer.

Garnish with mint and extra slices of peach.


Citrus Ice Cube Party Pitcher Spritzer
2 lemons, zested
2 small oranges, zested (or 1 large orange, zested)
1 bottle white or blush wine
3 cups sparkling water
Place the zest as a mixture into an empty ice cube tray, add water and freeze for 3 to 5 hours.

In a large pitcher, combine the wine and the sparkling water and then the citrus zest ice cubes.

Stir and serve.


White Wine and Fruity Sweet Party Spritzer
1 bottle of sweet white wine
3/4 cup white grape juice or apple juice
1 liter bottle desired-flavor low-calorie sparkling water, chilled.

(optional and delicious Assorted fresh fruits (such as raspberries, blackberries, pineapple, sliced kiwifruit, blueberries, lemon slices, lime slices, halved strawberries, or red grapes)
1 In a large punch bowl combine wine and grape juice.

Just before serving, slowly pour in sparkling water.

If desired, garnish individual servings with fruit. Makes 10 (6-ounce) servings

SPARK MY MUSE: On friendship….

David Whyte:

Friendship is a mirror to presence and a testament to forgiveness. Friendship not only helps us see ourselves through another’s eyes, but can be sustained over the years only with someone who has repeatedly forgiven us for our trespasses as we must find it in ourselves to forgive them in turn. A friend knows our difficulties and shadows and remains in sight, a companion to our vulnerabilities more than our triumphs, when we are under the strange illusion we do not need them. An undercurrent of real friendship is a blessing exactly because its elemental form is rediscovered again and again through understanding and mercy. All friendships of any length are based on a continued, mutual forgiveness. Without tolerance and mercy all friendships die.

Little Prince

(previous entry)

C.S. Lewis

Friendship, unlike cooperation, is unnecessary to human survival.
Friendship, like philosophy and art is one of the things that gives value to survival.
how friendship differs from the other three types of love by focusing on its central question: “Do you see the same truth.”

Anne Lamott

In the course of the years a close friendship will always reveal the shadow in the other as much as ourselves, to remain friends we must know the other and their difficulties and even their sins and encourage the best in them, not through critique but through addressing the better part of them, the leading creative edge of their incarnation, thus subtly discouraging what makes them smaller, less generous, less of themselves.

My essay:

Pertaining to sparking one’s muse. Good friends, that offer selflessly the balance of honesty and gentleness, toughness and acceptance, encouragement and motivation breath life into our lives and our art. Being social creatures, as humans, we crave social bonds even though they inevitably cause us pain at times. Isolated, for too long, we shrink into ourselves with self-delusion, self-absorption, unwarranted loathing and aggrandizement.

Aloneness is a dread for many or a craving for those misfit. And even those misfit hope, sometimes, to find someone else in the dark that might recognize him and name him and finally tell him he is well enough and valuable. Only in the mirror of friendship can we have solid footing and might be drawn out into our best selves. Erotic love has too much fire and entanglement for that. Agape love too much work and abdication. Brotherly love too much responsibility and duty. Only a soul friend can birth you into your actualization most purely.

Friends and confidants help us be continually born into the next stage of development. We risk with them and they with us and the synergy makes us stronger. At its best it is a fountain of grace sourced in Originator of Love and Goodness.

Do you have a question or do you have an idea for the show? Please let me know! :)


Episode 2 (Wet Dog Fur Wine and Brene Brown)

Show notes:

Episode 2 (Wet Dog Fur Wine and Brene Brown)

Make sure your wine never tastes like wet dog fur. huh?


Spark my muse is The podcast for curious creatives types, wine newbies, and those willing to put up with my occasional silliness. Thank you so much for sharing your time with me.


How wine can go to the dogs and how to best store wine in the wine segment.

Plus, a bit about a topic and a book that has made a huge difference in my life.

This episode of the podcast is brought to you by:

Dog in the Gap

Having a pet in your care, who helplessly depends on your for life and well being can teach you a lot of things. 10 essays both funny and insightful written by 2 authors and plenty of memorable photos.

Or get the bonus addition for $1 more that has an extra essay and non public video links, and other assorted goodies.
Name Your Link

Today’s wine segment!

Why might your wine taste like wet dog fur….and what to do about it?

Basic Stats:
A wine bottle has 25.33 oz. (750ml).
A serving (a glass) of wine is 5 oz . (Half way up the glass is full. Where the glass is widest (aroma reasons in the design)
1 bottle = five glasses.

If your wine smells stale or like wet dog fur…it is Corked!

(The cork is not working and too much air has mixed with the wine.)

Wine last 24 hours if the air is pumped out
Here’s the one I recommend we use it at work. It pays for itself after two uses.

Wine lasts only a few hours if it’s not pumped. It’s not harmful, but it won’t taste its best. Pushing the cork back in won’t help too much because air is trapped in there.

Another reason Wine is stored on its side to expand the cork. A bottle corked with a plastic cork won’t be helped by horizontal storage.

On the next PODCAST – I’ll talk about my favorite tool for opening wine and why, and the bottle opening tools you should (probably) avoid !


Now to spark your Muse

Brené Brown’s work made its mark on me before she did her famous 1st TED TALK which lead to you famous ins TED Talk on her research about shame and vulnerability at the University of Houston.



The topics in the book and some of the passages I’ll read to you have really gained new significance  because putting up a podcast is risky. I feel vulnerable and I feel like I might get rejected. Some people won’t like it and I can’t change that. I don’t want to fail. And I don’t want to look like an idiot. And looking like an idiot is extremely probable.

When we are about to step out into unknown territory or if we doing something that makes us more vulnerable the two main things we think are “who do you think you are?” and “You’rd going to look like a fool” and I might add one to that “You won’t do it right” (it ’s related to the 2nd one) Maybe you can think of others that come to you mind.

We seem okay to handle other people’s vulnerability but really reluctant to risk that ourselves.

Excerpts from Daring Greatly:

Pg 35 “I define vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure”

My note: We can’t risk feeling vulnerable if we are dealing with shame.

pg 68 “people who don’t experience shame lack the capacity for empathy and human connection”

My note: Social also social pain. We fear rejection and isolation.

pg 67 “shame derives its power from being unspeakable”

Language and story bring light to shame and destroy it

pg 71

Guilt is “I did something wrong”

Shame is “I am bad” (or “I am something wrong”)

• When new feel shame we lash out, get anxious, hide, or numb out, and really we need to do the opposite of those things to have victory.

• Instead of lashing out or hiding we need to reach out, to some one we can trust.

• Instead of overcompensating we have to cut ourselves a break. “I make mistakes. I’m moving on past this one.”

Pg 80 Brené says “If I own the story I get to write the ending.” I just heard a fascinating TED TALK from Monica Lewinsky and she sounds like she’s taking this advise. She said it was time to take back her story and control her own narrative.

Reaching out and being honest creates an environment of empathy, and that’s really why I’m sharing all this with you.

Don’t be afraid to create and do things that are your passion. And mess up while doing them. I’m messing up a lot, but I’m trying to not let those mistakes put me in a choke hold of shame and inaction.

I hope you will be inspired to do the same.

Thanks for listening today!

Or if you have read Daring Greatly, what was the most powerful thing you learned. I’d love to hear from you! Leave comments at or the email

subscribe to the podcast….tell your friends what you and I have been up to. See you soon.

For just $1 you can help the show purchase better sound equipment for better quality in future podcasts!

Special perks and rewards are available too. Join with the Spark My Muse community at the Spark My Muse page at Patreon! Click the image for more info.


A boy, a fox, and a homecoming (sneak peek #3)

UPDATE: Book is available here.


Plus a squirrel…(and some other animals)

Anyway…Here’s a few illustrations and a spread from the book “Rex the Boy King”.

One is from my daughter and one from my husband, plus a spread.

My next step is to create a video that is part book trailer and part Kickstarter information and introduction video to garnish some kind of following for the project to bring it to fruition.

Kickstarter allows us to raise the money to publish this book ourselves and offer one-of-a-kind prizes and goodies to those who back the project and support what we are doing.

Stay tune for that. I’ll do a reading, and show more from the book.


What book has most sparked your imagination or created the most joy for you? Let us know!


by Ellie DeLay- age 12
“Nutly” by Tim DeLay


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