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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Set List: Celebrating 1975


Celebrating '75 

Bob Dylan - Tangled Up In Blue - YouTube

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

An Essay of Place

All photos taken by JLR Grace 2010-2014
The Vineyard.

“How I wish that somewhere there existed an island for those who are wise and of good will.” Albert Einstein

In the year 1835, not far from where the ferry came in on the tide to bring souls to the island of Martha’s Vineyard, Jeremiah Pease selected a “venerable grove of oaks” to be a place of worship and revival. This spot would be the roots that would grow to become Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association. In August of 1836 the first Love Feast was held, and the following year more than 2000 people were coming to attend the tent revivals and camp meetings held in this special place . Known today for its affluent summer residents and the plentiful number of prominent Presidential Democrats who vacation there (from Kennedys to Clintons to Obamas) this island is instead rooted in a rich history of common people - many seeking a deep spiritual experience on its sandy shores.

I moved to Martha’s Vineyard in July of 2011 and I found it to be beyond what I imagined. When you can smell the sea on the air and  see the light of the sky reflected back on itself, mystery of mysteries how there seems to be a song that rolls in on the waves. I have lived most of my life on the shores of the "Inland sea", and Lake Ontario is one Great Lake, I am no stranger to glorious sunsets and the beauty and peace that comes with residing by water. I was however, unprepared for the grandeur and majesty that is the Vineyard in the midst of the Atlantic. Six miles out to sea and surrounded by only the steel blue waves, the night sky patterned with innumerable stars - a place that transports you back in time to when the tales told in the heavens and the lights from above guided our way.
Working and living Up Island, in the small operational fishing village of Menemsha, I found myself removed from Edgartown and its Yacht Clubs and men in Pink sweaters with Nantucket Red pants, those affluent summer residents. Instead, I lived where once the sunset in an orange fire into the deep water, all you could hear was the song of the bell on the buoy, keeping time with the moon and her tides. In the morning and as the day dawned in the wee hours before, the cries of the fisherman, in their weathered carharts and stained hoodies, could be heard echoing through the Harbor along Squid Row. Setting lines, getting gear in order to head out for the days catch, which could include Bluefish, Albacore Tuna, Striper Bass - caught that day and then served that night, at the oldest restaurant on island -Home Port, where I managed the dining room. It would sometimes take 3 or 4 men to carry in a 300 pound fish, scales gleaming and glistening silver flashing in the sun from the boat on the dock to the back of the pick up truck, through the parking lot and onto the Chef’s table. A team of guys breaking the beast of the sea down, from tip to tail, all parts used and served to the masses who would wait for an hour or more for a table, to be read the daily specials of the ever changing chalkboards created by yours truly and my young effervescent hostess. The floor would be dangerously slick with butter as Lobstah after Lobstah went out to the tables, guests dining on crispy fresh fried fish, whole belly clams, seared scallops and the best yet - selections from the raw bar; Katama Bay Oysters or little necks, plucked hours before from the water and shucked before your very eyes.
My move to the Vineyard was a whim, a friend lived there - a seasonal job opened up, she knew the owner, she recommended me for the position. My children were both over 15, and my family thought they could survive without me for the summer in New York, so off I went on what would become an incredible learning experience and the adventure of a lifetime. It would end up becoming our home. Giving up the only place we had ever known, for an existence only attainable by air or sea. My oldest son joined me after about a month, then his brother a month later (both going right to work in the island’s Hell’s kitchen's). Meeting extraordinary people from all corners of the globe, was one of the most educational and emotional experiences of my life. The world came to this place, and many became family. My husband, Nate,  had put in his notice at work by the fall, we had found a place to rent (that was not a Windmill, where we all had been staying for the summer, pictures below) he had secured employment on island, and was blessed to end up doing some incredible high end finish carpentry work. Nate was able to learn so much about traditional American craftsmanship while we lived on island, it was like living history at the edge of the world in more ways than one.
When I began researching the local history of the Vineyard and discovered that the town of Oak Bluffs with it’s colorful, quirky, unique gingerbread cottages, had been founded when thousands had journeyed to the island for those summer camp meetings - steeped in revival and a passion to worship God, I was struck by just how many stories a place can hold. The tales that could be told by that “venerable grove of oaks” as well as the rolling rock walls placed by early settlers, and the trails through forests by a people far more ancient than that. The Vineyard is home to the Wampanoag Indian tribe, the only Native American people to retain their original ancestral land in this country, as well as holding the claim to fame of being the very tribe that hosted that first Thanksgiving all those years ago over on the coast in Plymouth. The purple marbled Wampum that is still made into fashionable jewelry today, is dug and ground from quahog shells just as it was hundreds of years ago, the tourists clamor for it - and the trade is good for the people (see my one and only piece in photo below, it reminds me of a Supermoon).
I, like Dorothy, have learned in my life, that there is no place like home. That you can go searching for yourself all the way to OZ and back, but you really needn't look further than your own backyard. I have also learned that home is where the heart is - where you hang your hat - where you are surrounded by those you love. Many of those I loved then and now, are far from me, some in actual miles, some near- but unreachable-separated by the distance of illness and decay, some unreachable and gone from this time. It is because of the fleetingness of place and home that we, therefore, must hold those we love in our heart - no matter where we physically find ourselves. I have always felt myself a stranger in a strange land, whether in the small lakeside village where I grew up surrounded by friends and family who had known me my whole life, or as I found myself, on a tiny island surrounded by strangers - proud New England Patriot Yankees, to be exact. I must admit, despite living in one of the top vacation destinations in the US - I had an ever present longing to return "home". Although, it was not so much the shores of Lake Ontario that beckoned me to return, but again, the sense of that strange land which called me back. This call could be heard most clearly however, through the bell on the buoy out there in the lapping waves themselves - there it came from a distant time, and the voices became many and long. John F. Kennedy, a sailor on the Atlantic waters I was blessed to call home for a while, once said;
“We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came.” (Brainyquote, n.d.)
[ Source: ]

My years on the Vineyard afforded me the interesting opportunity of solace and solitude, soul searching and seeking by the sea. While the summer season had me working 70 hours a week to meet the demands of the 120,000 tourists there to do business, the winter found me among the few 20,000 hearty souls who stayed to weather the bitter and harsh cold. I spent this time, bundled in front of a fire or at the Chilmark library - not only researching local history, but exploring my own. I became a bit obsessed with tracing my genealogy and discovering my own roots, looking for that strange land that seemed to call to me through the eons. The Vineyard for me, was a place of personal discovery, where the winds blow fierce off the Atlantic -especially in the bleak and brutal winter months. A shore where you must learn to stand solid and firm -in the face of whatever may come in on the tide.  As with the many who came during the Victorian era across the water for tent revivals, looking for a spiritual awakening, I surely found mine among the venerable oaks, the green pastures filled with sheep, the red clay cliffs, all with the velvety night sky hung above… even the Zodiac gracious enough to include me in its extraordinary tale.
Wampum Bracelet by Wampanoag Tribe 2016


MVCMA.ORG. (n.d.). History - Martha's Vineyard Camp Meeting Association. Retrieved from

Perl, S., & Schwartz, M. (2014). Writing true: The art and craft of creative nonfiction (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.



Sunday, October 2, 2016

Forgive as you would be forgiven.

Erev Yom Kippur October 11, 2016 ~ Yom Kippur October 12, 2016

As this time approaches please consider, here's the deal for the holiday,
You can't ask forgiveness of God until you've asked forgiveness of people the day before.

Image result for matthew 6:14-15

Not so easy right? 
THEY were WRONG! I am HURT! I am offended! WHERE is the JUSTICE?!
It flies in the face of our very nature to love those who hate us, to forgive the unforgivable - but it is indeed what we are asked to do. 

When I struggle with this, which I do - as by nature I am one unforgiving bitch, I think of Christ on the cross..."Father forgive them they know not what they do". 
Talk about a guy who had every right to be pissed off and claim injustice.

When I think "THEY don't deserve forgiveness", I remember neither do we... 
more specifically me, I do not deserve forgiveness. 
You see, I am a thief - a murderer - a sinner, guilty of many transgressions in both thought and deed.... and I know that my time is coming soon.

This man, who we know according to the historical record lived (there is more evidence that testifies to His life than that of Julius Caesar), this man endured unjust suffering - 
for you, for me, for all who would call upon His name. 
Consider Him. 
May you forgive and be forgiven. 

Today I say to you, L'shanah Tovah! Happy Rosh Hashanah! 
Shanah Tovah Umetukah... a good and sweet year!

"On Rosh Hashanah it is written… On Yom Kippur it is sealed. 
May it be written and may it be sealed that you have a new year that brings fulfillment and happiness, peace and prosperity - 
all of life’s very best things. 
Have a Happy, Healthy New Year!”

As is tradition, in the year to come I offer a prayer for my children; 
that they may live upstanding lives dedicated to acts of loving kindness, charity and study:

May God make you like Ephraim and Menasheh. 
May God Bless you and guard you.
May the light of God shine upon you, and may God be gracious to you.
May the presence of God be with you and give you peace.
In the matchless name of Christ the King, Yeshua Hamashiach - 
a boy from Bethlehem, a roughneck carpenter from Nazareth, Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

A Son, A Savior

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, thou art with me...

We are all in the valley - the shadow of death looms over us all. 
We keep ourselves busy, busy, busy with the distractions of this world - of this life, 
but the clock keeps ticking, and to no man is promised tomorrow.

We do not have to endure alone, our God will go before us, He will walk through the valley with us - we can stand and fear no evil. 

It is important to remember, however, that our Savior did indeed walk alone.
He endured the darkness, that we may be saved unto the light. 

Image result for my god my god why have you forsaken me psalm

The Father turned from Him, because He bore our sin.

But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. "By His stripes you are healed."  1 Peter 2:24

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Speak the Language of the Hebrew Man


My commandment to you is this, 
You love one other, 
just as I have loved you.John 15:12

I tell you friend 
I would not trade my name however small
That's written there, beyond the stars, in some celestial hall
For all the famous names on earth
For all the glory that they share
I'd rather be an unknown here
And have my name up there. 
- Coach Wooden

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Just One of Those Days...

THAT DAY, when you just didn't get it. 
The deal did not go down, or at least it did not go down as you had planned it would. 
Well, all days could be defined as "one of those days"if we allow them to be, I suppose.
So, we get to choose:
Bitterness or Joy.
Gratitude or Anger.
God's will, or our own.

God is His own interpreter and He will make it plain. My prayer for all of us today is for strength, and joy - that despite circumstances, we will choose gratitude. 
May He turn His face to shine upon you and give you His peace

God Moves In A Mysterious Way by William Cowper

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Save My Life: by Sidewalk Prophets

Tell me that I’m not forgotten
Show me there’s a God
Who can be more than all I’ve ever wanted
‘Cause right now I need a little hope
I need to know that I’m not alone
Maybe God is calling you tonight
To tell me something
That might save my life

Thursday, February 11, 2016


We need to be grateful for each day, even those we would choose to forget and wish never happened.

There are and will be dark days, from which the sunlight seems stolen and distant.

Days when the loss and cost, are greater than anything we could imagine, and surely more than we want to pay.

As human beings we are greedy, hungry only for that which makes us happy - gives us pleasure.
C.S. Lewis said, "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world." (The Problem of Pain, 1940).

I have always feared for my children to experience pain.
I do not want them to feel pain, yet I want them to LIVE.
Life is risk, and the only certainty death - but the question remains: how will you live?

Take risks. Be bold in hope and courageous despite despair.

This life is a gift, how extraordinary that we are living now!
We could have been born a one celled organism on some far off dark planet in the nether reaches of some far off universe, but we are blessed to be humans in the here and now.
Living when all the world is at our finger tips, you were born for a time such as this.

A roof over your head, food in your belly, change in your pocket? YOU are richer than 90% of the rest of the planet. I know its hard to imagine at times, but somebody has it worse and harder than you do.

We need not offer our sacrifice -pain - blood - trial - to the enemy,
instead we need to give it up to God.

Excerpt from
Living in Graceland 
Link to my BOOKS webpage 

Stop looking for explanation.
Wonder not at the why.
Sometimes there is no answer, but be assured,there is a greater plan.
In love,

A farmer and a teacher, a hooker and a preacher,
Ridin' on a midnight bus bound for Mexico.
One's headed for vacation, one for higher education,
An' two of them were searchin' for lost souls.
That driver never ever saw the stop sign.
An' eighteen wheelers can't stop on a dime.

That farmer left a harvest, a home and eighty acres,
The faith an' love for growin' things in his young son's heart.
An' that teacher left her wisdom in the minds of lots of children:
Did her best to give 'em all a better start.
An' that preacher whispered: "Can't you see the Promised Land?"
As he laid his blood-stained bible in that hooker's hand

That's the story that our preacher told last Sunday.
As he held that blood-stained bible up,
For all of us to see.
He said: "Bless the farmer, and the teacher, an' the preacher;
"Who gave this Bible to my mamma,
"Who read it to me."

There are three wooden crosses on the right side of the highway,
Why there's not four of them, now I guess we know.
It's not what you take when you leave this world behind you,
It's what you leave behind you when you go.


I know your life
On earth was troubled
And only you could know the pain.
You weren't afraid to face the devil,
You were no stranger to the rain.
Go rest high on that mountain
Son, your work on earth is done.
Go to heaven a-shoutin'
Love for the Father and the Son.
Oh, how we cried the day you left us
We gathered round your grave to grieve.
I wish I could see the angels faces
When they hear your sweet voice sing.
Go rest high on that mountain
Son, your work on earth is done.
Go to heaven a-shoutin'
Love for the Father and the Son.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Voices of Reason

We shall overcome.

"What we need is not division; what we need is not hatred, but love and compassion toward one another and a feeling of justice toward those who suffer within our community, whatever their color or faith. Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world." 
-- Robert F. Kennedy

I keep listening, but find I am unable to hear the voices of reason. During that era where many marched for civil rights and social justice, it seemed they spoke out for those who were unable to speak for themselves. Today people only speak on their own behalf, to further their own agenda. 

As we watch the Presidential election unfold in sordid politics, as we endure the storm of our climatic change, as we hear of wars and rumors of wars and nations rise against nations - I find myself searching for just one voice of reason. 

In America we have the unprecedented possibility to allow the voice of the people to rise above all others in a resounding shout - one of unity and brotherhood, one of freedom and justice for all. Instead, we see the divide-between rich and poor, white and black, Christian and Muslim - growing... a gulf between us widens, as we allow ourselves to be conquered by ignorance and hate. 

My fellow Americans, 
My fellow citizens of the world,
Deep in my heart, I do believe, we SHALL overcome someday - we shall ALL BE FREE.
We must, however, STAND TOGETHER. 
We can not let the power elite, the 1%, the forces that enslave, to steal from us this world. 
Fear not, our Lord is with us. He will strengthen us. 
He will uphold us with His righteous right hand.

Let us serve each other; in our communities, our brothers and sisters - 
no matter, race, creed or religion. 
-JLR Grace

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Fear Not

Terror got ya? Gripped with anxiety, or do you have a prescription for that?


I drove by a serious accident involving a vehicle and a telephone pole yesterday. Watched a woman screaming in pain being loaded in to an ambulance. First responders deal with these situations daily, and I am filled with gratitude and have the utmost respect for those who serve their fellow man in their most desperate times of need. "There is no greater love than this, that a man would lay down his own life for that of his friends." John 15:13. I am grateful for those who run towards danger, instead of from it - so thankful for the watchmen on the wall. We are called to care for one another, are you able and willing to answer that call?

What a world, what a world. Who needs scary stories, when you have the horrors of life, am I right??? North Korea and Iran unleashing their nukes, kids killing kids and everybody just going about their business, pausing only to pray that the "government" will solve all their problems. YIKES, people, we have got to get back to basics here.

My Fellow Americans and Citizens of the world I am here to tell you that you live in what may be the most exciting time in recorded human history. You were chosen to be here NOW, and while things may look bleak or overwhelming, please stop and consider - you were born for a time such as this.

Before our very eyes we watch as Orwell, Phillip K. Dick, Asimov, Huxley and H.G. Wells have become prophets. We also watch as words, recorded 2000 years ago by an itinerant preacher and roughneck carpenter from Nazareth come to pass.

The following is a list of things, that I do not fear, but that I watch with growing apprehension;

  • Climate Change, Unprecedented Weather
  • Mass Animal Deaths (Revelation 8:9)
  • Wars and rumors of wars (Matthew 24:7)
  • GOVERNANCE BY DATA/Loss of Civil Liberties
  • The Internet of Things (Daniel 12:4)
  • RFID Chip, don't stand in line for it people. (Revelation 13:16-17)

The following videos are compilations of news footage from around the world, 
I think it is important to SEEK FOR YOURSELF. 
Look at was is going on in the world, and know YOU have a job to do. 
There is a bigger picture and YOU are part of it.

We live in incredible times.
Times that call for discernment, eyes wide open and no fear. Do not be deceived.
May God bless you and keep you, may He turn His face to shine upon you and give you His peace. 
-JLR Grace