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Issue 7-8

Finding the Yeses in the No

Laguna Beach, California, where my sister and I were staying in a beach house generously loaned to us by a pastor-friend of the Bells, is one of those idyllic locations set on the Pacific Coast Highway. Beginning in San Juan Capistrano, the PCH snakes along some of the most beautiful coastlines in the world, leading to its designation as an All-American Road.

And here were Valerie and I, perched in a comfortable, light-filled, ocean-view hideaway on a hillside above it. In order to take the direct route to the public beach, we trekked across the PCH (dubbed so by locals) and through the lobby of the tony Montage Resort, rated one of the finest in the world. Valerie and I felt a little smug about being perched above the five-star Montage Resort; after all, it was the same air, same view, same ocean, and we weren’t paying for it.

Having taken over the beach house a few days before Steve Bell’s arrival, we roamed the town, found the gelato shop, explored nearby Dana Point, visited with some of our father’s aging relatives and discovered the Laguna Beach Resale Store, where I bought a pair of Ralph Lauren tailored cropped pants for $20 (really the high end of my purchasing budget!—compared to a RL list price of $450 for a similar pair of pants).

Due to an exceedingly tight income (a monthly Social Security check of $602), I have had the joy of discovering brand names in places such as Goodwill (all over the country) St. Vincent de Paul’s (in downtown West Chicago) and the Laguna Beach Resale Store. I like shopping for perfectly good clothes that show next-to-no wear. Last month, for $36, I walked out of Goodwill (with my new immigrant shopping colleagues, white-haired retirees, and parents making ends meet) having purchased a beautiful genuine leather winter jacket, two turtleneck tops, one great wrinkle-less blouse, and another pair of Ralph Lauren grey slacks ($325 list price). “You know,” I reported to David, “I’m wearing better made clothes now than I have in all my life!”

I love my Laguna Beach Ralph Lauren cropped pants. The finishing inside (the true test of a good garment) is particular, the fabrics are miraculous—they don’t wrinkle, consequently pack superbly, and fit the body marvelously! Upon arriving home from California, I grabbed the first opportunity to find matching tops and checked out the blouse racks at Goodwill, coming away with one crocheted vest, one white -length sleeve jersey, one tan wool pullover turtleneck sweater, and one Land’s End navy-blue hoodie—all without stains, tears, spots or wear, for $16. Even I can afford that!

Apart from straightened income, apart from the fact that I was raised by Depression Era parents, there are whole theological layers as to why it is important to wear other people’s cast-off clothes, why it is important to shop where other lower-income people shop, but let me just concentrate on one layer.

I was raised in a theological system where I was taught that God answers our prayers in one of three ways: “yes,” “no” and “wait.” This is somewhat true, but what that theological system never taught me was that most of God’s “no’s” are really “yeses.” I don’t mean to say that God doesn’t slam shut doors (and aren’t we often grateful) or insist that the timing is just not right. He does slam doors shut, put up barricades, and refuse what sometimes are ill-informed requests. But I am becoming convinced that what seems like the “No!” of God is often really a “Yes!” In fact, I think God says “Yes!” much more than He says “No.” We just don’t know how to look for the yeses that are all around us.

My daughter, Melissa, and her husband, Doug Timberlake, are being coached by a business mentor who is a venture capitalist. “The yeses are all around you,” he instructed them on their last conference call. “You just have to look for them. You just have to see them when they are there. Most people miss the opportunities because they ask for something with preconceptions, and when the answer they receive is not what they want, they don’t look for the Yes that also exists. The people who succeed in life are those who grab the unexpected yeses that come their way, even when they are not looking for them or planning for them. Stay open to the yeses.”

Don’t you think this is terribly funny? I’m living on a limited income but wearing Ralph Lauren clothes. I have never ever shopped in stores that carry the Ralph Lauren line. Yes!

When things get a little tight financially, I am learning to get excited. Whatever does my wealthy Heavenly Father have in mind? What will He draw out of His great storehouse of bounties to surprise me with next? After spending $80 at Home Depot to buy 16 salmon-pink geraniums for the summer pots, I decided that was my summer gardening budget, and that I would just lift my hands open and wait for the “Yes!” Two painted ferns, precariously planted near a busy path, were lifted to mix with the geranium planter on the patio—who says I need lobelia! One clump of ornamental grass, hastily plunked in the soil last fall, got re-potted in the recycled whiskey-barrel with the Artemisia along with a variegated-leaf hosta, dwarfed in its growth beneath the lilac bush. And speaking of hosta!—what if I divided the overgrown Hosta Blue Lady and put it in the front door pots?—simple, cool, pleasant.

Driving home, despite my spending moratorium, I stopped at a house nearby where a PLANT SALE sign was just too seductive to resist. Here, I stepped into a hosta paradise, where grower Ed Horton was holding an annual yard sale. I have passed this home hundreds of times and never knew what ecstasy for the gardener waited beyond the gates. Despite my spending moratorium, I plunked down $30 for a huge clump of Guacamole Hosta (which would have cost me $150 at Planter’s Palette, one of my favorite—but expensive—nurseries). I spent a blissful morning clearing weeds and fallen branches and dividing my find into four clumps that will eventually cover the earth and nix the weeds beneath the old oak.

Yeses all around. A “Yes!” here, a “Yes!” there, a “Yes! Yes!” everywhere.

“For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”
– 1 Corinthians 1: 19-22

Are you looking for the yeses? Make a habit of asking yourself, “Where (or what) is the ‘Yes!’ in this ‘No’?”

Karen Mains

Here Is a GREAT “Yes!” Opportunity —
Soundtrack™ for Millennium

Last fall Melissa Timberlake and I attended Pathway Ministries’ unique interactive, meditative experience held in Millennium Park in Chicago. This was a fabulous morning! I am strongly recommending that all the men in my life avail themselves of this event designed for up to 10 participants.

Planners and designers John Crilly and Mark Nesbit will provide you with iPods that store pre-taped music and meditations, as well as a workbook to remind you of Scriptures and in which you can jot your thoughts as you take three hours to slowly visit six sites within the Park. The cost is $95, not including transportation or lunch, and is well worth every penny. This would make a perfect couple experience. Spend a night in the city, either before or after Soundtrack™ for Millennium. See sidebar for more specific information.

Microenterprise Trip Opportunity

If you are interested in studying the effects of microenterprise ventures in Kenya, we are putting together a small group (16) in conjunction with Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology to journey to Nairobi next year, March 25 to April 6, 2009. The itinerary and the pricing are still being negotiated. Contact Karen Mains ( ) or by phone at 630-293-4500 and we will get back to you when this information is finalized.


Due to the fact that I need to be writing about Listening Groups and need to be bringing the Hungry Souls Web site up to mentoring speed, there will be no Chicago Hungry Souls' programs until the Advent Retreat of Silence December 3-4, 2008.


The Soulish Food e-mails are being posted biweekly on the Hungry Souls Web site. Newcomers can look that over and decide if they want to register on the Web site to receive the newsletter. You might want to recommend this to friends also. They can go to

Karen Mains

Karen Mains

"I am becoming convinced that what seems like the “No!” of God is often really a “Yes!”"

What Music Is God Playing
in the World? In Your Life?

Soundtrack™ for Millennium is a multifaceted one-day experience designed to help you encounter God and to open yourself to His movement in your heart and mind.

Pathway ( will provide you a selection of purposed words & music for use during the day of the retreat. We will act as guides on a crafted journey to encounter the heart of God through the experiential environment of Millennium Park, with its unique combination of architecture, monumental sculpture and landscape design.

You will experience art, solitude, music, natural beauty, social immersion, community and play. Please plan to join us for this unique event.

Experiences are available on the following dates. If you would like to bring a group, we can accommodate up to 10 participants per event.

Dates (all Saturdays):
JUNE 7, 21
JULY 12, 26
AUGUST 9, 16

The Retreat Fee is $95 per person (meals and transportation not included). To register, please respond to John Crilly at or call 630-641-4461.

2008 Pilgrimage to France

God Through the Eyes of the Artist and the Artist In the Eye of God

October 24 - November 10, 2008

This is a journey for men and women. We have room for 10 more pilgrims. The land fee is $2592. Half ($1296) is due by May 15, 2008. The balance is due August 1, 2008. Airfare is not included. Depending upon the exchange rate (the dollar being low), we may have to add a bit more to the land price, but we hope not to do this.

If you have any questions,
contact Karen Mains ( ) or Valerie Bell ( ).
We can provide you with a flyer that has all the details and the general itinerary or you can go to the travel site at to print off the pages you need for full information.

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