Do-It Days!

I’m having a Do-It Day today!

Do-It Days are high-productivity days. They are marked by a conference call (led by Get-It-Done Guy, Stever Robbins) at the top of the hour, 9am to 5pm. Each call consists of participants simply stating what they did in the last hour and will do during the next hour. And it is amazing how much I get done because of those mega-brief phone calls!

For example, every Monday, I check some resources: LinkedIn, Idealist, Lulu, and a number of websites that post faculty job listings, church job listings, etc. Sometimes that simple sounding process takes me hours – usually because when I get to LinkedIn or Facebook or a number of other places, I wander around, chat with folks, etc. Today, I made my way through all the sites in less than 20 minutes, INCLUDING the time it took to enroll both my professional email addresses in unroll.me!

And since I had budgeted an hour for that task, here I am, updating this website in my “found” 40 minutes!

I’ve tried to have Do-It Days on my own – holding myself accountable to the one hour blocks of time – but they never work. Yet some group of strangers on the phone can keep me focussed. Without ever yelling at  me if I don’t stay focussed or thinking less of me if I underestimate the work or even applauding me if I do get it all done. It’s an interesting process!

And I wonder if it isn’t what church at its best should do: give us a regular opportunity to check in with each other and be sure we are doing what we said we’d do. What would church look like if, each Sunday morning, we went around the room and said what we’d accomplished (from a spiritual perspective) in the past week and intended to do in the next week? And then came back the next week and did it again?

What if I said out loud on Sunday that I was going to be less judgmental and more kind to strangers… would I remember that more clearly on Thursday when the kid on the bus won’t move or the woman in the 10 or less check-out line has eleven items or the guys across the street are too noisy? And if I came back to church the next week and said, “Well, I managed to be kind for half the week…” would I come away more determined that the following week I would be better?

What is there that holds you to your word? Who is it that keeps you accountable for doing what you say you intend to do? Would you take that responsibility in front of your congregation if it were offered to you? And would you hold each other’s accountability as gently as my Do-It Day conference call strangers hold mine?

Blessings,

Beth

 

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Snowstorm Avoidance

We missed the last snowstorm! It could have been 8-10″ but in reality there was maybe a half-inch of snow dusting the car-tops and sidewalks this morning! What a relief! And such a gift: I didn’t have to do a thing to bring it about! I just walked over to the window and looked out at the beauty of snow not there!

Now, if only the rest of the complications of life could be avoided so easily… and there were a slew of them lately.

I preached at a nursing home a few Sundays ago. A bus and a train to another train… And then the second train wasn’t running! I always plan to get where I’m going ahead of time – but the walking and transfers necessary to make that commute sucked up so much time that I ran into the building only a few minutes (and several frantic phone calls) before the service was supposed to start!

Then I needed to be part of a conference call – and the only time the rest of the group was all available was the morning before I had a afternoon meeting at church and an evening college class to teach. So I said, “Yes, I can make that time…” As one of my students pointed out that night, that’s about a half day of work in any other part of the country – but here in NYC, add in four hours of transportation (and 2 hours of work at the computer before the conference call) and my half-day workday was now something like 12 hours long!

Then I learned today about all the other complications I didn’t avoid in the past week or so…  An announcement I didn’t make AND a request I didn’t send AND a registration I didn’t confirm because all three of those dates got past me! A mistake I made in a video that I will now need to re-record! A delay in a program… a budget imbalance that I should have seen a few days ago… oh, you get the point…

If only they were as easy to avoid as walking to the window and looking out… But then again, in some ways they are. I have known this about myself for a long time: I get too busy for my own good. And when I do, it is the details that suffer. The big plans, the larger ideas, the creative work – that never suffers because it is what I like to do. But the details that I am not that fond of anyway, well, they really suffer when my attention is spread too thin. If I would just look out the window once in awhile, I might be more focussed when I sit back down!

It all makes me wonder the old spiritual direction question: Where is God in all of this? Because if God is in the details, I am in big trouble!

But, seriously, it occurs to me as I ask the question, that I think God is out the window, playing in the snow that has or hasn’t fallen, taking a quick walk in the cold, stretching the muscles of body and brain, clearing lungs and making space for a few deep breaths to enter… Loving the big ideas AND the details - the snowstorms and the snowflakes…

And asking me to do the same.

Blessings,

Beth

 

 

 

 

 

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Women’s Spirituality, Digital Ministry, and other new ventures

I’m working on several new projects right now.

One is an online workshop through www.BeADisciple.com on digital ministry. It’s coming out of my work last year with Video Lectures, podcasts, and the Judson Study – as well as many comments from participants in other workshops about their desire to use technology combined with their discomfort about using technology.

If any one has any questions you’d like to see me address in that workshop, please email them to me. I’ll be building a page in this website that will display some of those and give us all a chance to weigh in on them – a little crowd-sourcing for the workshop!

Another project I’m just venturing into focuses on connecting women’s spiritual life with their occupational life. How does what we are gifted to do connect with the work we do? (My thesis: if we work in areas that we are gifted for, we experience much more joy and are much more successful!)

For that project, I’m looking for some volunteers to take a new version of a Spiritual Gift Inventory and give feedback on both the process and the results. Again, if you’re willing to help out, send me an email.

And then there’s a Christian Meditation Practices for Lent workshop, also on www.BeADisciple.com. It’s the next step of the CMP workshops I’ve been leading for the last few years and is similar to the CMP for Advent workshops, with no assignments, requirements, etc. Just a low-keyed approach to staying focused in Lent!

Times like this always remind me of how exciting it is to be involved in new ventures, new projects, new ministries, new programs. Life is always full of the potential for new adventures and I encourage you to try out a few this winter!

Blessings,

Beth

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Happy January!

Happy Holidays! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s and Kwanzaa and whatever else you were celebrating! I did, even though I wasn’t ready for any of it – but that turned out not to matter!

Among the highlights of my holidays – visiting my husband’s parents for a few days (who we hadn’t seen for too long!), meeting a new beau in the family (who we liked a lot!), a lovely Christmas Eve service at Judson Memorial Church (where we got to feel like children again!), and several odd little unexpected bursts of happiness.

For example, the weather turned unexpectedly warm and I was able to run several times! There were unexpected phone calls/visits with family and friends! I helped decorate The Gym at Judson for a Christmas party!

And I did something I’ve never done before: I went Christmas caroling with the West Village Chorale! Those of you who know me personally, know that the idea of me singing in public is absurd! But surrounded by my small group of 20+ very good singers, I could just enjoy myself and no one noticed my off-key, out-of-time, can’t-carry-a-tune-in-a-basket contribution!

Small joys, small blessings, small opportunities for love and laughter and song and joy – all adding up to a very happy holiday season! And now there’s a new year to fill with the same sorts of small joys, in work and in play, that will spread the glow to others, and keep it shining in me.

I pray you were also blessed with a happy holiday and that you have joy to take with you into 2014. And if not, I pray that there are people all around you who can share their love with you and carry you on to a place where happiness will fill your days again!

Blessings,

Beth

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Thanksgiving Revisited

I think I could just repost the last blog and change the word Thanksgiving to Christmas… I’m just not ready for Christmas, either!

But then again, how many of us are ever really ready for Christmas? Aren’t there always a few details at least that we overlook or just don’t have time for?

I remember a dreadful Christmas morning when I realized that I hadn’t bought a Christmas present for my parents from my toddler son…. It was probably the first Christmas he understood what was going on with gifts and I just hadn’t thought about how he might want to hand them a package!

And then all those years when the cards didn’t get mailed out until after Christmas – one year, they went out in March!

And, of course, the years when I was so caught up in Advent activities at church that I didn’t even think about Christmas until Christmas Eve!

So maybe this is just who I am – someone who is always surprised by Christmas’ arrival. But maybe that is a gift… maybe Christmas is best when it is a surprise? Maybe Christmas is most meaningful when the blessing arrives in unexpected ways, at unexpected times? Maybe the celebration is most symbolic when the holy quietness sneaks in to the profane busy-ness of our lives and stuns us with its advent?

Now, that I think I can be ready for!

Christmas Blessings!

Beth

PS: Some of our friends have asked where to get Tony’s Christmas album… You can find it here:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/tonyperrychristmas/id112175238

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There’s a turkey out there somewhere!

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I am not ready! Food is not purchased, apartment is not cleaned… you know the drill…

But gratitude is abundant! So much has been happening in my life lately and all of it is good.

First, the Judson Study is winding down and it has been so much fun to put together – and to interact with the more than two-dozen participants! (If your congregation would like some help setting up a digital ministry like this, connect with me – there may be an online workshop happening soon!) I’m grateful to Judson for letting me do this, to all those I interviewed for the podcasts, and to all the participants who have in one way or another connected with me throughout the past seven weeks!

Second, I’ve managed to keep on running this fall and I’m up to running about a half-mile without a break – a mile with just one period of walking in the middle! I’m grateful to the folks who maintain the parks around me, to C25K for their podcast that keeps me on track, to my husband who motivates me, and to my body for actually responding to this adventure!

Third, I have had some great classes and workshops lately – wonderful students and participants who make me feel like I am in ministry every day, helping in some small way to offer them fresh vision or purpose or motivation! I’m grateful to the University of Phoenix for hiring me – and to BeADisciple.com for sharing their technology and particularly to Lisa Buffum at BeADisicple.com for sharing her on-going support and encouragement!

There’s so much more in life to be grateful for, as well – my family, of course, and the God who upholds me in all things! As this year’s holiday season approaches (whether I am prepared for it or not!), I go into it with gratitude for all this year has brought and all the next might bring! I hope you, too, have the joy of gratitude in your life and can share it with others!

Blessings,

Beth

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Exhaustion

Sometimes I get caught up in words… Like this word: exhaustion. It’s a noun and based on the word “exhaust,” which can be either a noun or a verb. The exhaust that comes out of a car is a noun; it’s a verb in the sentence “Running five miles exhausts me.”

Simply by changing a few letter of the word at the beginning or end of it, we can turn it into an adjective or adverb – a descriptive word rather than either a noun or a verb. Exhaustive (adj.), exhaustingly (adv.), exhaustible (adj.)… well, you get the point.

And yet with all those differences, the word still means basically the same thing: some variation of thoroughly worn out, drawn out, used up. Once you know the basic meaning, you can apply that knowledge to any sentence it is found in. Even if you didn’t know the meaning of all the rest of the sentence, if you knew that one word, it would color all the rest of the unknown words with that image of exhaustion.

I guess I’m saying that because I am exhausted today. I have had several unbelievable weeks where all I could do every day was prepare for the next day/s’ work. And at the end of it – yesterday – all I could do was figure out how to get through each hour so that the next hour wasn’t a disaster. How to make each hour not bear the image of the exhaustion that was underlying my every move!

But, God is good! (All the time!)

I made it through yesterday’s wonderful work, got last night’s rest, and have the option of being lazy and unproductive today! Oh, yes, I’m sending emails, planning, looking at my checkbook – all those things I haven’t had time to do for the past few weeks. But there will be a few hours of just breathing, resting body and mind, and letting some new priorities sift through the exhaustion to spur me on to action another day!

And, of course, the same old lessons learned again: Avoid over-scheduling; acknowledge my limitations; prioritize more realistically…. And when I fail at that again, when exhaustion begins to color all my sentences, to remember how good God is – an inexhaustible (adj.) source of all energy, power, strength.

And, if I gave God a chance, an inexhaustible source of better priorities, more realistic expectations, and all those other things I know I need but fail to pursue. Maybe this time, I’ll get it right….

Meanwhile, I hope you are having a restful Monday!

Blessings,

Beth

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