2015!

It usually takes me a while to get used to a new year’s number… 2014 gives way slowly to 2015, for example. But this year, I am having no trouble leaving 2014 behind!

Maybe it’s that 2014 end with some difficulty – ill relatives, holiday plans disrupted, too much work and too little time… Maybe it’s that 2015 began with some signs of hope – a much-needed vacation, more work, but also a little down time…

Whatever the reason, I’m firmly fixed in 2015 already and I have great hopes for what this year will hold! Here’s just a taste of what is in store for us…

Did I mention that vacation? It was our first real vacation in more than ten years – and of all the places in the world that I would have never thought I’d want to visit, well, we went to Las Vegas! And I had much more fun than I expected to have! Everything is very shiny and loud and over the top – a perfect counterpoint to my usual sit-in-my-tiny-office-and-work life!

The first afternoon was also warm enough to sit outside in a hot tub – which was not the case in New York City when we left that morning! There was a nice gym in the hotel, lots of places to walk to and sights to see that didn’t cost a thing, and gluten free food almost everywhere we went! And I’m already thinking ahead to the possibilities of another vacation next summer!

Now, we did come home from this vacation a day early so my husband could go to a callback audition which led to another… who knows where that will lead? Right now we both have so much potential work on our plates that we almost hope it doesn’t all come through! But if it does, we have choices! What could be more exciting for contract workers like us – actor/singer/teacher/preacher – than to have choices in what work we might do?

And then there’s Indiegogo… I don’t know if you’re familiar with crowdfunding but I’m considering a campaign for spring. It’s a monumental task to do it right and I don’t want to do it wrong! I’ve got a good idea, and after two years of experimentation, it has proven results so I’m excited (and overwhelmed) by the possibilities!

Of course, there are some inevitable problems facing us, too. Separations, griefs, anxieties, and struggles are a part of all our lives, aren’t they? But add to that all the usual connections of family and friends, all the typical opportunities to work and volunteer in our communities, all the common time to spend together… and the good can easily outweigh the difficult!

I pray for you that you have a great 2015 but even more I pray that you have a strong sense of hope in this first month of the year, a recognition of the many blessings we all have every single day, and a joy within you and yours that overcomes every difficulty.

Blessings for 2015!
Beth

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

From my Winter Newsletter…

Success!

In this edition of the newsletter, I want to do something that I’m not very comfortable doing: I want to brag!

You see, I’ve been doing a project for the past two years that I am so excited about. I’ve mentioned it briefly in other newsletters and in my blog (www.bethperry.net). But I really want to tell you more about it and, since I just did some evaluation, this seemed like a good time!

The project is the Judson Study. It’s a Bible Study with a twist! The starting place is the church, congregation, and their ministries. Then there’s the scripture connection. And finally there’s an application to daily living! Ministry + Faith => Life!

And all of that is packaged in podcasts and text messages – and a website for those who don’t use a smart phone! I get the fun of interviewing folks doing ministry at the church, recording our conversation, editing together a ten-minute podcast with the scripture connection, and writing daily text messages encouraging people to live out what they’ve heard and learned!

So far, I’ve done a 3-week trial version and then 2 full versions (one offered twice, the other once so far), with a total of 12 podcasts. And 15% of the congregation has participated! I can’t remember the last time I had 15% of a congregation participate in a Bible Study!

And look at these stats: 443 views of the website; 220 views of the podcasts; responses of one sort or another from more than half of the participants! And the kind of responses… Some deep text message conversations almost daily, other brief conversations in passing in real time, lots of words of appreciation (particularly for the text messages)…

And then there are the other – to me, incredible – sorts of responses. Like the woman who responded to a text about feeding the people around her by bringing a pot of soup to a meeting! Or the man who wrote an essay based on the experience! Or the woman who put together a cookie baking day in the church parsonage! (The picture above is just a sample of what we baked together!)

Can you see why I want to talk about this project? I am so moved by these people who have participated – and by the leadership of the congregation who trusted me to put this together! And when you think that it has been more fun than work…. well, its almost too much to hold inside!

And I guess the truth is that I do feel comfortable bragging just a little here. It’s not like I’m the reason this has worked so well…. There’s all those others who have helped me and participated with me… and humored me when they really didn’t think it would be very good… And then there’s God…

As scripture says over and over, boasting or bragging about our accomplishments as if we somehow did them on our own: well, that’s definitely not good! But boasting in what God is doing in and with us? Well, that’s really praise. (Psalm 44:8) And I’m happy to do that here!

Now, my question for your daily living, if it came in one of my texted messages, would be this: What is God doing in your life today that you can share with others, that you can have fun with, that you can gladly boast and brag about?

And feel free to text me a response! I really enjoy that!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Seasonal Newsletter Mailing List

I’m getting ready to send out my Winter newsletter next week and it’s going to include an exciting report on the Judson Study! I’d love to share that with everyone so, if you aren’t on my newsletter mailing list, please send your email address to RevBethPerry@gmail.com. Thank you!

Blessings,

Beth

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Failure to Run?

Yesterday, my husband said to me, “That was a great idea!” or something to that effect… I replied that I often have great ideas, I’m just not so good on the follow up. In fact, I don’t even remember what that particular good idea might have been…

Of course, not every good idea deserves to be carried out but some of them surely should be. A year and a half ago, my daughter challenged me to start running and I decided to do the C25K (Couch to 5K) program. My “good idea” was that I would run week 1 and week 2 all summer – only 60 seconds and 90 seconds of running at a time! Well, I did move on to week 3 and eventually week 4 and then a little bit of week 5 that first summer. And this summer my “good idea” was to finish the program, running 3 straight miles!

And I did it – on my birthday! Then my doctor had a “good idea”: that I should run 1 mile every day instead of 3 miles 3 times a week. But 1 mile is hard… it’s the second mile that starts to feel good! And some days it rains or I’m too busy. So I ended up losing some of my ability and it was October until I was back up to the 2 miles that I really enjoy.

But then came November and the polar vortex – and then rain – and my “good idea” changed to: slack off till next spring. Yesterday I could have run: it was warm enough and I could have had time. Today I could run: it will be warm enough and I have an unexpected break in my schedule. I wonder if I’ll follow through?

This is such a minor example. There are the books unpublished in a box in my closet – or worse yet, in my head! There are the programs started, the plans half-formed… A colleague said to me last evening, “I really want to hear from you about that project.” And I know what he meant: don’t let a “good idea” slip by and turn into nothing. Don’t let a failure to run stop what might be very valuable.

And, as I think about it, I’m following through right now! Committing myself on paper to a wider audience to follow through on this “good idea” and make something happen! Stick around; I’m sure you’ll be hearing more later!

Blessings,
Beth

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

A Red-tulle Christmas Wreath

If my grown-up children happened to read this post, they probably groaned when they saw the title!

You see, one of my favorite Advent creations was a wreath we made when they were adolescents. We didn’t have much money so it wasn’t a very artistic creation: just a bit of red tulle gathered onto a wreath-shaped piece of wire.

I hung it on the wall in the dining room so they couldn’t go into the kitchen without seeing it!  I laid a little stack of white papers and a pile of pins nearby and every day we all took a slip of paper, wrote a prayer on it, and stuck it onto the wreath with a pin. I think I counted them every day to make sure none of us skipped the ritual…

I also think my children were thoroughly disgusted by the idea, the wreath itself, and the need for daily prayer! But the prayers they wrote were so poignant… thanksgiving, petition, adoration and confession! For themselves and family and friends and the world!

I reread those slips of paper many times over the years after the wreath came down – and I still have them, decades later, packed away in  box somewhere. (That will probably annoy my children, too!) Maybe I’ll find the prayers before Christmas arrives this year and see if we can remember who we were praying for so long ago – and how many of our prayers for the world back then could be, sadly, repeated this year.

What were you praying for a month ago, a year ago, a decade ago… longer? Would you still pray the same things? Would you want the same answers? And, really, would you want anyone to pull those prayers out of a box to look at again?

Perhaps they are better left where they are…. and perhaps we are better off praying new prayers for new people in new situations, as well as for those long-term ailments in our world. New prayers for the old needs of justice and wholeness and life abundant… Maranatha… Come, Lord Jesus!

Blessings,

Beth

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Growth Mindset

a post from October that didn’t actually post…. :)

I’m part of a research study looking at the effect of Growth Mindset on college students. Growth Mindset is from the work of Carol Dweck and the theory (well supported over the years) is that people with a Growth Mindset succeed while people with a Fixed Mindset do not.

A person with a Growth Mindset embraces challenges, sees criticism as an opportunity to learn, believes they can become smarter, knows their effort is what helps them master new learning, etc. People with a Fixed Mindset, on the other hand, believe that intelligence is fixed and limited – but they want to look smart and so they rarely accept challenges they might fail at.  They are threatened by the success of others and don’t believe that putting in more effort will help them succeed.

Recently, I had a group of students who all had a Growth Mindset – except one. And after repeating twice that it was hard to have a Growth Mindset when you haven’t been raised that way, that one dropped out. While I and the other students tried to reinforce in him that just being in college was a success he already had, he couldn’t really see himself as even potentially successful.

It’s a lot of fun teaching that material to students who either have already gotten that idea of Growth – or who catch on during the course! But its so painful to see people, with a fragile sense of their own value and potential, let the Fixed beliefs beat them.

It’s also challenging to be constantly evaluating myself in that light, as well! Every time I encourage students to be more open to failure as a way to learn, I remember how much I hate to fail!

Even in small ways: this morning, it was a problem with a new phone. I didn’t take time to learn all about it before I started using it and, naturally, it did something I didn’t expect!

So, now, I have to make amends to a couple dozen people who I had promised something that I didn’t carry through on. I’m sure there’s growth potential here – there’s some criticism coming that I will learn through! I’ve already made an effort to apologize and rectify the situation. But what I really want to do is fall back into a Fixed Mindset, hide my tail between my legs, wallow in self-doubt, and never leave my office again!

Fortunately, I wasn’t raised to give in to that sort of feeling – not by my parents and certainly not by my God! We’ve been given free will for a reason, maybe just so we can learn from our mistakes! And learn that we are loved and valued even when we make them, in spite of making them, and perhaps because making them is part of being human!

It’s a challenge to be fully human and takes a great deal of effort to live with our failures. But blessings follow our willingness to embrace that and I’m looking forward to seeing what blessing today might hold for me!

Blessings,

Beth

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Polar Vortex!

When I looked at my phone’s weather app this morning, it felt like 18…. I’m sure that some of you reading this are unimpressed by that number! But here in NYC, in only mid-November, that is bone-chilling cold! Even in January and February, those are days I’m not happy about…

On the other hand, there’s much to consider a blessing there. No snow came with that cold so far… I’ve got a warm apartment to huddle in… And I have no where to go until tomorrow, when its expected to warm up to a balmy 40!

There may be another benefit to the Polar Vortex: I am getting ready for Christmas! Usually at this time of year, I’m barely aware of Thanksgiving on my radar and I don’t allow any thoughts about Christmas to enter in until after that! But I’m so cold now, that its easy to imagine Christmas Eve is right around the corner!

So I’m making some great Advent and Christmas plans!

With another member at church, we’re going to host a Cookie Baking Day at the parsonage! We’re going to bring cookie dough – purchased and made, regular and gluten-free – and paraphernalia (cookie sheets, etc.). Guest will bring anything special they need and a lot of Christmas cheer! Then we’re all going to drop/roll/cut/decorate – and eat – some great cookies in great company with great conversation!

A friend from seminary and I are going to have lunch and catch up sometime in Advent!

I’m leading the Christmas Eve Family Service at Judson! It’s late afternoon and a very casual fun service for children and families – and all who love them! I can’t wait to be surrounded by all those children as we seek the newborn baby!

Then my family is coming for Christmas – and maybe somewhere in there I’ll have a chance to visit my favorite and very “special” Santa at a store in Herald Square – and, finally, I’m preaching on both of the Sunday’s after Christmas!

Well, with all those plans, here’s my hope for the season: That the Polar Vortex goes back home to the North Pole and leaves the weather warm up just a little so I can leave my office to have some of this fun! For you, I hope all the warmth, joy, fun, and blessing that the season can offer – with or without the old P.V.!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment