The Study will be available soon!

The Study: Spiritual Action in Daily Life (devotional book version) will be available soon! The proof copy arrived last week and the final version will soon be ready for shipment. Meanwhile, here’s a look at the cover:

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I hope you’re as anxious to see inside as I am to show it to you!

Blessings,

Beth

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Gratitude on a Monday morning!

I always have a lot to be thankful for! Whether I recognize it or acknowledge it or not – that’s the question! But today, this Monday morning, I truly recognize and acknowledge the many ways my life is so blessed!

I have work that I love doing – Safe Sanctuary, The Study, teaching college courses, and the years of pastoral work that enriched my life in so many ways. I also have volunteer church work that gets lost in the shuffle of paid work too many times  but that has broadened my world and brought me new connections and friends in so many ways! I have good health (although after last week’s check-up there will be a little less cholesterol in my future… ‘nough said…) and even the parts that don’t work well anymore still function better than I have any right to expect!

And I have family and friends that I love. Last weekend, that became so very clear as our children (and grandson – poor granddaughter had to work!) helped up put together a 25th Anniversary Potluck Picnic in Central Park! The planning, preparing, shopping, cooking, carrying, lifting, toasting, photographing/videoing, setting up, cleaning up – and just general love, care, and support – were amazing!

The wonderful Rev. Micah Bucey created a great framework for us to renew our commitment to each other by reclaiming our vows for the next 25 years! Our son-in-law made a toast that had us all struggling not to cry! And our friends – those present and those who couldn’t be – reminded us of all the reasons we have to celebrate!

And I have a husband that I adore, who, after 25 years, I still can’t imagine breathing without, and who I rest confident in every day. And together we have a God who supports our life and our love with grace and mercy at every moment!

There’s a form of prayer called the Examen of Grace. It’s usually done at the end of a day by mentally walking through that day with God, trying to see the day with God’s eyes. It includes being grateful for moments of love, moments that were less than loving, and looking forward to the grace needed for the next day. On Saturday (and Sunday!) I was too tired to do that but today, this morning, I am looking back and seeing nothing but love and knowing that every grace I need for tomorrow has already been given.

I pray for you to have that same kind of love obvious in your life today and every day!

Blessings,

Beth

PS: Here’s a photo of the lovely little section of Central Park we called ours for a few hours!

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The Study began this morning!

The first text messages of The Study went out this morning! What a long process its been to get to this place – and I am, of course, wracked with self-doubt! The Study turns out to have more moving pieces than its predecessor versions – it’s difficult to find one article that says all I want to say in the way I used to create one podcast with a coherent message.

But maybe that’s the reality of taking “spiritual action in daily life” – it isn’t easy or we’d all be doing it more often! And that may be why we avoid doing anything about the real issues of our time and lives: because what matters is rarely simple, the layers of truth and deception – right and wrong – are numerous and deep, and we are already overwhelmed just with our work and personal lives.

I do completely understand that. This past week, there were three deaths in our families and it has been a little overwhelming. I could easily have stayed in bed this morning, ignored my calendar, back out on my commitments. And I still will postpone some things I would have done, in order to have some space and time to process the losses.

But this is the testing ground of faith: do I only practice it when life is easy? Or do I truly want to live out my spirituality every day, even the hard ones?

I’m guessing that it will take some time to work out whether this version of The Study needs some tweaking – I’ll be looking forward to feedback about that. But already today, I think I’ve learned something from it. And hopefully the participants will, too!

Blessings,

Beth

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Happy Birthday to us!

One of my favorite parts of summer is this end of July time when three of us celebrate birthdays together! My husband’s comes first, the next day is mine, and the day after that is my daughter’s. We used to have joint parties, picnics sometimes, but as we’ve gotten older and live in different states, those have become less frequent.

Now, Tony and I feel good if we can share a day off together, let alone celebrate! And a relative and I texted this morning about just how difficult it can seem these days to actually put something in the mail – so mailing a card is actually a big success!

But the sentiment doesn’t change, does it? That celebratory meal may just be dinner in front of the TV. The birthday money may come via PayPal instead of a check in lovely card… but the purpose and the feeling are just the same. The love and the recognition of shared lives far exceeds any location, any number of zeroes, or any beauty in packaging!

I wonder if sometimes the same thing happens around the packaging of our faith on Sunday mornings. If we get so busy that showing up at church begins to feel as difficult as visiting the post office?If we are looking for easy instead of beautiful? If we get so far removed that we don’t feel its logistically possible to reconnect?

I think, this July, I’m going to try for a little more packaging. I’m going to pick up and mail a card on my way to class this afternoon. And I’ve got a gift card to a restaurant – Tony and I could have a meal out together this weekend. And maybe the best time for that meal would be right after worship on Sunday – my birthday!

I hope you’re having a happy and well-packaged summer!

Blessings,

Beth

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There’s no way to say this that hasn’t been said before….

So I started to title this blog before I wrote it… And the best I was coming up with was “God’s Unexpected Acts” or “The Inexplicability of God” or even “God Moments” ….

Then I realized that no matter what I called it, you would all understand exactly what I meant: Those moments when something so odd happens that you know it has to be God moving but you just aren’t sure why or how or where its going to lead to!

My life has been filled with them lately…. meetings and conversations with colleagues that could lead to such unexpected places! reconnecting unexpectedly with part of my family! learning new things about people I think I know well – or about people I didn’t even know I wanted to know! even crises and triumphs in the social and political spheres that surround us all!

Such things can’t be controlled – creating serendipity would make it NOT be serendipity, after all! But we can create an atmosphere where the unexpected can reach us. Put ourselves out there where the unexpected, the serendipitous, the inexplicable can bump into us!

I think that’s what God did in creation: created something that could grow and expand and change so that, yes, there would be this pattern – a rhythmic rise and fall – but there would also a syncopation – a change of timing, an irregularity – that would allow space for something new and exciting to happen! Just in case we got bored – or started to think God was too small to create anything but routine.

While none of you reading this know if you are included in my unexpectedness lately, just trust that you probably are. And I love you for it! You’re reminding me of my spiritual need for allowing God to move in unexpected ways – and that I need to move in that unpredictable flow, as well!

I pray your summer is providing you with some unexpected God moments and that you are able to enjoy them as much as I am!

Blessings,

Beth

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Summer Photos

After a long weekend with my family, I thought I’d take a “moment of personal privilege” (If you are UMC and have recently spent a week at an Annual Conference gathering, you get that joke!) and share some photos with you! I mentioned both these exhibits from Socrates Sculpture Park in my recent newsletter!

If you don’t receive the newsletter, you can sign up for it here: http://eepurl.com/bih8Sn!

 

Summer Blessings,

Beth
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Trust… postscript…

I just have to update that last post – and if you haven’t read it yet do so before looking at the pictures below!

But, yes, that’s a blossom in there – several of them, in fact! I’m so happy I could burst – and trust is raising its lonely head just a little bit more!

Blessings,

Beth

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