blessings Means of grace self-compassion

For the Changing of the Seasons

I’ve been writing this slowly – for months – as I contemplated the changing of the seasons in the natural world, as well as the seasons in my life: school transitions resulting in family schedule shifts, expanding and evolving ministry opportunities, my dad’s death and the seasons surrounding it, my children’s growing skills and independence and the ever-changing realities of parenting, the recent shifts in the United Methodist Church. The seasons are always changing. Next week, school gets out for summer. Another change, just for a time, before we begin a new school year in August. But we will be different then. We do not know what this season will bring, or how it will change us. May we move through this transition and many more, with grace and compassion. I wrote this for me – to me – but perhaps it’s for you, too.

For the Changing of the Seasons
For everything there is a season…
a period supposedly defined,
but more often,
the boundary is unclear,
the time immeasurable,
the lines blurred.

There is a before,
a during,
and an after…
but even with
clear dates on the calendar,
the beginning
and the ending
are elusive.

In the beginning,
there is a shift,
or many small changes,
perhaps marked by
a celebration or a grief,
a ritual or an event.

But in looking back,
was that really the beginning?

Or was it a slow build,
originating deep within,
on a day you cannot name
with a feeling or a thought
that is both undeniable
and impossible to describe?

Or did it begin with
something surprising
and earth-shattering,
an ending so sudden
you could barely
catch your breath?

Or was the beginning
the absence of something,
perhaps unnoticed,
overlooked for a time,
until a relic of the past
brought it to mind?

Beginnings and endings
always hang together…

Sometimes it is only
in retrospect
that you can name
what began,
what ended,
and what grew
out of the meeting
of the two.

The shift inside you
whether subtle
or startling
whether sought out
or surprising,
is how the seasons
are shaping you.

You are not what is
or what was
or what will be

you are
what you are

As the seasons come and go,
you change and grow…
becoming new
again and again
with each passing season.

blessings self-compassion

For when it’s all too much…

My friend’s dad died this week. We have been friends since 2011, back when we were both graduate students, young adults without kids. So much has changed since then: moves, marriage, careers, babies. We now live half a country apart. We both have young children. And we both lost our fathers within the course of a year. 

Connecting with my friend this week reminded me of this permission slip I wrote to myself months ago, on a day when the combination of parenting and grief and work and household management was all too much. I did not write it to share it. But here it is: for me, for my friend, and for you, for when it (and “it” can be anything) is all too much. 

For the day when
the tears flow freely,
becoming sobs,
but there are no words
to describe the hard,
when sighs and groans
are the language of prayer…

Breathe in and out.
Sigh, scream, cry.
Curse if it helps.
Throw punches at your pillow.
Make a cup of tea.
Stare out the window.
Walk, run, flee…

Do whatever enables you
to set down
this too-muchness,
that threatens to
overtake you,
this overhwhelming-ness
that is trying to crush you…


This is your permission slip
to pause your spinning mind,
to be attentive to your body,
to connect with your soul,
to ask what it is that you need…
and then DO it,
without delay or excuses.

And if you can’t figure out
what you need,
be counterintuitive.
Do the opposite
of what you usually would,
do anything for the good
of your mind, body, soul.

It may seem easier
to say than to do,
but the doing
is what will get you through,
and let me be clear,
I mean the kind of doing
that is focused on YOU.

blessings holy spaces Uncategorized

Blessing for New Life

I am sharing a blessing today that I wrote in my journal during a retreat last July, while sitting in front of Hope Monument at the Oblate Renewal Center in San Antonio. I will let this image be for you what you need it to be, and I will leave you with this blessing that blessed me that day, word for word as it came to me. May it bless you, as well.

Hope Monument (sculpture by Beverly Paddleford) at Oblate Renewal Canter in San Antonio, TX.
(Photographed by Jessica Petersen on July 23, 2021)

May you remember that
it is the way of things
that new life comes
springing up from the emptiness
where something once was.

For there cannot be new life
without death, loss, grief, sorrow…
there must be an ending for
there to be a beginning.
A period at the end of a sentence,
a space, a breath, before
a new sentence, paragraph, or page.

And in that space, that breath,
where it feels like there is nothing,
there is always God, Spirit, grace.
Because God is in all, through all.

Even when we forget to look for God
in the ending
or acknowledge God
in the beginning,
God dwells in it all.

Weeks or months or years from the day
when an end became a beginning,
we may look back and give thanks
with a tender heart
for the new life that was birthed from death,
for the gifts that came,
even as we grieve and remember.
And may God be in it all.

blessings parenting

Blessing for Weary Parents

As we close out year two and look toward a third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents are worn down and struggling. For those of us of us with children under 5 (who cannot yet be vaccinated), the challenges of quarantines and childcare issues have not abated; the crisis is ongoing. I could go on and on about the unsustainability of this situation. Instead, I will offer this blessing that came to me when I needed it most.

For parents everywhere…
barely hanging on,
and desperately in need of
from this pandemic
that has upended our lives,
led to anxiety with every cough or sniffle,
obliterated the concept of reliable childcare,
and contributed immeasurable stress to everyday life.

This blessing will not tell you
to “cherish this time”
or give you any tips for thriving,
but it will acknowledge your weariness
and assure you that you are not alone.

You are seen.

When you keep on giving, helping, caring –
trying your best to be patient and understanding –
creatively adapting to every circumstance,
even when you haven’t gone to the bathroom alone all day.

You are heard.

When you say this is extraordinarily difficult,
that it requires every ounce of energy that you have,
more stamina than you can fathom,
and you do not know when reprieve will come.

You are valued.

Even when your children scream and whine,
the assistance you offer is rejected,
the criticism is deafening,
and you never hear “thank you” from anyone.

You are good.

Because you are showing up
for the ones you love
and doing what is yours to do
and you are not super-human.

You are enough.

Even when you are worn down,
juggling too many responsibilities,
feeling constantly behind in all things,
and you want to run away (at least for a day).

You are loved.

By your family, your friends, your children
(even when they don’t say or show it)
and most especially,
by the One who
sees you,
hears you,
values you,
created you to be good,
reminds you that you are enough
and calls you “beloved.”

*Special thanks to Rev. Teresa Welborn for this benediction she offers frequently: “You are good. You are beloved. And you are enough.” These words echo in my heart and mind and served as inspiration for this blessing.

blessings worship

A Blessing for Those Who Lead Worship

After an entire year away from pastoral ministry, I began a new position this summer. Perhaps the most jarring (and simultaneously, joy-filled) aspect of returning to church work was going to church every Sunday morning to lead worship, after worshiping from home on a screen for over a year due to the pandemic. As I plunged back into regular worship leadership, I found myself reflecting on my experience of leading worship and this blessing was born.

For my friends, colleagues, and worship leaders everywhere: the work that you do is important, and it is a blessing to others. May you receive this blessing today…

A Blessing for Those Who Lead Worship

You rise early
week after week,
feeling the weight
of the task before you.

Ready or not,
Sunday has arrived –
with persistence –
and, as always,
is tagging along.

Yours is hard
and holy work.
A calling,
a labor of love.

Though others
may think it effortless,
only you
know what it requires.

Some will complain.
Others will be immeasurably blessed.
Breathe and remember:
neither is about you.

Your work is to
create space…
for encountering God
through the work of the Spirit
imparting the gift of grace.

May you always remember
that you are a Child of God,
a disciple of Christ.
That is your identity.
“Leader” is your role.
Do not confuse the two.

May you be humble
as you lead your community in

May you be faithful
as you point to
God’s extraordinary work
in this ordinary world.

While you anticipate every detail,
and ponder the expressions in the pew,
may you also encounter God,
welcome the work of the Spirit,
and be transformed by grace.

And on the day when
glitches abound and plans go awry,
find peace,
knowing that
God always works amid imperfection.

That’s why God
has called you
(imperfect, as you are)
to be a leader
in the shared work
of worshiping
and glorifying