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Sabbatical Psalm & Reflections

Bless the Lord, O my soul (Beginning the Sabbatical Journey)

who abides in every season and through every transition,

who restores individuals resting in the clouds of COVID,

who blesses goodbyes through outdoor conversations and video farewells.

Bless the Lord, O my soul (Walk & Wonder Spiritual Practice in Scotland)

who walks with a couple down the cobblestone Royal mile in Edinburgh

and along the yellow carpet meadows on the Isle of Iona,

who allows minds to wander through reading stories of Protestant history

and in hearing ancient tales on stony beaches

who keeps hearts in awe while discovering new truths of Christian reformers like John Knox

and of Christian missionaries like St. Columba.

Bless the Lord, O my soul (Thirty Worship Experiences)

who makes steadfast love known from a sunrise worship on the beach

to a sabbath morning on a mountaintop,

who satisfies the weary soul from a wooden pew in the United States

to a wooden chair in the United Kingdom,

who reorients a life with global prayers, inspiring sermons, and joyful choirs of every color.

Bless the Lord, O my soul (Pause & Pray Spiritual Practice in Baja California, Mexico)

who resides in every language and who loves every landscape,

who recognizes the injustices from cardboard houses to dusty roads without a name,

who builds relationships among a family of four with churches of the Presbytery

and with the people of Mexico,

who connects believers while hearing a song, learning of a death, reading a book,

or taking a trip by pausing in the silence and lifting prayers to the heavens.

Bless the Lord, O my soul (A Spiritual Direction Afternoon)

who leads a servant beside still waters with holy listening

and through valleys of discernment with Thy holy word,

who holds truth with care and creates boundaries with mercy and grace,

who guides with patience and directs with endurance for the adventures ahead.

Bless the Lord, O my soul (Stay & Serve Spiritual Practice in Charlotte, North Carolina)

who fights battles alongside men and women caught in the cycle of addiction,

who listens in times of sorrow and offers compassion in times of distress,

who calls a volunteer to stay morning after morning for service in the kitchen

and fellowship around the table.

Bless the Lord, O my soul (Returning from the Sabbatical Journey)

who forgives a pastor's failures and cleanses her many sins,

who heals human relationships broken by hurt and disappointment,

who redeems a congregation in the summer with faithful roots,

spiritual growth, and joyful blooms,

who reunites a community of faith for the next season of mission and ministry,

who reminds the church, again, to abide in faith, hope, and love;

with the greatest of these being love.


Ten Things I learned from my Summer Writing Course

Last spring, a crazy idea appeared in my mind and left my heart restless. While preparing for a summer sabbatical focused on rest, spiritual renewal, and mission, I noticed my summer plans lacked an element of learning.

Rather than dismiss the holy nudge, I sent a message instead. I asked a retired English teacher if she was available to teach a summer writing course to one student. Surprisingly, she said yes. At her kitchen table, I learned more about writing and faith than one summer could hold.

1. In a sentence, view commas like caution lights and periods like stop signs.

2. not only ... but also Works as a pair - Keep the old married couple together

3. Good reading leads to good writing.

4. When vs. Upon

Use the word when to describe something happening at the same time and use the world upon to show something happened in the past.

5. Remember, like connects words and as connects clauses.

6. Some writers prefer the word however at the beginning of the sentence; however, the word is most effective when connecting two opposing truths with a semicolon.

7. In your writing, choose one little, tiny, minuscule detail from an experience. Then, zoom in on the small detail and write everything about it.

8. Use Active Voice Verbs

After Sally was finished with her column, she noticed an awkward passive voice verb. She revised the sentence and created a stronger, more effective column.

9. Avoid dangling, misplaced, and squinting modifiers because they will confuse and amuse your


10. Always write with God's love in mind.

And one more ... Lie/Lay

As I lie down to sleep, I lay my pen on the table.


Spiritual Direction at Bethesda House, Lake Wylie, SC

On Tuesday August 23, I spent the afternoon with Pam Taft at Bethesda House. As spiritual directors, she and her husband guide pastors and couples through faith, ministry, and marriage.

Nearly a month later, my mind and body continues to process and implement the spiritual truths from our afternoon session.

If you are a pastor or a couple in need of a spiritual retreat or spiritual guide, contact Mark and Pam Taft at

If you need a new spiritual discipline, try the holy listening practice below with a friend.

Holy Listening

Hearing from God as a Group

by Spiritual Formation Booklet, Culturebridge

Silence (one minute)*

The Seeker Shares (four minutes)*

experiences, questions, possibilities, distress, dreams currently present in their relationship with God (Listeners can ask clarifying questions)

Silence (two minutes)*

Time to quiet hearts, hear past surface words, listen for God's message to the Seeker.

Response of the Group (eight minutes)*

Silence (one minute)*

The Seeker responds (1-2 minutes)*

Group prays for the Seeker as they process what they heard with God.

Blessing of the group - prayer for the seeker

*Timing is a suggestion only


Thirty Worship Services

1. St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, Waynesboro, Virginia Preacher, Father Rolo

2-16. Iona Abbey, Isle of Iona I worshipped at the Iona Abbeyfor morning & evening worship over nine days

17. Massnutten Presbyterian Church, Penn Laird, VA Preachers, Ann Pettit & Keith Phillips

18. Iglesia Rey de Reyes, San Quintin, Baja California, Mexico

Testimonials given by Virginia and Idaho mission groups

19. Tinkling Spring Presbyterian Church, Fishersville, VA (online) Preacher, Judy Hevener (TSPC member)

20. Family Beach Worship, North Myrtle Beach, SC Cranford family

21. First Presbyterian Church, Murfreesboro, TN Preacher, Rev. Dr. John Hinkle, Jr

22. Covenant Presbyterian Church, Staunton, VA Preachers, Rev. Sarah Wolf and Rev. John Peterson

23. First Baptist Church, Waynesboro, VA Preacher, Kristen Koger

24. Indian Trial Presbyterian Church, Indian Trail, NC Preacher, Rev. Stephen Ratliff. From 2002-2008, I served as ITPC's seminary intern

25. Fishersville United Methodist Church, Fishersville, VA (11:00 blended worship) Preacher, Peter Choi

26. Montreat Summer Worship, Montreat, NC (podcasts) Preachers, Rev. Dr. Bryon A. Wade, Rev, Dr. Jill Duffield, and Rev. Dr. Bridgett Green

27. First Presbyterian Church, Cranberry, NJ (Facebook) Preacher, Hannah Lovagilo

At the age of 19, I served as Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Church's Youth Director. At the time, Hannah was a fifth grader and her dad was Rumple's pastor.

28. CN Jenkins Presbyterian Church, Charlotte, NC (YouTube) Preacher, Jerry Cannon

29. Family Mountain Worship, Crabtree Falls Cranford Family

30. Stone Church of Willow Glen, San Jose, CA (Zoom) Preacher, Rev. Irene Pak Lee (and sign language interpreter)

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