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The Devotions are taken from the Devotions with Todd from Defeat Suicide Foundation and Snippets by Susan from past e-Spotlight newsletters.   Permission is granted to use them with appropriate credit given to Todd Woodfill and Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder.



I love gardening.  It is a spiritual experience for me.  Last fall I planted bulbs in my garden after a very hot summer in San Diego.  I was hoping the cool darkness of winter (and some much-needed rain) would awaken my bulbs in the Spring.  Sure enough sprouts are emerging from the soil and I look forward to remembering what bulbs I chose to plant where! ...


Offer What Light You Can

The New Year encourages us to think about our lives…what nourishes us physically, emotionally and spiritually and what are the areas of our lives where we would like to make changes...


Won't You Be My Neighbor

I’m not good at long plane rides!  On a recent cross-country trip, I reviewed the limited movies offered and watched some spy movie.  I still had three and half more hours!  So, I started watching the movie about Mr. Rogers while working on something else...


Planting Seeds of Hope in Rural Cambodia

Ten years ago, a friend of ours talked with her hair stylist about her village in Cambodia that she had fled in the 1970’s.  Nancy asked what the village might need.  Her hair stylist said they needed one bicycle for the village.  A shared bicycle would help take them to school, the temple, the clinic and the market.  When friends heard the story, they donated funds for more bicycles.  Over the next few years and trips to the village, the Cambodian Village Fund was founded providing school uniforms, English classes, a school and scholarships for girls to encourage them to continue their education.  Like the parable of the mustard seed, a simple conversation led to a mission that continues to grow and thrive...


Fidget Quilts

My husband and I volunteered to help a group make “fidget quilts” …even though neither of us sew!  A "Fidget, Fiddle, or Busy" Quilt or Activity Blanket is a small lap quilt, mat or blanket that provides sensory and tactile stimulation for the restless or "fidgety" hands.  They provide sensory or tactile stimulation through the use of fabric choices, colors, value of colors next to one another, textures, and the use of accents or simple accessories such as pockets, laces, trims, appliques, buttons, secured beads, ribbons, braids etc...


Healing Through The Arts

I read an article by Ryann Tanap where she describes visiting a powerful exhibit in Pittsburgh called, Mindful: Exploring Mental Health Through Art.  All forms of art provide a way for persons to share their life experiences.  For this reason, art can be especially therapeutic for persons living with mental illness.  In an exhibit like this, the art also offers an opportunity for others to gain an understanding and perspective of what mental illness may feel like from the perspective of the artist...


Prayer Wall

Many persons are facing 2017 with uncertainty, fear and anxiety after a long and difficult political campaign and the inauguration of a new president.  The constant news coverage can fuel these feelings.  Regardless of how you voted, the contentious election has motivated many persons to pay more attention and become more involved in making their voices known especially when it comes to affirming and protecting the inclusion of all God’s children.  It is easy to feel helpless and do nothing.  But as persons of faith, we can be open to opportunities in our daily lives to reaching out to the least of these...



We all saw the famous statue of “Christo” as we watched the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  In Brazil, as in many Latin American countries, there is a great distinction between the wealthy and the poor.  The Olympic venue amidst luxury beach hotels stands against a background of the many favelas on the hills above.  The extreme poverty and lack of basic needs have led to crime and, for many, a loss of hope for a better future. ..


Mindfulness: Living In The Moment

Many of us look forward to summer as a time of relaxation, replenishment, re-creation and an opportunity to break our routine with a vacation.  But it often takes most of our vacation to unwind.  With our society’s belief in the values of productivity and accomplishment, stopping and finding ways to “vacate” from our many tasks can be difficult.  We are so busy “doing” that we seldom take the time to just “be” in the present moment...


The Resilient Torrey Pine Tree

The Torrey pine tree is the rarest pine in the United States and one of the rarest pines in the world. It is restricted to just two regions in the United States: an island off the California coast and parts of coastal San Diego County.  My husband and I learned more about these rare trees on a recent visit to the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. The Torrey pine has found ways to adapt to its environment and to survive despite many adverse conditions. We all know that California is one of the states struggling with a severe drought.  The very long needles of the Torrey pine have grooves that allow the tree to channel dew and fog droplets to the ground and the waiting roots. The Torrey pine typically will grow in a contorted manner because of its constant exposure to the winds and salt spray that come off the ocean. Many of these trees grow from rocky cliffs and outcroppings. The tree has the ability to put down a long taproot and elaborate system of roots to access moisture...


The Potlatch Feast

My husband and I visited Vancouver before an Alaskan cruise. We learned much about the culture of the First Nation peoples through their art. Serving food to large gatherings of people was central to many ceremonial gatherings for the Tlingit, Haida and other groups that live in the northwest. These feasts could last for days and guests could number in the hundreds. The ceremonies surrounding the Potlatch reinforced the social structure of the community through storytelling, dancing, totem pole raising, feasting, gift giving and teaching the young to preserve the identity of a particular clan or family. A Potlatch could take years to prepare and include people who traveled great distances...



On our visit to Bryce Canyon National Park this summer, we learned that the red spindly rock formations that make up the magnificent canyon views are called hoodoos.  Paiute Indians inhabited this region for hundreds of years before the arrival of European Americans.  A sacred oral tradition of the Paiutes states that the hoodoos are ancient “Legend People” turned into stone by Coyote.   Looking down into the amphitheaters at Bryce Canyon, it is easy to imagine the Legend People standing with their straight posture in the form of hoodoos. The name Bryce Canyon in Paiute means "bowl shaped canyon filled with red rocks standing up like men." ...


The Rock That Weeps

My husband and I visited Bryce and Zion national parks this summer.  With the heat of the summer before the monsoon rains, I was surprised at the places in Zion National Park where water was coming out of rock walls.  I learned that centuries of pressure squeezed deposited mud into thin shale layers and compressed the sand into thick sandstone layers.  Water passes easily through sandstone but not the shale. Rain and snow falling on the plateau above soak into the sandstone.  When the water reaches the shale, it moves sideways to emerge from the cliff as a spring.  The spring water offers nourishment that allows plant life to thrive on the sheer rock face...

Resurrection Fern

I had the opportunity to visit New Orleans in December.  I was intrigued by the beauty of a lush plant that was growing on many of the old oak and pecan trees. A mossy green blanket covered many trunks and branches. Our guide told us that the plant was called the Resurrection Fern. The lush leaves that I saw wither up and appear to die in hot and dry weather.


Crystal Balls

The New Year is time to reflect on our lives.  The busy holidays are over but the reality is that most of us live very hectic, busy lives throughout the year.  We often use the expression, "I'm juggling too many balls," or "I can't keep all the balls in the air."...


Sheltering Trees

Shortly before his death, Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote Youth and Age, in which he reflected over his past and what had given him strength in his earlier years.  One of the most profound lines of his work is the statement, “Friendship is a sheltering tree...”  How true this statement is for all of us today.  When we face life’s challenges and disappointments, there is nothing like a sheltering tree - a true friend - to give us relief in the cool shade.  Beneath the branches of such sheltering trees have rested many a discouraged soul...

The Power of Story

I believe one of the most powerful ways to break down the stigma associated with mental illness is story.  Stories have great power…transforming power.  Part of this transforming power comes from the intimacy of storytelling that allows us to connect with others at a deep level.  Stories can be vehicles for change and healing because they involve the listener or the reader in ways known only to him or her.  We never know how the sharing of our stories may touch the lives of others...


Stabilizers & Anchors

My husband and I went on a cruise earlier this year.  We both love being out on the ocean and the feeling of freedom that comes with leaving behind all the tasks and stresses of daily life.  One night we had large swells and winds as a storm passed nearby.  While we were a bit off balance at times, I was grateful for the ship’s stabilizers.  We could not see the ship stabilizers as they were beneath the waterline.  But we trusted that these fins on rotors had the capacity to change their angle to counteract and minimize the rolling of the ship caused by the winds...


The Banyan Tree

My husband and I spent some time on Maui, Hawaii, this spring. The courthouse square has an amazing banyan tree covering two thirds of an acre that was imported from India and planted in 1873 to mark the 50th anniversary of Christian missionary work in Lahaina...


Margin For Error

The other day I was "beating myself up" for something stupid I had done. I recalled a Peanuts cartoon I had seen some years ago. Lucy, as usual, is being her "school marmish" best. She says to Charlie: "Sooner or later there is one thing you’re going to have to learn. You reap what you sow, you get out of life exactly what you put into it, no more and no less."...


Future Comes One Day At A Time

By now many of you have seen the excellent movie, Lincoln. While the movie only covers the last few months of Lincoln’s life, Daniel Day-Lewis’ thoughtful portrait of Abraham Lincoln gives a glimpse of how his political strengths were rooted in his most personal struggles...


"...did not try..."

The last time we visited Colonial Williamsburg I made sure to stop at the reconstructed Public Hospital. One of the signs on the wall read,"Williamsburg's Public Hospital opened in 1773 as the first institution in America devoted solely to the treatment of the mentally ill." What you see is a reconstruction of one of the rooms or "cells" as they were called. Looking at the sparse conditions complete with manacles to chain the patient to the wall might conjure up thoughts like, "barbaric." Before jumping to those kinds of judgments you should know that this scenario apparently was part of a revolutionary idea in the treatment of mental illness. Another sign on the wall said that, "Underlying their efforts (meaning the staff) was the relatively new belief that medical intervention in a hospital environment could cure insanity." In other words, what we're seeing is not some form of cruel punishment, but rather, the evolving efforts of concerned folks to bring healing to those afflicted by severe mental illness...

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