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Special Olympics

By Betsy Schwarzentraub | August 3, 2015

The televised segments of the World Special Olympics this week have related story after story of inspiration, persistence, and generosity. Some of the generosity was spontaneous, as when people chipped in to buy matching uniforms for one national team. But a lot of generosity was planned, for example by the thousands of volunteers who assisted…

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Food, Simple or Easy

By Betsy Schwarzentraub | July 24, 2015

Living more simply is not necessarily living more easily. In fact, it often means putting in more time and effort to do things the old-fashioned way. Take food, for instance – finding it, preparing it, cooking it – choosing more natural, organic foods, without preservatives, fillers, or radiation that kills the “food” part of the…

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The Ripple Effect

By Betsy Schwarzentraub | June 15, 2015

I heard years ago of a national study that showed on average, people share a piece of bad news eleven times, but they share good news only four times. In other words, people tell others almost four times more about a faulty product, poor service or failed expectations than they do about receiving a kindness,…

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The Thin Places

By Betsy Schwarzentraub | December 27, 2014

In this past week of devotions, writer Jan Richardson1 shared a beautiful idea from the Celtic tradition: that in certain spots and at specific times, there are “thin places,” where the veil between worlds becomes permeable, and heaven and earth meet. I have a hunch that the veil between earth and heaven, time and eternity,…

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Music as Gift

By Betsy Schwarzentraub | November 26, 2014

“The one who sings prays twice.” I’ve come to confirm that old adage. There’s something powerful about music that speaks to a deeper place in the soul than words alone can reach. Music brings joy to my heart! I grew up loving Western classical music and have returned to it in recent years. But I’ve…

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Grateful in Wildfire?

By Betsy Schwarzentraub | September 27, 2014

Thank You, God! Thank You, thank You. For the past two weeks I have been checking a website every few hours on the spread of a voracious fire immediately surrounding our foothills home. So far our home has been spared. But dozens of homes and scores of outbuildings have burned down, amidst the thousands of…

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Seeker — Finder — Seeker

By Betsy Schwarzentraub | August 25, 2014

Years ago, people used to say the word “seeker” for those who chose not to be affiliated with a church. At first that sounded like a good term to me, since I thought of people who are seeking God, or who are seeking a faith community of some kind in which to belong. But soon…

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Generosity at the World Cup

By Betsy Schwarzentraub | July 13, 2014

It was a heart-stopping moment. For more than an hour and a half, two of the best soccer teams on the globe battled against one another in non-stop action. Finally Brazil made a goal to win. Colombia had just lost their chance for the World Cup. While thousands of Colombians in the stands were stunned,…

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Extravagant Generosity – Fun and Faithful Scriptures

By Betsy Schwarzentraub | July 8, 2014

Extravagant Generosity Based upon: our extravagantly generous God, the Giver of every good gift, the Source of life and love! (Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, pp. 108-9) A Congregation that Practices Extravagant Generosity: 1. Thrives with the joy of abundance instead of the fear of scarcity 2. Encourages members to grow in the grace of giving…

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Living Treasures

By Betsy Schwarzentraub | June 27, 2014

This past Sunday I got to preach at Loomis UMC, CA, where they were celebrating “Living Treasures Sunday.” One Sunday each year they honor an older person (or couple) whose life shows what it means to be a joyful, faithful follower of Christ, modeling loving discipleship for future generations. The church hosts a special meal…

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