July is my birthday month, and although I am sure with COVID-19 it will be unlike any other birthday, I am still looking forward to celebrating. I believe tradition, spiritual practice, and ceremony can be a way to add meaning to our days, that we might capture them and engrave them on our hearts. I love hearing stories from church members and friends about special traditions shared on holidays, birthdays and other special days. Traditions can be so comforting and act as an anchor for the soul. The Good News is, traditions need not be complicated to be powerful, and the tradition of the “Birthday Plate” is one of the simplest traditions of all. The “Birthday Plate” is a special plate dedicated to birthdays, brought out for each person, young and old, when it’s their birthday. I learned about this fun tradition from a family I babysat for in Atlanta and always knew I wanted to do start it with my own family some day.
In the Belman house, on the morning of your birth, you get to enjoy a special homemade breakfast on our special homemade plate! Don’t have a Birthday Plate? Here are three easy options to make your own Paint one at a pottery place like Mad Platter or Paint & Pour. Doing a larger item like a plate can get expensive at a place like that, but for a plate that is to be so special, it’s worth it! Take your time, pick a design you really like, and paint over each letter several times to make it dark and vibrant. Make one using a plate from the dollar store and permanent markers.
This is my new favorite way to make a gift for someone. I have used THIS TUTORIAL with great success. Unique, simple, and fun. If your family doesn’t have a birthday plate tradition, get everyone involved in working on a plate together that can become the new tradition. Buy one! Etsy has a great selection. Does your family have any special birthday traditions? If so, I’d love to hear about them! Please call, email or text me this month. Even better – share a picture! Blessings to you all. Here are some more resources to support your spiritual life this July:
A Prayer for Every Day: I have shared resources before from of my favorite books Faithful Families by Rev. Dr. Traci Smith. She has a new book out, Prayers for Faithful Families, with brief prayers for all sorts of life moments, whether is it a joyous occasions such as a baptism (or birthday!) or a challenge like an illness or fear of the dark. In our family, we’ve started using this as our morning prayer: Two things I ask you, God, today and every day. Help me to do my best, and help me to be kind. Amen.
Loving our Neighbor and Wisdom from the Past: Some of the things we’re doing to stop the spread of COVID-19 are as much (or more) about protecting and loving our neighbor than caring for ourselves. It reminded me of this study in which a sign promoting hand washing for others was more effective than a generic one. Science proves that we are motivated by our common concern for one another! Jesus knew this, teaching us much about caring for the vulnerable in our midst.
What I am Listing to Right Now: Mercy by Max Richter, played by Hilary Hahn. It’s a beautiful, haunting piece that stirs my soul every time I hear it. Take five minutes and do nothing but listen. You will be grateful.
A Way to Strengthen Your Empathy Muscle: This is a wonderful and timely read.
10 Everyday Rituals that Mean a Lot for Kids: These are so simple and so meaningful. They may add some meaning to the lives of us adults as well. https://childhood101.com/tiny-moments-10-everyday-rituals-that-mean-a-lot-to-kids/
Anti Racism for Children and Families: It is so important that anti-racism not become a “fad.” Anti-racism was so important before these most recent deaths, and we have so much to do and so far to go. If we want to continue to do the work of anti-racism, we have to be in it for the long haul. Here are a few resources to get you and your family started: See this list from the New York Times on resources for children. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/02/parenting/kids-books-racism-protest.html?fbclid=IwAR3hpieXukd7anFJSQ4-drwMtRVsPJoKYieAGdx2ISWhXXp1riH70ZuRmH0
Anti-Racist Resources for White People Taking Action For Black Lives Matter: Check out this FREE e-book. http://www.chriscrass.org/uploads/1/7/7/9/17797213/towards-the-other-america-ebook.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1dZNKRaB4c4tL66QGVLXz4LONIWTdHtppxl5LtNIE7ehOmXk9zujvie2ALONIWTdHtppxl5LtNIE7ehOmXk9zujvie2A
Miss Anna Talks to kids about racism. I appreciated this video for a lot of reasons: clear, empathetic, short. https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=254159075875301.
I just finished reading Chalice Press author Michael W. Waters in Stakes Is High which I recommend to you. It’s a series of very short essays, and easy to read in small snippets of time. https://chalicepress.com/products/stakes-is-high My friends, if you wish to talk with me at any time, do not hesitate to reach out. I hold the entire Bethel Church family in my heart and prayers and ask the same of you. We walk together.
Pastor Julie Belman