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Barbara Wheeler-Bride :
33 article(s)

Barbara Wheeler-Bride is editor-in-chief of Busted Halo.
November 26th, 2014

It’s easy to get caught up in the preparation for Thanksgiving dinner, but let’s not forget the spiritual side to this important day for giving thanks. This year, add prayer to your Thanksgiving prep routine…

November 26th, 2014

Black Friday: The big shopping day that follows the big eating and giving thanks day (although those lines are blurred more each year). There is something admirable about avoiding the frenzy altogether, but let’s be realistic. If you are going to venture out on Friday (or any other day of the Christmas shopping season), how do you avoid losing yourself in the consumer-driven, line-cutting, short-tempered mayhem? Here are a few tips for making it through the mall with your spirit intact:…

April 19th, 2014
40 notes to 40 people in 40 days

40 notes to 40 people in 40 days.
It’s not a typical Lenten practice — although I can identify pieces of the big three Lent ideas of fasting, prayer, and giving in what I’ve done. I was a little worried before I began — and along the way — that this practice would turn into a chore. There were a few moments of that “chore mentality,” but above all, this spiritual practice left me feeling refreshed and energized. I think I know why.
Writing handwritten notes every day provided for moments of reflection and meditation that made me think a little less about the things that were stressing me out or dragging me down on a particular day — and helped me to focus on others. Writing these notes actually…

April 17th, 2014
40 notes to 40 people in 40 days

I have been dying to write this post.
Over the past month or so, you’ve probably noticed an abundance of Easter candy on store shelves — and if you’re fasting from candy and chocolate, what’s on those shelves is just sitting there taunting you! There is one candy in particular that I’d like to draw your attention to: Peeps.
Those colored marshmallow, sugar-coated chicks (or bunnies) that come in a yellow cardboard box wrapped in cellophane. The subject of one of my favorite “CBS Sunday Morning” segments, which traces the history of Peeps back to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where they were first made by Amish women working at a candy company. Fast-forward to the factory in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania,…

April 16th, 2014
40 notes to 40 people in 40 days

This photo represents two things — A winter that WILL NOT END. #ICantBelieveItsStillSnowing. And Lent.
Lent is long — just over six weeks. And all that time we’re in the desert or wilderness of the liturgical year. We’re fasting, praying, giving, reflecting, praying some more — all in an effort to draw closer to God. And if the Israelites in the desert are any example, feeling “close to God” was sometimes a challenge amidst their everyday (wilderness) lives. And that’s true for us today. At least for me it is. So, Lent can feel, well — really long.
This Lent was in total — with this freak white stuff on the ground today — a part of winter. I know, I know — spring…

April 14th, 2014
40 notes to 40 people in 40 days

One of the challenges of this Lent practice has been coming up with interesting photos and images for each blog post about writing 40 notes to 40 people in 40 days.
I’ve tried to be creative — stationery, a mailbox, the people I’m writing to, my own handwriting — but some days that’s an added challenge on top of writing a note.
This weekend, I had a plan.
My husband and I were hosting a brunch to wish some friends well as they prepare to move to Philadelphia at the beginning of May. We had a great menu planned — waffles, vegan apple pie pancakes, mini-quiches, marbled banana bread, fruit salad, mimosas. Yum! And it was yum — take my word for it.
So, I had written a note yesterday to one of the friends…

April 11th, 2014
40 notes to 40 people in 40 days

I think my Lenten practice is from a bygone era — maybe a lot of Lenten practices feel that way in today’s contemporary society. I’ve gone back to what feels like the age of quill pens and ink. So strange and different from keyboards and screens. I’ve been affirmed in my efforts by the overwhelming positive response from people receiving my handwritten notes, the readers of this blog about my handwritten notes (thank you!), and an article in The New York Times.
Over the years, I’ve received plenty of note cards and stationery as gifts. I have many beautiful journals from friends who know I like to write and actually write on paper.… I have a really nice pen from Muir Woods in California. (Thanks Chris!)

April 9th, 2014
40 notes to 40 people in 40 days

Jimmy Fallon, Graydon Carter, the 2014 Queen of Carnival, and yours truly. You can imagine my surprise at being part of such an eclectic group. But after reading The New York Times over the weekend, I’m less surprised.
You know what I’ve been up to — writing 40 notes to 40 people in 40 days. Blogging about it. Trying to improve my handwriting. Etc.
You see, Jimmy, Graydon, Queen of Carnival, and I all write notes — thank you notes specifically. And as “The Found Art of Thank-You Notes” article in the Times… puts it, “Few who sit down to write a bread-and-butter note are likely to be aware that by doing so they are not only on trend but also on their way to becoming happier and more sociable people.”

April 7th, 2014
40 notes to 40 people in 40 days

Upon approaching my goal of sending 40 notes to 40 people in 40 days — I’ve been thinking about how I explain to other people what this practice means and how they might recreate it in their own lives next Lent, or heck, at any point during the year. (Lent might seem to have cornered the market on personal and spiritual examination, but I don’t think that practice is limited to a “season” of the year.)
There are the practical considerations of making time for the practice, the differences between sending handwritten notes and the easier, digital ways we communicate so frequently today. There are also special spiritual things to consider. One of them being prayer.
Not only have I written (almost) 40 notes…

April 3rd, 2014
40 notes to 40 people in 40 days

In writing handwritten notes the past four weeks, I’ve learned a few things:
1. You don’t put links in notes – One distinct difference between writing notes/cards v. writing e-mails is links. I mean — sure, I could jot down the url to that great vegan recipe I tried last night or even a link to this very blog, but it just feels somehow wrong when you’re writing a handwritten note to someone. Not to mention cumbersome. That’s what e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter are for. Handwritten notes are personal. You might even say emotional because they are an expression of how you feel about someone or something that’s happening to someone (birthday, wedding, loss, etc.).
2. This Lenten challenge is brought…

April 1st, 2014
40 notes to 40 people in 40 days

We can all use them from time-to-time. And maybe especially now — in middle of the desert of Lent and whatever specific fast or challenge you’ve taken on in your personal/spiritual life.
My best encouragement this a.m. is to remember that you are not alone. One of the Lenten stories of Jesus’ temptation in the desert — the one in Mark — says that when Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days and tempted by satan, he was with the wild animals and the angels waited on him. He was not alone.… God — and God’s creation — was there.
Today — that means that when the sun is shining, God is there. When the temperatures climb into the 50s (THE 50s!!!), God is there. When I meet “wild animals”

March 31st, 2014
40 notes to 40 people in 40 days

Social media pervades our everyday lives. It interrupts us with alerts on our phones or laptops. It brings us the latest news, updates from family, and topics of conversation — think YouTube videos and Grumpy Cat memes — with our friends.
Part of the reason for doing this particular Lenten challenge (writing 40 notes to 40 people in 40 days) was because I think it’s important to keep and further develop personal connections in ways that don’t… involve instant messaging and emojis.
But the other day these two worlds — the tradition of Lent and social media — collided.
Now, I guess you could say that basically every day of my life the more traditional ideas and practices of faith and spirituality

March 27th, 2014
40 notes to 40 people in 40 days

Last Sunday’s gospel lesson was the story of Jesus and the woman at the well. At church, when it was time for the reading, three of our youth stepped up to the microphone. They proceeded to read — one as the voice of the gospel writer, one as Jesus, one as the woman at the well.
My pastor then broke the scripture open for us in his sermon — talking about the intimacy between Jesus and this woman. How well Jesus knew her and how well she knew the situation she was in as a Samaritan woman serving water to a Jewish man. And later how she goes to tell everyone about the encounter — wondering, thinking, that maybe this could be the Messiah.
It’s a good story for our Lenten journey today because it invites us into…

March 25th, 2014
40 notes to 40 people in 40 days

Tonight I will go to my church for a pilates class and I will be grateful.
Grateful for a church where every summer we have a series of events focused on “sharing our stuff.” Are you a cultural anthropologist who has written a book about “the role of religious communities in the recent migration of Fuzhounese from southeast China to New York City”? You’re taking us on a walking tour of Chinatown. Are you a songwriter? Cake decorator? Then you show others how to write songs and decorate cakes too.
Are you training to become a pilates instructor and need to log “instruction hours” before getting your certification? You lead a weekly pilates class.
I’m grateful that Nancy, pilates instructor, at the…

March 24th, 2014
40 notes to 40 people in 40 days

Over the weekend, I was thinking about the idea of “sabbath.” After two weekends away — traveling for a wedding and then work — it was good to be home. I was glad for the time to relax, spend time with my husband, go to church and then out to brunch with a friend, cook dinner. Sometimes it’s the little things that bring me the most joy.
Back to sabbath. Growing up — I was taught sabbath was a day of rest and a day of worship. My father was always trying to teach us to prepare ourselves for church/worship the night before. Imagine it — trying to pry children away from Saturday night TV in order to quiet our minds and prepare for church the next day. What????… Not gonna happen. Dad set a good example

March 21st, 2014
40 notes to 40 people in 40 days

I’ve know a lot of people who have gone to seminary. Some become ordained ministers or go on to get Ph.D.s and teach. Others are lay leaders in their denominations or counselors or writers or even artists.
Since working at Busted Halo, I’ve met another category to add to the list above — Catholic priests! And in addition to meeting priests (usually Paulist priests), I’ve also had the opportunity to meet and get to know several Paulist seminarians. They come from different places in the United States and Canada, have different professional backgrounds and interests, and many are drawn to the type of contemporary media outreach and evangelism that the Paulist Fathers are known for.
These seminarians…

March 20th, 2014
40 notes to 40 people in 40 days

Tuesday nights at my church, a member teaches a pilates class. It’s wonderful. And after a long day of work sitting (sometimes slouching) at a desk, my body is begging to stretch and move. Thus my affection for the pilates class.
Anyway, after the pilates class there’s a knitting circle of women from the church and community in the same room.
This week — who should walk in for the knitting circle? None other than Frances Helen! Who you might remember was recipient of my “DAY 1” note of this Lenten challenge.
Frances Helen is up and about this week for the first time after breaking her arm in January. Her arm is healing (praise God). And she was her usual warm and smiling self, making jokes about needing to…

March 19th, 2014
40 notes to 40 people in 40 days

At the two-week mark I’m facing the toughest “opposition” to my Lenten challenge of writing 40 notes to 40 people in 40 days. It’s me v. the clock. In other words, my opposition is time.
Work. Volunteering. Writing — three pages every day, I hope. Church. Social life. Pilates. Being a wife, daughter, sister, “aunt”/godparent, and friend. Housework — yes, that most thankless of tasks, but definitely takes up time. Cooking/meal prep — because it’s healthier if I make my own meals and skip take-out, right? Maybe a little more work or volunteering or church.
These things all take time. And there’s not a whole lot more time… left when they are all done. So, you can see how sending handwritten

March 17th, 2014
40 notes to 40 people in 40 days

I’ve been sending handwritten notes and cards for almost two weeks. Today I’m using the St. Patrick’s holiday as inspiration and sending cards in bulk (if you can count four as “bulk”) to my little cousins. They are my pseudo nieces and nephews because my sister and brother don’t have any children.
These four — Emma, Mollie, Grant, Drew — are great joys in my life. They are full of energy, and my visits with them generally include activities such as soccer games, baking cookies, playing board games, and building things with Legos. We talk on FaceTime occasionally and this year I was diligent about sending each one of them a birthday card. Unfortunately, they don’t have birthdays during…

March 14th, 2014
40 notes to 40 people in 40 days

Continuing on the family theme this week I’ve sent out two notes to two former co-workers who have become the best of friends over the past several years.
I’ve spent much of my time since college working. And most of that “working” time has been spent in an office with other people. Workplace friendships are interesting. Work is a place where you can really get to know people — collaborating on projects, eating lunch together, finding common interests, going out for a drink after work hours. Work has been a place where I’ve met and made some of the most wonderful friends!
When I used to work for the United Methodist Church, I would travel a good deal. And generally travel with coworkers, which meant…

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