August 2016

August and the Olympics are in full swing! Thank you for connecting with us each month. Feel free to share with your friends!

 Our Latest News

Come and sail away with us!

We’re going on a cruise! How exciting is that?!? The Upper Room, in partnership with EO Tours, is hosting the My Quiet Spaces Cruise. As I’ve shared before, My Quiet Spaces is a website based on Patricia Wilson’s book, Quiet Spaces. The website offers a variety of ways to find calm and space with God through the arts, journaling, prayer beads, and other methods. This makes for an awesome theme for a cruise!

Patricia Wilson and five other authors – including me – will be on the cruise. We will each be presenting a workshop. There will also be a meet-and-greet so you can meet all these wonderful women. Otherwise, there will be time to play and swim and explore and sit with umbrella drinks as you enjoy the sunset!

Here’s what you need to know:

Quiet Spaces Retreat Cruise

January 25-29, 2018 (4 nights)

Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas

Ports: Tampa – Cozumel – Tampa

Cabin Prices – all per person, double occupancy

Inside Cabin: $399

Ocean View – I & H: $499

Balcony – E3 & E2: $599

We currently have 75 cabins in our allotment. We will possibly release cabins as far out as April 2017 depending on registrations so we encourage people to register right away.

Taxes per person: $71

Program Fee: $75

Gratuities paid on ship approx $50

Registration: available soon!



Our First Facebook

Live Video Chat!

We recently hosted our first Facebook Live Video Chat. We thought a video chat would be a great way to connect with y’all, answer your questions, and share what we are up to in the Studio. Because it’s live, people were able to tune in and send in questions and comments in real time, which made it great fun! We had folks from a variety of states as well a few other countries!

We are planning to do at least one Live Video Chat each month, though the response to our first video was so great that we may add more. Our next chat is scheduled for mid September. We hope you’ll join us!

If you like to view the archived video of our first chat, click here.


 New in the Studio


Fall is here. Got Kits?

Fall is here and with it the many, many prayer bead workshops and retreats!

Are you planning to host a workshop or retreat?

Do you have the supplies to make prayer beads? If not, we can help!

We offer nine different color options in our DIY Prayer Bead Kits. We also offer volume discounts: 10% for 10 or more kits; 20% for 20 or more kits.

If possible, we need two weeks to process kit orders, particularly if you order a large quantity. Let us know how we can help!

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 Praying: A Prayer for Refugees

Daily Meditation

Prayer Bead Devotion

My family and I are big fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. We spend a lot of time watching soccer, gymnastics, swimming, diving, and beach volleyball. I also admit that I watch trampoline and synchronize swimming just because they are fascinating!

Like many viewers around the world, I was stunned to learn about the official refugee team this year. Reading more, I learned these ten athletes represent the more than 60 million people around the world who have had to flee their homes and countries in recent years. Indeed, the data shows that, in all of history, the world has never seen this many refugees!

I am struck by what this says about our world: that there is so much violence that more than 60 million people are forced to make the excruciating decision to leave behind their homes, neighborhoods, jobs, family members, and friends to find safety. That the large majority of these people face excruciating journeys, more violence, victimization, disease, hunger, and possible death to find that safe place. That millions and millions of them are turned away by other countries who, for various reasons, will not accept them and offer them asylum. That  even for those who do find safety, they must then endure poverty, intolerance, and continued hardship when all they want in life is what we want: security, love, connection, and the opportunity to contribute the gifts God has granted them.

I applaud the Olympics in establishing the refugee team, offering a chance for these elite athletes to compete and, in the process, raise awareness of the needs of our world. In their honor, I am writing this devotion, which encourages us all to end violence and receive openly those who must flee because of it. I cannot imagine life in a war-torn nation, much less life on the run. I pray no one else has to either.

Cross: God of All Nations,

Invitatory Bead: who calls us to Peace

Resurrection Bead: through your Son, Jesus Christ:

First Cruciform Bead: We confess the violence in our world.

Week Beads, 1st Set: Use each bead to acknowledge the violence in our world, particularly in countries that are besieged by war and persecution. If possible, take time before you pray to learn about places where there is war in the world.

Second Cruciform Bead: We see the devastation, particularly those who are forced to flee their homes and countries to be safe.

Week Beads, 2nd Set: Use each bead to see – really see – what it must be like to live in a war-torn country. What does it look, smell, feel, sound, and taste life? What is life like when battles are being fought in your neighborhood. How does it affect your daily life?

Third Cruciform Bead: We hear their cries for safety. Help us to lay down our fears and respond to your call to welcome the stranger.

Week Beads, 3rd Set: Use each bead to listen – really listen – to the cries of those who are seeking refuge from war and persecution. What do the voices sound like? What are they saying? What are they asking for? What is their prayer?

Fourth Cruciform Bead: We hear your call of peace. Help us to work towards peace in our hearts, in our daily interactions, and on a broader scale, recognizing that the smallest act of kindness towards strangers is the place to begin.

Week Beads, 4th Set: Use each bead to consider how you can promote peace. What can you do in your heart and daily life? How is God calling you to make a difference?

Resurrection Bead: In the name of Jesus Christ,

Invitatory Bead: the Prince of Peace,

Cross: Amen.


Listening Focus (to be repeated with each bead): Peace begins with me.


Kristen’s Favorite Things

Robert Benson: The Echo Within

In the spirit of peace, particularly as it relates to the refugees of the world (see above), I want to share one of my favorite authors, and my favorite book from my favorite author. For several years now I have been a fan of Robert Benson. I often refer to him as my #writerscrush because I love what he has to say and how he says it. Benson’s writing primarily focuses on spiritual formation, so it is no wonder I love his books! And he is a regular presenter at The Academy for Spiritual Formation, so in my mind, that gives him bonus points.

My favorite of all of his books is The Echo Within (WaterBrook Press 2009). It’s designed to help us tap into God’s voice (the “echo within”) and learn to listen to it. It is a voice that only we can hear, since God’s voice sounds different to each person. But, as Benson points out, the voice is within everyone of us, calling us to the lives we were created to live. As he writes, “We must listen fiercely and faithfully and fearlessly. Within the echo of the Voice that spoke us into being is the sound of our own true voice (p. 19).”

In my devotion (above), I invited you to listen: for the cries of the people in our world, and for how God is calling you to be an instrument of peace. That is about paying attention to the echo of God’s voice within you.

Just imagine: what would our world be like if everyone paid attention to the Echo and discovered the sound of her or his own true voice?

I imagine it would be a place of Peace.