Category Archives: Culture & Religion

5 Friday Faves – Awards Speeches, Castle Theme, Prayer Breakfast, Harmony, and a Comedian

Hello, Friday! You know those kind of days when you work really, really hard, and you come home too tired to eat, much less cook….but it’s a good tired. You sink down in the closest chair…and 10 minutes later, wake up from a nap that felt longer…and…on with finishing the week… Hope your tired is a good tired. Here are five of my favorite finds…just for you!

1) Awards Speeches – We are in that season of awards shows – the Oscar, Golden Globe, Grammy, among others. Those of us who watch these shows do so to catch all the gorgeous or peculiar actors in the audience and stage. The fashions are a draw as well. For me, I love to hear what the award recipients say when they receive their award…their prepared words/speech. What they choose to showcase in their few minutes before their peers and the watching world. On the recent Screen Actors Guild Awards show, my favorite speech of the year was by Taraji P. Henson. She spoke for all the actors of Hidden Figures which won the award of Outstanding Performance By A Cast in a Motion Picture.

#sagawards

“We stand here as proud actors." – Taraji P. Henson on behalf of the cast of Hidden Figures.

Posted by Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday, January 29, 2017

Watch her speech in the clip, or read it here. Part of it follows: “This story is of unity,” she concluded. “This story is about what happens when we put our differences aside and we come together as a human race. We win. Love wins every time.”

No political posturing. No pitting of one group against another. Lovely. Hopeful. True.

2) The Castle ThemeNathan Mills of Beyond the Guitar has done it again. He has taken the background music of a favorite videogame and demonstrated the incredible beauty to be found there. Castle Theme from Super Mario World is his latest arrangement for classical guitar. I honestly don’t know how he plays as fast as he does. Check it out here.

3) Prayer Breakfast – These days you never know what to expect in public observances. Protests, boycotts, and marches. A quieter but significant  event is the National Prayer Breakfast observed in February each year since 1953, in Washington, D.C. Keynote speakers in the past have included Mother Teresa, Bono, and Tony Blair. This year retired Rear Admiral Barry Black, the Senate Chaplain, delivered the message.  So powerful! He spoke on Making Your Voice Heard in Heaven.  If you can’t watch all incredible 25 minutes, at least watch from minute 22:16. Wow!

4) Harmony – Don’t you love when music and life flow with harmony? Jay Lyons is a filmmaker whose work I follow. In response to the dissonance of voices in this week’s newstream, he and his family wrote and performed together a song about harmony. Watch it here: Our House – Harmony – Jay Lyons & Family. Photo Credit: Music Early Childhood Presenter

5) A Comedian –  While Facebook friends of mine are deactivating left and right because of all the political wrangling going on right now, I had the biggest chuckle when a video featuring comedian John Crist showed up on my newsfeed. It’s about trying to find a parking place at a mega-church. He is new to me and so funny. Several of his videos are posted on his website. Enjoy.Photo Credit: YouTube

So that’s all I’ve got…jumping into my pajamas to fall asleep in front of the TV…don’t even care what’s on. Before I sign off though, I’d like to give a shout-out to Mike Sheley, owner/operator of the brand-new Chick-Fil-A at Smith Crossroads, Lenoir, North Carolina. This restaurant just opened this week. If you know about Chick-Fil-A, you know it’s all about a great-tasting chicken sandwich…and much more. Mike and team have a huge commitment to the community. Even before their grand opening, the restaurant team sponsored a book drive for local elementary schools and filled food boxes for Feeding Children Everywhere (over 10,000 meals total).Photo Credit: Facebook, Chick-Fil-A

Hope you have a great weekend, and if you’re anywhere near Lenoir, North Carolina, say hi to Mike & Jessica Sheley…and “eat mor chikin'”.

 

Worship Wednesday – We Won’t Be Shaken – Building 429

Photo Credit: ABC News

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.Hebrews 12:28

The longer we live, the more we have those stop-you-in-your-tracks, breath-catching experiences. Those “Do you remember where you were when……?” moments . Those consummately positive memories like our wedding day, the birth of a grandchild, or that time a guitarist son‘s music video goes viral.

These are not the experiences that take us to our knees (except in gratitude, for sure). What shakes our core are times we are faced with something so devastating we fear we cannot recover – a cancer diagnosis, the death of someone dear, or even what could have just happened in our lives this week.

When the San Francisco Earthquake of 1989 struck, it shook (literally and metaphorically) that community in California…and all of our nation. We had grown quite accustomed to a safe and settled America. A time of relative peace before the wars began again. Since then, we have had so many natural and international shakings, we wonder if the ground will ever again be still under our feet.

John Piper, after hearing the news of the 1989 earthquake, preached comfort and truth on the unshakeable Kingdom of God. As he started speaking, he prayed:

O Father in heaven, it’s times like this in the life of a nation when the voice of the Lord needs to be heard, and you have much to say, and we have little time in which to say it. So come, Father, boil everything down to the bare essentials, sharpen the arrow of your Word, may it sink home to do its appointed work of mercy in the lives of every person here. I ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.John Piper

The Christian group Building 429 well describes our experience as Christ-followers when faced with confusing and faith-shaking times. In the song We Won’t Be Shaken, we are reminded of the great truth that whatever we face in this culture and the larger world around us, God is always in the mix. God’s purposes are never thwarted and His love and mercies will help us stand, even when the earth shakes all around us. This is not platitude. We know it, because we’ve experienced it. We know God, because we’ve experienced Him…with us. In the darkness and in the shaking.

Worship with me.

This world has nothing for me
This life is not my own
I know you go before me
And I am not alone
This mountain rises higher
This way seems so unclear
But I know that you go with me
I will trust in you

Whatever will come my way
Through fire or pouring rain
We won’t be shaken
No we won’t be shaken
Whatever tomorrow brings
Together we’ll rise and sing
That we won’t be shaken
Oooh Oh Oh
Oooh Oh Oh
Oooh Oh Oh
No we won’t be shaken

You know my every longing
You’ve heard my every prayer
You’ve held me in my weakness
Cause you are always there
So I’ll stand in full surrender
It’s your way and not my own
My mind is set on nothing less
Than you and you alone
I will not be moved oh

Whatever will come my way
Through fire or pouring rain
We won’t be shaken
No we won’t be shaken
Whatever tomorrow brings
Together we’ll rise and sing
That we won’t be shaken

(3x)
We will trust in you
We will not be moved
We will trust in you*

Take time to read the transcript of Piper’s sermon. He closes with this appeal to those in his hearing who  do not yet know the God of the unshakeable kingdom:

Receive the kingdom that cannot be shaken. Jesus said, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless you receive the kingdom like a little child, you will never enter it.” See how simple it is? What does “a little child” mean? It means you humble yourself and recognize that you can’t make a place for yourself to stand. You can’t cut it in life and make the future what it needs to be. You just humble yourself like a little child. You recognize that there’s a Father in heaven. You see the gift offered through his Son Jesus Christ—forgiveness and the hope of everlasting life and a firm kingdom that can’t be shaken—you extend your hands and say, “Sinner though I am, I receive it. This is now my portion forever and ever.” – John Piper

Photo Credit: Mariel Davenport

Lyrics to We Won’t Be Shaken by Building 429

YouTube Video – K-Love – Building 429 – We Won’t Be Shaken – LIVE

A Kingdom That Can Not Be Shaken – John Piper

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Reformation Day – A Halloween That Changed the World

blog-martin-luther-reformation-day-prae-huPhoto Credit: Prae.hu

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9

On October 31, 1517, Catholic priest Martin Luther nailed a document known as his 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg church. In this public stand against the Catholic practices of that day, he would divide Christianity into at least two camps – that of Protestants (the Reformers) and the Catholics.

Now we are on the eve of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Today, October 31 is known as Reformation Day…and, of course, Halloween.

October 31, for most, is a family/community cultural event (very different from the historical Halloween). Parties, dress-up, spooky decorations, and sweet treats.blog-halloween-2016

For those of us who are Christian, identifying more Protestant than Catholic, we wouldn’t want to miss the historic significance of this day as well.

Justin Holcomb‘s piece on the five solas lists the fundamental elements of the Christian faith (as put forth by the Reformers) and the substantiating Scriptures. Below are the five (see article for commentary and Bible verses):

  1. Sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”): The Bible alone is our highest authority.
  2. Sola Fide (“faith alone”): We are saved through faith alone in Jesus Christ.
  3. Sola Gratia (“grace alone”): We are saved by the grace of God alone.
  4. Solus Christus (“Christ alone”): Jesus Christ alone is our Lord, Savior, and King.
  5. Soli Deo Gloria (“to the glory of God alone”): We live for the glory of God alone.*

[See links below for articles/resources on the full relevance of this day for us personally, for our families, and for culture, in general.]

Something else happening today that is redemptively newsworthy is the visit between Pope Francis and Bishop Munib Younan, head of the Lutheran World Federation. They are meeting today for an ecumenical prayer service in Lund, Sweden.blog-reformation-day-radiovaticana-munib-younan-and-pope-francesPhoto Credit: Vatican Radio

Pope Francis calls Christians, Catholic and Protestant, to lay down the division between them. He recently even commended Martin Luther for rebelling against a Catholicism that, at that time, was “no model to imitate”. He called for unity for the sake of peace-keeping efforts and humanitarian work and for the benefit of those experiencing religious persecution.

In all you might savor in this day, this 31st day of October, consider how Martin Luther changed a world, by taking a stand… Some of our children will choose to dress-up in super-hero costumes – taking on larger than life personas for the good of those around them. They are more like Martin Luther, in that, than they may know.

blog-halloween-martin-luther-costumeblog-martin-luther-legos-pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest; Pinterest

*5 Points From the Past That Should Matter to You – Justin Holcomb

5 Bible Verses to Read on Reformation Day – Andy Rau

October 31 – Halloween Dress-up and Reformation Day Stand-up – DebMillsWriter

Reformation Day: Resources to Help Us Remember – Desiring God

Man Between God and the Devil: Martin Luther and the Reclamation of Halloween – William E. Flippin, Jr.

5 Friday Faves – The Insanity of God, a Magical Baseball Moment, Saving a Syrian Baby, Downton Abbey Returns, and Beauty & the Beast

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Here we are with another Friday. So ready for today! Not because I live for the weekend, but because this is a wonder all on its own. Where we are, school is back in session after Labor Day, so there’s lots of activity around us with getting kiddos ready to go to school. Last vacations, last school shopping, and then the firsts begin of this new school year.

Today’s Faves are all about film. Please share favorite films you have discovered, too (including video shorts on Youtube, etc) in Comments below.

1) The Insanity of God – This is a limited release documentary taken from the book The Insanity of God – a True Story of Faith Resurrected by Nik Ripken with Gregg Lewis. It follows the lives of a missionary family in Africa, and then tells stories of people they met in different countries of the world…These people became followers of Jesus in places where they would experience extreme persecution for that decision. Their experiences were difficult to watch, even as actors reenacted them . However, I still strongly recommend it to anyone interested in knowing more about God. The most striking takeaway for me was how the suffering they experienced paled compared to their experience of God’s love and care, even in hard places.

Blog - The Insanity of God - Dmitri

I wrote about one of these persecuted believers here.

The Insanity of God will be screened once more on September 13 at selected theaters. The DVD will then be released on November 21.

Blog - The Insanity of God

2) A Baseball Magical Moment – My dad, who has Alzheimer’s, has had a rough week. He’s doing better now, and I’m thankful for family close by him who watch out for him. I bring that up because he loves baseball…well, actually, he loves BRAVES baseball. Still, I think he would love this baseball story about Michael Lorenzen, pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds. Michael’s dad died recently, and the day he returned to play, he had an emotional and magical moment.Blog - Friday Faves - Michael Lorenzen - lindyssportsPhoto Credit: LindysSports

He hit his first homerun of his major leagues career. Don’t miss the video – really sweet, whether you’re a baseball lover or not. I plan to show it to my dad on our next visit.

3) Saving a Syrian Baby – The war in Syria and the refugee crisis have given us terrifying and anguished views of human suffering. One video that popped up on my Facebook newsfeed this week showed a medical team operating on a pregnant Syrian woman who had been critically wounded from a barrel bomb. They were treating her and at some point decided they needed to surgically deliver the baby. You want to watch this here. [The video is 6:17; for sure, watch 3:11 onward]. I know a little Arabic and there’s a lot of celebrating going on in the operating suite. Those doctors must see a lot of terrible wounds from all the bombing, but that day the war didn’t win.Blog - Syrian Mother and Baby - surgical team - mashablePhoto Credit: Mashable

4) Downton Abbey Returns – This week PBS aired a special titled I Miss Downton Abbey. It gave all of us fans another opportunity to revisit that fabulous ensemble cast and to hear some of the behind-the-scenes production bits. For any of you who still haven’t seen Downton Abbey, and now regret that decision, you are in for a treat this weekend. For those who have access to PBS broadcasting, Downton Abbey is going to be shown all this weekend – all 6 seasons – starting Friday evening and going through Monday. Woohoo! Blog - Downton Abbey - radiotimesPhoto Credit: Radiotimes

5) Beauty & the Beast – I just saw a news brief that in March, 2017 (which is 6 months from now!), a live action Beauty & the Beast is being released. Emma Watson is playing Belle and Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens is playing the Beast. The buzz is already started about how can you take such a gorgeous animated film and re-do it. Why would you want to? Knowing Disney Studios, it will be amazing.Blog - Beauty and the Beast - Live Action - etonlinePhoto Credit: Etonline

Hope you have a sweet weekend…a holiday weekend for us in the US. I might binge a bit on Downton Abbey while doing laundry and other work around the house…until then, here’s the theme by my favorite guitarist – Nathan @beyondtheguitar.

5 Friday Faves – Dads Who Get It, Pompous Putdowns, Kids’ Birthdays, Hole-in-the-Wall Restaurants, and a Good Laugh

Blog - Friday Faves

Hello, Friday Friends! Finishing up today’s blog at my favorite shared workspace. Last days of summer are upon us. Looking forward to Fall…however, taking each day as a gift. This is one!Blog - Shared Workspace - Friday Faves

Here are my favorite finds this week. Would love to hear some of yours in Comments below.

1) Dads Who Get It – What a blessing you Dads who notice and insert yourselves in our lives. With care and insight. In a Youtube video, a young boy, Mateo had a secret dream of being a professional dancer…or maybe it wasn’t so secret. His daily life was darkened by the regular taunts of neighborhood bullies. Then…enter the Dad.Blog - Dads Who Get It - Bullying - dresser splentalePhoto Credit: Dresser Splentale 

Watch this short and sweet video showcasing such a dad.

2) Pompous Putdowns  – Okay…I actually deserved this one maybe. I made a comment on a blog of one of my favorite culture commentators. He is a great thinker and I usually “amen” everything he posts. So, on the one piece that didn’t wash for me, I made a disparaging comment. Something that I don’t appreciate when it’s done to others. Thought about deleting it…but not before another replied to my comment with the phrase “what pious trout nonsense.”Blog - Putdowns and pious trout nonsense - Oxford Grotesque TwitterPhoto Credit: Twitter – Oxford Grotesque

Wow! Not just “rude” or “self-righteous”, but this altogether higher level of putting my comment in its place. Sophisticated and snarky name-calling. So why is this a fave? It was  a reminder that comments on a blog, Twitter, or Facebook walls sometimes elicit more withering responses than the original post itself. When I posted the comment on this blogger’s wall, I had no idea that it could come across as “pious trout nonsense”. Gave me pause to think. Ironically, The origin of this putdown is ascribed to Christopher Hitchens, a steadfast critic of Christians. So for a moment, in the comment section of a favorite blogger, I got my comeuppance (in a manner of speaking) by a premiere persecutor. Could be worse.

[PS…I did go ahead and delete my comment, and will return to commenting only if it’s affirming…hopefully. Thankful for freedom of speech but don’t need to add to the negative stuff out there.]

3) Kids’ Birthdays – Just want to celebrate briefly the celebration of mileposts. Our oldest granddaughter just turned 1 y/o. She is a social media-free child. Can’t post pictures, so I will use the image below to celebrate both her, and her adorable little 2-month-old cousin.Blog - Grandchild Tshirts

Kids’ birthday parties have just been something we participated in mostly as spectators (over the last decade since our own children became adults). Until now! This week, we hovered over a 1-year-old with cameras aready for her first bites of cake. A struggle with sugar she will battle the rest of her life. This day, however, we celebrate her…and the cake her other sweet grandmother made…and the lovely community she gathers – extended family who love her and love being family with her. [When she is older and decides to do whatever the latest greatest social media will be, I’ll share her pictures.] Blog - Grandchildren BirthdaysP1280069 - Copy

4) Hole-in-the-Wall Restaurants – Our city/state has some super finds in restaurants – both little obscure ones and the larger franchises. Kuba-Kuba is one I’ve enjoyed. Wherever you live , there are websites that will point you to hole-in-the-wall restaurants not to miss. Visiting Georgia often to see my Dad/family, I also need to check these out, and our children’s home state has sweet options as well. What are your favorites? [Please share in Comments.]

Blog - Kuba-Kuba - hole in the wall restaurants - only in your statePhoto Credit: Only In Your State

5) A Good Laugh – I’m a pretty serious person, but what a gift to have people in my life who make me laugh. How about you? Do you have people like that In your life? It’s great for your health. Whether it’s cancer, heart disease, or chronic mental distress, laughter is good medicine. My friend, Heba, makes me laugh every time we talk. Every. Single. Time.2006 -- Nov -- Heba & Daniel eating Koshery

Blog - Merry heart - pinterestPhoto Credit: PinterestBlog - a merry heart - powerfulintentionsPhoto Credit: Powerful Intentions

Online, we can also find great helps – like Michael Jr., KevOnStage, Brian Regan, and others…who are your favorites?

Hope your weekend is full of laughter…and at least one of these:Blog - Hanover Tomato Sandwich

 

5 Friday Faves – Words, Trauma Healing, Street Smart Kids, Thunderstorms, #GrowingUpInABlackChurch

Blog - Friday Faves

Happy Friday! Another whirlwind week. Ours is to savor the moments and those sweet finds of each day of  life. Below are a few of my favorites from this week. Would love to hear about yours [in Comments].

1) Words – You know when you mean to send that card or make that phone call? Or when you could speak to that downcast stranger or give a shout-out to someone worthy of celebrating…and you didn’t? This is a salute to all you folks out there who use your words for life – to encourage, celebrate, comfort, guide, and lovingly speak the truth. We are bombarded with words. Literally, blasted with words. Some sound so true, we are swayed by them…to find out later, they were not true…and the course of our lives, maybe even our country, was set in a direction we wouldn’t have chosen, if we understood what the words really meant.BLog - WordsPhoto Credit: Pinterest

I’ve been blessed by good friends and colleagues who use words in a life-giving manner. They inspire me to do the same.2016 Phone Pics 2449

2) Trauma Healing – The Trauma Healing Institute is a training and service arm of The American Bible Society. The goal here is to respond at a heart-level to the trauma in people’s lives. When you think of the numbers of people who have endured extreme trauma (1 out of 7 persons globally), it is a good thing to reach out to them with shelter and  supplies but also with listening ears and honoring comfort. This intervention is Bible-based so may not be the go-to training for everyone, but I’m hoping to take it in the Fall. Check here for stories and more info.
Blog - Trauma Healing - THIPhoto Credit: Trauma Healing Institute

3) Street Smart Kids – Earlier this week, I wrote about situational awareness. One of the resources I posted was the blog by Chonce Maddox on 50 Things You Can Do to Make Your Kids Street Smart I wrote this week about situational awareness here. Maddox talks about her reasoning for writing: “As a parent, my worst fear is that I won’t be able to protect my child when he needs it. My second worst fear is that he won’t be able to protect himself and make wise decisions depending on what situation he’s in.” Her list of 50 things are age-specific and are brilliant and easy-to-apply. Whether you have a newborn or a soon-to-be-launched teen, take the time to equip your children in this way.
Schoolchildren embracing happy. Multi cultural racial classroom.

Photo Credit: A Fine Parent

4) Thunderstorms and Heat Lightning  – I love rain and especially thunderstorms. It’s been really hot here in Richmond, Va., the last couple of weeks. Occasionally the lightning has only been heat-related. We had both heat lightning yesterday as well as an amazing thunderstorm last night. My pic below is of the late afternoon sky. The rains that came later were drenching and cooling. No electricity outages – just a glorious and wet light and sound show.Blog - ThunderstormBlog - Heat LightningPhoto Credit: Wunderground

5) #GrowingUpInABlackChurch – Growing up outside Atlanta , in the suburbs, was a pretty homogeneous experience for me, culture-wise. When I finished grad school, my first job was in an innercity hospital in downtown Atlanta. This was my first time experiencing the richness and otherness of predominately African American worship or “church”. In those days, working on an oncology unit, I went to a lot of funerals. Both in those times and regular Sunday services, I discovered a very different way of doing church and community. Sunday morning church is still too often a too-segregated experience, but I’m glad for the opportunities to be in a more racially and culturally diverse worship. What got me thinking about this was the trending hashtag this month which was fun to watch…although, not having the experience of #GrowingUpInABlackChurch, I celebrate it. ALso trending this week: #blackwomendidthat.

Blog - GrowingUpInABlackChurch - hbcuBlog - GrowingUpInABlackChurch - imgurPhoto Credit: HBCU, HBCU

Have a safe and sweet weekend out there. Use the Comments below to post your own favorites from this week. Thanks!

Worship Wednesday – Fear Is Easy, Love Is Hard – Jason Gray

Blog - Perfect Love Casts Out Fear - best of picturePhoto Credit: BestOfPicture

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. – 1 John 4:18

For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment. – 2 Timothy 1:7

Fear and love. Over the last two weeks, we’ve heard a lot about these two states of heart and mind. Well, if we’ve followed the conventions of the two major political parties in the US…. Whether we’ve watched on TV or not, the messages of both conventions have blasted our newsfeeds. What does one believe about any of it?

One convention (and political party and candidate) is purportedly all about fear. The other is all about love. One sees the solution to fear comes with building walls. The other sees the solution to our nation’s problems is love. Big fear = Big walls, guns, bluster. Big love = Big government, inclusion (unless maybe you look and think like me). Gone are the days, in both conventions, when God is mentioned in light of how we are meant to do government and treat our neighbors (both near and far).

Sidebar: Regarding fear, John Piper does talk about the importance of a certain type of temporary fear. “The painful fear, the guilty fear, the craven fear, the humiliating fear — all such fear will one day be taken way. But only in the way God intends. And in his time. We should not be done with it in the wrong way, or too soon.

Here is the way C. S. Lewis puts it:

Perfect love, we know, casteth out fear [1 John 4:18]. But so do several other things — ignorance, alcohol, passion, presumption, and stupidity.

It is very desirable that we should all advance to that perfection of love in which we shall fear no longer; but it is very undesirable, until we have reached that stage, that we should allow any inferior agent to cast out our fear. (“The World’s Last Night” in C. S. Lewis: Essay Collection and Other Short Pieces, 51)” – John Piper

I wasn’t revved by the one convention’s soberness, nor was I wooed by the other convention’s frivolity. The jokes just weren’t funny, but everyone there was laughing.

Until the reality seemed to sink in for the supporters of a minority candidate, that it might be over…and the tears flowed.Blog - Fear and Love - PoliticsBlog - Fear and Love - Politics - tearsPhoto Credit: FoxNews, PressDemocrat

I actually felt some of their pain.

What is a follower of Christ to do?

Scripture makes it very clear that we are not to give into worldly fear. Scripture also convicts us that love is the solution – not the love of government, or a political party, or like for like. For us as Christ followers, we are called to love…even those who don’t agree with us, even our enemies. This kind of love is extremely costly – it’s the kind of love Jesus taught us through his life…and through his death.

We’re not meant to give into a fear that builds walls, nor are we to clamor for a love that costs us nothing…a love that comes out of government and not out of our own skin.

During a season in this country, when we’re being hammered with media messages that divide us, may we as the followers of Christ unite – not by political party or by our own offended or soothed sensibilities. May we unite in keeping our eyes on God when we fear, and apply our lives to truly loving – not just people like us but all peoples. Not just looking to an outside agency to “show the love”, but to extend ourselves to that loving…as we’ve experienced in the God of love.

Worship with me with this song from Jason Gray‘s album A Way to See in the Dark

Turn on the T.V. for the evening news
They got plenty to fear and nothing to do
Another somebody who’s gone too far
Makes you want to put up your guard
Fear is easy, love is hard
So we draw up another dividing line
We label each other and we choose a side
Peace could come at quite a cost
So we won’t build a bridge across
Fear is easy, but love is hard
Fear will leave you hiding in the dark
But love will bring a light into your heart
So do not be afraid, do not be afraid
I’m sorry baby is what he should’ve said
But she wouldn’t listen even if he did
They’ll die without forgiveness soon
But no one wants to make a move
When fear is easy and love is hard
Fear will leave you hiding in the dark
But love will bring a light into your heart
So do not be afraid, do not be afraid
It’s hard to bring your heart to a world that can break it
To offer love to those you’re afraid will forsake it
But a well-defended heart is always looking for a fight
In a lonely war against an endless night
But love can bring a light
Fear will leave you hiding in the dark
But love will bring a light into your heart
So do not be afraid
It comes down to a simple choice
Shouting devils or a still small voice
One is spreading fear and dread
Oh but love has always said
Do not be afraid
Do not be afraid
Do not be afraid
Do not be afraid.*

Blog - Fear and Love - GrowinginHisGracePhoto Credit: Growing In His Grace

I love the truth in Paul’s writing to Timothy. God doesn’t mean for us to fear what surrounds us, what seems to loom ahead, or what has happened in the past. He means for us to gather ourselves, as His children, to act with the power He’s given us, to love with the example He’s shown us, and to think, (and reason together), with sound minds. Sound minds. We can think through and manage this election year if we keep our wits and guard our hearts, with faith unblemished in a God “whose arm is not too short to save!” (Isaiah 59:1)

*Lyrics to Fear Is Easy, Love Is Hard

Fear or Love? Responding to Terrorism Like Jesus – Nicole Simpson – Christ & Pop Culture

Responding to the Tragedy in This World – Growing In His Grace

YouTube – Chris Tomlin – Whom Shall I Fear? [God of Angel Armies] – Lyrics

BLog - Fear and Love - Nothing is too hard for God - facebook - Mariah KingPhoto Credit: Facebook

5 Friday Faves – Pokemon Guitar Medley, Dr. Tony Evans on Race, Burgess Owens on Liberalism, Coconut Cake, and Back to School

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Friday again. It’s been a hot weather week here as we move to the end of July. How the summer flies by! I get my walks in early and try to get work done before the afternoon dulls my brain. For those of you who have long workdays with some out in this heat, the weekend is almost here. My Friday Faves this week are:

1) Pokémon Guitar Medley – For me, Pokémon stirs up old memories of my boys hunkered down playing it on the old Gameboy system. The melodies emitted from the game had no emotional attachment for me; just signaled their playing nearby.  Blog - Pokemon -GameboyPhoto Credit: YouTube

Fast-forward a couple of decades to a new phone app – Pokémon Go. Genius! Nostalgia reigns. This version of the game weds the old with the new – social gaming and a quasi-outdoor-adventure. Even in our quiet old neighborhood, there are now young folks walking around with their phones out like flashlights (reminds me of the old guys on the beach waving their metal detectors back and forth). Blog - Pokemon Go - timesfreepressPhoto Credit: Times Free Press

This phenomenon has definitely stirred up sweet memories for guitarist Nathan Mills at Beyond the Guitar. He’s arranged a melody of some of those old tinkly electronic tunes from childhood of playing Pokémon. Whether you ever played the game, you will enjoy the music (hard to believe the beauty those composers instilled into the gaming experience for the kids who played back then).

2) Dr. Tony Evans on Race – A Biblical Response on Race – You already know I love radio.  Well, Tony Evans has been a go-to for me for 30 years. His program, The Alternative, and his preaching, speaking, and writing are just as fresh and relevant today as ever.Blog - Tony EvansPhoto Credit: Tony Evans

This past Sunday he preached on Race, Culture, and the Biblical Response. His message is to the church, but anyone could benefit from what he has to say on these issues. So timely also as our nation is going through an intensified examination of our own thinking and actions in this. Evans used the text of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well, crossing culture and class, demonstrating the love of God.

“It’s real easy in here….we can all get along…in here. What happens when you go out and you have to face your own race? What happens when your biblical view is not the popular view? What happens when you’re rejected for not being black enough, white enough….?  When you have to take that stand responsibly, kindly, in love, but clearly. When you hear messages on love and unity….it’s good…inside the House. What God is looking for are some serious Christians on this issue who start biblically and spiritually and work it down racially, socially, and culturally. You do not start with your culture and work it up. You start with the Word and the authority of your faith and work it in. May God help us to do our part locally, personally, in our families, and through our influence, to bring people to a spiritual biblical approach to the issue of race, culture, and class so at least we can model, before the world, biblical solutions to a society in chaos.” – Tony Evans

3) Burgess Owens on Liberalism – We are in the political season of party conventions and a presidential election. So much rhetoric. So many promises. So much finger-pointing and blame-shifting. Over the course of my life, I’ve changed political parties as they have changed ideologies. This election is a tough one for some of us…

I love to discover unusual heroes who are rarely found in popular media. Star Parker is one of these – a politically conservative black woman who also changed her thinking over the course of her life. She was the impetus for me to search for other conservative thinkers who, because of their race or beliefs, have to have a deeper sort of courage to give voice to their ideas. This week, I discovered Superbowl Champion Burgess Owens.  You can see him speak about persistence in this YouTube video on “the 13th season”. He is the author of Liberalism or How to Turn Good Men into Whiners, Weenies and Wimps He writes about the first 100 year, post-slavery, history of entrepreneurial, faith- and family-centered American blacks. He also writes about the founding of the NAACP by mostly white, Marxist social engineers, and that influence on African-American thinking and culture. Blog - Book - Liberalism - Burgess OwensPhoto Credit: Simon & Schuster

I have not read the book yet, so this is not a recommendation of the book as much as of the author. After hearing him speak during an interview (as part of his book tour), I was struck by this “other side” of what we see in the news media. His thinking is compelling.  In my 20s, I worked in a huge inner-city hospital in Atlanta (wrote about it here). It was then that my thinking politically began to change. I loved our patients and families so much, and the poverty that encased them seemed impenetrable. It was then I began to see that throwing money at poverty doesn’t make it go away. Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away either. My nursing friends and I would have deep and anguished conversations about the tangled mess of poverty, welfare, class, race, and politics. I am thankful for how those years and relationships changed my thinking. Still have so much to learn.Debbie & Grady nurse buddy

I welcome your recommendation of other voices…these kinds of conversations could affect real and crucial change…beyond any political party or government power.

4) Three Day Coconut Cake – OK…something a little lighter. My mom-in-law is an amazing cook. She also knows I love coconut. We had a huge family gathering this past week to celebrate the newest addition to our family. She always makes strawberry pretzel salad which is top of the list of our family favorites. For me (and a handful of others who also like coconut), she made this refrigerator coconut cake. It’s practically a food group all by itself. Enjoy. Here’s the recipe.

Blog - Friday Faves - Coconut Cake - chindeepPhoto Credit: ChinDeep

5) Back to School – During the hottest days of summer, a Fall breeze blows through our favorite stores. Back to school supplies and cool kids’ clothes pop up everywhere. I have always loved the smell of pencils and paper. However, I never loved the long hours of school that boxed in our children to spend evenings separated from us and each other with hours and hours of homework. Sorry, wonderful teacher friends of mine. Anyway, seeing school supplies in the stores this week was fun…and also a reminder of the flight of time. Summer slow down.Blog - Back to School Supplies - friday Faves

I always love to hear about your favorite finds of the week. Please comment below. Have a safe and sweet weekend!

5 Friday Faves – Shared Workspace, Refugee Resettlement, Passion, Doing the Next Thing, and Coming Sit-Coms

Blog - Friday Faves

Finally….a sky-blue, birds singing, sunny Friday morning. We, in Richmond, have had an inordinate amount of rain this Spring…but today it’s a happy break in the weather, heading into a rainy weekend. Hope you have time outside. Here are my favorite finds of the week.

1) Shared Workspace – This is my first experience of a shared workspace NOT at my job. How refreshing to be able to hang out with other professionals, drink the coffee, and work…with the doors flung open, street sounds and smells, and occasional breaks of laughter and conversation. Movement Church offers its building as a shared workspace for the community. Friday’s, 9:00am-3:00pm. [3015 Cutshaw Ave, Richmond, Va. 23221]. The coffee’s good…and free.Blog - Movement Church - Shared WorkspaceBlog - Friday Faves - Shared Workspace

2) Refugee Resettlement – Syrian refugees are often in the news, and most everyone has opinions about how they should be resettled. My friend, Beth, is working right now with refugees in Greece, and her stories and pictures have touched my heart deeply. Our city isn’t currently on the list for resettling Syrians – these who escaped their country in war with little else but each other and no homes but a tent now. Maybe yours is a resettlement city. Either way, finding out what is available in your city for displaced peoples is a good thing. We have several such organizations in Richmond (Church World Services, International Rescue Committee, Commonwealth Catholic Charities). A smaller non-profit in the city – Reestablish – offered a volunteer training recently and I went. Wonderful way to serve, in community, the needs of new neighbors.Blog - Refugee Resource Fair - ReEstablish

3) Passion – What are you passionate about? How does it show in your life? What does it communicate to your kids? I read a blog on passion this week and it really got me thinking about those exact questions. Jerrad Lopes blogs at DadTired.  “Parents, we can spend our entire lives teaching our kids the lessons we’ve gleaned over the years. And we should. But ultimately, they will remember what we were most passionate about. Our words will be forgotten, but our lives will be remembered. ” Parenting was never something that came easy for me. This observation by Jerrad on passion is something I am cautiously taking seriously…Do my words match my actions…my enthusiasm? I sure want that honesty/transparency…especially before my children, and grandchildren.

4) Do the next thing In my twenties, writer Elisabeth Elliot was a much needed spiritual guide. I was pretty adrift for awhile in those days and her very pragmatic, mind-clearing take on God and life was what I needed to hear. Her advice for anyone struggling to know what to do in a time of difficulty, loss, or confusion was simply: “Do the next thing.” It is in the doing of that normal next thing that can help us get our bearings – whether it’s shaving, dishes, showing up to a meeting.  Elisabeth Elliot’s counsel resonated when I read Jeremy Statton ‘s article this week: What to Do When You Don’t Know What To Do by Jeremy Statton. “Do the next reasonable thing.” It seems commonsensical – until you are frozen in time, not able to think what to do next…

Blog - Elisabeth ElliotBlog - Jeremy Statton - TwitterPhoto Credit: Elisabeth Elliot, YouTube; Jeremy Statton, Twitter

5) ABC Fall 2016 Sitcoms – I don’t watch a lot of network TV, but there are two shows coming on this Fall that look very promising. They are Speechless and American Housewife. Even if they go downhill after the season starts, the trailers alone are hilarious…and touch a chord with me…if you know me you will so understand. If not…they are still funny enough to take the time to watch (unless you’re my husband…but he watched briefly anyway…because he loves me). Maybe they are only funny to women/moms…would love to know if you’re a man reading and you appreciate the situations…and their comedic elements.

OK…so there are colorful parts…but the human dilemmas of being family and imperfect are so universal…I will be watching for these.

What are your favorite finds this week? Would love to hear and learn from you. Have a great weekend with your favorite folks…if you can. Thanks for spending these few minutes with me.

5 Friday Faves – Customer Service, a Documentary, a Rainy Spring Day, Taking Your Kids to Hard Places, and Nurturing Moms (Not Judging Them)

Blog - Friday Faves

Happy Friday! Here are my five favorites from this week…like you, I also have ongoing favorites (like time with my granddaughter, and the rest of the family, and deep talks with friends, and moments of revelation and inspiration – some hard and some gentle) that don’t get shared always…not sure why I wanted to share that even…but here are these! Have a safe and soaring day…and weekend.

1) Customer Service – Taking care of our customers and clients is important. Horst Schulze, renowned hotel executive and speaker, defines customer service as a three-part process: delivering an excellent product (without defect), in a timely manner, with genuine caring. I was facilitating a meeting recently, and one of the participants raved about our restrooms. He says to commend our housekeeping staff, because that level of service takes genuine pride and caring. He also asked me if I had ever heard of these super-gas stations in Texas named Buc-ee’s. Apparently they are amazing. When you travel a lot by car there is pretty much nothing as winsome as a nice restroom. My story on customer service this week relates to the outpatient registration and imaging department at Henrico Doctors’ Hospital.

You know those occasions when you go in to register for service and you hardly see the person’s eyes (either fixed on a computer screen or at paperwork or just walking ahead of you or working the equipment attached to you). My experience this week with these personnel and volunteers was very different. Warm, engaging, refreshingly funny, full of life, making me comfortable, working quickly, and then getting me back out the same door I came in (much appreciated after going down a myriad of hallways)…consummate customer service complete with a snack. 🙂Blog - Customer Service

2) DocumentaryBono and Eugene Peterson – The Psalms This week, a 20-minute film debuted highlighting the friendship of Bono (of the band U2) and Eugene Peterson (Bible scholar and author). Their relationship centers on how The Psalms have impacted both their lives. I got to see a prescreening of the film and reviewed the it here and posted my takeaways from the Q & A with the filmmaker Nathan Clarke. The film is honest, loving, and thought-provoking. Watch it below or here.

Blog - The Psalms, Bono, Eugene Peterson - atu2blogPhoto Credit: atU2Blog

3) A Rainy Spring Day – After a really hot day this week,  our flowers drooped and the greens looked frail…then the cool rain came. Joy! 2016 April - Spring flowers, Rainy morning, Irises, Garden, Blog 0212016 April - Spring flowers, Rainy morning, Irises, Garden, Blog 0422016 April - Spring flowers, Rainy morning, Irises, Garden, Blog 0382016 April - Spring flowers, Rainy morning, Irises, Garden, Blog 0262016 April - Spring flowers, Rainy morning, Irises, Garden, Blog 0192016 April - Spring flowers, Rainy morning, Irises, Garden, Blog 0122016 April - Spring flowers, Rainy morning, Irises, Garden, Blog 002

4) Taking Your Kids to Hard Places – We don’t usually think of intentionally working hard experiences into our kids’ lives, but think about it. Our children haven’t been to really hard places in the world but they have had to wrestle with how to respond to beggars in North Africa…and here. Our boys have tended to a very ill grandfather. They haven’t been to many funerals, or visited many hospital rooms, or served in a shelter or soup kitchen. I would have done more of that with them, now that I see things differently.  Jamie Dew writes about this in 6 Reasons to Take Your Kids to Hard Places. He observes that, “Seeing poverty and brokenness has the ability to transform the most selfish child into a selfless child. Letting them see the broken world creates the same burdens in their hearts [as it does in ours] and gives them a true sense of dependence on God.” Any stories you have about this? Please comment below.Blog - Taking Kids to Hard Places - thestarPhoto Credit: The Star

5) Nurturing Moms (Not Judging Them) – Moms of all ages and stages have challenging lives – whether they work both inside and outside the home or more inside the home. I was in both camps of moms at various times during our children’s growing up years. Some moms aren’t able to financially do without a job, and others dearly love their work, and the moms who work hard to stay home all have two things in common: 1) they all have children and the responsibilities that go with those darlings, and 2) they need our nurturing, not our judging. Jen Wilkin wote a provocative article on both stay-at-home-moms (SAHMs) and working-outside-the-home-moms (WOHMs). It’s worth your time (women AND men). [Dads, you, too, benefit from nurturing as well.]  I’m always glad for the opportunity to see something differently than I might otherwise – it helps me to love better. This was one of those reads.Blog - Stay at home moms - nurturing moms larksnotesthis

Photo Credit: LarksNotesThis

Bonus: Nathan Mills @beyondtheguitar posted a new arrangement of one of the Zelda melodies on YouTube. A friend of mine who works with PTSD survivors in Japan commended the soothing nature of his Zelda arrangements. Enjoy.