Flowers on a Spring Morning – Viburnum – Reminiscent of the Fresh and Fragrant Jasmine of North Africa

IMG_4741

There’s nothing like a Spring morning. The sun comes up and bounces light off the different flowering plants in the yard. As the birds start their wake-up singing, it’s as if the sun also turns up the fragrance of those flowers blessed with sweet scent.

Outside my kitchen window a large bush stands bare-branched all winter. By March, leaf shoots give way to soft green leaves. Then pink buds pop out, and as they open, clusters of soft white flowers unfold.2016 March - Spring Flowers - like Jasmine 004

This bush is a Viburnum. As best I can tell, it is a Viburnum carlesii ‘Aurora’ (aka Korean Spice Viburnum). There are many varieties of this flowering shrub and it grows in various spots around the world, including the Atlas Mountains of North Africa.

The flowers are lovely but the best part of this plant for me is its fragrance. It reminds me of the Jasmine flowers we enjoyed in all the countries we lived overseas (Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco).

This morning, I pushed open the backdoor of our house to enter the yard. Coffee in hand, I wanted to just experience this brightening morning. The fragrance of that flowering Viburnum carried me back across the Atlantic – to a life lovingly tucked deep in my memory.

Breathing in the scent of our flowering Viburnum takes me back to Spring mornings in North Africa – with the sun streaming early through the bedroom windows. Then as now, I started my morning early, lingering in bed with coffee (thanks always, Dave), Bible, and journal. The slightest breeze would deliver that magical scent of Jasmine. The scent of Jasmine and the sounds of morning. Birds singing. Dogs barking on the street. The sellers passing by on bikes and donkey carts calling out their wares. The traffic noise building as the minutes went by. Still…the smell of Jasmine in three countries has stayed with me all these years.jasmine by boisdejasminPhoto Credit: BoisdeJasmin

In those days, the weariness of travel was brightened by a necklace of Jasmine bought with little from a seller at the airport or on the street. We would wear these little flower strands or place them around our rear-view mirror in the car. Sometimes sellers also had mini-bouquets of Jasmine. One of these tucked in a pocket or just carried could ease a hot, troubling day. Jasmine would become my favorite flower.

Jasmine necklace at atalorder (2)Jasmine - mabellereceptionPhoto Credit: Atalorder, Pinterest

We haven’t planted Jasmine yet, but my friend Kathy, in Tennessee, has it on her deck. I can practically smell it through her pictures.Blog - Jasmine - Kathy VisneskiPhoto Credit: Kathryn Visneski

The flowers of our Viburnum won’t last long.  In fact, this one week is its glorious high season. Because of the connection it gives me to our years of Jasmine, it’s like two flowers in one. The scent of one reminding me of the other. We are doubly blessed on these flowering Spring mornings.2016 March - Spring Flowers - like Jasmine 007

Worship Wednesday – You Don’t Miss a Thing – Bethel Music – This One’s For You in That Hard Place

Blog - Worship Wednesday - Bethel Music Worship LeadersPhoto Credit: Bethel Music

“For in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, for we also are His children. Acts 17:28

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.Psalm 139:7-8

This one’s for you, Dear Heart…when you can’t see your way out of this situation…or the way out is too painful to imagine than even where you are right now.

Amidst all the great joys and reveries of life, our lives are sometimes interrupted by seasons of hopelessness and confusion. Things don’t add up. We can’t ascribe meaning to what’s happening. Nor can we even prescribe some imprint of God on the matter. We are without words. We did not prepare ourselves for this. Even in our worship of and walk with God, it appears we have stayed in the shallows, unprepared for the deep of right now.

Take heart, Child (Husband, Son, Daughter, Friend). Who could have imagined this day, this season? God calls us to come to Him as children…He doesn’t mean for us to have it all figured out. He is not surprised by faith that falters. He is faithful still.

One of His greatest gifts to us is His Word. We find Him there. We also find the strength of His hand and the beauty of His love and truth for the journey…there. How fortunate we are that every generation has its psalmists – its song-writers who He has equipped to put words to our need and His supply.

Bethel Music is a collective of worship leaders who write songs for us to experience who God is and who we are in relationship to Him. Amanda Cook is part of this collective and brings to us today’s song: You Don’t Miss a Thing.

Blog - Worship Wednesday - Amanda CookPhoto Credit: Bethel Music

In an interview with Kevin Davis, Cook talks about this song:

“For me, I’ve always been stunned by the very thought of God. The thought of God makes me pause and wonder. If I wonder long enough, I wonder about His greatness and Him being God. It starts to transform my thinking about any situation and thought, or patterns that I am in. It prioritizes everything. With the imaginative language of picturing the slightest movements of God and being completely complete in Himself, full of love and kindness and never stepping outside of those attributes, the slightest movement by God or whisper of God’s voice creates an earth shattering reality for myself as a human being. I wanted to express that to Him, kind of like a personal psalm.”

She then talks about the Psalms and the language of the psalm-writers – all the descriptions of the mighty nature of God and how He moves in our world and in our lives. Nothing is beyond His notice and even His smallest touch is widely transforming. As we gain our senses about how gloriously big God is, we put what we’re facing into perspective…not that it is small. It may be huge for us…but He sees. He doesn’t miss a thing. We can stand in that – in the light of His love for us and His provision.

“This song is about placing myself as a human being before the Lord of Lords and being drawn into the reality that even though He’s so Majestic and Big, He’s Emmanuel, He’s with me and He doesn’t miss a thing. He’s so God, and yet He’s so present. That’s the mystery for me, living in the tension of that, throwing myself into that mystery and knowing that I am seen and known— to be discovered by Him and discover Him and spend the rest of my life pursuing that reality.”Amanda Cook

This dark place…this hard time is not beyond the reach of God. He is near and He is sufficient for this moment, for your need. For healing. For hope. Because He is God, and He loves you.

Worship with me:

When You stand
I feel the floor of Heaven tremble
As You breathe
We live and have our being
When You speak
Oh I feel it in my chest
When You sing
All my fears are put to rest

What a wondrous thing
I can stand to sing
Cause when I fall to my knees,
You’re the One who pulls me up again

What a mystery
That You notice me
And in a crowd of ten thousand
You don’t miss a thing

When You sigh
The wind becomes a sonnet
When You laugh
The storm around me ceases
You whisper
And all my enemies are scattered
You surround me
With angels on assignment

There’s no place I can go that You’re love won’t find me
No place I can hide that You don’t see
No place I could fall and Your love couldn’t catch me
You see it all, You see it all
Through the eyes of love, oh whoa, oh oh

So come and see me, come and know me
Come and search my heart and make me like You, like You
I just want to be like You
Come and see me, come and know me
Come and search my heart, and make me new, make me new
I want it, just like You

Blog - Worshipo Wednesday - You Don't Miss a thingPhoto Credit: YouTube

YouTube Video – You Don’t Miss a Thing – Amanda Cook – We Will Not Be Shaken

You Don’t Miss a Thing by Bethel Music – Behind the Song with Kevin Davis – New Release Tuesday

8 Bible Verses About How Big God Is by Ryan Nelson

When Life Doesn’t Turn Out as You Expect: 10 Bible Verses that Remind Us of God’s Love and Care by Claire Musters

Through It All – It is Well With My Soul – with Kristene DiMarco & Bethel Music

YouTube Video – For Us – John Piper Sermon Jam

60 Years Married – Mom & Dad – a Tribute & Photo Montage

MomMom PopPop - Wedding Day - Anniversary (2)MomMom PopPop - 50th wedding anniversary (2)John & Julia – on their wedding day and their 50th anniversary

This week we celebrate Dave’s parents’ 60th wedding anniversary. 60 years! How thankful I am to have been part of their lives for a bit over 30 years thus far. Living in the embrace of their love for God, us and each other has been a journey of constancy and intentionality.

Julia and John have been another set of parents to me. My own mom raised us four children pretty much alone, finally leaving my biological father, without looking back. She later came close to God again and wondered if she’d stayed what might have happened. After a couple of visits, right after their divorce, that dad never came again…and we grew up knowing he didn’t love us.

[I’m very, very thankful for a step-dad, who I write about, who loved us as his own. So I do know the love of both a devoted mom and dad.]

With my own mom with the Lord, and my dad dealing with Alzheimer’s, I am grateful for all the years with my mom and the years still with Dad, wherever his mind will wander.

That being said, what a joy to also have Julia and John, my “in-loves” still together, hanging in there with each other and with us. Growing older is not an easy thing. All the vows we make in our weddings become all the more vital in the days when mind and body wear down. To see the kindnesses between these two, and their enduring love, patience, and regard for each other is such a witness to what marriage is meant to be…

They teach us and our children so much through how they have both celebrated and weathered life together – the weddings, the divorces of loved ones, the births, the deaths, the distances between us, and the seasons of all our lives. All the stamps in their passports to be with us overseas…so grateful for that. They have spent long days apart because of work in the early years, and long days together in a different work in the latter years. The interruptions of illnesses and accidents. The great grace they’ve known and lavished on us. Their faith in a God who never left them; never forsook them…ever.

Pictures will tell you more than my words…let them speak for me:

John - PopPop - Dave & MarkMomMom home with us in tennesseeMomMom, MamaLu, Dave, & Christie - 4 Generations4 GenerationsMomMom, PopPop, ChristieMomMom, PopPop, Aunt nancy & Uncle BobJulia & John w/ her sister, Nancy & husband Bob – four close  friends

MomMom & PopPop - WilliamsburgMomMom, PopPop, Christie, Nathan, DanielMomMom & PopPop youngerMomMom, PopPop, DaveMomMom & PopPop earlierMomMom & PopPop 2014 (2)PopPop & ChristieMomMom, Nathan, Daniel 2015PopPop Stacie 2011 (2)MomMom & PopPop with grandkids2015 June - Mills Family PictureThe Mills Family, 2015

60 years…of faithfulness, and honoring, and loving through sweet times and hard times. So glad to be part of this journey with them…to be family with them.MomMom PopPop Nancy BobMomMom & PopPop - 60th wedding annviersary - with Dave and Mark, Stacie, and meHappy 60th Anniversary, Dear Ones. You show us what love is and how it’s done across a lifetime.MomMom & PopPop - 60th wedding anniversary

Monday Morning Moment – Contempt is Cancer in the Workplace…and Any Other Place

Blog - Contempt - ArmstrongeconomicsPhoto Credit: Armstrong Economics

In a culture that clamors for political correction, how is it that contempt can be so freely expressed? Even rewarded, at times? This is an enigma for me. Contempt at home or in the workplace divides people, often against one another. Like cancer, it can spread if left unchecked…changing people and impacting product.

Having a certain measure of confidence is positive for all of us on a team. It’s freeing to be in relationships with people who have a strong sense of what they bring to the table as well as what others bring. Confidence and humility actually partner well together. When we have an honest understanding of our strengths, we also extend humility as we defer to the strengths of our colleagues.

The problem comes for all of us when confidence shifts into arrogance. Worse yet, when arrogance darkens into contempt. Arrogance is an attitude of thinking so highly of oneself that we tend to put down the thinking and efforts of others. Contempt is similar except the emotions are stronger and more mean-spirited.

Blog - Contempt 3 - slidesharePhoto Credit: SlideShare

What makes contempt so cancerous in our relationships is that it tends to spread, both internally and externally. When we allow ourselves the luxury of contempt, we grow in our justification of it. It may have started with an unappreciative boss or demanding client, but contempt, unchecked, will inject its poison indiscriminately.  We become comfortable with our disdainful opinions of others…at work, in our families, and pretty much toward anyone who crosses or annoys us.Blog - Contempt 2 - liveforchristresourcesPhoto Credit: LiveforChristResources

Chris Johnson, CEO, Simplifilm Inc. of Portland, Oregon, wrote a piece confronting contempt as a cancer in the workplace. He offers 5 steps to preventing contempt from shattering our work and our work relationships:

1. Don’t Vindicate Yourself. A customer had an experience they didn’t like. You don’t need to prove if you are right or wrong. That’s not relevant. What’s important is making a judgement: is this worth fixing?

2. Look At The Opportunity. Some people are surly, disrespectful, ungrateful and wrong. Some of them have big jobs. Some people like that have power. Learning to work with these people — without getting drawn in — is a skill that you should have.

3. Always Err on the side of empathy. What are the consequences of being nicer to someone than they deserved? What are the consequences of being meaner? Will too nice of a response to a human ever ruin a career?

4. Cultivate Improvement Bias. When something goes wrong at Simplifilm, there are two components: what do we do with our transaction, and what do we do with our system. For the transaction, we try and fix it with empathy. We believe that we caused it. Because if we caused it we can improve our system.

5. Rethink your filter. Most people say “block out everyone, make customers prove themselves to you.” Being available can be hard. Many filters are vanity in disguise. If you knew the people that answered their personal emails…Chris Johnson

Contempt like cancer can be smoldering without our awareness. I am generally a positive and empathetic person, but, if I’m honest with myself, there are those in the workplace who don’t experience much compassion from me. It’s an uncomfortable confession to have to make.

As we practice mindfulness in our relationships at work, we hopefully will remember to respond instead of react. We can rein in contempt by refusing to think ill of others, by staying engaged, and by acknowledging none of us get it right every time (exercising humility).

On the old TV sitcom, Everybody Loves Raymond, Frank, Ray’s father would often make observations that sizzled with sarcasm. One comment remains a part of our family’s lexicon: “People are idiots!” It’s so easy for any of us to look at actions or decisions made by others and shake our heads…until we remember that we all have it in us to do the same. Contempt can be diagnosed…and treated…

…with empathy, compassion, and humility. Not necessarily the coolest or trendiest work (or relationship) processes in our culture…but… What a difference they can make in the tone of our meetings, the depth of our relationships, and the measure of our own character.

So let’s get after it!

How Contempt Breeds Business Cancer (& 5 Ways to Kill It) by Chris Johnson

Contempt or Compassion by Brian Fletcher

Detecting Deception by David Berglund – SlideShare [Slide 76ff]

Confidence vs. Arrogance – and Knowing the Difference by Michele Cushatt

10 Ways to Tell if You’re Confident or Arrogant by Carmine Gallo

How Contempt Destroys Relationships by Susan Heitler

5 Friday Faves – Training Your Mind to Be a Winner; the Invisible Woman; a Great Speech; Resurrection of Jesus; and Nassim Haramein

Blog - Friday Faves

Some weeks provide very little time to write, let alone reflect on life. I’m in the midst of a bit of that craziness. This is Holy Week moving quickly to Easter Sunday. It’s a week I mean to savor even in the course of a hectic time at work and lots going on in the family and the neighborhood. Taking time to remember what happened each day of that week in the life of Jesus helps me to stop the world briefly…and monumentally.

My Friday Faves this week are sort of all over the place. They stirred learning for me, made me laugh, inspired me, and stilled my heart for a moment at the wonder of life. I trust you will find something here that does the same for you.

1) Training Your Mind to Be a Winner – The whole field of leadership development is often a focus of my reading. It’s fascinating to find helps from disciplines very different from my own.  LaRae Quy is a former FBI undercover and counterintelligence agent. She now takes what she learned professionally and applies it to her speaking, writing, and coaching in mental toughness and leadership. She is the author of Secrets of a Strong Mind and Mental Toughness for Women Leaders. Whet your appetite on the articles 5 Ways to Train Your Mind to Think Like a Winner, 4 Secrets of Mental Toughness, and How to Strengthen Your Mental Toughness Like an FBI Agent.BLog - LaRae Quy

Photo Credit: Twitter

2) The Invisible Woman – No, this is not referring to the 2013 film with the same name (Ralph Fiennes, Felicity Jones). This find is a sketch by Nicole Johnson of Fresh Brewed Life (author of the book of the same name). In just under 6 minutes, she speaks to the heart of women…especially mothers…dispelling the sense that much of what they do goes unseen. As if it were irrelevant or inconsequential. Not so! God sees…. Take the time to watch and listen and be encouraged (Men, you could do with some encouragement as well, I’m thinking).

3) A Great Speech – We slog on through the primary season of this U.S. Presidential Election year. Whatever our political views, a great speech can punctuate all the rhetoric and restore our hope…for sure, in that moment, anyway. When Senator Marco Rubio suspended his campaign, after losing his home state’s primary, he spoke to his supporters. Again, whatever our political views, it was a great speech… With all the mud-slinging, political wrangling, and various candidates pitted against each other, I was glad to hear him continuing to urge us not to give up and to stand for what we believe.

4) Resurrection of Jesus – I came across this short video on my Twitter feed. The question is asked, “Did Jesus rise from the dead?” The video is produced by Impact 360 – a campus/curriculum/community which guides its students toward leadership, cultural understanding, and a Biblical worldview. Check out the video (and others on their website).

5) Nassim Haramein – Nassim Haramein is a physicist, inventor, and surfer. He is an example of how scientists can talk on, sounding brilliant, whether they really know what they’re talking about or not. Haramein has his critics and he has loyal fans. Whether he’s an expert or not, he is incredibly amusing as a presenter. I don’t remember how he came on my radar, but the video below captivated me. Don’t waste your life watching the whole of it, but 30 minutes in, there are some hilarious moments. I actually could believe I understood what he was saying. What do you think? Is he for real, or not?

Bonus: The Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., was breath-taking as always this year. Here’s just a sample from my friend Jennifer Wong.Blog - Friday Faves - Cherry Blossoms - by Jennifer WongPhoto Credit: Jennifer Wong

What were your favorite finds of this week? Please comment below. Have a lovely weekend.

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Worship Wednesday – At the Cross – with Chris Tomlin

Blog - Worship Wednesday - At the Cross 2Photo Credit: YouTube

He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.1 Peter 2:24

The holiness of God and His love for an unholy people required an act that only He Himself could accomplish for us to be restored to Him. A perfect sacrifice. A sinless Savior. God Himself in the person of His Son taking our sins upon Himself. Because of that death, that cross, and His resurrection that followed, we can know our debt of sin is paid and death has no claim on us. Amazing!

It leaves me without words every time I think about what God did for us to restore us to Himself.

Fortunately, God gives words to songwriters to express what we want to express to Him…our wonder, our gratitude, our love.

Worship with me:

There’s a place where mercy reigns and never dies
There’s a place where streams of grace flow deep and wide

Where all the love I’ve ever found
Comes like a flood
Comes flowing down

At the cross
At the cross
I surrender my life
I’m in awe of You, I’m in awe of You
Where Your love ran red
And my sin washed white
I owe all to You, I owe all to You
Jesus

There’s a place where sin and shame are powerless
Where my heart has peace with God
And forgiveness

Where all the love I’ve ever found
Comes like a flood
Comes flowing down

At the cross
At the cross
I surrender my life
I’m in awe of You, I’m in awe of You
Where Your love ran red
And my sin washed white
I owe all to You, I owe all to You

Here my hope is found
Here on holy ground
Here I bow down
Here I bow down
Here arms open wide
Here You saved my life
Here I bow down
Here I bow

At the cross
At the cross
I surrender my life
I’m in awe of You, I’m in awe of You
Where Your love ran red
And my sin washed white
I owe all to You, I owe all to You
I owe all to You, I owe all to You
Jesus

Blog - Worship Wednesday - At the Cross - youtubePhoto Credit: YouTube

Lyrics: At the Cross (Love Ran Red) written by Matt Armstrong, Ed Cash, Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman and Jonas Myrin

YouTube Video – Chris Tomlin – At the Cross (Love Ran Red) – Lyrics & Chords

YouTube Video – Chris Tomlin – Story Behind the Song At the Cross (Love Ran Red)

Holy Week – Each Day of that Week in the Life of Jesus – Right Through to His Death, Burial, and Resurrection

Blog - Holy Week - fumcamesPhoto Credit: FUMCAmes

“The resurrection of Jesus changes the face of death for all His people. Death is no longer a prison, but a passage into God’s presence.  Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.”Clarence W. Hall

This week is unlike any other in the calendar. Through the centuries, this week has been considered holy. We note each day as significant because of what happened for the sake of all humanity in the space of 8 days…8 days that changed history forever.

Many writers commemorate Holy Week. I wrote a series of articles myself this time last year (links are below). Desiring God also has a great series on Holy Week…and Mike Mobley’s Events of the Holy Week. Then there’s Tom Elliff’s beautiful piece on The Easter I’ll Never Forget. You can find much to read on these incredible days of Jesus’ life.

In all the busyness of this month, with school assignments, work deadlines, and Spring vacations, don’t miss Holy Week.

Don’t miss Jesus of Nazareth…whose life is set in history and who sets us into His Story.

Day 1 of Holy Week – Palm Sunday – Jesus’ Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem on the Way to the Cross

Jesus and Holy Week – Monday, Day 2 – Jesus Curses a Fig Tree and Cleanses the Temple

Jesus and Holy Week – Tuesday, Day 3 – a Long Day teaching & Countering Religious Opposition

Jesus and Holy Week – Wednesday, Day 4 – a Day of Quiet Before the Storm – and We Worship

Jesus and Holy Week – Thursday, Day 5 – Passover Celebration and His Last Supper Before the Cross

Jesus and Holy Week – Day 6 – Good Friday – His Trial, Crucifixion, & Burial

Jesus and Holy Week – Saturday, Day 7 – Black Saturday – the Silent Tomb

Jesus and Holy Week – Day 8 – He is Risen! Resurrection Sunday

Resurrection of Jesus – Slideshare

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.”  – the Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:3–7

Blog - Holy Week - resurrection - the gospel coalitionPhoto Credit: The Gospel Coalition

Worship Wednesday – You are I AM – with MercyMe

Blog - You Are I AM - MercyMe - sciencemusingsPhoto Credit: Michelangelo, Science Musings

God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:14

Jesus said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”Matthew 16:15-17

When we get right down to the most important questions of life, what are they? I can’t imagine any other more weighty questions to wrestle out than these two: Who is God and who am I…are we…in relation to Him?

God, the Creator and Redeemer of His creation, makes Himself known to us through 1) His Word; 2) His very creation (this beautiful natural world); 3) His people throughout history; 4) His Son (through his teaching, life, death, burial and resurrection); 5) the circumstances of our own lives; and 6) His Holy Spirit who draws us to the Father and empowers us, as only God can, to live life.

Blog - You Are I Am - examiner

Photo Credit: Examiner

There comes a time in all our lives, really, when we must answer that question for ourselves. C. S. Lewis, a great British scholar and writer, was a studied critic of Christianity for many years. Then he came to the place of realizing that the God he detested was actually the very Person he could no longer contest. Lewis, in fact, was utterly surprised by joy as all his arguments finally crumbled in a heap at the astonishing conclusion of his that God is indeed God.

“A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere . . . God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous.” – C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”  – C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

I don’t mean to be offensive, except to say (not as well as C. S. Lewis) that responding to God’s calling me to Himself and walking with Him, however falteringly, have given inexhaustible meaning to my life. I look forward to an eternity of knowing more and more of God and being in the company of those who also responded to His call and claim on their lives…out of our own desperate need for a Savior.

The band MercyMe and friends wrote a song that speaks to our human condition and how we answer the questions of who God is. The lyrics were packed with the acts of God and our own struggle past our weakness and doubts to know Him. Praise Him, He makes Himself known to us. Hallelujah!

Worship with me.

I’ve been the one to shake with fear
And wonder if You’re even here

I’ve been the one to doubt Your love
I’ve told myself You’re not enough

I’ve been the one to try and say
I’ll overcome by my own strength

I’ve been the one to fall apart
And start to question who You are

You’re the one who conquers giants
You’re the one who calls out kings
You shut the mouths of lions
You tell the dead to breathe
You’re the one who walks through fire
You take the orphan’s hand
You are the one Messiah
You are I am

I’ve been the one held down in chains
Beneath the weight of all my shame

I’ve been the one to believe
That where I am You cannot reach

You’re the one who conquers giants
You’re the one who calls out kings
You shut the mouths of lions
You tell the dead to breathe
You’re the one who walks through fire
You take the orphan’s hand
You are the one Messiah
You are I am
You are I am

The veil is torn and now I live
With the spirit inside
The same one, the very same one
Who brought the son back to life

Hallelujah, He lives in me
Hallelujah, He lives in me
Hallelujah, He lives in me
Hallelujah, He lives in me

You’re the one who conquers giants
You’re the one who calls out kings
You shut the mouths of lions
You tell the dead to breathe
You’re the one who walks through fire
You take the orphan’s hand
You are the one Messiah
You are I am
(Hallelujah, He lives in me)
You are I am
(Hallelujah, He lives in me)

Lyrics to You Are I AM – Songwriters: Jason Ingram, Dan Muckala, Seth Mosley, Bart Millard, Nathan Cochran, Barry Graul, Jim Bryson, Mike Scheuchzer, Robby Shaffer

YouTube Video – Story Behind the Song You Are I Am by MercyMe

Addicted to Distraction and the Possibility of Restoring a Longer Attention Span

Blog - Addicted to distraction - diygeniusPhoto Credit: DIY Genius

Recently I was at a training event in a remote area where I had no cell phone service and limited internet. It meant I went through stressful training and at the same time experienced a forced exile from screen time. I don’t even have to tell you which was more challenging.

Growing up in my generation was very different than now – playing outside until dark, talking for hours on the phone with friends, falling asleep to the comforting drone of Mom and Dad talking and laughing in their bedroom down the hall. If you’ve ever seen the 1999 film October Sky, it makes me think of Dave’s growing up also – playing in the woods, biking everywhere, building rockets, hunting and fishing.Blog - Playing Outside - jeffs60sPhoto Credit: Jeffs60s

We are enjoying different advantages now for sure…I wonder how our grandchildren will one day describe their childhood. Having computers and the internet have been amazing assets to our lives. The dilemma is when our screen life becomes more engaging that our real life. When “Facetime” replaces face-to-face time.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the opportunity to see people via phone. For instance, friends of ours who got married recently had a small wedding, BUT they had a friend live-stream the wedding and all the rest of us got to “be there” via Periscope. Saw the kiss and everything. 2016 March 5 - Megan & Brian Wedding Kiss

There is something to be said about all the electronic capabilities we have today. For sure.BLog - Addicted to Distraction - littleredfrenchPhoto Credit: LittleRedFrench

The problem is when objects take command of our lives. These screens (phones, TV, computers) eat up so much of our day. Also, what about when we start exchanging real time relationships with the barest minimum associations via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter? When a friend decided to go off Facebook, I was bummed… At that time, she lived 6 minutes from me. Not like my friends in Morocco or Egypt where I depend most on Facebook to keep up with them. She lives right here in town. We can have real coffee’s and real talks on the phone. Sigh… I had pretty much relegated keeping up with her to social media. Now we’re back affiliated only in real life where I might need to call her. Imagine.

I’ve written about this before (here) and want to manage my life better in this area. Multi-tasking was always something I thought was a strength, but now, getting older, it hasn’t helped me develop much of an attention span (see Charlie Munger’s thoughts on this here). It makes sense that thinking long and hard on something would have a powerful impact on our success or decision-making. Focus. Concentration. These are the things that have suffered in my life with all the distractions.

Kyle Pearce wrote a small piece on being distracted and introduced me to the work of Nicholas Carr (who wrote The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains and The Glass Cage: How Our Computers Are Changing Us). The 4-minute YouTube video below describes some of what he writes about:

Besides managing the distractedness in thinking, memory, and processing information, I want to nurture a habit of deep conversation. Sherry Turkle (author of Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other and Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age) writes about this and gives me hope.

Blog - Distracted - conversations - quotesgramPhoto Credit: QuotesGram

Turkle admits she loves computers because they have helped her make tremendous strides in writing, but they are not people. She writes as if she’s reading my heart. This disconnected connection we experience with one another is so illusory.

“Networked, we are together, but so lessened are our expectations of each other that we can feel utterly alone. And there is the risk that we come to see others as objects to be accessed—and only for the parts we find useful, comforting, or amusing.” – Sherry Turkle
Here’s my hope and vision – to re-learn how to really be connected with people, including myself. To practice solitude. To quit living the excuse of being distractible. To learn how to think and work deeply, and to remember how to have deep, thoughtful conversations again.
I’m not prepared to stop using my phone for information, nor am I able to quit using the internet as a resource for work and life, but it’s entirely possible to restrict connection time.  Also, it’s exciting to think of how I might use that time I waste on the internet to actually be with friends and loved ones…to read more books…to rediscover what is right in front of me in real life…to know what it’s like to have (and enjoy) a quiet mind.

The good news is that the process of withdrawal is simple and the healing is spontaneous; because it is only the continuous high volume consumption of mass media that is keeping us sick. So, at root, the detox programme is merely a matter of Just. Say. No.” – Bruce G. Charlton

What might the next generation be like if our grandchildren are nurtured in this way? How can we help them have such mental muscle and true sociability that they could avoid being addicted to distraction?

It’s something to think about…off-line. Gone to find a real face and give that face my full attention.

Distracted? This is How the Internet is Changing Your Brain by Kyle Pearce

Multitasking – Giving the World an Advantage It Shouldn’t Have – Farnam Street Blog

Are We Addicted to Distraction? by Sophie at LittleRedFrench

The Distraction Addiction: Getting the Information You Need and the Communication You Want, Without Enraging Your Family, Annoying Your Colleagues, and Destroying Your Soul by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr

The Glass Cage: How Our Computers Are Changing Us by Nicholas Carr

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other by Sherry Turkle

Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Sherry Turkle

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman – originally written in 1985, brilliantly prophetic of the future (updated in 2015)

Monday Morning Moment – Creativity in Community – the Skill of the Future

Blog - Creativity - creativeskillsforlifePhoto Credit: Creative Skills for Life

When you hear the word “creatives”, you might immediately think of 20- or 30-somethings. They are classed as young “color-outside-the-lines” right-brain “think-outside-the-box” sorts of folks…who sometimes make the rest of us nuts. You might think of the artists, writers, and musicians out there. However, in truth, creatives include all those people who solves problems, including the ones who set up problems and then solve them. They are the inventors, the entrepreneurs, the designers, the planners who have the capacity to make our lives better…to even make the world better.

Hanneke Siebelink (of LeadershipWatch) just wrote a piece on the top skills of the future. She pointed to a graphic from the World Economic Forum which showed, over the course of 5 years, how creativity will jump from #10 to #3 in a Top 10 Skills List.Blog - Creativity - weforumPhoto Credit: WEForum.org

What does that sort of creativity entail? Is creativity alone enough?

Richard Florida wrote extensively on this in his book The Rise of the Creative Class. He defines the Creative Class as “people in science and engineering, architecture and design, education, arts, music and entertainment whose economic function is to create new ideas, new technology, and new creative content.”Business Insider

Writer Jeff Goins also defines “creatives”:

A creative is an artist. Not just a painter or musician or writer. She is someone who sees the world a little differently than others.

A creative is an individual. He is unique, someone who doesn’t quite fit into any box. Some think of creatives as iconoclasts; others see them as rebels. Both are quite apt.

A creative is a thought leader. He influences people not necessarily through personality but through his innate gifts and talents.

As fascinating as Florida’s writing is, I disagree with his premise that creatives are their own class of people, because I believe it’s within any of us to develop our capacity for creativity. Those of us who might be suspect of Florida’s promotion of the Creative Class would do well to read the critiques of his thinking (this and also this are excellent).

When people in our communities or workplaces class themselves as distinctively creative, they tend to operate in a tribal fashion. These tribes may even be quite diverse, but too often, I believe, they operate to satisfy their own needs and desires rather than that of the larger workplace or community. Thus in the workplace, decision-making is made by the few like-minded thinkers, that tribe of influential creatives. And communities? Where such a population of creative, expansive thinkers could enhance the appeal and value of a neighborhood, too often, , and communities can steer in the direction of gentrification, becoming less inclusive, making housing less accessible even for those who were there before.

Blog - Creativity & Community Leadership - azquotesPhoto Credit: AZQuotes

My bias in how creatives work best is in community – not just a tribe of creatives, but in a community of folks with other giftings,  other strengths,and other history.

However, all that being said, I do love the increasing view that creatives add value to any enterprise. My husband, for many years, was a research chemist who developed new products and was awarded several patents for his company. Even today, outside the chemical industry, he continues to be creative in thinking through new pathways toward solving problems, getting to goal, and developing personnel.

Even Florida in his revised and updated book recommends a compact dealing with creatives. His first (of 6 principles) is: Invest in Developing the Full Human Potential and Creative Capabilities of Every Single Human Being. It’s somewhat grandiose but it’s a worthy goal. Having this principle in play would promote a workforce where employees are encouraged to always be thinking and engaged in both today’s work and what changes must be made for the future.

Along these same lines, I love Howard Gardner’s Five Minds for the Future:Blog - Creativity - slidesharePhoto Credit: Slideshare

As creatives are sought after more and more in our workplaces (om both private and public sectors), I hope we also encourage them to build strengths in other areas of their thinking (or mindfulness). For those colleagues of ours who might not consider themselves creative, we need to communicate across organizations as to their value as well. This would include our creatives to gain from what other bring to the table.

I would like to think that I’m a creative…in ways, maybe, born out of time. Early on in my career, I had the privilege of working as a team with other colleagues in developing and implementing cancer care in a small town in the Southeast. It was thrilling for me to be part of such an innovative and comprehensive system of care where we could actually plan and dream for the future.

Three of us, in particular, worked as creatives in community. I was a content specialist and idea person. Kay was the nurse manager who brought vision and authority to the task. Kathy was a clinician with steely resolve and the determination to take the ideas to completion. We were a force to be reckoned with…just saying.

We all have different giftings and strengths. My influence was helpful but Kay’s authority settled matters. My ideas were large and lofty (sometimes), and Kathy’s keenness for how to make those ideas work were what brought them into reality.

That’s how creatives work in community. I think of top skills for the future that “in community” piece would be essential for creatives who want to make a lasting difference…not just for their own purposes at work but for the benefit of the larger community.

A hugely successful example of this is the work culture and philosophy of Pixar & Disney Animation which I wrote about here.

Daan Roosegaarde in Siebelink’s article talks about creativity in community: There are two ways to turn an idea into reality. You can play bowling, or you can play ping pong. The old way, at least that is what I think, is bowling. You have that ball in your hand and it’s so big, it is so heavy, it shines so beautifully. Then you throw that bowling ball and pray it will hit target.

I no longer believe this is a good way to create and innovate. I believe in playing ping pong: you take a tiny little ball, not expensive, and there you go: poek poek poek poek … and you create something together. And THAT is nice, this is how I create, this is how I learn.”

Bring on these kinds of creatives any day!

Skills of the Future: The Best Expert Advice on Creativity

The Rise of the Creative Class — Revisited (Revised and Expanded) by Richard Florida

The Creative Compact – Richard Florida – Huffington Post

Creativity – the Unique Soft Skill – Slideshare

6 Ways to Make Your Leadership and Workplace Fun Again

Creativity, Inc. – Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull

untitled