Category Archives: Guitar

Monday Morning Moment – 6 Business Principles from One of History’s Richest Men – with Graham Cochrane

Blog - Business Principles - Graham CochranePhoto Credit: Graham Cochrane, Facebook

Mondays are meant for postings on how to make our workplace a great place…and our work life full of purpose and excellence. This post comes to you through my association with a young guitarist and entrepreneur. He is Nathan Mills at Beyond the GuitarNathan Mills - Beyond the Guitar - Ancient StonesPhoto Credit: Beyond the Guitar

…and he’s our son. All last week, he was posting, on Facebook, these videos from Graham Cochrane. I recognized the name because Nathan looks to him as one of his mentors, albeit mostly online. Cochrane is a musician, audio engineer, entrepreneur, and blogger.2013 Shay Cochrane

Graham Cochrane‘s 6-part video course on Facebook Live turns out to be a great study on business practices. He gives winsome, practical, and timely counsel on starting and sustaining a business. However, we can all profit from his content whatever our work situation is. His principles in brief follow and are derived from King Solomon’s Proverbs.

  1. Strive to be generous “One gives freely but grows all the richer.”Proverbs 11:24-25
  2. Grow slowly“Whoever gathers little by little will increase.”Proverbs 13:11
  3. Do great work “A man skillful in his work will stand before kings.”Proverbs 22:29
  4. Don’t devour your profit“A foolish man devours all he has.”Proverbs 21:20
  5. Avoid debt“The borrower is slave of the lender.”Proverbs 22:7
  6. Business is messy“Where there is no oxen the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the work of the ox.”Proverbs 14:4

I hope you take the time to watch/listen to these videos. Fascinating content, whatever your work is. I am always inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit – especially when that passion and willingness to work hard at something you love has a ripple effect for good.

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The Recording Revolution – Graham Cochrane Website

YouTube – The Recording Revolution Channel

How a 32-year-old Freelance Sound Mixer Started Making $75,000 a Month From a Blog – Business Insider

The Go-Giver, Expanded Edition: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea – Bob Burg

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich – Timothy Ferriss

5 Friday Faves – FOMO, Parenthood in 120 Seconds, a Summer at Oxford University, Saving Mr. Banks, and Favorite Guitar Videos

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Good Friday morning! Hope this week has been kind to you. The world continues to open itself to us to learn and grow and, hopefully, choose wisely. Here are five of my favorite finds from this week:

1) FOMO – So this is a new term for me. I heard, just this past weekend, a young friend lament about being plagued by “FOMO” – this “fear of missing out”. It apparently is exacerbated by all the social media which tantalizes us about friends getting together and going to all sorts of exotic places. C. S. Lewis, in his essay, The Inner Ring, actually exposes the danger of FOMO. BLog - FOMO - Fear of Missing Out - the silver penPhoto Credit: The Silver Pen

Wanting to be “in”  or “included” is morally neutral, in itself. It is in the choices we make and the compromises we make within those choices that become dangerous for us.  In Thoughts on C. S. Lewis, he is quoted, “The quest of the Inner Ring will break your hearts unless you break it.”  If we stop being so frantic about fitting in or giving into to our particular FOMO, then we will find ourselves in a natural community – fitted for us.

John Ortberg writes about FOMO in his book All the Places to Go…How Will You Know?  He raises the issue that God himself may have instilled in us this idea of wanting what we might be missing – but finally finding it in Him. Even Satan’s temptation of Eve was FOMO-oriented (Genesis 3:4-6) in that maybe she could be like God (if she ate the forbidden fruit). Ortberg observes: “The real, deep reason that FOMO exists is that we were made for more and we are missing out.  Only the “more” isn’t more money or more success or more impressive experiences I can write about on Facebook.  My hunger for more turns out to be insatiable if I try to satisfy it by wanting more for me”. God can satisfy, in Himself, the FOMO we may be experiencing.

Lewis on Disordered Desire to Enter the Inner Ring – Art Lindsley – The Gospel Coalition

2) Parenthood In 120 SecondsBuzzfeed India has published this funny and true video. Produced by Sumedh Natu and Umang Athwani, this 2-minute film is such a delight – so “been there, don’t that”. Loved it. Watch it here.Blog - Parenthood - cupofjoPhoto Credit: Cup of Jo

3) A Summer at Oxford University Beth Wayland, a counselor and writer friend of mine, had the great fortune to spend part of her summer at Oxford University. I’m sure she will write about it on her return to the US, but she gave us bits of her journey through her Facebook account. As part of her experience, she walked around in the steps of C. S. Lewis – his office, his favorite pub, the libraries, dining halls, grounds of Oxford.

Blog - Oxford University - Beth WaylandBlog - Oxford University - Beth Wayland - 2Photo Credit: Facebook, Beth Wayland

One special reminder was of C. S. Lewis’ dedication of his book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. He dedicated it to his god-daughter, Lucy Barfield, with these words:

My Dear Lucy,

I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say but I shall still be,

your affectionate Godfather,

C. S. Lewis.

This, to me, is Oxford University. Thanks, Beth. Thank you, Dr. Lewis.

4) Saving Mr. Banks  – I just saw this 2013 Disney film about the complicated making of the 1964 film Mary Poppins . Walt Disney would try for over 20 years to win the rights to the book Mary Poppins. Author P. L. Travers finally agreed but with strong stipulations. Saving Mr. Banks is based on this true story but with embellishments. I loved this film. There were so many takeaways about collaboration, the influence of fathers, the mind of creatives, perspective, and forgiveness (Brian Dodd writes more about these here). Definitely worth seeing if you haven’t.  Blog - Saving Mr. BanksPhoto Credit: Disney Dose

5) Favorite Guitar Videos – by My Favorite Guitarist – Finally, Nathan Mills at Beyond the Guitar has posted his latest YouTube video: Skyrim: Ancient Stones – Beyond The Guitar.

The arrangement is lovely and the cinematography, directed by Ian Edwards and Danny Caporaletti, is beautiful. Here it is:

Nathan also posted a vlog on Stop Waiting For Things To Be Perfect. It’s instructive not just for guitarists but for any of us who struggle with holding back, not wanting to proceed unless we get (fill in the blank) just right. Watch to the end for a peek at the humorous side of this guitarist. You can also interact with Nathan via his live streams on krueTV.

That’s it for this week. What are some of your favorite finds of the week? Please let us know in the Comments below. Have a safe, restful weekend.

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

Blog - Friday Faves

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 – Nursing Care, Air Conditioning, Guitarist, #TymmRhymes, and Fresh-grown Produce

Blog - Friday Faves

Happy Friday! I haven’t been writing much in the last couple of weeks because of travel. Visiting my dad in assisted living in Georgia was a great delight, as always. Alzheimer’s takes its toll but he still finds joy and gives so much of it to us.Dad and Debbie - July 2016

I would like to write about the events of the last couple of weeks, but the words aren’t coming…at least not for here, for now. So my 5 faves follow instead.

1) Nursing Care -For any one of us who has experienced medical care recently, we understand the great gift of good nurses. Dr. Venu Julapalli wrote a thank you letter online to the caregivers who recently attended his very ill mother. It’s entitled The Sacred Ordinary in Healthcare.

“… when you lifted her out of bed so she could bear her weight on yours, when you respected our wishes for privacy, …when you gave us blankets so we could stay warm in that cold ICU room, when you let my brother sneak his two young boys into the ICU because he wasn’t sure if they would ever see their Nanamma alive again… Those were sacred acts…And when you tucked her in at night and wished her well — like she was fully present and listening, even in her coma…that was sacred.”

His letter was a beautiful testament to what nurses and other care providers do for us each day. Just this week, my chest has stopped hurting from the surgery I had weeks ago. What an amazing thing – the absence of pain. It reminded me of the gentleness and perseverance of the nurses who cared for me in those first days following surgery. With Dr. Julapalli, I want to thank you for your extraordinary acts on what most be ordinary days for you. For us, they were not.Blog - Nurses caring for patients - eclectablogPhoto Credit: Eclectablog

2) Air Conditioning – All week, we’ve been experiencing hot, humid days, with temperatures soaring into the high 90’s. We didn’t have air conditioning growing up – window fans were enough in those days. In fact, I remember the first air conditioning unit my parents bought for their bedroom window. Mom worked nights so this unit allowed her to be able to sleep during the hot summer days. Shortly after we kids had window units, and then central air followed sometime after. It is a very good thing.Blog - Air conditioning - goodhousekeepingPhoto Credit: Good Housekeeping

Blog - Air conditioning - riroxsPhoto Credit: Riroxs

3) Guitarist Nathan Mills, as you know, is my favorite classical guitarist. He teaches guitar locally and on-line, and arranges pieces for guitar from various films, TV shows, and video games. Blog - Guitarist - Nathan Mills - RichmondPhoto Credit: Duy Nguyen, Richmond Times-News Dispatch

You can see some of his work on his YouTube channel.

Something extraordinary happened this week. I don’t understand the phenomenon of “going viral”, but it happened for a bit for Nathan when someone posted the following video on Reddit.

That video has, to date, almost a half-million views. He actually trended on YouTube. His followers on kruetv went from 400 to 1300 within hours.Blog - KrueTVPhoto Credit: krueTV

It was surprising and fascinating to watch that phenomenon. The wave has passed, but I’m sure we will see more of this. After all, he’s got to make a living, and it’s thrilling to think he could on classical guitar. Stay tuned.Blog - Guitarist - Nathan Mills - beyondtheguitar - TwitterPhoto Credit: Twitter

4) #TymmRhymes –Tymm Hoffman is the digital production manager for Compassion International, in Colorado Springs. I discovered him on Facebook because a friend shared some of his Dr. Seuss-like poetry. Since them, he graciously allowed this stranger to “friend” him, and, ever since, I’ve been blessed by his postings, his heart, and his rhymes. He wrote a couple of pieces recently about the volatile situation in our country right now. Here’s one:

BAD vs. GOOD
there’s lots of bad cops, bad docs and bad teachers
bad bosses, bad pastors and even bad preachers;

there’s bad firefighters and bad store clerks,
bad pro athletes who act more like jerks;

bad friends, bad sisters and several bad brothers,
there’s even bad dads and lots of bad mothers;

there’s bad politicians and bad missionaries,
and there’s bad guys named Gary and Jerry and Larry;

there’s plenty bad husbands and plenty bad wives,
And plenty bad people living plenty bad lives;

And if all of life started and stopped with that there,
Then broad strokes would work and I wouldn’t care;

But there’s also good cops, good docs and great teachers,
Good bosses, good pastors and lots of good preachers;

There’s great firefighters and awesome store clerks,
And amazing pro athletes who negate all the jerks;

Good friends, good sisters and even good brothers,
And dads who DO care and lots of good mothers;

There’s a good politician and great missionaries,
There’s good Garys and Jerrys and even good Larrys;

And I know there’s good husbands and lots of good wives,
And a bunch of good people living really good lives;

So let’s not give the bad more than we probably should,
When the truth is – for the bad – there is just as much good.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

let’s address the jacked-up-edness in this world while we holster our fat brushes and paint with some thinner ones… – Tymm Hoffman

5) Home-grown Produce
We have a backyard garden. It’s therapeutic for Dave as he works and walks in it after work each day and on weekends. The flowers are just beautiful. For this summer season, we also enjoy the produce – greens, squash, peppers, and tomatoes. Thankful for such a space and a husband who loves to work the soil.imageimage

Hope you have a safe and restful weekend. Please share any favorites of yours in the Comments below. More and more, I recognize the blessing of every single day. Peace.

5 Friday Faves – krueTV, Irises, Employee Trends, Alzheimer’s Caregivers, and the Promises of God

Blog - Friday Faves

Whew! Another Friday…looking forward to a weekend of family time, friend visits, church community, a baby shower and child’s birthday party…and still a bit of space. Space is part of what we love about Friday’s, right? Some space in the week when we can breathe deep and re-calibrate. Hope you find that in your weekend.

Here are my faves this week:

  1. krueTV – New phone app which allows you to listen in and interact with musicians live (in real time). Of course, my favorite musician on krueTV is Nathan Mills at Beyond the Guitar. You can follow him and many others by downloading the app free. Listen in. Chat with the musicians. Enjoy!Blog - KrueTVPhoto Credit: krueTV Blog - Nathan Mills - krueTV
  2. Irises – My favorite flowers are irises and they are blooming now. Mom grew irises in our yard. They signaled the coming of summer and the end of the school year. When we sold our parents’ home a couple of years ago, one of their granddaughters, Stephanie, did the loving work of transplanting some of those irises into her yard. I regret not doing that myself. Glad she did! Here’s one: Blog - Iris of Mom's in Stephanie's yard Irises growing in our yard are thanks to the previous owner and sweet neighbors who shared them with us…and the loving care given by my husband, Dave (probably loving me more than the care of the irises…I’m grateful for both – the love and the irises).2016 April - Phone pics - Blog, Irises, (3)2016 April - Phone pics - Blog, Irises, (5)2016 April - Phone Pics, Blog, Sadie, Georgia, Papa, Irises 3872016 April - Phone pics - Blog, Irises, (1)
  3. Employee Trends – This Infographic on current and future employee trends was fascinating and helpful to me. I love infographics – not sure how much to believe them, but the visual representation of information is a great aid for remembering. This infographic speaks to trends in the workplace in 2016 – including what’s happening with the various generations at work now, automation, maternity leave, work space, and flexibility of hours/availability of employees. There is also a trend that employees who previously left a company (boomerang employees) are being accepted back more now – which is a positive trend for all of us.Blog - The Biggest Workplace employee trendsPhoto Credit: TakeItPersonnelly
  4. Alzheimer’s Caregivers  – I am so thankful for caregivers who daily extend themselves to our loved ones with Alzheimer’s. My dad has Alzheimer’s and currently lives in an assisted living/memory care unit. Between family, friends/pastor, hospice workers, and unit staff, he is well-loved. Having visited him recently and spending hours among the residents, all of whom have some sort of dementia, I marvel at the tenacity of caring of those in his life. It means a lot to him, I’m sure, whether he can acknowledge it or not…and it means the world to us.Blog - Caregivers 2Blog - CaregiversBlog - Caregivers 3
  5. Promises of God – Promises are not to be given or taken lightly. My children never heard me say, “I promise”, because what if I couldn’t deliver? Only God is ever able to always deliver on His promises. That’s what makes them so precious. They are true and trustworthy, because He is.  He is the God who comes near to His children. He, in fact, never leaves us or forsakes us. In a world full of flux and unsettling change, it is a deep comfort to know that God does not change. He is steadfast in love and character and He keeps His word…always. God’s promises are found throughout the Bible – you can find lists of them here, here, and here. What promises do you lean on in those hard days? Blog - Promises of God - sharefaithPhoto Credit: ShareFaithBlog - Promises of God - kzlam36Photo Credit: kzlam36Blog - God's Promises - searchquotesPhoto Credit: SearchQuotes

Hope you have a weekend full of the things that give you joy but with space to rest, reflect, and refresh as well. Would love to know some of your favorites of this week (in comments, below). Happy Friday!

5 Friday Faves – Compassionate Baristas, a Foster Child, Joey Feek’s Legacy, a Daredevil Guitar Arrangement, and a John Piper Sermon Jam

Blog - Friday Faves

How is it that Friday arrives every week with lightening speed?! Okay, maybe not for everyone…but be glad about that. I am left wondering again: where did the week go? Fortunately it did not pass by without leaving me with some treasures I’ll share with you.

1) Compassionate Baristas – You may have seen the story this week of Dutch Bros. Coffee baristas Pierce Dunn and Evan Freeman. They discovered that a woman in the car line waiting for her order was crying [her husband had died the night before]. They quickly reached out to her, and in a moment of grace-filled spontaneity prayed for her at the window. Her coffee was on the house. Sweet story and video.Blog - Friday Faves - Dutch Brothers pray for customer - March 2016Photo Credit: Daily Mail

2) A Foster Child – The circumstances that force children into foster care can be devastating and tragic. Nathaniel Matanick produced a magnificent short film,  entitled “ReMoved“, about the journey of a foster child (through her eyes). I watched it on Facebook this week and was so moved by the story – the heart-break and the hope. You can watch it here. Also, I just discovered Matanick has finished “ReMoved – Part 2“.Blog - Foster Child - childadvocatesPhoto Credit: Child Advocates

3) Joey Feek’s Legacy – When country singer Joey Feek died, she left behind her husband, Rory, and a darling 2 y/o daughter named Indy (Indiana). Indy has Down’s Syndrome…although the fact seemed irrelevant to their story. Last Fall, Joey realized she probably wouldn’t not survive the cancer and she quite deliberately began a self-less, loving process for Indy’s sake. This little girl who wanted to be with her all the time. This little girl who Joey loved more than anything. Joey began the painful process of intentionally becoming less in Indy’s life and opened up opportunity for Indy’s daddy, Rory, to become more to her. He writes magnificently about it in his blog. What a picture of great love! What a loss! What a legacy!Blog - Joey Feek - legacy - todayPhoto Credit: Today

4)  A Daredevil Guitar Arrangement – Nathan Mills of Beyond the Guitar just posted a new guitar arrangement of the theme from the Netflix TV show Daredevil. It is beautiful.

5) John Piper Sermon Jam – 3 minutes of powerful preaching about the perfect love of God for us and the deep cost of that love. Don’t miss it.

Hope you have a weekend ahead full of friends, family, and fun (which could mean just a few hours all by yourself). For those of you who celebrate Eastern/Orthodox Easter this weekend, Happy Easter!

“He is risen! He is risen indeed!”

P.S. I know a few men who have a man cave and are still wise (and possibly even great), but I loved this graphic all the same.Blog - Man CavePhoto Credit: Facebook

Would love to hear about your favorite finds of this week. In Comments. Thanks!

5 Friday Faves – Antidepressant Soil, Signs of Spring, Farewell to Downton Abbey, Single Most Important Habit, and Roaring Lambs

Blog - Friday Faves

Happy Friday! Here we are entering the weekend when our Daylight Savings Time springs forward to longer days of sunshine. This beautiful season launches with St. Patrick’s Day and an early Palm Sunday and Easter. It’s such a sweet time of year. Our weekend in Richmond is supposed to be beautiful with lots of opportunity to plan outings and plant gardens.

1) Antidepressant Soil – I came across this article on antidepressant microbes in soil and was intrigued. My husband loves to garden.IMG_4242As hard as he works out there, he always comes in with such a joyful satisfaction, I wonder if this article might actually be true. What do you think?

Antidepressant Microbes In Soil: How Dirt Makes You Happy

2) Signs of Spring – The morning sky, the changeable weather, and all the new growth are cause for wonder. The sunrises amaze me how they change with the seasons in their glorious presentations.IMG_4282IMG_4286IMG_4260IMG_4276IMG_4278Photo Credit: Bekkah Mills (Beach Sunrise) & me

3) Farewell to Downton Abbey – Although the BBC show finished at Christmas 2015, we can manage here in the US to watch it through to its finale without knowing how it ended 3 months prior. The finale episode of this upstairs-downstairs story, set in a Victorian England manor house, was lovely and completely satisfying. All sorts of resolution to the different storylines. A wedding, babies, and NO deaths. Finally, in the end, DA creator, Julian Fellowes “let Edith be happy“. So hopefully you’ve all seen the last episode, otherwise the photo below becomes a spoiler. If you’re not already a fan, I hope you’ll catch up with the family and servants of Downton Abbey sometime over a beach week. 6 great seasons. You won’t be disappointed. The thought of that reminds me of our occasional Pride and Prejudice weekend marathons with friends when our daughter was a teenager at home overseas. Such a lovely diversion…Downton Abbey | Christmas Final Episode 2015 | Behind The Scenes We return to the sumptuous setting of Downton Abbey for the finale of this internationally acclaimed hit drama series. As our time with the Crawleys draws to a close, we see what becomes of them all. The family and the servants, who work for them, remain inseparably interlinked as they face new challenges and begin forging different paths in a rapidly changing world. Photographer: Nick Briggs

Even our son Nathan, who usually watches something altogether different on Sunday night TV, honored Downton Abbey with an arrangement on classical guitar. Enjoy.

4) Single Most Important Habit – So what do you think might be considered the single most important habit of our lives? Probably not the one David Mathis marks as a keystone habit – that is, “simple, but catalytic new routines that inspire other fresh patterns of behavior”.  He contends that for Christ-followers that single most important habit is corporate worship.

David states: “God didn’t make us to live as solitary individuals. Neglecting corporate worship sows seeds of unbelief in our soul.”

Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24–25)

This isn’t just a casual hanging out with each other, nor is it merely church attendance. This is a community of Christ-followers attending to the teaching of God’s Word, agreeing together in prayer, and joining together in response to God’s love, goodness, and sovereignty in all of life…through the singing of songs and the witness of His faithfulness in each of our lives.

Blog - Worship - UMCDiscipleshipPhoto Image: UMC Discipleship

It’s definitely something to consider for our spiritual maturing when staying in bed or making other plans seem so much more inviting, at first, than gathering with other imperfect people who know how much we need God. At first…Something to consider…

5) Roaring Lambs – Lastly, I just want to give a shout-out to those people in my life and whom I know through their writing and other celebrity who live their faith wherever they are.

roaringlambs

Photo Credit: The Salt Collective

The bus driver, the clerk in the doctor’s office, the TV producer, the teacher, the mail carrier, the retired person, or the [fill in the blank]. Those people in our lives in whom we see the love of Jesus, the excellence of effort, and the tenacity of a life poured out for others. Not baiting and switching, but day in/day out, living their lives with honesty and transparency, faithful to God, loving as He calls us to love. Thank you. Thank God for you.

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Bob Briner’s Roaring Lambs: A Gentle Plan to Radically Change Your World

Johnny Hart’s I Did It His Way celebrated comic strip creator who mixes his faith with his humor. Not in every strip, but from time to time…”drawing” attention to God, Creator and Redeemer, while depicting stories of early (pre-historical) men and women.

They Said I Should Be a Roaring Lamb by Jesse James DeConto

5 Friday Faves – Emotional Intelligence, Hand Massage, a TV Commercial, 40% Rule, Zelda – & a Bonus

Blog - Friday Faves

Friday is here again…and I’m looking back over another week that went by in a blur. Glad to share some of the discoveries of this past week. Would love to hear about your week’s finds (comment below).

1) Emotional Intelligence – This is a concept that’s been around for awhile now, but I never really read about it until this week.  Matt Monge’s article for The Mojo Company sparked my interest. He described 6 symptoms of leaders with low emotional intelligence. Here’s the definition: “Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.” 

Two of Monge’s points were: 1) Leaders with low emotional intelligence say “I’m sorry you feel that way” more than “I’m sorry,” and 2) Leaders with low emotional intelligence often blame the people they hurt for the situations leading to them being hurt. Daniel Goleman has written several books on this topic including Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than Intelligence and Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships. The very cool thing about emotional intelligence is that it can be developed. The big dilemma is whether bosses who tend not to be bothered by their impact on personnel would buy into this or not. Incorporating such concepts in personnel accountability metrics might provide some incentive. I’ve added graphics below that helped me further understand emotional intelligence.Blog - Friday Faves - Leadership - Emotional IntelligencePhoto Credit: Self Study History

Blog - Friday Faves - Emotional Intelligence - grid - dollieslagerPhoto Credit: Dollie Slager

Blog - Friday Faves - Emotional Intelligence - low & highPhoto Credit: The King and Queen

2) Hand Massage – My dad is 93 years old. He has Alzheimer’s. I can’t imagine he has ever had a hand massage in his whole adult life until this past week. The memory care unit which is now home to him has this lovely activities director. One of his first days there, she brought over two warm washcloths and wrapped both his hands. Then she began massaging each one. He just melted into a relaxed, soothed puddle.  One of his repetitive actions is to scratch his hand which he does to distraction. Hand massage is such a thoughtful, therapeutic act. It never dawned on me to do such a thing. Midway down an excellent piece on Alzheimer’s by staff at University of Maryland, massage is recommended as treatment to calm these patients. So glad Dad is where he is with these engaged caregivers.Blog - Dad and hand massage

3) A TV Commercial – We all discover human interest videos through our social media sites. This is my favorite for the week. The #SharetheLoad video produced by Ariel (a washing detergent we used overseas) in India is beautiful. The message is a father’s regret that he modeled for his wife and daughter a very passive role in the home. Even as an older man (the commercial goes), he determined to make that right. Whether it happens or not in such homes today, the message is a powerful one.

4) 40% Rule – So I found this Fortune article on my Twitter feed. Sidd Finch wrote about Jesse Itzler’s encounter with David Goggins, a Navy Seal. during a 100-mile relay race. Goggins was running the entire race without relay partners. Itzler was so intrigued by this ultra-athlete that he actually invited him to live with Itzler’s family for a month. Out of this time together came the book Living with a SEAL: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet. Goggins taught Itzler about the Navy Seals’ 40% Rule.

Itzler explains, “He would say that when your mind is telling you you’re done, you’re really only 40 percent done. And he had a motto: If it doesn’t suck we don’t do it. And that was his way of forcing us to get uncomfortable to figure out what our baseline was and what our comfort level was and just turning it upside-down.”

“The 40% rule, the SEAL explained, is the reason why even though most people hit a wall at mile 16 during a marathon, they’re still able to finish.”

Blog - Friday Faves - 40 percent rule - David GogginsPhoto Credit: Just Go Fitness

“I don’t stop when I’m tired. I stop when I’m done.”David Goggins

Blog - Friday Faves - 40 percent rule - Navy Seals - David GogginsPhoto Credit: AZ Quotes

5) Zelda The Legend of Zelda is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. I recently wrote briefly about it here. Koji Kondo wrote much of the music for the video game series. Blog - Friday Faves - Video Games - Link of The Legend of ZeldaPhoto Credit: Cogswell.edu

Nathan Mills at Beyond the Guitar has posted two covers so far to showcase how beautiful the music is and how well it’s captured on classical guitar. I wrote about the first cover previously, and here’s his second piece. Happy 30th Anniversary, Legend of Zelda.

HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Emotional Intelligence (with featured article “What Makes a Leader?” by Daniel Goleman)

10 Signs You Have Exceptional Mental Strength by Jessica Stillman

BONUS: If you got this far, you will be so rewarded! Very few people in my life watch American Idol, and this is its final (15th) season. I am not fond of the whole reality show murkiness of it, but the performances of these gifted young people and the judges (Keith Urban, Harry Connick, Jr., and Jennifer Lopez) are captivating as well. I want to post videos of two amazing performances from this week’s elimination show (elimination meaning the week the field of contestants narrows to the Top 10). The first video is that of La’Porsha Renae who may very well become the final American Idol. This one can sing!!!

We were overseas when American Idol’s first season aired. I don’t actually remember how I saw Kelly Clarkson in that competition, but I remember following her. She was the first American Idol winner, and the rest is history. To be honest, Kelly Clarkson was off my music listening grid…until now. The song she wrote and performed, Piece by Piece, deals with the painful subject of a father who deserted her as a young child. The song also celebrates the very different man she married, the faithful father of her daughter. This song may make you cry. Wow!

5 Friday Faves – Video Games, NFL Man of the Year, Hospitality, Writing, and Animal Courage

Blog - Friday Faves

It’s that glorious Friday again. Here are my favorite finds of the week:

1) Video Games – What is the appeal of video games for our boys and men? It is a mystery to me. I do understand the gaming camaraderie between players – some friends, some strangers who become friends, kinda sorta. The cutting-edge graphics designed mostly for the eyes of our guys are clearly appealing. And levels…oh, the levels keep our boys and men coming back for the challenge – the competition on an even playing field – without judging from outsiders. Well, except for the occasional run-ins with wife or mother. Lastly, it’s the welcome mindlessness, I’m thinking. The momentary escape from organic chemistry, or frustrating job, or Master’s thesis, or [fill in the blank].

We all have indulgent time-wasters, and I battled with my boys over video games more than I should have. My regret over that transformed into joy this week, as the guitarist son of mine actually turned a video game theme into a lovely work on classical guitar. Who would have thought it? To see Nathan smile (at minute 1:40 in video) makes me wonder at the sweet memory he has of that game’s music. Hello again, Legend of Zelda. Don’t remember you like this.

2) NFL Man of the Year – I’m not a big football fan, but when we came across the NFL Honors program the night before the Superbowl I was intrigued. Football seems all about leaving it on the field. This was a salute to a band of brothers and the stand-outs among them, both on the field and off. There were three nominees for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for 2015 – Anquan Boldin, Eli Manning, and Benjamin Watson. Each man’s character and philanthropic work were highlighted in video vignettes. With all the tabloid coverage of the antics of some of our professional athletes, it was inspiring to see how others spend their off-season time. Anquan Boldin, the San Francisco 49ers wide receiver, received this year’s award from the Payton family. Read more about Anquan’s work in the global community here.Blog - NFL Man of the Year 2016 - Anquan Boldin (2)Photo Credit: Mercury News

Another highlight of the Man of the Year NFL Honors focus was a welcome reminder of Benjamin Watson and his redemptive statement on Facebook (regarding the 2014 Ferguson Decision). In this profession of moneyed celebrity, it was refreshing to see upclose the caliber of such men as Boldin, Manning, and Watson.

3) Hospitality – Hospitality is defined at Google as “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” We live in a culture today of “come as you are; just hanging out with friends; bring your own food/beverage”. I love the comfortable sound and easy experience of that. However, I hope we don’t lose the great global habit of extending generous hospitality – where nothing is expected but the welcome presence of the guest. We lived for many years in North Africa where they expect hospitality of themselves and they lavish it on their guests. Even in the poorest of homes, the cookies and fruit are beautifully presented, and the tea is poured with great ceremony. I learned so much from my Arab and Berber friends and neighbors…and don’t want to forget ever to extend hospitality. There is a difference between service and hospitality – described in TED Talks and distinctive in industry. [I wrote about this here.]

“Hospitality is about looking out instead of looking in…I can look outward and help someone else.”Bobby Stuckey.  The Bible is full of examples of hospitality and encouragements toward it. We are to extend blessing even as far as to our enemies. Benjamin Corey writes eloquently about this Biblical hospitality. Finally, Rosaria Butterfield, in her book The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert says this: “Hospitality means bringing the stranger in…you have to meet and respect people where they are…I believe strongly that hospitality is just the ground zero of the Christian life, and of evangelism, and of everything else that we do, apart from the formal worship of God.” Blog - Hospitality - The Secret THoughts of an Unlikely Convert - Rosaria ButterfieldPhoto Credit: Amazon.com

It’s good to remember that we can extend hospitality in a less-than-perfect house, where toys are still scattered and books a bit piled. It’s more the attitude of the heart in celebrating the other. Also, by definition, hospitality doesn’t have to be based in the home. I will never forget spotting a friend, whose husband was also in graduate school, walking up my driveway, with a pot of coffee and favorite mugs. It turned my morning of home-schooling littles in something altogether other. Extending hospitality…mobile and on-the-fly.Blog - Hospitality

4) Writing – I am always grateful for help in this skill of writing. Finding Chris Bailey’s blog (A Life of Productivity) and book (The Productivity Project) was a great boon to organizing my life and writing (my notes here). Daniel Darling’s blog this past week was another huge encouragement. He writes on how to be a prolific writer.

Darling gives 6 helps in writing: 1) I don’t wait for inspiration, for a cabin next to a mountain stream, or a light bulb. I just write; 2) I write from my passions on topics that interest me; 3) Always be cultivating and chronicling ideas; 4) I try to be curious and always learning; 5) I write in short bursts, in the margins of life; and 6) I try not to be a jerk. Don’t miss how he fills out the story on these points on his blog.Blog - Writing & Journaling - Joy List

5) Animal Courage – When our kids were small and we were living overseas, we took with us this wildlife video entitled The Bear. Like other children’s videos (a lot from Disney), there were story bits that needed processing with a loving adult (like how often the mom dies in these stories…sigh). The Bear was filmed with an intentionality of demonstrating the real life struggle of life in the wild for these animals. Also depicted was the almost-human qualities of care and courage in these animals. I have used one scene of this movie in talks over the years on how gracious it is to have an advocate. One stronger or more influential than we are who stands with us, sometimes out of sight, against an adversary. The plot story involves a bear cub, orphaned when his mother dies (again?!) and an older adult male, beleaguered himself by hunters and the sheer strain of survival sometimes, who becomes the cub’s protector. Here’s the scene (fast-forward to minute 2:30 for time’s sake if needed).

I love this scene. It actually reminds me of us sometimes…and God. We stand as tall as we can and roar (like a wee cub) against the wrongs of this world – wrongs against us sometimes. We are not always aware, but the LORD (I believe from experience and His Word) issues a God-sized roar against those same wrongs. Our adversaries will be reckoned with.

YouTube Video – Scene from the film The Bear, 1988 (Cub & Cougar at 2:30 into scene)

Film The Bear

Top Ten Most Courageous Animals

Happy Friday! Have a weekend full of extending and receiving hospitality, quiet times of refreshment, and reflection on the God who watches over us. Also, hug those video-gaming men of yours…when they take a break (don’t want them to lose a level in the midst of wrestling them down to the floor), right? Right.

Any favorites you want to share? Or memories…or words of wisdom. Would love to hear them (Comment below).

5 Friday Faves – New Boomer Website, Creativity Burnout, Blake Mycoski’s Why (TOMS Shoes), Epiphany, and Community

Blog - Friday Faves

It’s Friday again. How does that happen so rapidly every week? For those of you who can’t wait until Friday, I celebrate with you. For those of us who see life zooming by, taking account on Fridays of what we learned and what we savored seems to slow down time just a bit. Hope you enjoy my 5 favorites of this week. What were some of yours?

1) New Website for Us Boomers (well, everyone really)   Blog - Baby boomers (2)Photo Credit: LivingWellLivingStrong.com

Membree.com launched this week. Quoting the creators of the website, we older folks (i.e. “Baby-boomers“), as well as other generations, have 2 common desires: to serve and to share:

     1.    SERVE –a desire to live life to the full, by serving those around us;

     2.    SHARE –a desire to pass on our life experiences, wisdom and legacy to our loved ones.

“Membree answers those two major life pursuits by inspiring its members to perform random acts of kindness and by capturing life memories in both print and digital form, so these memories can be shared broadly.”Blog - MembreePhoto Credit: Membree.com

2) Creativity Burnout – In this week’s blog on BeyondtheGuitar.com, guitarist/arranger Nathan Mills tells a bit of his story about almost leaving music altogether after burning out on years of work. His re-entry seemed a bit unorthodox to me, but as I read the connection of emotion and creative work became clear. Glad that season of burnout is behind him.Nathan at guitar

3) Blake Mycoski’s Why (TOMS Shoes) – OK, so I’ve never bought a pair of TOMS shoes, and until this Harvard Business Review article I couldn’t have told you who in the world is Blake Mycoski. After reading his story and the history of his company, I’m inspired. His honesty and transparency are compelling. Take the time to read this article for the details of his journey and his rediscovering the “why” of his business. One book he mentioned was Simon Sinek’s Start With Why – How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. That book is now on my 2016 “to-read” list. To give you a sweet teaser about Blake Mycoski’s return to his “why”, here’s a quote from the HBR article:

People follow you, buy from you, when they believe what you believe. The more I thought about this idea, the more I realized that TOMS had veered away from its “why.” In the early days we always led with our story: We weren’t selling shoes; we were selling the promise that each purchase would directly and tangibly benefit a child who needed shoes. But our desire to sustain the company’s hypergrowth had pushed us away from that mission and into competing on the “what” and “how,” just as every other shoe company does…Our marketing increasingly felt product-focused rather than purpose-focused. And as the leader of TOMS, I was ultimately accountable for those mistakes. That was a tough pill to swallow.” – Blake Mycoski, Founder of TOMS ShoesBlog - Blake Mycoski - TOMS Shoes - tinyspark.orgPhoto Credit: tinyspark.org

4) Epiphany – This week’s marks the formal end of the Christmas season. Epiphany – January 6 – the day of celebration of God’s revelation of Christ, especially to the Gentiles (or all who are not Jews). It is also known as Three Kings’ Day. I love how it gives us twelve more days to celebrate such a God. The David Crowder Band refers to these 12 Days of Christmas in the intro to their song Carol of the Bells/Christmas Eve from the album Oh For Joy. [Crowder’s lounge piano intro is hilarious. Don’t miss it either.] Because of Epiphany and our sweet memories of many Christmases in Egypt (celebrated on January 7), I will finally ring out (or rock out, rather) the season with this amazing song:

 

5) Community – When you Google search the definition of the word community, this is what pops up:

com·mu·ni·ty
kəˈmyo͞onədē/
noun
1. a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.
2. a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
This week, I have been reminded all over again of the great value of community. Our neighbors are such a joy to us. So extraordinary in how they take time for each other and really seem to care for each other. We are blessed to live in this tiny part of Richmond, Virginia.

Blog - CommunityBlog - Community 3

Then there is this bunch of folks who make up our community group (so far). We are joined by living near to each other, our partnership in Movement Church, and our love for Jesus and each other. Just this week as an old friend became a new part of our group, we were reminded of the kindness of God in community. Encouraging each other, praying for each other, loving each other…right where we are in life. Works in progress. God’s magnificent works in progress. Seemingly ordinary, but oh, not so! Community.Blog - 2015 December - Community Group