Tag Archives: community

5 Friday Faves – Zelda on Guitar, Community, Tim Tebow, Podcasts, and Creatives

Happy Friday! It’s been one of those weeks that has made Friday a “Whew, got through it!” kind of day. An anticipated freeze tonight draws me outside and to take in all the early forsythia, red bud and tulip magnolia blossoms in their current glory. Such a beautiful time of the year…this mild winter/early spring combination.

For your enjoyment – should you end up inside and snuggled in front of a fire – my favorite finds of the week:

1) CommunityGrace abounds in genuine community. Don’t we all hope to have a work team that cares about us, neighbors that watch out for each other, and family that looks past our foibles and loves us anyway? True community happens when our focus is on the other…the friend, the neighbor, the coworker. In our strength, we come alongside the weaker ones and take turn-about in our weak times to lean on those who are strong. I can’t describe community very well but I know what it’s like to be in real-life deep community. Someone who has described it well is Cliff Jordan, teaching pastor of Movement Church, Richmond, Virginia. His message from Romans 15:1-6 inspired and affirmed the reality of community if we are willing to go after it and extend ourselves toward others in this way. Listen here to the message: Grace On Display – Community.Photo Credit: MoveRichmond

2) Zelda on Guitar – For both you videogame and classical guitar music aficionados, you’re in for a real treat. Nintendo has launched a new gaming system (Nintendo Switch) and a new version of The Legend of Zelda (Breath of the Wild). In celebration of this launch for all you gamers who grew up with Zelda, classical guitarist Nathan Mills of Beyond the Guitar has arranged a Zelda medley.

Not much of a videogame fan, but I am a classical guitar enthusiast. The soundtracks of these games are rendered beautifully on guitar. Watch here or click on video below.

3) Tim Tebow – In the U.S., most every adult out there knows the name and something of the career and character of Heisman trophy winner Tim Tebow. I’m a big fan. In particular, I’m a fan of the winsomeness and determination of the man, more than his athletic prowess. Tebow first came on my radar watching the film, Everything in Between, about how he trained and persevered, culminating in becoming a first round draft pick for NFL football. Then I watched his career in the NFL, and then his detour into baseball, sportscasting and commentary. Tim Tebow is one of the hardest working, determined, disciplined, and persevering athletes out there today.

Photo Credit: Tim Tebow

More than his success in athletics, his determination to make a difference in life stands out the most. He shows up in all kinds of situations, serving and showing love to those who might think they are forgotten. Many celebrities and other wealthy benefactors have foundations, as does Tim. Why he does what he does, he shares below.

Tebow Surprises Reporter With Awesome Answer

Tim Tebow has arrived at spring training, and he's already making headlines.

Posted by The Wildcard on Monday, February 27, 2017

“I want to be someone that was known for bringing faith, hope and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need.”

Tebow strives for excellence in all he does, and he brings that to bear on the lives of those who may not have the same opportunities as he does. So for people who question his athletic career, walk awhile in these shoes.

Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms – Tim Tebow

4) Podcasting – Like in every other professional field, there is actually a conference for podcasters. I came late to the entertainment/educational medium of podcasting. Now, however, there are some who have won my heart and car-time. Below is a short list of my favorites:

  • The Popcast – Knox McCoy and Julie Golden post a weekly conversation all about pop culture. I just discovered them this week and find them funny, engaging, and even thought-provoking. Sometimes I agree with him, sometimes with her.Photo Credit: The Popcast
  • 5 Leadership Questions or 5LQ – Todd Adkins and Barnabas Piper are co-hosts of 5LQ. Their focus is on Christian leaders but it’s not just about church; their guests include business and other professional leaders. The same five questions guide their discussion:
    • Who are you learning from?
    • What is the main point of emphasis for your leadership team (or self) right now?
    • What obstacles are you currently facing in leadership, either in your organization or personally?
    • What does leadership in your home look like?
    • What would you tell your 20-year-old self about preparing to lead?

    I’m personally kind of a leadership junkie and can tell you I always learn from these guys and their guests.

  • The Podcast – Carey Nieuwhof This writer, conference leader, and pastor does a weekly podcast on leadership as well. Nieuwhof tackles some of the hard issues of leadership. Whether you lead in a Christian or other organization, you will learn and enjoy his meaty and sometimes funny content and stories.

25 Best Podcast Episodes Ever – David Haglund & Rebecca Onion

The 50 Best Podcasts of 2016 – Laura Jane Standley & Eric McQuade

5) Creatives – Using the word “creative” as a noun doesn’t come naturally for me, because I believe in the innate creative abilities of all of us. However, some “creatives” stand out. Writer and podcaster Jeff Goins defines them best in this way:

“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.

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

And what, exactly, does a creative do?

A creative creates art…She sings to sing, for the pure joy of making music. And she paints to paint. (And so on…)

A creative colors outside the lines. On purpose. In so doing, she shows the world a whole new picture they never would have otherwise seen.

A creative breaks the rules. And as a result, he sets a new standard to follow.

Why we need creatives

The truth is that we need more creatives in positions of influence — to color the world with beauty and life.Jeff Goins

Nathan Mills, of Beyond the Guitar, is a creative…one of my favorites, clearly.

Writer and woodworker Kevin Prewett is both a friend and creative. In fact, I didn’t know how creative he was until this week when I saw some of his woodworking.

Pipe and Sage – Woodwork – Kevin Prewett – Wood and Words

Another favorite creative of mine is Andrew Morgan. His documentary series Untold America is a timely, much-needed look at today’s America…with the potential to bridge a gap between us as a diverse and sometimes polarized people.

Nothing is Louder Than Love

"Nothing is louder than love." Andrew shares a few final thoughts on democracy and differences as we wrap up our first month together. New episodes every Thursday as we prepare to start a new month focused on immigration.

Posted by Untold America on Thursday, March 2, 2017

Untold America Series

These are my favorite finds of the week. Please share yours in the Comment section below. Have a safe, refreshing weekend…and stay warm.

Monday Morning Moment – 7 Skills of the Top Leaders of Tomorrow – Whatever Your Age or Stage – with Matt Monge

Blog - Tomorrow's Leaders - Mojo companyPhoto Credit: The Mojo Company

[From the Archives]

Leaders of Tomorrow. What age group came to mind? Probably not your own. Maybe that’s one of our dilemmas in life and work. We either think we have already arrived as tomorrow’s leader today (ugh!). Or we stop thinking of how we can develop into that change agent of tomorrow because we’ve fixed our course…or settled into what we know already. It’s served us well so far, right?

Here’s my Monday morning gift to you: an introduction to the person, writing, and wisdom of Matt Monge.  Earlier in his career, he worked in finance (credit unions, in particular), and had fascinating titles like Chief Culture Officer and Vice-President of People and  Development. Currently he is is president of The Mojo Company, a leadership development consulting firm. His Facebook page bio reads: “My mission? Make the world a better place by helping people, leaders, & workplaces be more human. Depression fighter. Keynote speaker. Head of The Mojo Co.”

Blog - Monday Morning - Matt Monge - Leadership is about serving - FacebookPhoto Credit: Matt Monge Facebook Page

I read everything Matt Monge writes. Even his promotional video taught me more about leadership (you’ll want to take notes).

Monge posted a blog a few weeks back and I’ve been thinking through it since… It’s his 7 Skills Tomorrow’s Top Leaders Are Developing Today. I decided to post his bullet points here and how they stirred my thoughts on skill development today. [Don’t miss reading his thinking on this and other leadership topics in links.]

  1. Being Others-Oriented – While other employee development folks have moved away from “servant leadership” language, Matt Monge continues wisely to be a strong supporter of it. I, too, am delighted by leaders who continue to seek out the greatest good for both employees and customers. The bottom line is best served here. As the years go by, or as tribes are built, our temptation is to coast in this area…making the negative assumption that someone else is serving while we’re the idea leaders. As leaders go, so go the organizations.
  2. Persuasion, Logic, & Negotiation – First, Monge sees top leaders as practicing persuasion and negotiation differently “not with power, position, coercion, or even deception; but rather through logic, reason, and with an eye toward the good of the whole.” It’s funny how unaware leaders can be in thinking that manipulation and coercion go unnoticed by employees under their authority. It’s always better to do the work of taking the high road of negotiating and persuading. When we engage in the give-and-take of healthy debate and problem-solving, it’s a win-win for everyone. It does require time, trust, homework, and humility.
  3. Reframing – This is a discipline of looking at a problem or situation from different perspectives. Monge talks about doing this in such a way that we wrestle with our own biases and blind spots. Reframing can make for a decision or problem solved that have wider success or effectiveness.
  4. Knowing How to Think about and Make Decisions – Monge makes the distinction of being decisive vs. being a good decision-maker. I love this because often we experience leaders who get the job because they are decisive. Period. Full-stop. What does it take though to be a good decision-maker? To become an effective leader is to examine how we make decisions – what are my decision-making processes, who are my guides, what are those factors that always weigh in on my decisions? [Monge names those factors as presuppositions and core values. We need to think about what those are.]
  5. The Ability to Work and Build Community with Others – This is such a core value of mine and yet after years in my career, it bears refreshing. I’m reminded, as Monge writes about this, of the Old Boys’ Network. Today, maybe it’s less-gender-defined and called other things, like C-Suite executives, or even tribe. Still, if it’s a few making decisions for the many, it’s not community. Monge’s constant message is that the strength and health of an organization is in the community. Leaders must do the work of leaning in to their colleagues (outside the executive suite) to draw on the wealth of knowledge there and to affirm the value and varied roles of those coworkers.Blog - Matt Monge - human - twitterPhoto Credit: Twitter
  6. Leadership – The leaders of tomorrow are continuing to develop themselves toward that future. We can be always learning, always growing – not necessarily just like other leaders in our lives, but learning what we need to learn to remain relevant/useful. Resting on the laurels of past successes or doing “what we’ve always done” will eventually pull us to the sidelines. I’m in the painful, personal throes of dealing with this right now myself. Shaking it off and moving forward!
  7. Understanding Humanness & Emotional Intelligence – Monge defines emotional intelligence as having “four basic components: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management”. Foundational to emotional intelligence, in Monge’s thinking, is this whole element of humanness. As the workplaces of the future give way to more and more technology, we will be wise in tuning into the growing need for humanizing our organizations and our human employee experience. Being tech-savvy and not people-savvy misses what could be. Leaders of tomorrow, take note.

So that’s it for today. I love Mondays because they bring another opportunity to hit “the refresh” key of our work lives. We are not only motivated for the week ahead – differently than Fridays when the focus is the weekend – but we’re fresh in our view of our work community…and hopeful.

Matt Monge and others like him give me the encouragement I need to cast off from the safe, still shore and re-enter the fast and deep water of today’s work environment, determined to maneuver well there…and maybe even coax other quality people back in from the shallows. Whatever our ages or sensibilities, we can work toward being tomorrow’s leaders of excellence.

5 Friday Faves – a Mama’s Lament, Primary Physicians, Life in a Refugee Camp, a Deeper Happiness, and Community – and a Bonus

Blog - Friday Faves

Hello, Friday. We’ve had rain for days here, but it’s forecasted to be gone for the weekend. What are you up to? I’ve culled down my many happy finds of this week to these. Please share what enlarged your life this week (in comments)…and Happy Mother’s Day!

1) A Mama’s Lament“Slow Down”“I don’t know of a more uttered or whispered phrase from a mother of any age, about her child of any age, than ‘It’s going by too fast.’ I feel like I spend my life trying to slow time. Trying to celebrate the growth and the milestones of my children, and then secretly day dreaming about building a time machine in my garage, so I can return to rocking my babies at midnight. If you’ve ever looked at your child running across a field, or striding across a graduation stage, or walking down the middle aisle of a church clutching a bouquet, you’ll know why this song is special to me. Please enjoy the video below, remembering the moments we wish we could slow down, and sharing them with those we love most.”Nichole Nordeman

2) Primary Physicians – Without a lot of detail, I’ve been undergoing a series of medical tests (with their various new doctors attached) for a finding that is either nothing…or not. As frustrating as all this can be (with scheduling and preps and the waiting…the waiting!), I am grateful for specialists who continue to sharpen the focus of whatever this is that’s going on. Mostly, I am grateful for my primary physician who knows me and my history best. He occasionally checks in himself, as different reports come to him during this journey. What a blessing to know he’s putting the pieces of this puzzle together as each specialist adds his bit. Thankful.Doctor Talking with PatientPhoto Credit: UPMC

3) Life in a Refugee Camp– Our friend, Beth, is spending a couple of months in Greece, working in a Syrian refugee camp. She has been a great help there, I’m sure, and has given us a window into the lives of these displaced peoples. It’s hard to imagine living in a tent city, and yet, how wonderful that there is shelter for them in this place in-between. Homeless, and yet, for now, they have a place at least…where the kids play, the parents take English classes, and all the rest of their new normal life unfolds – cooking, cleaning, and preparing for an unknown but hopeful future.13001245_10156875941260061_7654249932579596614_n12985495_10156885038265061_4952602545456677851_n13055578_10156925512190061_3805858236358775882_n13082658_10156925508410061_1380861859098516687_n12993627_10156889362110061_8126408917090936937_nPhoto Credit: Facebook

4) A Deeper Happiness – You know, if you read this blog, that I love Kara Tippetts. She is with the Lord now. Still, her life and wisdom continue to impact my own. Her husband, Jason, wrote about a lunchtime together as she was nearing the day of leaving.

“The other day Mickey brought a grilled cheese to Kara for lunch. I didn’t have anything, so I just watched her eat. She offered me half of her sandwich. I said, Don’t you want it?

She replied, I do, but I want to share more.Blog - Mundane faithfulness - Grilled Cheese SandwichPhoto Credit: Woman’s World

First of all, yes, I did take half of a sandwich from my dying wife. Second, it occurred to me how Kara’s simple comment stuck with me: I want to share more.

What if I found more satisfaction in sharing than taking, more in giving than consuming?

Jesus says in Matthew 20:28, Even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve…

How beautiful that even as she fades, Kara’s selflessness reflects God’s character and ministers to our hearts.

He quotes Tim Keller: “Seek to serve one another rather than to be happy, and you will find a new and deeper happiness.”Blog - Need You Now Kara Tippetts & JasonPhoto Credit: Mundane Faithfulness

5) Community – Oh community! Sometimes you find it in the workplace or your neighborhood. Sometimes through your church (or other group of like-minded folks). Sometimes community comes through family and friends. We have experienced deep community in many forms over the course of life. I tried to find a definition for community but nothing really seemed adequate. Scott Peck has written about it with the words that resonate (I don’t agree with the whole piece but the defining words ring true) – vulnerable, honest, generous, inclusive, loving, safe. Community is where you know people genuinely care about you, warts and all…where when you’re not present, you’re missed…where help, laughter, understanding, and tears flow freely. Here’s to community – imperfect and human – more together than the individual parts. Hope you have one…otherwise, you are welcome.IMG_5754Blog - Community - English Conversation Class005IMG_4904

Bonus: A New Blog Find on the Workplace – I love to read about workplace culture and who leadership can make a difference. You’ll see that often in my Monday Morning Moment blogs. This week, I discovered an article by Ron Carucci interviewing Mark C. Crowley (wrote about it here). It intrigued me enough to seek out Ron’s website. He is part of the consulting team of Navalent, which focuses on business and leadership transformation. The blog is a huge resource for any of us in the workplace. Great stuff!

Blog - Blog on Business & Leadership - Navalent - Ron CarucciPhoto Credit: Navalent

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

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5 Friday Faves – Winter in the Middle East, Culture, Parenting, Community, and Top Blogs

Blog - Friday FavesWow! What a week! This is a rare experience for me to be glad it’s Friday. I usually love all the days and want them to slow down…this was a week that’s good to be done. How was your week?

My 5 favorites finds include one less favorite, more “I don’t want to forget” – that being #1:

1) Winter in Middle East – Our news cycle and attention spans are so short that we might forget refugee camps…especially in winter. I am so thankful for agencies (like Baptist Global Response) that don’t forget it. Far from it, they are there, feeling the cold these refugees feel and stretching resources to cover these without homes that keep out the winter. Let’s not forget…and extend help as well.Blog - Winter in the Middle east - ibtimesPhoto Credit: International Business NewsBlog - Winter in the Middle East - thetakeawayPhoto Credit: thetakeaway.orgBlog - Winter in the Middle east - old man - the national aePhoto Credit: The National

2) Culture – Trevin Wax writes this week about cultural commentary. As we both live in a changing culture and examine our place within that culture, we adjust. Not our beliefs, necessarily, or our viewpoints, but maybe how we voice them. Trevin does a great job in expounding on how we look at culture – not as “good” or “bad” or “safe” or “unsafe” – but as understanding and discerning co-inhabitants of that culture. Something called “cultural literacy”.

word with dice on white background - culture

Photo Credit: The Gospel Coalition

“From Francis Schaeffer in the 1960’s, to C. S. Lewis in the 1940’s, to G. K. Chesterton in the 1920’s, we stand in a long line of people who have identified the narratives on display in cultural artifacts of their day, and then spoke to those longings by putting them in light of the gospel. John Stott called this “double listening” – listening to God’s Word and to the people in God’s world, so that we can be effective witnesses to the kingdom.” – Trevin Wax

3) Parenting – Parenting books and blogs abound to influence our journey through our children’s growing-up. One of my favorite books on parenting came out after our kids were already grown but I love it and still recommend it: Escaping the Endless Adolescence: How We Can Help Our Teenagers Grow Up Before They Grow Old by Joseph & Claudia Worrell Allen. Cathy Gulli’s article on parenting was a fascinating discovery for me this week. She writes on The Collapse of Parenting – Why It’s Time for Parents to Grow Up. Her take on current trends in parenting focuses less on empowering the child and more on the parent actually being the guide, mentor, and nurturing authority. I didn’t agree with everything, but it was refreshing to read. [It actually went viral with over a million reads so far.] The image below is NOT from her article but it came to mind because of her article.Blog - Age-appropriate tasks for childrenPhoto Credit: Flanders Family

4) Community – I’ve written about community many times, but this was one of those weeks where the value of community came to bear in a hard place. It’s hard to imagine those who lead more solitary lives – without church, family, or work community – especially when a life-altering crisis occurs. Luke writes about the early church so beautifully in his Acts of the Apostles. Those early believers endured great persecution with joy because of God-infused community. What’s your experience of community these days? Showing up for work, attending church, social media brushes with family don’t get us to community. It’s a dig deep, being there, full embrace of those in your circle with a door wide open to others just on the outside, looking in. So thankful this week for community.Blog - Community - It Is Well - Beth Taylor FacebookPhoto Credit: Beth Taylor

5) Top Blogs – There are all sorts of lists on the blogosphere these days about most read/visited blogs of last year. This list by Leslie Leyland Fields is my favorite find of this sort this week.  What a life this woman leads in the coastal fishing communities of Alaska! Blog - Friday faves - Leslie Leyland FieldsWhat lists do you recommend? Help us find them, via the comments below.

Bonus: Sweet Dance Performance by the Revere Dance Studio – Lovely Girls on Their Feet and in Their Wheelchairs

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

Worship Wednesday – ‘Tis the Season – What’s at Stake When We Indulge In Attacking Each Other

Blog - House Divided - coffeewiththeking.orgPhoto Credit: coffeewiththeKing.org

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”Jesus, John 13:34-35

“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”Jesus, Matthew 7:3-5

Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.”Paul, Romans 14:20-22

The “happy holidays” are upon us – juxtaposed against a landscape of polarizing political campaigns and various divisive protests and boycotts. In a season of the year (for us in the USA, in particular), we could enjoy warm community and loving unity, even when we differ on some things. Yet, we still divide ourselves up into various camps.

Where are we to land in all of this as Christ-followers?

For sure, it is not in attacking those who are not like us or who may be like us but differ in preference or opinion. Especially, we who call the name of Jesus as Savior – we have no ground to stand on in attacking each other…ever.

So why do we do it? There is this soul satisfaction that comes with feeling right, or smarter, or more cool, or culture-savvy. A soulish satisfaction from which God has actually called us, and toward something extraordinarily better. A unity, a bond of love. A love by which we are known to the rest of the world as followers of Jesus. Here there is even ground for all of us, the weaker brother and the stronger one (that one who becomes weaker when he taunts or shames the other). Jesus calls us to deal with our own flawed perspective (“log”) before we can help dislodge the painful speck from our brother’s eye.

Do we really care about the other, that one God calls us to love as we love ourselves? Do we show that love to the world when we treat those with whom we disagree with the same derision or contempt as the world does? Or worse? Are we keeping company with arrogant haters or are we becoming one? When we publically part company with believers who are offended by what we consider silly matters, what is at stake?

You may ask, “what about those hate-filled people who call themselves Christians and who protest all sorts of things, based on their “Christian” sensibilities?”. Still…Scripture is clear how we are to treat them…Jesus calls us to love even our enemies. (Matthew 5:43-45)

“If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”Jesus, Mark 3:25

There is much to lose and much more to gain in wrestling successfully with this dilemma – exposed in our private conversations and public (un-social) media.

Voices of Wisdom to help us – Keep Unity, Guard Community – Choosing to Love, Refusing to Shame

Blog - House Divided - Scott Sauls

Scott Sauls is the author of Jesus Outside the Lines: A Way Forward for Those Who Are Tired of Taking Sides . He has also written the richest piece on this whole shaming and raging culture that colors us as Christ-followers, if we partake in its rank hatefulness. In fact, I can’t even quote from his article, because I want you to read it…please. It is a quick but full read on identifying the problem, and seeing what is the truth of how we are to live, in the example of a living, flesh-and-blood human-like-us man, Tim Keller. Please…read Scott’s article. Transforming.

Christians are in many ways a band of opposites, who over time grow to love one another through the centering, unifying love of Jesus…sincere believers can disagree on certain matters, sometimes quite strongly, and still maintain great respect and affection for one another…I don’t know where I would be without the influence of others who see certain non-essentials differently than I do..In non-essentials, liberty. And to this we might add an open-minded receptivity. We must allow ourselves to be shaped by our ‘other’ brothers and sisters for Jesus’ sake. We will be the richer for it.” – Scott Sauls

“This great passion for souls [Romans 9:1-3] gave Paul perspective. Lesser things did not trouble him because he was troubled by a great thing – the souls of men. ‘Get love for the souls of men’ – then you will not be whining about a dead dog, or a sick cat, or about the crotchets of a family, and the little disturbances that John and Mary may make by their idle talk. You will be delivered from petty worries (I need not further describe them) if you are concerned about the souls of men…Get your soul full of a great grief, and your little griefs will be driven out. – Charles Spurgeon – Spurgeon Gems, p. 7-8

“I will never get why we defend our chicken sandwiches and our gingerbread lattes but we won’t take a stand for the things that actually matter to God. Are we loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength? Are we loving our neighbor as ourselves? Are we obeying God in our personal lives? Are we defending and providing for the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the immigrant? Are we sharing the hope we have in Christ? That’s pretty much our full job description.” – Angela

Blog - House Divided - Jonathanpearson.net

Photo Credit: JonathanPearson.net

What I Came To Respect Most About Tim Keller (Even More Than His Preaching) by Scott Sauls

We Disagree, Therefore I Need You by Scott Sauls

Jesus Outside the Lines – a Way Forward for Those who are Tired of Taking Sides by Scott Sauls

What Stops Our Fighting? by Tony Reinke

Love Your Neighbor – Henrico Christmas Mother – How We Can Help

2014 December Christmas Mother (10)

As October winds down every year, stores are transformed into a shopping wonderland with Christmas just weeks away. Toys for children and presents under the tree are part of the wonder of the season. Henrico Christmas Mother is a local non-profit that helps “keep Christmas” in the lives of even the poorest of our neighbors.

Henrico Christmas Mother provides a unique and amazing shopping experience for qualified applicants, to brighten their family’s Christmas. Moms can choose gifts for their children from an enormous array of possibilities…without any cost. Thanks to the incredible generosity of their neighbors.  They also receive boxes of food to help during Christmas break when the children are home more, without the added breakfast and lunch programs available to them at school.

Harriet Long, a retired educator who I don’t think ever truly retired, is this year’s Council President of Henrico Christmas Mother. The Council is made up of past Christmas Mothers and representatives from the 5 Henrico county districts. Mrs. Long was Henrico Christmas Mother in 2013. These volunteers on the Council lead the huge effort made each year to fulfill their mission:

“To provide assistance in the form of food, new clothing, books and toys to qualifying families, adults with disabilities, and the elderly during the holiday season.”

2015 October - Christmas Mother - Ken & Harriet Long 003Harriet Long and her husband and #1 volunteer, Ken

I caught up with Mrs. Long this week to learn more about the year-round operation of Henrico Christmas Mother. As she talked about the community they serve, her eyes brightened. She has, for years, seen the difference made by Henrico Christmas Mother. Thinking that Henrico County had a fairly affluent citizenry, I was surprised at the number in our county in need of help. 40% of students in the Henrico County Public Schools live at or below the poverty line. 20% of Henrico County citizens receive some sort of public assistance.

Through the generous support of Henrico County Government and the Henrico County Public Schools, along with donations from private citizens and corporations, Henrico Christmas Mother serves hundreds of our neighbors.

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I saw that “neighbors helping neighbors” motto at work last December when I volunteered alongside many more at the Henrico Christmas Mother Warehouse. Harriet and her husband, Ken, were there as well…actually they are there every day during those two weeks of helping moms and dads shop for their families.  The joy of serving neighbors pulsated through that huge warehouse. All the work of packing food boxes, gathering, sorting, by size and age, and displaying items for ease of the moms being served is done completely by volunteers. It’s a sight to behold!2014 December Christmas Mother (29)

 How can we help our neighbors through Henrico Christmas Mother? There are so many ways, and one way might fit you.

Inviting the Henrico County Christmas Mother to speak at your organization or company, especially during Spring and Summer, would be a great help in getting the word out. Neighbors helping neighbors.

Making donations is the way this non-profit organization has continued to serve since 1942. You make financial contributions through their website or mail a check to Henrico Christmas Mother, PO Box 70338, Henrico, Va. 23255.

If you would like to donate items, you can begin to do that, as the Christmas Mother volunteers do – during the after-Christmas sales. Mrs. Long and the Council will begin to prepare for next year’s Christmas Mother starting right after Christmas. New toys, books, and clothing are bought for all ages of children. From 0 to whatever age the child is still a student in Henrico County Public Schools. Hats, gloves, socks, new children’s books, bikes with helmets, coloring books and crayons are always on the needs list.

Henrico Christmas Mother also serves senior citizens of the county as well as disabled adults – those who qualify financially. There are gift tables for them to shop for themselves – costume jewelry, books (including Bibles and cookbooks), pajamas, hats, scarves, gloves, caps, and socks. This service is unique to Henrico Christmas Mother, and donations of items for these adults are greatly appreciated.

The food boxes that are given on shopping day come from student donations through the Henrico Co. Public Schools. Last year, students donated over 110,000 non-perishable food items. Along with the food boxes, giftcards for meats, fruits, and vegetables are also provided on the shopping day. Just ahead of those two weeks of Christmas Mother, donations of soup, cereal, cookies and crackers, in particular are also solicited. Remember that these children are some of the most vulnerable in the county nutritionally during Christmas.

How does this all work?  The Henrico Christmas Mother Council works year round. In August and September, notices begin going out to families in Henrico about Christmas Mother. One flyer is sent in the water bill. Word also goes out through government-subsidized housing and through Social Services. Posters go up in the schools starting in September.

Applications are taken, at the warehouse, the first four Mondays of October. On that day, if the family qualifies, an appointment is made to return to shop during two weeks in December.

Then the fun really begins. The moms come in on their appointment day and are assisted by a volunteer to maneuver around the massive warehouse. They can choose books and clothes for each of their children. Hats, gloves and socks also are available for all the children. The toy tables are arranged by age. 2 toys/child. The parents choose them from a huge selection gathered by the Christmas Mother Council. Then each child receives stocking stuffers, coloring books and crayons.

Finally, the shoppers receive food boxes based on the number of people in the household – food enough for five meals. Henrico County Government staff then help these moms get all the gifts and food to their cars.

This is Henrico Christmas Mother – neighbors helping neighbors.

 2014 December Christmas Mother (12)2014 December Christmas Mother (1)628_Choosing_Stocking_Stuffers2014 December Christmas Mother (8)

I’m so grateful for the introduction President Harriet Long gave me to this great organization. This Christmas, share the joy of helping your neighbors through volunteering, donating, and inviting the Henrico Christmas Mother to speak at your organization or community event on next year’s calendar.

Henrico Christmas Mother provides a true and tested opportunity for us to show love to our neighbors this Christmas and all through the year. We can make a difference in the lives of these families.

Blog - Love Your Neighbor Christmas Mother - Beverly Cocke 2015

2015 Henrico Christmas Mother

2015 Henrico Christmas Mother, Beverly Cocke    (also the Brookland District’s representative on the Henrico County School Board)
“There is nothing like the joy in knowing that you played a small part in bringing a smile to a stranger’s face and sharing the message of love and hope across Henrico during the holiday season. I am honored and humbled.”

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Peter and John – a Couple of Ordinary Men Who Had Been With Jesus

Blog - Peter and John - men who had been with JesusPhoto Credit: Boundary Homestead

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. Acts 4:8-13

Peter and John took seriously the last words Jesus told them.

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”Acts 1:8

These men were not religious leaders or great orators. They were fishermen who had spent three years living life with Jesus, listening to His teaching, and learning His love for His Father and for all people. Peter and John were ordinary men – apart from those three years spent in the company of the One who would take a cross for them, and all of us… Oh, and one more thing, they would know the filling of the Holy Spirit…whatever that would mean.

He spoke not as one who just believed in what he had heard about Jesus. He spoke as one who experienced the life-transforming love of God through Jesus. He knew Jesus. He had witnessed in his own life and others what happens when Jesus touches a person, when He receives a person as His own.

Last night, a small group of people sat around a table and talked about life together. No pretense. Nothing to prove. No one to impress. Just individuals meeting for supper, prayer, and encouragement. A new community group forged from folks at our church (Movement Church).Blog - Peter and John - Community Group - life of those who have met Jesus - Dustin WillisPhoto Credit: TheBlazingCenter.com

Through the short evening, as we got to know each other, everyone had a story…a story of a life and journey changed at a juncture where they met Jesus. I wish you could have heard their stories. Some of these new friends have life experiences I can only imagine…riveted to every detail, I heard forgiveness, grace, wonder, love, reconciliation. Ordinary people with a first of a lifetime of encounters with an extraordinary God.

All the stress of my day, the weariness and frustrations, all dissipated at these stories – these glowing faces – these people who were also tired and had their own frustrations…but it all pales when we see Jesus – in one another. Ordinary people who have been with Him. That is community.Blog - Connecting and Assimilating

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”John 13:35-36

This John recorded Jesus’ words in his Gospel. This John who was with Peter in the account above. We owe them so much. Peter would die for his faith, and John would be exiled to live out his day in isolation. They followed Jesus and gave witness of Him to all they could. A bold witness not because they knew of Him…but because they knew Him, and their lives were radically changed.

…as ours can be.

Meet at the Table by Dustin Willis

Life in Community – Joining Together to Display the Gospel by Dustin Willis

Ramadan – Much More Than Fasting – A Quick Study for the Sake of Your Friends & Coworkers

2008270mnj287From the Archives – June 30, 2014

“Ramadan Kareem!” “Ramadan Mabrouk!” “Ramadan Mabarak!” may be familiar words to you…or not so much. Around the world, among Muslims, these are greetings of blessing for their holy month of Ramadan. In this month, all Islamic peoples are united in the observance of their religion, more than any other time of the year.

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar and is considered holy because Muhammad, Islam’s most revered prophet, reported receiving the Qu’ran during this month. At the sighting of the new moon at the beginning of Ramadan, Muslims begin a month-long exercise of six tenets of their faith, consistent, to a large extent, among all of the world’s practicing Muslims.

Fasting [Sawm (Arabic: صوم‎)]  From sunrise to sunset, during Ramadan, devout Muslims fast. In some countries, in fact, it’s illegal for a Muslim to be seen eating or drinking during these hours. There are exceptions (young children, the sick, elderly, and others in a few defined temporary situations). However, the fast is intended to be complete during the day (no food, drink, smoking, sexual intercourse, or profane speech). At sunset, the fast is broken with a meal together as family and eating can continue into the night until just before sunrise the next day. Because of this “flipped day”, Muslims, when possible, sleep during the day or spend time in recreation, exercise, or visiting. The women must still cook for that “break-fast” meal. School and work hours are shortened during Ramadan because of the fast.

Tip for you: Be sensitive to your fasting friend or coworker. If possible refrain from eating, drinking, smoking in front of him/her. Invite them to break their fast with your family (it means a meal later than usual, if Ramadan is in the long summer months). Don’t miss an opportunity to join them if you’re invited to a meal in their home.2008270mnj285

Charity [Sadaqah or Saddka (Arabic: صدقة‎, plural ṣadaqāt صدقات)] and/or Alms-giving [Zakāt (Arabic: زكاة‎ )] Part of the reason for fasting is to experience the life of one poorer than you. The idea is to eat less and use the money saved to give to the poor during Ramadan. Islam has two types of charity – one is voluntary charity to the poor that is seen often during Ramadan; the other is the mandatory alms-giving, required by faithful adherents to Islam. Ramadan is sometimes the month when Muslims give their alms through their mosque(s).

Tip for you: You and your Muslim friends/colleagues may share a concern for the poor of your city or for an oppressed people group somewhere in the world. This could open a door for you to act together on behalf of those in need.

Prayers [Ṣalāt (Arabic: صلاة‎ ṣalāt; pl. صلوات ṣalawāt)] Prayers are a major tenet of the Muslim faith. During Ramadan, prayers are considered even more powerful to the faithful Muslim. Entry into Paradise can hoped to be won by Muslims through the careful attention to religious practices during Ramadan. During the last 10 days of Ramadan, a special Night of Power [Laylat al-Qadr (Arabic: لیلة القدر‎)], is believed to have even greater weight in the practicing Muslim’s pursuit of favor with God.Cairo086

Tip for you: Even if you do not usually notice your Muslim friend or coworker’s prayers, during Ramadan, you may see them praying in their homes or at their desks. The mosques in your neighborhood will be much more noticeably busy during Ramadan. Besides the usual Friday service, and the 5 regular prayer-times during the day, there are often special opportunities for Muslims to gather to pray and read and discuss the Qu’ran. Pray for them as they pray.Cairo100

God-consciousness or Piety [Taqwa (Arabic: تقوى‎ )] For many devout Muslims, Ramadan may not be so exceptional, except for the fast. Most, however, count on this month for its spiritual focus. Both men and women will have opportunities to learn more about their God and the teachings of their prophet Muhammad. The global observance of Ramadan is a galvanizing experience for Muslims, with each other, and with the history of their religion, and, their hope, with God.

Tip for you: Ramadan is an excellent time of the year to increase your own understanding of what your Muslim friends/co-workers believe. Questions about their faith are usually welcomed. Arguments about faith are not. Do your own homework about the faith issues where you may disagree with Islamic teaching. This type of information is prolific on the internet (especially related to differences in thinking between Christians and Muslims). Then you can ask or discuss the faith issues that matter most to your friends/colleagues, because during Ramadan, they have been thinking about them.Cairo094

Community [Ummah (Arabic: أمة‎)] Breaking the fast together and praying together in the mosque are clear signs of the strong bond between Muslims, especially seen during Ramadan. Christians enjoy this experience through similar celebrations (Christmas and Easter, to name two) and through their faith in Christ, bringing them into the larger Family or Kingdom of God. This Muslim observance of Ramadan, in its 30-day concentration of focus and universal religious practice, is unique to this religion.

Tip for you: For some, the community of the Islamic world, in their religious practices and political views, can be a little uncomfortable. A good reminder to self is that Islam is a religion, and Muslims are people. Whatever you agree with or disagree with, regarding the religion, needs to be separate from how you engage with the persons who identify with a certain religion. All of us need community and affiliation. So don’t be put off by the Islamic practices you see in Ramadan. Remember, the people who are fasting, praying, and trying to understand God may share very similar concerns and struggles. AND if your Muslim friend/colleague is observing Ramadan away from his family/religious community, he or she is especially isolated and could really use your friendship during this time.

Ramadan’s Festival Day(s) [Eid ul-Fitr (Arabic: عيد الفطر‎)] – at the end of this month’s fasting and praying – in a future blog.

Muslim Website on Getting the Most Benefit Out of Ramadan

YouTube Video – Iftar (Breaking the Fast) Ramadan 2015 Around the World

YouTube Video – Ramadan | Month of Mercy | Almarai Emotional Commercial

Breaking Fast with Family – English Subtitles – Coca-Cola Commercial – Strong Message of Perceived Power of Month of Ramadan in Changes of Heart

Short Public Service Announcement on Breaking the Fast & Family Time Together After

Breaking the Fast – Ramadan Subway Commercial – You Don’t Have to Know the Language to Appreciate the Message

California Muslim Teens Explaining Ramadan

A Morality Tale (Ramadan Pepsi/Lays Potato Chip Commercial) on the pull of society on Muslim Youth & How Ramadan Holds Family Together

What Growing Up in a Muslim Country Taught Us About Ramadan – Another Author’s View

Glossary of Islamic (Arabic) Terms for the Month of Ramadan

Arabic Words & English Transliteration