Tag Archives: Tacky Light Tour

5 Friday Faves – Advent Readings, Beyond the Guitar, Preventing Type 2 Diabetes, Family Hospitality, and Christmas Outings

It’s Friday, and the first day of Advent this year of our Lord 2017. My plan is to stretch and savor every single day of this December. I won’t write about every one of those days, but hope to be present in each. Mentally, emotionally, spiritually. No sad memories, regrets, wishing something to be that probably won’t be will sully this bright beautiful series of days. So there’s my hope. Care to share yours?

Following are my 5 favorite finds of this week, culled from so many. Hope you enjoy and please share yours in Comments…for our delight.

1) Advent Readings – I love the daily moments of reflection on Advent (“coming” of Christ) and wrote about it here. If I can be so bold, it’s worth a read today. Resource choices abound for reading and listening on these 25 (oops….24) days to Christmas.

Advent – Welcoming the Savior at Christmastime – Holding a Place for His Coming – Deb Mills Writer

John Piper has taken his Advent readingsGood News of Great Joy – and put them on podcasts. I’m starting those today.Photo Credit: iDisciple

As well as other readings (see that previous blog) in these days I’m determined to seize and savor.

Not celebrate?

Your burden is too great to bear?
Your loneliness is intensified during this Christmas season?
Your tears have no end?

Not celebrate?

You should lead the celebration!
You should run through the streets
to ring the bells and sing the loudest!
You should fling the tinsel on the tree,
and open your house to your neighbors, and call them in to dance!
For it is you above all others who know the joy of Advent.
It is unto you that a Savior is born this day,
One who comes to lift your burden from your shoulders,
One who comes to wipe the tears from your eyes.
You are not alone,
for He is born this day to you.Ann Weems

2) Beyond the Guitar – Nathan’s latest arrangement – a lovely piece from the videogame Final Fantasy X – feels like Christmas. Enjoy To Zanarkand! Looking forward to more Christmasy arrangements from this guy this month.

YouTube Video – Final Fantasy X: To Zanarkand – Classical Guitar Cover – Beyond the Guitar

3) Preventing Type 2 Diabetes – If there is a way to prevent Type 2 diabetes, I want to try. I’ve watched this disease chip away at the health of too many. Sugar is the culprit, I believe. We all love its intoxicant qualities…the anticipation of eating a sugar-laden food and the memory of the experience which cycles back to anticipation of the next experience (I’m that way with my morning cup of coffee as well). Dealing with our sugar dependence isn’t easy nor simple.Photo Credit: Flickr

However, it is doable…if we want to prevent pre-diabetes…and we want to live longer than diabetes will allow us.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

A fascinating podcast with nutrition science journalist Gary Taubes will encourage and empower you – he’s not just another trend-setting diet guru either:

Is Sugar Slowly Killing Us? My conversation with Gary Taubes

Is Sugar Slowly Killing Us – My Conversation with Gary Taubes – Podcast – Shane Parrish of Farnam Street

Don’t Wait Until You Have Diabetes to Make Lifestyle Changes

4) Family Hospitality – Holiday seasons lend themselves to company of various configurations, coming and going, all space to land and food. I love gathering folks together. When our children were growing up and we were overseas, it wasn’t always their preference the enormous numbers of people who came and went from our home. Still they dealt with their parents with grace, most of the time, and we learned gradually to respect their own need for space, for quiet, and for our undivided attention. It was a family process and we all grew through it. I highly recommend exercising hospitality as a family…with everyone involved in some capacity and tempered by the stage and age of family members.

Photo Credit: MaxPixel

Lisa Chan has written a beautiful defense of hospitality in family. It’s entitled “Would You Let a Stranger Live with You? Laying Aside the Fear of Hospitality”. Not all of us would live as Lisa and Francis Chan live – but there is much to learn from them on loving outside our comfort zone.

5) Christmas Outings – Last night I had the pleasure of participating in an international potluck supper. My car was packed with a dear Sudanese family who I’ve grown to know and love in the process of helping the mom with her English in trying to find a job. We had so much fun eating foods from various cultures, meeting new friends, and watching the kids play games together. We drove by some of the Christmas light displays on the way back to their apartment. This is the kind of experience that truly starts the clock for Christmas. The images that follow depict some of the not-to-miss experiences for us in our part of Virginia: Lewis Ginter GardenFest, Maymont Victorian Holidays, VCU Holiday Gala, Henrico Christmas Mother, Busch Gardens Christmas Town, and the Tacky Light Tour – complete with family, neighbors, and friends (old and new).

That’s it for this week. Would love for you to subscribe to this blog if you haven’t already, and would love to have you share your favorite finds from this week (Comments below). In the meantime, as you take in all the brilliance and wonder of this season…be safe and gentle with yourself and each other.

Bonuses:

YouTube Video – Selling a 1996 Honda Ad – hilarious!

YouTube Video – CarMax Response to Above Video – brilliant!

7 Powerful Ways How to Give Yourself Permission to Be Happy – Lolly Daskal

Hardcore History Podcast – Hours long – fascinating – for your Christmas car rides

Estate Cleanouts – Checklist – Legacy Navigator

5 Friday Faves – Thanksgiving Edition – the Gathering, Family Recipes, Table Talk, Living Room Sprawls, and Thanksgiving Day Naps

It’s Friday! The day after Thanksgiving. Otherwise known as Black Friday, the biggest shopping day in the US. Personally, I try not to even enter a store on this day. If you did, then you’re in better shape with your Christmas gift-buying than I am, so congratulations. For me, just one more day of Thanksgiving reflections. Another day of being thankful to God for this life…and for traditions that help us hold tight to each other…in the best of ways.

1) The Gathering – Our celebration of American Thanksgiving always involves some sort of gathering. When children grow up and start their own families, we parents are obliged to share them with their greater extended families on various holidays. I’m very thankful for the inlaws/in-loves I inherited through marrying Dave and we’re also thankful for our children’s inlaws. Whatever configuration you had this week, either for Thanksgiving Day or another occasion this week, I hope you had sweet times.

2) Family Recipes – It’s all about the food, right? My mom-in-law lavishes many lovely traditions on us with each holiday. One yummy one is her strawberry salad (a dessert, disguised as salad) served with the meal instead of after it. This year, we had Thanksgiving at home instead of at MomMom’s. Our youngest son Daniel followed her recipe and served up that dish of goodness, full of sweet memories for us. Also on our table this year was my mom’s turkey dressing and a sweet Southern cornbread from our daughter-in-law’s grandmother’s recipe.

The dilemma is when the recipe is a bit sketchy…as in this video below (so reminded me of how my mom cooked – a little bit of this and a little bit of that…to perfection).

Do you have any favorite family recipes you’d be willing to share? Even if it’s just the story? Please! In Comments below.

3) Table Talk – With so many around the table, the conversation is never dull. There’s always some variation of the theme of “what are you thankful for” – and then we turn to topics as varied as the feast spread before us. We hear about new girlfriends, new babies, new jobs, etc., etc. Always fascinating and occasionally we learn something outside of the good news category. This time, I learned about this thing called net neutrality. It’s defined as the principle that Internet service providers must treat all data on the Internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication.

Photo Credit: Flickr, Electronic Frontier Foundation

Basically, in the U.S., we have been able to access any type data we choose (whether it’s live-streaming, or an online game community, or an uploaded video of your nephew’s Christmas program). What puts net neutrality in the news is that the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is moving to deregulate the internet such that internet service providers can have more say in their treatment of data. We may have to pay more for some services, internet speed could be affected, and we might not have the final say on what is available to us (data-wise). It’s an interesting issue because there’s big money companies on both sides.

My husband and I were talking about it today as to what the motives would be on wanting net neutrality vs. wanting to get rid of it. He brought up the issue of privacy and how willing we are to give up personal information over the internet. Right now, for instance, Facebook is free…or is it? Dave quoted someone in regards to this:

“If something is free, you are the product.” Are the internet service providers after our money or our information  (personal data)? It is one or the other. Later this month the FCC will make their decision, and we’ll see what comes out of the loss of net neutrality…if that happens. What are your thoughts?

What Happens When ‘Net Neutrality’ Rules Bite the Dust? – Tali Arbel

A Primer: Just What Is Net Neutrality – and Why All the Fuss? [Here’s What You Need to Know About the Fight for an Open Internet] – BillMoyers.com Staff

A Net Neutrality Primer: Should the Internet Be Regulated Like Ma Bell? – Ryan Radia and Jessica Melugin

Net Neutrality – Why Are Americans So Worried About It Being Scrapped? – Alex Hern

4) Living Room Sprawls – After we leave the dinner table, and the dishes are washed and food put away, it’s find a place to sprawl in the living room. Either for a football game or a nap (see #5).

What favorite activity do you have besides those I listed? A walk outside? Table games? Talking family history with the old ones? Playing with the babies?

One activity I would love to add to Thanksgiving is singing around the piano. We do that at Christmas time, but the video below, by People and Songs, below got me excited about pulling folks together to sing at other times of the year as well.

People & Songs – Revelation Song – FB Live living room

Hear this popular worship song like you've NEVER heard before! Eight distinct voices worshipping God in a living room!

Posted by Sean Carter on Tuesday, November 14, 2017

YouTube Video – People & Songs – Revelation – FB Live Living Room

5) Thanksgiving Day Naps – My husband has a gift for naps. Not just after a big meal. He is one of those work hard/play hard kind of guys, and when he finally sits down…sleep can quickly overtake him.

It’s sweet to watch…until I, too, nod off.

Also, by the way, it turns out that tryptophan, the supposed sleep-inducing culprit in turkey, is actually found as much in chicken as in turkey…so tryptophan is not the agent bringing on sleep every Thanksgiving Day. What causes us to sleep after dinner this day – the HUGE carbohydrate load, right? Something along the order of 3000 calories in one meal for most of us. Makes me sleepy just thinking about it.

YouTube Video – Does Turkey Make You Sleepy? – Dr. Daniel Barone

Verify: Does Turkey Make You Sleepy? – Abigail Curran

Now that Thanksgiving is properly celebrated it’s on to Christmas! Cranking up the radio for 24/7 Christmas music! Just heard Josh Wilson’s Jesus Is Alive for the first time today. One of these days, our son Nathan (Beyond the Guitar) will hopefully acquiesce to our badgering for a classical guitar Christmas album…so stay tuned. Also on the weekend post-Thanksgiving, Christmas lights seem to magically appear on houses all around this city (see Tacky Light Tour). How about yours?

Bonus: The Dennehy Family (here in Virginia)- “Family Is Adoption.”

Loving Parents Adopted 9 Special Needs Children

‘That Armless Guy’: Guitarist George Dennehy’s Inspirational Journey

5 Friday Faves – Millennials, Christmas Lights, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, “a Good Man is Hard to Find”, and a Christmas Album

Blog - Friday Faves

Happy Friday! Hope you’ve had a sweet week in the crazy of December…snatching some quiet moments from all the loud. Here are my favorite finds for this week:

  1. Millennials –  Mat Luschek’s Millennials at Work offers a quick and thoughtful read on our workplace, especially as it is changing or must change. “Millennials will outnumber the Boomers in the workplace this year.” So what are they looking for in a job? The paycheck is still important, for sure, but also import is the work culture. Luschek describes 4 areas that are especially engaging for millennials: 1) Flexibility, 2) Coaches not managers (as a Boomer I favor that as well), 3) Boredom at a minimal), and 4) Collaboration & Leadership. Fascinating read. Bottom line for all of us in the workplace is that what’s good for these millennials is good for us as well…maybe, we just didn’t consider pressing for it.Blog - Millenials - bpnews.netPhoto Credit: BPNews.net

2. Christmas Lights – Previously I wrote about Richmond’s Tacky Light Tour. Christmas lights in our own neighborhood are lovely as well, especially when we know the folks inside. Our neighborhood is an old one tucked into an ancient forest. In the yard light displays around us, there are few nativities. Christmas lights here are more whimsical than worshipful…still they warmly light the cold winter nights, and invite us in to the home of a friend.Blog - Neighborhood Christmas Lights2015 December - Christmas Community Group, Tacky Light Tour 0042015 December - Christmas Community Group, Tacky Light Tour 011Sometimes, neighbors are “best-in-show” Tacky Light Tour participants. All you have to do is walk down the street and enjoy them. Not our neighbors, but friends of ours. So fun!2015 December - Christmas Community Group, Tacky Light Tour 080

3. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)Mayo Clinic defines PTSD as “a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event…if the symptoms get worse or last for months or even years and interfere with your functioning, you may have PTSD. Getting effective treatment after PTSD symptoms develop can be critical to reduce symptoms and improve function.”

We often think of PTSD as a post-war calamity of our military veterans. There are also others among us who suffer from the smoldering aftermath of a tragedy (either a single event or years of abuse). PTSD can be very damaging to the person suffering from it and those who love them.

Dr. Brad Hambrick is the counseling pastor on staff at Summit Church, Durham, N. C. He has produced a video series on PTSD which I found very helpful recently in dealing with the PTSD of a friend.   He also makes available his seminar notebook on the subject, free of charge. You can request a copy from Summit’s counseling office at counseling@summitrdu.com. Whether you are a Christ-follower or not, this video series and notes will help you understand PTSD better and give you steps to deal with it.Blog - Brad Hambrick - PTSD

Photo Credit: BradHambrick.com

4) “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” – Ashlin Horne’s They Say a Good Man Is Hard to Find may not be at all what you’re thinking. No pity party for one here. She handles a sometimes hurtful subject so sensitively. As I read her blog, it felt like sitting with coffee across from a good friend. You women (AND men) will want to read this and pass it on to others. Following is just a bit of it: Men are not God. If there’s one thing I’d like to tattoo on the arms of girls everywhere it’s that truth. They will not heal you. They are not your redemption. I think it’s time to stop loading up the shoulders of the good men in our lives, or the ones we’ve yet to meet, with expectations that only God can fulfill.” Read on, Loves.Blog - Good Men - Ashlin Horne - vine.coPhoto Credit: Vine.co

5) Latest Favorite Christmas Album – David Crowder Band’s Oh For Joy. This album is a rowdy mix of Christmas standards arranged as only Crowder does it. It was released in 2011 before the original David Crowder Band “disbanded”, and it’s a “must-own”.  My favorite track on the album is the last song. Here’s Sarah Fine’s description of it: As amazing as this album as this is, the true standout track is the final song on the record. Another live Passion recording, the band puts their stamp on what has quickly become one of this generations most beloved holiday songs, Trans Siberian Orchestra’s “Carol Of The Bells / Christmas in Sarajevo.” The song starts off with a brief introduction from David, stating that Christmas doesn’t technically end till Epiphany on Jan. 6. Spoken in a way only he could master, the intro leads directly into one of the best versions of this song I’ve heard since the Orchestra recorded it themselves. Dare I say, this version might even be better. If there ever was ever a way to end a Christmas album with a bang, this would be it.” The YouTube video of this song follows.Blog - David Crowder Band Christmas - Oh For JoyPhoto Credit: Amazon.com

What are some of your favorites of late? Would love to hear about them in the Comments. Make it your own kind of special weekend.

5 Friday Faves – New Duo, In Defense of Christmas Cheer, Christmas PlayList, Introverts & Extroverts, and the Tacky Light Tour

Blog - Friday Faves

  1. New Duo – The Tide Rose, Richmond, Virginia.  Whitney Cavin and Keilan Creech have just debuted with a new EP, The Tide Rose. They have been lighting up TV, radio, and the music events calendar in Richmond recently.  You can see/hear them play here on video from their appearance on Virginia This Morning. I don’t really know how to describe their sound – nautical folk is the phrase used. You will have to listen yourself. We have known Keilan for many years. He recorded a solo EP awhile back (Dying for a Change) with our son, Nathan Mills on guitar. Now, his collaboration with Whitney Cavin is very new and lovely. Their voices weave together so soulfully. Hard to describe really – hauntingly beautiful. Take a listen. Maybe you’ll get to say, “I knew them when.” That’s where we are happy to be. Blog - Friday Faves - The Tide RosePhoto Credit: Facebook.com/thetiderose

2) In Defense of Christmas Cheer – I love Trevin Wax. He is a young theologian, a prolific writer, and regular guy. His blog is only one of two I read every day (the other belonging to Angela).  Trevin’s In Defense of Christmas Cheer was an uncharacteristic “Bah, Humbug!” of another writer theologian (Scott McKnight)’s redress of current Christmas culture. McKnight ‘s blog is also a worthy read.Blog - Five Faves - Trevin Wax - Christmas Cheer - thegospelcoalition.orgPhoto Credit: thegospelcoalition.org

Here are quotes from both (do read them in full – they bring beautiful balance to the whole Christian conversation about Christmas):

“Telling the world about Jesus as Messiah and family under threat is is not Starbucks’ job; it is the church’s mission to to be announcing this at Christmas. But it is not the church’s mission to tell the world a Dickens Christmas story. It is the church’s mission to tell the real story about Christmas, about a God who entered into the world in a socially shamed family in order to lift the socially shamed to the highest name ever. I can’t imagine Starbucks telling that story well.” – Scott McKnight

“Joy and singing and big family dinners and giving and receiving and caring for the poor” may not be what the original Christmas was all about, but it’s certainly part of Christianity as an atmosphere, is it not? And no one succeeded at creating “atmosphere” better than Dickens.

Should we not marvel that even in our increasingly secular age people still sing carols packed with biblical truth every year? ‘Joy to the world,’ indeed. Should we not marvel that in a world of broken homes that big family dinners still take place? That reunions still happen, and that people put aside their differences to share a meal? Should we not marvel that, in a dog-eat-dog world of competition run by the evolutionary motto of ‘survival of the fittest,’ our culture devotes time to running ‘to and fro giving and receiving and caring for the poor?’ 

Christianity is not generosity, but generosity is part of Christianity. Who knows? Perhaps when caught up in the moment of cultural gratitude, the secular heart may long for Someone to thank.

The Dickens vision of Christmas does not take away from the truth, but complements it. ‘Tis the season for joy and feasting!” – Trevin Wax

3) Christmas Playlist – We start listening to Christmas music in October, but the playlist doesn’t really happen until now. In my car, I have the following albums: 1) Amy Grant’s A Christmas Album (Tennessee Christmas has been a favorite song since our years in Tennessee – still miss it); 2) Tommy Emmanuel’s All I Want for Christmas (we are a guitar family – Nathan Mills); 3) Mannheim Steamroller’s A Fresh Aire Christmas 1988; 4) Straight No Chaser’s Holiday Spirits (we also love a cappella); 5) Twila Paris’ It’s the Thought; 6) Kenny G’s Miracles – The Holiday Album; 7) Casting Crowns’ Peace on Earth; 8) Positively Christmas 2012; 9) Steven Curtis Chapman’s The Music of Christmas; and 10) Sarah MacLachlan’s Wintersong.

Blog - Friday Faves - Christmas Songlist

Photo Credit: xgiosiax.blogspot.com

I need to add Charlie Brown Christmas to my car play for Christmas.  Two singles I love and hear a plenty on the radio through December (and via YouTube videos) are Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You and The Drifters’ White Christmas.

4) Introverts and ExtrovertsJennifer Kahnweiler is a champion for introverts. Author of The Genius of Opposites and The Introverted Leader she is a help to all of us. As an extrovert married to an introvert, and working with many as well, I appreciate her writing so much. We can make such a difference at work and home if we understand each other and make an environment where we can all be effective and comfortable together. Here’s a short piece from her with a very amusing video. Love my introverts!Blog - Friday Faves - Jennifer Kahnweiler - Introvert Extrovert leaderPhoto Credit: RedCapeRevolution.com

Bonus: John Platt’s An Introvert’s Guide to Leadership (fast read!)

5) Tacky Light Tour – Every town and city in the US, from Thanksgiving weekend through the New Year have light displays that brighten our winter nights. None can possibly compare with Richmond, Virginia’s Tacky Light Tour. It’s an annual tradition for us. We plan out an itinerary (impossible to take in all the displays in a sane evening) and often squeeze into several vehicles to caravan around the city. “Ooh’s and aah’s”, “selfies”, and “usies” abound as we document the fun of these evenings. Incredible work and creativity go into these displays and we as spectators are wildly grateful. It’s always a temptation to rent a limousine (but…not yet. I still prefer the low luxury version of the Tacky Light Tour. You will not be disappointed. What’s your favorite local equivalent?Blog - Friday Faves - Tacky Light Christmas TourBlog - Stella, Junko, Christie - Tacky Light Christmas TourBlog - Friday Faves - Stella & Junko - Tacky Light Christmas TourBlog - Friday Faves - Tacky Light Christmas Tour

Happy (Black) Friday, Everybody! Be safe out there.