Category Archives: Character

Worship Wednesday – Broken Things [Beautifully Restored]- Matthew West

Photo Credit: Heartlight

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2:4-10

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”1 Corinthians 1:27-29

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”Hebrews 12:2-3

We hear the word broken almost daily – in descriptions of our world, a government, a system. Also on a more personal note: a marriage, a family, a friend. Maybe we’ve even used the word to describe some part of our own selves. Broken doesn’t have to be forever. My parents grew up in the Great Depression’s years of deep poverty. You didn’t throw anything away. Broken could always be fixed. In fact, even when not restored, sometimes broken things could still be used…well enough.

I heard this song, for the first time, today. Broken Things by Matthew West. It got me thinking about my own brokenness. Some things are obvious – weaknesses, timidities, and flaws of all sorts. Other things in my life I’ve probably done a good job of concealing, or deceiving myself that I have.

It doesn’t really matter in the end. What matters is what we do with our brokenness. Those things in our lives we consider broken are not a problem for God. He is a master re-shaper of broken. He turns those parts of us into some beautiful and good and even glorifying to Himself.

Matthew West describes the message behind the song Broken Things:

“We all have brokenness in our lives. Whether it’s a broken dream, a broken relationship, or just a broken piece of ourselves that we carry around. But God uses broken things. That’s what this song is about. It’s a reminder that God doesn’t look for perfection, He looks for a heart that’s willing to be used.

Photo Credit: Quote Addicts

Worship Wednesday – From Bitterness to Brokenness – Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God – Deb Mills

Photo Credit: Heartlight, Thomas Watson

Reflecting on brokenness takes me back to the account of Job’s life and losses. God allowed His faithful servant Job to experience such awful pain and sorrow that few (if any) of us will ever know. So devastated was Job, he was left only with a grief-weary wife and a few friends who taunted more than comforted him. Yet, Job did not turn from God. He cried out to God in his deep confusion, angry at times, grieving, complaining, trying to sort out the reasoning that brought him to the darkness of his life. God did not remove Himself from Job, nor did Job remove himself from God. In fact, God rebuked Job’s friends and told them to seek Job’s prayers for themselves to prevent God’s judgment on them. He also blessed and restored Job. [Job 42]

Some of our brokenness we can understand – consequences of our sin or that of others on us. Brokenness can also seemingly be without reason or justice. Job landed well in God alone. God was always his resting place, his sanctuary. Job knew the answers lay with a loving Father. He did not allow pride, pain, or shame keep him from the Lord. May we follow his example.

May we surrender the broken things of our lives into the hands of a God who won’t shame us for them but will restore us to be used of Him mightily here and to be kept for His kingdom forever.

Where else would we go?

Worship with me in the healing truth of Matthew’s West’s Broken Things:

If grace was a kingdom, I stopped at the gate
Thinking I don’t deserve to pass through after all the mistakes that I’ve made
Oh, but I heard a whisper as Heaven bent down
Said, “Child, don’t you know that the first will be last and the last get a crown”

[Chrous]
Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King
I wish I could bring so much more
But if it’s true You use broken things
Then here I am Lord, I’m all Yours

[Verse 2]
The pages of history they tell me it’s true
That it’s never the perfect; it’s always the ones with the scars that You use
Oh, it’s the rebels and the prodigals; it’s the humble and the weak
All the misfit heroes You chose, tell me there’s hope for sinners like me

[Chrous]
Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King
I wish I could bring so much more
But if it’s true You use broken things
Then here I am Lord, I’m all Yours
I’m all Yours

[Outro]
Grace is a kingdom with gates open wide
There’s a seat at the table just waiting for you
So, come on inside
*

*Lyrics to Broken Things – Songwriters: Matthew West, A.J. Pruis, Jason Houser

What Does the Bible Say About Brokenness? – Got Questions

God Uses Broken People – 4 Reasons God Uses the Weak to Do Amazing Things – Diane Shirlaw-Ferreira

Scorning Its Shame – Adam Moran

Scorning the Shame – The Disciple-Making Parent

Photo Credit: Heartlight, Lanny Henninger

Monday Morning Moment – Staying Curious & Leading Children to Be So

Photo Credit: UVA Today

We were born curious. Little children asking “Why?” over and over again. Wanting to know, to understand, to shine light on this great big world of ours.

“Curiosity is the very basis of education and if you tell me that curiosity killed the cat, I say only the cat died nobly.”Arnold Edinborough

As we get older, we get comfortable with what we know. Our sense of wonder too often flattens into the daily routine. We have occasional forays into a trending pursuit, or we hunker down for a time to develop a new skill. Can we call those activities and intentionalities curiosity?

Curiosity comes out of a desire to understand those around us and the world we share.

“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.”Roy T. Bennett, Compassionate Curiosity – Asking Good Questions

Curiosity communicates caring. As we fix our gaze on another person and ask the questions needed to actually get to know them, we show genuine interest. That interest draws the other person into a space of belonging…of belonging with us. Curiosity about the world, beyond the person, fills us with wonder.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.”Albert Einstein, —”Old Man’s Advice to Youth: ‘Never Lose a Holy Curiosity.'” LIFE Magazine (2 May 1955) p. 64”

What happens to us as we grow up? Do children lose their sense of curiosity and can it be regained? Yes and yes. Be curious yourself about the children around you. Have they already shrunk their worlds into a small group of friends and a few preferred activities? Do they find people intriguing and nature wholly fascinating? Are they open to being a part of a larger community…one that is multi-generational and multi-cultural?

Recently I came across an Instagram post by Ian Simkins. As you swipe left, across several screens, Simkins talks about the curiosity of children and what happens as we get older. Before I can really impress upon my grandchildren to be more curious, I have to practice it myself.

Jeffrey Davis, a researcher and business consultant, gives us a compelling look at curiosity as a key to belonging:

Curiosity is the proactive facet of wonder that spurs us to question the way things are and our desire to learn or know. Curiosity propels us to become more engaged in new experiences, seek novel perspectives, and—especially important—connect with other human beings in more enriching and meaningful ways.

As much as we’re wired to crave belonging, we’re also wired for bias...which is why we naturally gravitate toward people who look like us, share similar views, or come from similar backgrounds. It’s also why we pursue things that are comfortable, familiar, and reinforce our existing beliefs.

In short, our brain unconsciously sizes people up as friends or foes to keep us safe, inadvertently closing us off from the connections we so desperately need. But when we allow wonder and curiosity to take the wheel, we can break out of our bias boxes, and often, we’re much happier for it.

  • Strike up a conversation with a stranger.
  • Lead with questions out of genuine curiosity.
  • Share experiences of wonder.

By leveraging wonder and igniting your curiosity, you can build more authentic connections, deepen your relationships, and improve your mental and physical well-being.

Photo Credit: Walt Whitman, QuoteFancy

I want to challenge us to stay curious. To show genuine care for others. To practice life-long learning about our world and the people who populate it.

Then, we can model curiosity and care to our children…coaxing them into the wonder that surrounds us. Taking it all in with gratitude…because we don’t necessarily deserve the goodness in our lives, but we have it just the same…curiously. Wonder at that for a bit!

Curiosity: Why It Matters, Why We Love It and How to Get It Back – Christy Geiger – Excellent resource and fast read. Don’t miss this one!!!

Six Surprising Benefits of Curiosity – Emily Campbell

Curiosity and Compassion: Your Super Powers for Emotional and Mental Well-Being – Kelly Hine

Curious About Curiosity? Professor Studies How Children Learn – Anna Katherine Clay, UVA Today

Why Curious People Have Better Relationships – Jill Suttie

Be Curious, Not Judgmental – a Leadership Lesson From Ted Lasso – Connie Whittaker Dunlop

Curiosity as a Moral Virtue – Elias Baumgarten

Why We Should Be Curious About Each Other – Lisa Bortolotti and Kathleen Murphy-Hollies

Photo Credit: Slideshare, The Art of Powerful Questions

Worship Wednesday – These Days – Jeremy Camp

Photo Credit: Faith Chapel

“Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”Esther 4:14

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”Jeremiah 29:11-13

For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good purpose. Do all things without grumbling or disputing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world.Philippians 2:13-15

Singer/songwriter Jeremy Camp‘s song These Days first came to my awareness last week when it was playing on our Christian radio station (WPER). I searched for it on YouTube after stopping the car, and it wasn’t even posted yet. Nor could you find the lyrics anywhere. It was that new. Finally, it’s now posted. For such a time as this. The lyrics, simple but profound, stopped me in my tracks. He sings of us being born “in just the right place, at just the right time”. He encourages the listener not to be afraid because “maybe we were made for these days”.

When you think about it, of course, we were made for these days!

It’s how God does things. In the US, 2024 is an election year. No matter what side people politically align, everyone is squaring their shoulders in some sort of aggressive or protective maneuver. We measure the events of our world and the people attached to those events and we make the judgment: “You’re either for us or against us.” We as Christians may enlarge that to “for God, or against God”.

There is much more at work here…but much of it lies under the surface, or maybe even in the heavenlies.

Photo Credit: Heartlight

What is going on in our world today changes absolutely nothing about God’s promises, His claims, and His calling in our lives. He means for us to trust Him and to walk by faith in Him.

I’m often drawn to Paul’s passage to the persecuted church in Rome (Romans 5:1-5):

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Whatever news reports come to our attention, whatever doomsday commentary seems true, whatever terror feels too close by, we as followers of Christ are to respond in faith. Not in ourselves, or our country, but in Christ alone. We reach out in compassion to those in need, we pray for our country and others, we encourage one another with what is true, and we walk in faith, daily obedient to His Word, through the power of the Holy Spirit. To God be the glory!

Jeremy Camp gives the story behind his song: “I remember writing this and just thinking about what’s going on in our society — a lot of the chaos that’s going on and a lot of the fear. A lot of people are feeling like, ‘Why am I here? What’s my purpose? Why was I born at this time?’ [Like] Esther, back in the Old Testament, where it says she was born at ‘such a time as this’ to stand up for her people, God has given us a purpose and a reason for being here. I really do want to encourage you God has you here for a reason. He doesn’t make mistakes. He has a plan and a purpose for you. You were born for such a time as this to truly be a light in a dark world.”for K-Love Radio with Lindsay Williams

Worship with me.

These days my heart’s always on the run

These days the world’s spinning out of control

Ooh-ohh

These days are fast and they’re furious

Feels like the worst is ahead of us

Ooh-ohh

Ooh-ohh

Sometimes it’s hard to feel at home, but

I believe that you and I

Are in the right place, at the right time

God called us by name

And He doesn’t make mistakes

I know we were born to shine bright

In a dark world that needed some light

Don’t have to be afraid

Maybe we were made for these days

Maybe we were made for these days

What if the beauty isn’t crushed?

It just needs the hope that’s inside of us

Ooh-ohh

Ooh-ohh

What if it’s more than a destiny?

What if we’re part of a masterpiece?

Ooh-ohh

Ooh-ohh

Until our father brings us home

I believe that you and I

Are in the right place, at the right time

God called us by name

And He doesn’t make mistakes

I know we were born to shine bright

In a dark world that needed some light

Don’t have to be afraid

Maybe we were made for these days

Maybe we were made for these days

To stand when it gets hard

To love with open arms

It’s something to embrace

Maybe we were made for these days

I believe that you and I

Are in the right place, at the right time

God called us by name

And He doesn’t make mistakes

I know we were born to shine bright

In a dark world that needed some light

Don’t have to be afraid

Maybe we were made for these days

Maybe we were made for these days.*

Postscript: Even in the hard, God gives us reason to rejoice and live in a deep peace and steady hope. In YouTube’s recommendation column (beside Camp’s song above), I discovered Lauren Daigle‘s song “These Are the Days”. Very different to Jeremy Camp’s song, but…still thought-provoking and riveting. In Lauren’s story about the song, she wrote the lyric in the excitement post-COVID of returning to the stage, but greater still, Christ’s return being on the horizon. In her song of jubilation, this lyric stands out: “If it’s not good, then it’s not over!”. It reminded me of Hastings’ lyric in last week’s Worship Wednesday: “Then if You’re not done workin’, God, I’m not done waiting.”

We, as believers, have more reason than ever, in hard and confusing times, to wait on the Lord. To look, in readiness, to our Deliverer and our Conqueror…to the exquisite Lover of our souls. Hallelujah!

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
    and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.

19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
    and his kingdom rules over all. – from David’s Psalm 103

*Lyrics to “These Days” – Songwriter: Jeremy Camp

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Monday Morning Moment – Hall-of-Famers and What Makes Them So

[One of the W-3 Huddles – staff retreat for Holston Valley Hospital’s W-3 cancer nurses]

What is it that distinguishes an individual or group and sets them apart from all the rest?

I’ve had the privilege of working with such folks from time to time through my life. In the late 80s-early 90s, it was a group of nurses in Kingsport, Tennessee. We had moved there as young marrieds after Dave finished his Ph.D. for him to start work as a research chemist at Tennessee Eastman Chemical Company. I left my job as professor in the nursing program at Yale University to find my way into a tight medical community. People were kind, but it would take awhile for me to prove that I had something to offer.

The nurses on 3rd Floor Wilcox Hall of Holston Valley Hospital, in those days, were a rare collection of capable and caring women. We all know the adage about working smarter, not harder. They worked both smart and hard. I was honored just to help in whatever way I could as they shouldered heavy patient loads with stressed families to care for as well.

They were funny, scrappy, no-nonsense, determined, and loving. It’s been almost 30 years since our days together, but I will never forget them (and others of whom I don’t have pictures).

L to R: Nurses – Nan Ritchie, Kay Mitchell, Debbie Seymore Shields, Chris Blue

Just this weekend, I was on a long, refreshing phone conversation with Kay Mitchell. She, Kathy Visneski, and I worked closely together during those W-3 days. Kay was nurse manager, Kathy a nurse educator, and I was clinical nurse specialist. We dreamed, planned, and executed programming, support, and training for some of the best nurses we would ever know.

Kathy and I led a support group for cancer survivors and their families. Part of its success was the trust these folks had in the care they received during the times when the cancer was new and raw, and for some, when it would finally take them. The W-3 nurses would be wholly there for them in every season.

[in conversation during Take Time…to Help to Heal cancer support group]
[an activity from the Take Time…to Help to Heal support group]

Love Your Neighbor – Cancer Support – How It’s Done Well – Deb Mills

In our phone call, Kay told me a story. A few months back she had a knee replacement surgery. Years of nursing, like with many professions, are hard on our knees. As she was “ambulated” – being walked in the hall shortly after surgery, she was in the company of nursing friends who’d come to see her. Friends from the era we shared. Like Kay, they had gotten older (it is odd how we get older but still, with each other, feel the full vigor of life shared in the workplace). It must have been a sight, this nurse “patient” and her friends filling the hall, walking slowly together, in conversation and encouragement. A physical therapist observing them captured the scene with the word, “Hall-of-Famers”. These women who were known and, as it should be, revered.

Kathy Visneski & Dr. Chip Helms, Radiation Oncologist
L to R: Nurses Chris Blue, Ruth Couch, Kathy Visneski, Volunteer Sherry Weaver
Amy Thacker, Chemo Nurse
Sherri Rogers, Nurse Manager

So how do people become “hall-of-famers”? What made these women…and other men and women like them…notable? Remembered with tremendous fondness and honor.

Here’s what I think. It was their servant leadership. Whether staff nurses or nurse managers, they led with excellence and a serving heart.

The phrase “servant leadership” is not new, but it is more than just a prescriptive or descriptive style of leading. Such a leader, as described by Collins and Collins, is “‘compelled by an unshakeable desire to serve’. Leaders who lack that core belief are not servant leaders but rather using servant leadership practices among the many in their toolkits. Notice we are not describing a servant but a servant leader. Servants generally don’t have a choice, but a servant leader, through humility, chooses to put others first…Leaders who do this well focus on where they can bring the most value to others…When we see someone step up in a difficult situation despite the probability of failure and commit themselves wholly because it is the right thing to do, we are more likely to join with them for the long journey. The unconditional nature of serving may be the most defining quality”..of these women.

“I saw this picture today that captured so well the amazing nurse Chris Blue. I was so blessed to have had the best role models as nurses! Chris Blue, Nan Ritchie, Joan Bishop, Jane Faries, Evelyn Parker, Kathy Visneski, Deb Mills, Amy Thacker, Ruth Couch, and Cynthia Wright to name a few. This picture captures the care we provided on good ole W3! Beyond blessed. So glad my roots are strong that started with this group. Brought back some amazing memories!”Teresa Bailey, 2020
Teresa Bailey

Hall-of-famers. Steadfast. Hard-working. Resilient. Intelligent. Caring. Full of life and love.

Who are the hall-of-famers in your life? Maybe you share your workload with some of these wonders. Please comment, if you’d like, about your experience with hall-of-famers. Maybe you are one…or on your way to becoming one. Thank you.

[A note I sent to our nurses and other cancer nurses in the region in 1994, the year we left East Tennessee]
Kathy, me, and Kay…some years later.

Worship Wednesday – Seasons – Benjamin William Hastings

[Some of our raised beds, winterized, resting and waiting their replanting]

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”Genesis 8:22

To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

[I’ve written about seasons many times. If you have time…catch them again here.]

It’s winter here. Although our garden is quiet now, the promise of Spring is still visible.

[Japanese Maple seeds]
[Daffodils coming up]

[My beloved irises pushing through. Mom’s favorite flowers, thus they are mine as well.]

Most all my life, I’ve had the pleasure of living in four-seasons places. Except for Egypt when all the seasons we knew were hot and then a little less hot. Still the beauty surrounded us there…different yet still a witness to our Creator God.

Seasons aren’t just studies in the growth cycles of plants, trees, and produce. They also mark periods in our lives. Some more fruitful than others. Some more filled with wonder and joy. Others remembered with some measure of regret and disappointment.

God is not surprised or taken aback by any of our seasons. He was there for all of it, and He loved us through every season.

A few weeks back, I heard the northern Irish singer/songwriter Benjamin William Hastings for the first time. He was one of the songwriters on “So Will I”. His song “Seasons” is a beautiful description of what it is like to be patient in our seasons, both with ourselves and with our God.

“You’re the God of seasons, I’m just in the winter
If all I know of harvest is that it’s worth my patience
Then if You’re not done workin’, God, I’m not done waiting.”

Whatever your present season, keep tilling the soil of your life (and that of your children), keep counting on God’s promises, keep trusting Him for the harvest. “Like a seed, believe that my (your) season will come.”

Worship with me.

Like the frost on a rose
Winter comes for us all
Oh, how nature acquaints us
With the nature of patience
So like a seed in the snow
I’ve been buried to grow
For Your promise is loyal
From seed to sequoia
I know

[Chorus]
Though the winter is long, even richer
Is the harvest it brings
And though my waiting prolongs, even greater
Is Your promise for me, like a seed
I believe that my season will come

So like the low winter sun
So it is with Your love
As I gaze, I am blinded
In the light of Your brightnеss
So like a fire to the snow
I’m rеnewed in Your warmth
Oh, melt the ice of this wild soul
Till the barren is beautiful

And I know

[Chorus]
Though the winter is long, even richer
Is the harvest it brings
And though my waiting prolongs, even greater
Is Your promise for me, like a seed
I believe that my season will come

[Bridge]
I can see the promise, I can see the future
You’re the God of seasons, I’m just in the winter
If all I know of harvest is that it’s worth my patience
Then if You’re not done workin’, God, I’m not done waiting

Well, You can see my promise even in the winter
‘Cause You’re the God of greatness, even in a manger
For all I know of seasons is that You take Your time
You could have saved us in a second, instead, You sent a child

[Chorus]
Though the winter is long, even richer
Is the harvest it brings
And though my waiting prolongs, even greater
Is Your promise for me, like a seed
I believe that my season will come
For one day, I’ll see my tree
‘Cause I believe there’s a season to come

[Outro]
Like a seed You were sown
For the sake of us all
And from Bethlehem’s soil
Grew Calvary’s sequoia, ooh-ooh-ooh
*

[Our tall maple tree and the waning winter moon]

*Lyrics to Seasons – Songwriters: Benjamin William Hastings, Ben Tan, & Chris Davenport

Worship Wednesday – Abandoned (in the Best Possible Way) – Benjamin William Hastings – Deb Mills

YouTube Video – Brandon Lake – MORE (Music Video) ft. Benjamin William Hastings, Leeland

Your Work Matters to God: Staying On Course Through Life’s Seasons – Deb Mills

Monday Morning Moment – My Take on “Braving the Wilderness” with Brené Brown

Some books you happen upon by chance. Author and researcher Brené Brown‘s Braving the Wilderness: the Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone was just such a book. I pulled it off a used book shelf at my favorite thrift shop recently and have read it twice over the last couple of weeks. Having heard her speak many years ago, and, since then, quoting her often on this blog, she has been a definite influence in my thinking. Then our culture took us all on a mad roller coaster ride, and her voice became one I stopped attending.

Until this book, published in 2017, and just now read.

Brené Brown has much studied wisdom on who we are in relationship to others. I’d like to share some of my takeaways from this little treasure of a book. [Sidebar: Not in lockstep with all her conclusions, but some are so rich and needful, I want to offer them to those of you who might not read them yourselves.]

1) Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. Brown talks about the crucial work of valuing who you are and what you bring to any community, family, or workplace.

“Even in the context of suffering—poverty, violence, human rights violations—not belonging in our families is still one of the most dangerous hurts. That’s because it has the power to break our heart, our spirit, and our sense of self-worth. It broke all three for me. And when those things break, there are only three outcomes, something I’ve borne witness to in my life and in my work: 1. You live in constant pain and seek relief by numbing it and/or inflicting it on others; 2. You deny your pain, and your denial ensures that you pass it on to those around you and down to your children; or 3. You find the courage to own the pain and develop a level of empathy and compassion for yourself and others that allows you to spot hurt in the world in a unique way. I certainly tried the first two. Only through sheer grace did I make my way to the third.”Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness: the Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone, p. 14

2) There are at least four elements of true belonging.

a. People are hard to hate close up. Move in.

b. Speak truth to bullsh*t. Be civil.

c. Hold hands. With strangers.

d. Strong back. Soft front. Wild heart.

These are chapter headings in Brown’s book Braving the Wilderness. Each could stand alone as inspiring to us in embracing how we are meant to live life. To truly belong. In community that is honoring to those around us, ourselves, and our Creator.

In a capsule, each element (or practice) speaks to the choices we make in leaning in to those both like us and not at all like us. In fact, we can see how we are doing in “braving the wilderness” – dealing with the strange and isolating sides of life – as we examine our daily habits. Am I willing to be in proximity with those different from me, those who think, speak, or act in opposition to me? With those who clearly communicate that I don’t belong. We collude with such opinions if we pull ourselves away, believing we don’t belong. We silence ourselves. We don’t show up. [I’m choosing not to hate as a daily practice and not to be counted out. Full stop.]

We can be civil. If we find ourselves in conversations filled with belittling, loathing, sarcasm, one-up-manship, then it is a sign we have bought into someone’s bullsh*t. Maybe even our own unchecked attitudes or opinions. Do we need boundaries sometimes? Sure…but if we can practice civility (even love) toward someone acting in ways that exclude or diminish us, maybe we can find a place of belonging to meet. To live with that person instead of forever without them.

The courage to take hold of strangers’ hands can open a whole new world of belonging and meaning to us. Concerts, sporting events, volunteering to aid people in need. People who link arms over something larger than themselves. Our children need us to belong and bring them along. I’m not sure if it was 9/11 or COVID or what has moved us to gather in small, tight circles. We miss out on a larger life in this way. A life full of purpose.

Brown uses the acronym “braving” in how to maneuver through whatever wilderness we find ourselves. You can see it in the image below.

Photo Credit: Brene Brown, Lanre Dahunsi

3) Strong Back. Soft Front. Wild Heart. I want to return to this element.

Brown closed her book “Braving the Wilderness” with challenge and encouragement. We can have strong backs as opposed to rigid backs. A strong back is one that is capable of carrying burdens, ours and others, without becoming rigid with unmet expectations or misunderstanding. We strengthen our backs with showing up and growing capacity for caring. The soft front comes not from looking for the negative of rejection, exclusion, or insecurity. It comes from honoring what we each bring and what we each need. A soft front encourages, empowers, and elevates. We refuse to diminish our own place at the table, nor do we push others away, because they are not like us. Something to think about. And that wild heart Brown talks about? It’s that heart we can have when we don’t believe lies or attitudes that make us feel small or overlooked or outside the circle.

“The mark of a wild heart is living out the paradox of love in our lives. It’s the ability to be tough and tender, excited and scared, brave and afraid—all in the same moment. It’s showing up in our vulnerability and our courage, being both fierce and kind.”Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness: the Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone, p. 155

The heart becomes wild, free if you will, because we believe what is truest and most beautiful about ourselves, about others, and especially about God. The world is still a wilderness, but we don’t have to be afraid.

So…those are my takeaways from this special little book, and its author’s wild heart!

Photo Credit: Anatomy Worksheets

Braving the Wilderness Companion Worksheet

Monday Morning Moment – 5 P’s of Productivity – You’ll Be Surprised

Photo Credit: Chris Bailey – YouTube

Productivity – it seems so elusive. Maybe not for you. You’ve figured it out. If success in productivity flows out of thinking about it, I’ve thought about it more than you can imagine…so many blogs on it.

Some years ago, Chris Bailey, a young productivity guru, came on my radar. He wrote this super practical guide 100 Time, Energy, and Attention Hacks to Be More Productive. It is organized in such a way that the reader can choose what parts of their day/life they want to change. He continues to write and podcast. You can find various videos with his coaching highlighted.

He helped me get jump-started, but I’m far from that focused productivity that could seriously change up my life. Still, I chip away at it. Why? To what end? The P’s below inspire me to keep at it. How about you?

1) Possibilities – Earlier today, I was walking with a friend of mine who is diving into the natural arts – gardening, canning, grinding wheat for bread, etc. I admire her and yet am overwhelmed by the effort she puts into her craft. Then she retorted, “Well, I’m not pouring into Afghan refugees.” Thanks for that. We may all have different goals, but the possibilities abound when we recapture the time, attention, and energy we need to meet and even surpass those goals. What would you love to accomplish…if only?

Monday Morning Moment – Notes on Chris Bailey’s Life of Productivity – Deb Mills

CNLP 558: John Lee Dumas on How to Work Less and Make More Money, The #1 Way to Make an Impact Online Today, And How He Grew Entrepreneur On Fire to 140 Million Downloads – Carey Nieuwhof Podcast

2) Practices – A favorite old proverb of ours goes like this: “Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.” (Proverbs 14:4). Canadian writer Tim Challies presents this proverb as a parable on productivity. That “much increase” can be enhanced by having the right tools (oxen, for instance). However, given the right tools, productivity can still be very messy. Hard to perfectly control, thus, cycling back, needing the best tools for the job. Sometimes those tools are people in our lives and workplace, and sometimes they are lists, schedules, apps, or right equipment.

It’s not working harder, and not even just working smarter, whatever that means. It’s the beautiful grind of habit formation. It’s the development of spiritual disciplines that become life-long practices. We are never too young to begin establishing such.

I make my bed every morning.

It’s a small thing but it lifts my heart. This is done and it’s beautiful.

Lately I have also begun going to bed with my phone out of reach. That means, on waking, it is still out of reach. My thoughts then are my own…not someone else’s I begin taking in, and 30 minutes later find myself still scrolling. Sheesh!

There are other practices I’m incorporating into my daily life…but for this moment, I leave you with the experts.

Photo Credit: Tim Challies, How to Get Things Done

Putting On the Brakes: A Review of John Mark Comer’s The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry – Dawn Berkelaar

Series: How to Get Things Done – Tim Challies

Monday Morning Moment – Flipping COVID Lethargy into a Larger Life Productivity – Tim Challies – Deb Mills

Photo Credit: James Clear

3) Product – As you begin habit formation, such that you are able to redeem more time, more attention, and more energy, product then begins to be impacted. What is your product? Your goal? Are you beginning to see the weight loss, your writing becoming more thoughtful, your shelves filling with wholesome canned food, your personnel engaged, your work goals realized, your college degree on the horizon?

Photo Credit: Andrea Lane, Redbooth

4) Purpose – What is the purpose for your going after your goals? If the habits you are forming are in conflict with other goals in your life, then you may need to reexamine your purpose. The “why” of your efforts. Are top performance and lifetime achievement the same or is there enough difference that you need to reevaluate? Something to consider on a regular basis. What is your purpose for all this? [See the Carey Nieuwhof podcast with Jon Acuff below – gold!]

Episode 596: Jon Acuff on The Difference Between High Performers and High Achievers, How to Make a Goal and Guarantee a Goal, and the Problem of False Humility In the Church – Carey Nieuwhof Podcast

5) People – Chris Bailey did an experiment earlier this year. He made the observation that smartphones are actually robbing us of productivity among other things (mental health, sleep, intimacy, focus…I could go on).

He decided to “come off” his smartphone (iPhone to be specific) for one month. After switching to a flip-phone, it took Chris a week to adjust to the under-stimulation of his device. Then something happened that forced him to ditch the experiment altogether before the month was over.

[5 Lessons that Chris Bailey Learned from Ditching His Smartphone for a Month – condensed version of Chris Bailey’s blog on the topic]

A cherished family member got cancer and was doing treatment updates via group iMessaging. Chris became aware that he was missing some of the messages and, in fact, his wife had begun answering for both of them. He family and friends simply began messaging solely with her, leaving him out of the circle altogether.

Being connected with people, in the way they were all accustomed, was disrupted. Face-to-face was consummately better, but he would take phone connection over no connection.

“…while modern communication methods are shallow, at the end of the day, the smartphone is how I am able to communicate with those I love in the modern world. And I love them. So I will continue to go where they are, to these lamely shallow apps that are no richer than a shadow, especially when compared to the vivid, textured reality of deep, joyous time with another human being, in real life. Maybe over coffee, maybe over drinks, maybe at a beach somewhere. Honestly, wherever—I don’t really care. As long as it’s in person.

At this point, we’re stuck with smartphones, especially considering how intertwined they are with how we communicate. Technology will continue to advance as smartphone innovation continues to plateau, and eventually, something else will take the smartphone’s place.

I look forward to this day, and hope that whatever replaces the phone doesn’t come with its own tradeoffs for our mental health and overall well-being.

The key, though, while the smartphone is with us, is to find ways to limit its downsides while making how we communicate richer.Chris Bailey

The moral of this story: don’t leave your people in the dust in the pursuit of wild wonderful goals.

In becoming more productive, do we pour that gained time, attention, and energy back into the work, skillset, hobby, or recreation? Or do we pour it into people?

As I look again at habit formation and goal-setting with these 5 P’s in view, what my hope for center stage of life is “Love God…love people.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” – Jesus, Luke 10:27

This is what inspires me to do the work of becoming more productive.

Monday Morning Moment – Focus – This Won’t Take Long – Deb Mills

50 Productivity Tips to Help You Finally Get Ahead – Infographic

Photo Credit: Productive and Free

Monday Morning Moment – Raising Adults – Part 2 – Creating a Culture of Serving – Revisited

Photo Credit: Summit Kids Academy

[Adapted from my presentation at a home-school conference – Part 1 on Raising Adults with the focus on work and responsibility can be found here.]

One of the most challenging tasks a parent has is to teach a small child how to be deferential – to respectfully give way to another, to put another first. Whew! This is a hard one. It’s not just about helping a child understand sharing. It’s our demonstrating and them seeing the value of people and taking hold of how we can serve or help them, no matter our age. Not for any reward for ourselves but just because others matter.

The battles of will that communicate “Me, me!” or “Mine, mine!” can wear us out – both parent and child.

In Part 1, we talked about work and kids’ discovery that they can make a difference. Work and exercising responsibility are their own reward. Often there is compensation, but work is a head issue – a decision made to insert ourselves into a situation for the good of all (both the worker and the larger community).

Serving is a heart issue. In the role of the server, we do ultimately benefit, but the whole focus is on the one served. Serving, by its nature, requires sacrifice, sometimes small but, even for a child, it can be substantial.

Before we dive in, let’s pray to wrap our own hearts around this. [I’m coming at this as a Christian, but this, by no means, lessens the import for those who don’t believe. The wisdom of raising adults to serve stands.]

 “Father, we want to be wholly Yours. Whatever You ask of us…we want to be ready and willing. Not only to be laborers in the Harvest, but to serve with the same heart and mind that Jesus had while He walked this earth. Humble, loving, deferential to others. A servant heart, a mind bent toward You, God, a body and life laid-down in love for others. We want to be responsible and to do good work. Teach us to take our hearts even higher…or lower as the case may be…to serve as Jesus did, in Your abundant grace. In His name. Amen.”

When we model and teach work, the mindset or worldview we communicate to our children is “Get it done and done well”. In action and attitude.

In serving, one distinctive might be the military acronym: ABCD – Above & Beyond the Call of Duty.

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross.” – Philippians 2:5-8

He has shown you, O mankind, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:3-4

What if, along with leading our children to be responsible, we created a culture of serving? What would our homes be like if our kiddos embraced serving as a good thing and something they were capable of? And not just for a jelly bean or a favorite TV show.

Photo Credit: Caring For Our Generations

Lisa Jacobson, author, encourager and mother of 8 has a lot to say about her own experience of creating a culture of serving:

I did things right. The way things should be done. Oh, and, of course, I was serving my family all the while. I was the sacrificial mom who cooked, laundered, and cleaned up after everyone. Most every job was done by me.

And, as a ‘shining model’ of service, I figured my children would eventually follow my example. It was obvious that I worked hard and did my best to please our family. So wouldn’t they just naturally follow in my footsteps? More is caught than taught, right? But you know something? They didn’t catch on like I thought they would. They really enjoyed being served…and it kind of stopped there. I was a good giver. They were good takers.” Lisa Jacobson

She then discovered how to teach her children the joy of serving others:

  • Start by letting them work [serve] alongside you.
  • Teach your children to notice what needs to be done. [This one point is so worth your time reading thus far – both in working & serving – guiding our children to see, for themselves, what needs to be done. It’s a strong beginning to winning their hearts.]
  • Let them enjoy helping out.
  • Instruct them in how they can be a help to you [and others].
  • Cheer them on as they learn to serve.

Teaching Our Children the Joy of Serving Others – Lisa Jacobson

Photo Credit: Intentional by Grace

“God does not need your good works, but your neighbor does.” – Martin Luther

Author, educator, and pastor Andy Crouch writes about our callings in life. He is speaking to Christians, but these would richly apply to anyone who believes in God as Creator.

Our three callings*:

  • To bear the image of God. [“Be fruitful & multiply.” Our human calling is inextricably linked with the family where we first found our name, language, identity, and home.]
  • To restore the image of God. [Our distinctive calling as Christians is to actively seek out the places where that image has been lost, to place ourselves at particular risk on behalf of the victims of idolatry and injustice. So in every workplace, Christians should be those who speak up most quickly, and sacrifice their own privileges most readily, for those whose image-bearing has been compromised by that organization’s patterns of neglect. In every society, Christians should be the most active in using their talents on behalf of those the society considers marginal or unworthy. In every place where the gospel isn’t known, Christians should be finding ways to proclaim Jesus as the world’s true Lord and “the image of the invisible God.”]
  • To make the most of today (contingent calling). [If you get the first two right, the third is practically an afterthought. Your third calling is your contingent calling: to make the most of today, while it is called today. “Contingent” is a word used to describe something that could be otherwise—in that sense, it’s the opposite of necessary. It’s also used to describe something that depends on something else—in that sense, it’s the opposite of independent. You are in some particular place today—maybe at school, maybe on a bus, maybe in a workplace, maybe at home. And you are there with certain resources—memory, energy, reason, attention, skill. All these are contingent. It is God within these that we must learn to discern and then serve as He leads.

[Heady topics for a 2 y/o maybe…but highly teachable concepts, as well…how would we teach and model these three callings to our little ones?]

“There is one topic that I’m extremely interested in that the writers of Scripture do not seem interested in at all—and that topic is, actually, me. I am quite interested in the expressive individual that I call me—but Scripture turns out not to be interested in me hardly at all. It is somewhat more interested in me as a member of a community, connected to one of the “nations” of the earth—but really, what Scripture is interested in is God, God’s mission in the world, God’s commissioning of a people, and God’s gracious invitation to me to stop being so interested in me and start being absolutely fascinated by [Him and] his mission.Andy Crouch

*The Three Callings of a Christian – Andy Crouch

How do we cultivate a culture of serving in our home, community – for ourselves and our children? What are you doing? What do you dream of doing? Please share in Comments below. Thanks.

As with work, so with service, we not only model but insure our children have the opportunity to contribute what only they can do – for others…whether operating out of their strengths or their weaknesses.

Looking back, I don’t think we were intentional in creating a culture of serving in our home during our kids’ childhood. It was just “easier to do it myself”, right? They had so little time, between schoolwork and their other “just being children/youth” activities. There were moments, however, bright and shining…teachable moments where they did see how serving mattered…especially when they (at whatever age) showed up to serve. Now I hope to come alongside our grown-up children to model and teach serving to the grands. In fact, it is already a reality – seeing our kids, as adults, discovering the deep joy of serving others, pushing through the awkward strain to pull back or be less present, putting others ahead of themselves.

[Nathan helping dear Mrs. Marge…many years ago.]
Photo Credit: AZ Quotes

Parents, Take Note of the Spiritual Practices Common to Kids Who Flourish As Adults – Trevin Wax

Saturday Short – Raising Adults – Part 1 – Responsibility Is Two Words

[Adapted from my presentation at a home-school conference. Part 2 – Raising Adults – Creating a Culture of Serving can be found here.]

Being a parent is a humbling work…one way or other, it takes us to our knees at some point. In thinking about how we shape our little ones and raise them into adulthood, I was driven to prayer…a lot.

“Oh God, You have given us such crucial work in raising our children to adulthood. Help us to be faithful to live in the tension of remembering they are still small/young and yet pointing them to their place in this world and Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

In the book of Genesis, we have a beautiful picture of God’s work – His eye for detail, His gift of order – He provided everything that was needful…including work for us.

God has given us all work to do. It was His plan from the beginning… In training up our children, we will always push against the counter-pressure of entitlement in our kids’ lives (and in our own)… but we are not alone. He’s already promised that “His yoke is easy, and His burden’s light”.

The Scripture is full of wisdom pointing us toward teaching our children to become responsible adults…understanding the importance of showing up, working in whatever capacity they can.

So we built the wall and the whole wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.Nehemiah 4:6

Anyone who can be trusted in little matters can also be trusted in important matters. But anyone who is dishonest in little matters will be dishonest in important matters.Luke 16:10

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord – you serve the Lord Christ.”Colossians 3:23-24

What goes into raising adults? Teaching our children and giving opportunity to see the value of work, to treat people and possessions appropriately, and to see themselves as a responsible part of a larger community. When does it start? Very early.

Author and parenting coach Reggie Joiner talks about the key to raising responsible adults is to give them responsibilities…now.

We are called, by God, to work…from the beginning…to have dominion…and to essentially clean up our own messes. As we learn to do that at home – caring for ourselves and contributing to our family – we can quite naturally expend the effort, and extend that, toward our larger community.

Joiner defines responsibility and counsels parents how to train it:

“Responsibility is an interesting word.
It’s actually two words.
Response and ability.

Do you see the link between the two concepts? If you want to raise kids to become responsible, then lead them toward a life where they develop the right attitude toward work and tasks. Give them chores at every stage.

  • Lead so their response reveals their ability.
  • Lead so their response matches their ability.
  • Lead so their response grows their ability.

Think about it this way:
Home should be the first job every kid ever has. What kind of experiences are you giving your children to prepare them to be responsible adults?”
Reggie Joiner

Raising Adults – Reggie Joiner

Sometime ago, I was listening to a podcast from Liberty University (would have linked it but it is no longer at the original link). The guest was writer, thought leader, and world-shaker-upper Karen Swallow Prior:

Prior talks about this being the anxiety generation. Some of that anxiety revolves around the pressures coming out of social media. “There is an existential anxiety that goes with having so many choices in front of you and being afraid you’re going to make the wrong choice and miss out and go down the wrong path.” – “Everything you do in life [marriage, work, weekends] is supposed to be this huge self-fulfillment…such that you can post it on social media.” Too often, our experiences aren’t fulfilling and then the anxiety comes, “did I make the wrong choice?” – Notes from the podcast with Karen Swallow Prior

Dr. Prior supports education as a help in correcting the “tunnel vision and distorted vision” that can evolve in young people’s thinking. Work throughout our children’s growing up years can also impact thinking as well…restoring perspective.

One of my favorite books on this topic is Escaping the Endless Adolescence by Joseph Allen and Claudia Worrell Allen. The Allen’s write about the “failure to launch” generation. Teens who are exhausted at what seems required of them to be adults and therefore resist doing more than the minimum, coasting through life.

Instead of asking: “What will keep our teens out of trouble?” “What will make them happy?” or “What will get them into college?”, we need to switch our focus to a different set of queries: “How can we introduce realistic elements of adulthood into their worlds?” What activities best provide real feedback about their effort and skill?” and “Which other adults can we recruit to help pass our values on to them?” In short, we need to switch our focus from activities that reflect living happily as a teenager to activities that let our young people actually use their energy, connect with adults, and make choices that matter in order to begin moving successfully into adulthood.Allen & Allen

In their helps for parents of teens (and younger children), the Allen’s coach how to guide kids to become contributing members of the family, how to give genuine, real-world feedback toward maturity, how to connect their kids with role model adults (including the parents themselves), and how to positively stretch their kids toward skill- and confidence-building.

Writer and stylist Jo-lynne Shane shares a ‘raising adults” system she used with her three children.

[Her] system based on the following principles:

  1. logical consequences vs discipline and anger
  2. choices vs commands
  3. questions vs lectures
  4. no nagging
  5. no idle threats
  6. no yelling

You see, when you allow them to experience the natural consequences of their choices rather than resorting to nagging, yelling, idle threats, and unrelated punishments, you put the responsibility for their actions on their shoulders.  Too often parents make their kids’ problems their problems.  Then the parents get angry and the kids learn nothing. 

By giving them choices rather than commands, they don’t have the option to disobey.  The key is to give only choices that you can live with, and then to be willing to follow through. 

Asking questions instead of lecturing encourages kids to think for themselves and be discerning. – Jo-lynne Shane

Raising Responsible Kids – a Series – Jo-lynne Shane

Finally, writer and parent Cara Sue Achterberg offers this exercise:

List the abilities and qualities you hope your children will have by the time they are eighteen.

Back track from that point and begin thinking of chores and responsibilities you can give your children now which will help them attain those abilities and qualities before they leave home.

Instead of thinking in terms of what they can’t do, begin to see them as the capable human beings they are and discover what they can do.Cara Sue Achterberg

Are You Teaching Kids Responsibility? 50 Simple Challenges to Get You Started – Cara Sue Achterberg

…and then they were grown.

All our children are, bit by bit, becoming adults. [Like we are often told, it comes faster than we can imagine.] We as parents recognize the adult inside each one and build scaffolding, just enough support, to help each child grow into that adult. At every age, they can see it matters that they show up. It matters.

15 Tips to Raise a Responsible Child Dr. Laura Markham

Are You Teaching Your Kids Responsibility? 50 Simple Challenges To Get You Started – Cara Sue Achterberg

Practicing What You Preach – Raising Responsible vs. Entitled Children – Marsha B. Sauls

The Goal Is Not to Raise Good Kids, but Great Adults – Dave Ramsey

I Took ‘Adulting Classes” for Millennials – Andrew Zaleski

5 Friday Faves – Beyond the Guitar, “Thrive by Five” Parenting, Unexpected Wisdom, Confessional Communities, and Funerals

Happy Friday! Welcome weekend. Rapid fire Friday Faves.

1) Beyond the Guitar – While Nathan’s “saddest song” arrangement on YouTube moves toward a million views, he continues to teach, arrange, and compose.

Enjoy!

YouTube Video – This Scene from The Office Changed My Life #Shorts – Beyond the Guitar

2) “Thrive by Five” Parenting – Have you seen the TED Talk below? Start here…fascinating the impact of attuned parents on their babies.

YouTube Video – Molly Wright: How Every Child Can Thrive by Five – TED Talk “Serve & return. Early & often.”

Photo Credit: YouTube, TED Talk, Thrive by Five

I so appreciate the work of psychiatrists/therapists Curt Thompson MD, Adam Young, Matthias Barker, Dan Siegel MD, and others.

Foster mom Jamie Finn posted on the first year of a baby’s life and how vital it is to build that foundation of secure attachment:

“Baby has a need, baby cries, attuned caregiver meets need, baby learns to trust. This is the basic foundation of the attachment cycle.

And it’s the foundation for every relationship and interaction a person has with the surrounding world from that point forward. Secure attachment teaches the child’s brain & body & beliefs: I am safe, people are trustworthy, the world makes sense.

The first year of life is the most developmentally significant, formative time of a child’s life.

The moments of motherhood that make up the first few months of a baby’s life go far beyond the present and profoundly impact the future of that little person. Every cry that’s responded to, need that’s met, and discomfort that’s soothed actually changes the brain’s chemistry and structure, the body’s ability to regulate and feel safe—the complete trajectory of a child’s life.

I don’t know how long this little one will be with me, and I don’t know if he’ll have memories of me. But I know that his brain and body will remember my nurturing care, and it will change his life forever.”
Jamie Finn

The 4 S’s of Secure Attachment and How They Impact Adult Relationships – Hope Gillette

Integrating Science, Culture and Anthropology: A New Journal Article Discusses Thrive by Five International’s Novel Scientific Framework

Thrive by Five – Ideas Hub

Thrive by Five – Minderoo

Facebook – Foster the Family – Jamie Finn – First year of life is the foundation for attachment.

Instagram – Foster the Family Blog – Jamie Finn

https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=770770747740992&set=a.548292643322138

3) Unexpected Wisdom – We have a subscription to The Richmond Forum. It’s a lecture series with world-renowned speakers. Some are politicians, some actors, some writers, some private and public sector leaders, and all influencers. Two of my favorite speakers this year were actor and arts education advocate John Lithgow and a dialog between Dr. Cornel West and Thomas Chatterton Williams. The West and Williams dialog centered on “the absolute condemnation of no one”. Brilliant and redemptive!

Below are samples of their work including a longer version of the West/Williams conversation on another platform. Don’t miss it.

Photo Credit: John Lithgow, Richmond Forum

Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo

YouTube Video – John Lithgow Breaks Down His Most Iconic Characters

YouTube Video – Carnival of the Animals – John Lithgow

4) Confessional Communities – My absolute favorite podcast is Dr. Curt Thompson‘s Being Known. I’ve been listening (watching on YouTube) ever since Dr. Curt Thompson’s books changed my understanding of the mind/brain and community.

This season’s podcast focuses on confessional communities and if you only listen to one before you will want to listen to them all, here‘s the one.

Being Known Podcast – Dr. Curt Thompson & Pepper Sweeney

“We need others to bear witness to our deepest longings, our greatest joys, our most painful shame, and all the rest in order to have any sense at all of ourselves.” Curt Thompson, MD

Confessional communities are not therapeutic groups as we have traditionally known as group therapy. However, they are also more than a Bible-study oriented small group, the kind we might experience as part of a church curriculum. Confessional communities require commitment of a deeper nature from participants who are willing to explore attachment, attunement, presence, and vulnerability – extending welcome and experiencing welcome, all seeking to be known and truly know and affirm each other.

Read Thompson’s books and listen/watch his podcasts for an excellent introduction to this process. I would love to be part of a confessional community…it will happen.

5) Funerals – Why a fave? Well…it comes after watching a British series involving an undertaker (the show had a great story-line but very adult-themed so will leave it at that). The funeral conversations, preparation, and executions were both poignant, sometimes oddly funny, and beautiful.

I was reminded of the funerals of people close to me – young nephew, parents, brother, father-in-law, uncles, aunts, friends and colleagues. It was a privilege to be present for many of these. Some we had to watch via live-stream which itself was a blessing…a perk that came out of the COVID era.

Photo Credit: Air Force, Defense Department

Looking back at images from our mom’s funeral and then our dad’s some 15 years later, memories washed over me. How honored they were by those officiating, how healing the conversations with family and friends (some whom we hadn’t seen in too many years). The care given to detail. The time given to both grieve their passing and celebrate their lives. Such a mix of emotions. Completely thankful for the gathering and strengthening of community that funerals facilitate.

Cremation is replacing burial more these days. We are rethinking our own choices on this. However, having a funeral is something I want for our children and grandchildren, in particular. Not for my sake but for theirs. They may not want this, and I get it, but my hope is they have helps to reflect, remember, and reorient. A funeral, or celebration of life, or memorial service – whatever it’s called makes a difference.

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Doing Death Differently: Today’s Funerals Are Not Like They Used to Be – Elle Hunt

Should We Celebrate Funerals? – Kenneth J. Doka Ph.D.

Americans Avoiding Funerals and Not Leaving Their Mark

The Importance of Flags and Horses in American Military Funerals – Suzette Sherman

Well…it’s been a minute since I’ve pulled together a Friday Faves. Hope it was fun to read. Thanks for stopping by…it’s means more than you know. Have a restful weekend.

Bonuses

The Trait that “Super Friends” Have in Common – Marisa G. Franco

Tim Keller – a Reflection and a Very Short Prayer – Scotty Smith – Facebook

Photo Credit: Twitter, Terence Lester

[Here’s the full quote found in his forthcoming book, All God’s Children “Everyone is welcome” is drastically different from “we built this with you in mind.” People don’t want to go where they are merely tolerated, they want to go where they are included.”]

Photo Credit: The Soul Leaf, Facebook
Photo Credit: TobyMac, Facebook