Category Archives: Guitar

5 Friday Faves – Beyond the Guitar & Oppenheimer, Solitude, “Til You’re Home”, Two Phenomenal Reads, and International Food Festivals

Friday Faves – Go!

1) Beyond the Guitar & Oppenheimer – When Nathan Mills of Beyond the Guitar takes a brilliant orchestral work and arranges it for a single guitar, magic happens all over again. He accomplished this most recently in his arrangement of Ludwig Göransson‘s Can You Hear the Music? from the film Oppenheimer.

Heartbreakingly beautiful!

Sidebar: One exchange between Robert Oppenheimer and Niels Bohr has stood out and intrigued the audience. It was an encounter between two of the most brilliant minds the world has ever known. But one of the most puzzling aspects of their meeting is Bohr’s cryptic comment to Oppenheimer. What exactly did Bohr mean by:

“Algebra is more than just reading. You have to hear the music.”

“Can you hear the music?”

Niels Bohr’s words, in essence, capture the very spirit of scientific inquiry. His comparison of algebra to music wasn’t merely a poetic expression but a profound insight into the nature of mathematics and, by extension, the nature of scientific discovery. Bohr was trying to convey that, much like how music is not just about reading notes but about feeling and understanding the melody, algebra, too, is not just about reading equations but about comprehending the underlying patterns and principles.Pooja Mishra

2) Solitude – [Adapted from an earlier blog of mine] – During my angsty teenage years, I would sometimes slip away from my house full of brothers and sit by the lake nearby. It was there that I wrestled with the “what if’s” of life, along with the “what was’s”. Alone, but not truly. Within my thoughts, quietened in those moments, was also the presence of God. In that solitude, anxieties would get reigned in and perspective returned. The walk home was always so much better than the walk down.

Photo Credit: Succedict

Writer, philosopher Zat Rana caught my eye with his article The Most Important Skill Nobody Taught You. Turns out his view of that most important untaught skill is solitude. That ability to just enjoy being alone. Sitting or walking alone. Lost in your own thoughts. Except for a self-portrait for a photography class, you won’t see many signs in my life that solitude comes easy.

Life is peopled. As an extrovert and helper by nature, I have long thrived in the company of others. However, getting older, alone time has become more my experience than in previous years. Is that its own springboard to flourishing?

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Blaise Pascal

The Most Important Skill Nobody Taught YouZat Rana

According to Pascal, we fear the silence of existence, we dread boredom and instead choose aimless distraction, and we can’t help but run from the problems of our emotions into the false comforts of the mind.

The issue at the root, essentially, is that we never learn the art of solitude. – Zat Rana

My husband, the consummate introvert thinker, often sits by himself at dawn and dusk to recharge. For him, solitude is something that has come naturally. He has been a model for me in practicing solitude.

Rana also talks about how technology has connected us in a myriad of ways but the connectedness is more virtual than real. – We now live in a world where we’re connected to everything except ourselves.”

“Our aversion to solitude is really an aversion to boredom…we dread the nothingness of nothing. We can’t imagine just being rather than doing. And therefore, we look for entertainment, we seek company, and if those fail, we chase even higher highs. We ignore the fact that never facing this nothingness is the same as never facing ourselves. And never facing ourselves is why we feel lonely and anxious in spite of being so intimately connected to everything else around us.”Zat Rana

Everything I Have Learned in 500 Words – Zat Rana

8 Ways to Embrace Solitude – Virginia Thomas – practical helps in embracing solitude

The Joy of Solitude: Loneliness as a Subjective State of Mind – Neel Burton – excellent resource on solitude as a prevention against loneliness

5 Must-See Monasteries in Virginia, USA

3) “Til You’re Home” – If you’ve ever lost someone dear to you, the song “Til You’re Home” will resonate to your core. Actress, producer, singer/songwriter Rita Wilson brings this song to the screen in the beautiful film “A Man Called Otto”. Wilson wrote the lyrics with David Hodges and performed it with singer Sebastián Yatra.

In the articles below, Wilson is interviewed about the inspiration for this song. My main takeaway was how she was comforted by a friend, after her father’s death. He told her, “The conversation continues.” I so experience that. After the death of my mom, in particular, but also many others, including my older brother with whom I had a prickly relationship but one that sweetened before he died and continues to do so…in ways this song communicates.

I watched the film above while on a flight. Crying doesn’t come easy for me, and the tears flowed.

Watch the movie and enjoy the song and think about the richness of our relationships both in the present and in the between times (from past to forever).

Rita Wilson Talks Singing and Writing Original Song for Tom Hanks’ ‘A Man Called Otto’: Listen (EXCLUSIVE) – Clayton Davis

Rita Wilson Found Her Voice (Literally) Through Songwriting – Hilton Dresden

Worship Wednesday – Go Rest High on That Mountain – Vince Gill – Deb Mills

4) Two Phenomenal Reads – Phenomenal? Well, I’m counting on it. These are my next two reads. Just got them both and honestly may have to read them together. The authors are two of my absolute favorites: Karen Swallow Prior and Curt Thompson MD.

To get started – while I was waiting for launch day on both of these books, I’ve been listening to podcasts and reading reviews. Until your books come, you can also have a read or listen below.

“I hope readers are better able to participate in the necessary, ongoing process of distinguishing the principles of the Christian faith that are eternal and unchanging from the cultural stories, metaphors, and images that embody these principles in varying degrees of fidelity. Don’t misunderstand me: this entanglement with cultural narratives and ideas isn’t unique to evangelicals, nor is being creatures of culture necessarily a bad thing. In fact, living within the cultures of this world is God’s plan. It is part of being human. I think, however, that because evangelicalism from its beginnings in the western world has been so tied to political power, it has been easier for us to overlook the entanglement that is inherent to being part of any human culture. Yet, our task is no different from Christians within any Christian movement, sect, time, place, or culture.”Karen Swallow Prior, an interview with Andrea L. Turpin

Repairing the Evangelical House Means Renewing the Evangelical Imagination – Carolyn Weber

Holy Unhappiness Podcast with Amanda Held Opelt – Sanctification with Karen Swallow Prior

Norsworthy Podcast – Curt Thompson: The Deepest Place

5) International Food FestivalsEthnic foods are a favorite in our family…maybe every family. I’m talking from Afghan boulani (flatbread) to Southern biscuits and gravy.

It’s a joy to be invited to the home of friends who bring their gracious hospitality and yummy food to our part of the world. Just recently, I had the pleasure of sitting down to lunch with an Afghan family.

I’ve learned so much from our Afghan friends who came here in the Fall of 2021. Not the least of which has been how to set a bountiful table without great resources.

Our town has a host of ethnic restaurants with a few exceptions. Armenian and Egyptian are two types of food for which I’ve not found a restaurant locally. Once a year, we have the treat of international food festivals featuring these cuisines. So good!!

Next weekend, it’s the Fourth Annual Egyptian Festival. How about you? Any foodies out there? Comment below what some of your international favorites are and if you cook them at home or have the joy of a local restaurant or festival.

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That’s the latest 5 Faves. Hope you have a restful weekend and energetic start to the coming week!

Bonuses:

My Son, Superhero in Training – Rachel Friedman

Secularization Begins at Home – Lyman Stone

Monday Morning Moment – Turning of One’s Attention

MomMom praying.

This week we have a special guest in our home. Dave’s mom. I don’t know about your relationship with your mother-in-law. Hopefully it is a good one. If not, I’m genuinely sorry. If there is any chance at all, don’t miss her…you never know what she would bring to your life if invited (back) in.

My mom-in-law prays. Her life has been one of serving others. Now, she is somewhat slowed down, but her devotion to God and others is still very much alive. Some might say hers is a small life…as my own mom’s appeared to be…to outsiders. This is not so for either of them. Where they lacked ambition to be known or powerful, there was/is no lack of love and wisdom. On the things that matter most.

When she comes to visit, we scramble to find the tv programming that she’s used to…encouraging to her. It’s nothing we watch really when she isn’t here, but when she is here, we catch some of the great music, teaching and reporting she listens to regularly.

Here’s an example. Tonight she was watching Kirk Cameron‘s Takeaways. He had two entertainers on his interview docket for this show. Mark Lowery and Zach Williams. I joined her for the Zach Williams’ interview. I’ve written about his music a couple of times. Gritty lyrics, great deep voice. He knows how to connect with his audiences – whether an arena of church folks or a prison cafeteria. He has stories to tell that touch people – a life going one direction with success as a musician, including drugs, fast living, and a marriage unraveling. Then his life turned quite a different direction.

The Takeaways interview isn’t linked yet, but below are two videos of Zach’s story.

We don’t have to keep going down a road leading nowhere good. I have that in my own life story. It’s for another day, but I’m thankful for my sweet mother-in-law who points us to life-giving attention-getters.

Prayer, focus on truth, and sacrificial love are three great gifts she gives us, whether sitting in our family room, or operating out of her own home.

Who or what helps you to shake off the doldrums and points you to a life of greater purpose and joy? Tonight my attention is captured by a a musician’s experience of a God who was never far from him. When Zach Williams was shaken in his tracks and turned his attention…God was there.

Thankful for a praying mom, mom-in-law, and grandmothers who remind us of a way to live that gives hope, joy, and real confidence. Enjoy some of Zach’s music below…and one piece by Brandon Lake about a praying grandma.

5 Friday Faves – Beyond the Guitar – Magic on a Cheap Guitar, the Most Repeated Command in the Bible, the Evercrisp Apple, (Dis)Comfort Zone, and Old Friends

Friday Faves – coming in hot! Days later. Life races on, doesn’t it?!

1) Beyond the Guitar – Magic on a Cheap Guitar Sweet original composition by classical guitarist Nathan Mills at Beyond the Guitar. Showcasing two very different guitars…or rather what the difference – pretty much, it’s the guitarist, not the guitar. [Not to say the beautiful David J. Pace guitar isn’t his go-to instrument for all his guitar work/performances…but to emphasize it is the one playing it, whatever the guitar is, that makes the music.] Photo Credit: Beyond the Guitar

YouTube Video – Beyond the Guitar – #100 Mini Guitar vs. $10,000 Guitar

Beyond the Guitar – Fingerstyle Journey – 90 Days to Beautiful Playing

2) The Most Repeated Command in the Bible –  Even more than “Love the Lord your God” or “Love your neighbor as yourself. The most repeated command is  “Do not be afraid”.

Something to think about because we are surrounded to fearsome situations…yet, we are not to fear. How do we keep from it?

By practicing remembering. Remembering the provision of God in times past. Remembering the goodness of God in all we have in life right now – people who love us, work and other resources, health and/or helps toward restoring health, time, meaning, forgiveness, and beauty surrounding us.

Photo Credit: Heartlight 

We have circumstances that tempt us to fear, but we also have God’s promises to bring us through those circumstances. Fear itself robs us from sound thinking. Photo Credit: Flickr

The tricky thing about fear is that we can’t necessarily stop it from happening. It comes over us. However, we can keep it from overwhelming us…determining to live in the freedom and light of what is true, instead of what could happen. God is there for that as well.

When fear messes with our relationships or makes us timid to enter new ones, we can take courage in the command “Do not be afraid”. This week in our church, in The Art of Neighboring, we studied about fear in neighboring relationships1 Peter 3:14 (quoting from Isaiah 8:12) Do we allow fear of rejection or fear of our differences keep us from leaning into each other? What if we leave fear out of the equation in caring for one another? That’s the better path.

“Do not be afraid.”

The Art of Neighboring

Photo Credit: Heartlight

3) The Evercrisp Apple – One of the best parts of this time of year is the Fall apple harvest. Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, and Cosmic Crisp apples have been our favorite in recent years…until this Fall, when we discovered the Evercrisp apple. Wow!

We discovered this apple on a recent trip across Virginia toward the Appalachian Mountains. The Apple Shed delivers on several types of apples and introduced us to this one.

Once back in Richmond, we were thrilled to find it sold locally from the Saunders Brothers Orchards. Woohoo!!

A small delight in life but, for this season, a huge one. What’s your favorite apple?

4) (Dis)Comfort Zone – Is the phrase “comfort zone” a first world experience? I don’t think so. It is a universal idea – a place where we feel safe and soothed. A bad thing? Not necessarily except for how it insulates us from the rest of life. What if developing our capacity for discomfort helps us to live more fully, more in community?

Jason Seib, a health and selfcare coach, has actually built his whole platform on embracing a (dis)comfort zone. He teaches how we can maneuver around our uncomfortable moments in healthy ways.

If you go to his website, his home page currently seems all about his workshop (which I haven’t taken although it is reasonable cost-wise). However, hang in there. He also extends solid content to non-subscribers through his podcasts and social media pages. I think that speaks to his integrity as someone who actually cares about people wherever we are in our comfort zones.

The main message for us in his coaching is that we reach for food, alcohol, or other addictive substances or activities when faced with discomfort. Our temptation is to do whatever we can to restore comfort. Jason Seib points to developing skills in sharpening our awareness of discomfort when it happens and respond in ways that don’t harm us.

Jason Seib Facebook

Jason Seib Podcasts

Jason Seib reminds me of counselor Brad Hambrick whose webinar on “Growing in Negative Emotion Tolerance” was extremely helpful for me. Seib and Hambrick both talk about the importance of us recognizing that negative emotions are not necessarily bad [they are actually informative] but how we respond to them matters.

Photo Credit: SermonLab, Brad Hambrick

Counselor Brad Hambrick

5) Old Friends – This week has been one of celebrating old friends – visits both here and states away with people who have stayed the course with me through years and years.

I don’t know about you, but loneliness is a real time experience for me. So many moves and changes for us. A different season – children grown with their own lives, me now in retirement sorta kinda, and most of my closest friends living far from where we now live.

It gives pause to reflect on friendship and revisiting the kind of friend I am and hope to be. A key to having old friends in our every day life is continuing to reach out and nurture those relationships. I’m working on it…and trying to show up for these friends who have shown up for me. They, and others like them, point the way.

Old friends, even while not on the daily or even the regular, have the rare quality of history. Memory. Understanding. Loving anyway, through seasons of neglect, distraction, and loss. Old friends remain.

So grateful for forever friends – people who know us well and love us anyway. Singer, songwriter Michael W. Smith‘s song says it all:

Bonuses:

I Raised 2 Successful CEOs and a Doctor. Here’s the ‘Unpopular’ Parenting Rule I Always Used on My Kids – Esther Wojcicki

Photo Credit: Facebook

Photo Credit: Mark Allan – Mark’s Musings: God, the Proud Father

The Many Paths to Better Mental Health – a List of Excellent Resources

Shame vs. Guilt Infographic

Photo Credit: nicabm

Photo Credit: TobyMac, Facebook

“Come deeper. The waves won’t knock you down back here!”

Deeper in the Word
Deeper in Prayer
Deeper in Worship
Deeper in love with Jesus

Yes, the waves will still come, regular and strong.
But in the deep…
We will have peace,
We will be comforted,
We will have healing,
We will have restoration,
We will have joy,
Because we will be moving with The One who controls the winds and waves.

Go on, my sweet friends…go deeper.
HE is waiting. – Kristin Crawford Kerley, Facebook

5 Friday Faves – A Lullaby by Beyond the Guitar, the Art of Neighboring, the Beauty of Fall, Ethnic Foods, and Telling Our Stories

Friday Faves. Here we go!

1) A Lullaby by Beyond the Guitar – Nathan Mills has been on hiatus from his public YouTube channel as he worked through the summer creating course content for his other channels. Big news: he’s back!!

Photo Credit: YouTube, Beyond the Guitar

Talking through and then performing his treatment of the Game of Thrones theme (his previous arrangements of this can be found here). He takes Ramin Djawadi‘s epic piece and makes it into an ethereal lullaby. Just plain gorgeous.

2) The Art of Neighboring – Several years ago, my husband and I landed in an incredible neighborhood. With great neighbors. As happens, our neighborhood has changed significantly with elderly neighbors downsizing and moving away and new families coming in. The tight-knit feeling we had toward each other has changed…not lost but changed.

This Fall, our community group at church is studying “The Art of Neighboring”. This aligns closely with my deep dive, over the last several months, into our need for being known.

Being Known Podcast with Curt Thompson MD

Photo Credit: Art of Neighboring

There is neighboring where we might know someone by sight or even name, but little else. Then there is neighboring which leans in, where we know each other in ways that honors, enjoys, and serves.

It’s an art and it adds to our quality of lives and that of each other in immeasurable ways.Photo Credit: Grace Fellowship, The Art of Neighboring

The Art of Neighboring – Website, Book, Resources – Jay Pathak & Dave Runyon

3) The Beauty of Fall – Just a quick salute to the end of summer and beginning of Fall. Cooler weather prompting pulling out our hoodies and cozying up to fire pits. The harvest continues. The flowers, many going to seed, still have a glory that moves artists to paint. And pumpkins!

Photo Credit: Karen Burnette Garner, Facebook

4) Ethnic Foods – Our family has had the rich experience of living in several countries and enjoying the yummy “home cooking” of local friends. Some of that food is also sold by street vendors or in tiny restaurants for such a cheap price you wonder how they can afford to sell it, except for the volume of customers.

We search out those authentic food opportunities here, and various food festivals help fill the bill. Recently, we attended Armenian and Egyptian food festivals. So good! Visiting friends took us on the hunt of discovering new restaurants serving up foods so good they could have been cooked in mama’s homes.

In America, ethnic foods are not cheap. Part of that, I’m sure, is the cost of ingredients and labor. I couldn’t imagine paying the equivalent of $12 for a falafel sandwich when we lived overseas. Here, I’m just glad for the opportunity.

What Is ‘Ethnic’ Food? – Aaron Hutcherson

In the Hutcherson piece linked above, the phrase “ethnic food” may even be offensive in today’s cancel culture. Of me, it’s the best of home cooking served outside the home. America is such a cultural “melting pot” that we may come to the place where international foods become a part of the American food culture. Blended in. Beautifully.

“American food is the mixture of all food brought by our immigrants. Perhaps the recipes have been tweaked a little here, but they originate from past cultures, from identities new and old, and from our ethnic nation. Ethnic food is American food.”

This encouraging American ideal explains why Americans long to assimilate almost every food culture into their diets. It is socially encouraged to be more and more inclusive. The main way people try to find common ground is through food.

Ethnic food can best be described as a classification for types of food favored by cultural groups of people. This is different from authentic, which is a word used to describe food as something genuine or real. American cuisine may be classified as being only ethnic food because of the rich cultural diversity of its population. – DevTome

Still…I think we foodies will still look for the dining experiences that take us back to our mom’s table…or that table of friends in far-away places. Sweet memories.

Here in Virginia, we have an ethnic equivalent of food that’s hard to find anywhere but here and it’s Ukrop’s – a family-owned bakery, deli, and grocery business that’s been around since 1937. Their baked goods are very American. I say this because we have been told, by our international friends, that American sweets are “too sweet” for them. Maybe this is one American food that is uniquely American. I don’t know…but it’s good! No one does buttercream frosting like Ukrop’s. 

4) Telling Our Stories – Storytelling is in our very DNA. We appreciate the stories that draw us in – whether through books or film – or in the telling of our own lives.

Memory tends to embellish. A detail is added or emphasized beyond what really happened.

“Well, all good stories deserve embellishment.”J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

The Link Between Memory and Stories – Shawn Callahan

Embellishment entertains but what if our memory of an event or conversation stays the same even as we have grown into a person who has changed.

I think of childhood trauma or an incident that changed the course of our relationship with a person or organization. Sometimes all it takes is one circumstance.

Something may come to mind right now.

Is that a something that you want to affect your story forever?

Many of you may never have seen the 1981 British sports film Chariots of Fire. If you haven’t I highly recommend it. It gives an account of the Olympic Games of 1924. In particular, two runners, who compete against each other, are the focus. Two runners with very different stories.

Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell.

These two athletes had two very different stories…very different motivations and goals for life. In the film, some of their story may be fictionalized, but there are lessons for us here. Check out the film clips linked below.

“10 lonely seconds [will] justify my whole existence.” – Abrahams

“When I run, I feel His pleasure.” – Eric Liddell

[An extra: In the film, Eric was pushed off the track during an Olympic race, falling to the ground. He got back on his feet and got back on the track. In the crowd, a man was asked if Eric could do (recover the time lost), and he said, “his head’s not back yet”. Eric would put his head back as he felt the pleasure of God on him. And where did the power come from? Another clip.]

YouTube Video – He Who Honors God – Chariots of Fire – don’t miss this scene.

What is your story? Whether you know it or not, you’re telling a story? Is it the one you want to be remembered for? Or is there a healing, a reconciliation, a resolve you want to leave behind as part of your legacy?

Something to consider.

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That’s it for this week. Hope you have a delightful weekend. Thanks for stopping by.

Bonuses:

8 Rules to Do Everything Better – Brad Stulberg

What To Do When You Feel Like You Don’t Fit in at Work – Lisa Evans

How to Say the Unsayable – 10 Ways to Approach a Sensitive Daunting Conversation – Kathryn Mannix

Photo Credit: Facebook, Marjolein Bastin

5 Friday Faves – Beyond the Guitar Medleys, Life Online, Late Summer, the Older Generation, and Friendship

Friday Faves…here we go!

1) Beyond the Guitar Medleys – Music themes can fill us with such emotion – deep nostalgia about a shared experience, a memorable adventure, or a sweet story. Really great soundtracks often have several themes that draw us in and take us back. Nathan Mills, at Beyond the Guitar,  has arranged and performed some lovely medleys from such music scores. Here are some of them (5 faves for Friday) and the rest are at the bottom of today’s blog:

2) Life Online – Obviously, if you’re reading this, then you’re online. The thing is, our lives have been greatly enhanced by the benefits of technology. We do, from time to time, need to revisit our habits which might include time spent online and for what purposes.

So much has been written already about the downside of screen-time and the prevalence of smartphone addiction. The distractions, mental laziness, shallow thinking, almost communication.

My husband got his first smartphone for work around 2005 or after. The rest of our family slowly moved in that direction.

I personally spend way too much time online. Sometimes for positive outcomes, sometime just because it has become knee-jerk…a time-filler. It’s what I do now unfortunately. When I used to carry a book around in my purse.

It could be addiction, and that’s got to change.

Photo Credit: Science Info

“The same chemicals are released in your brain when you get a text message as when you drink an alcoholic beverage, smoke a cigarette or gamble. What in essence is happening is we’re allowing children from 6 to 10 years of age access to our liquor cabinet when we give them a smartphone. They’re constantly texting so they’re continually getting high.”John Gatica

Our Brains on Smartphones

John Gatica is an educator, and his observations regarding children and neuroscience are sobering. Now not all texts are happy for adults, but the addiction phenomenon still holds true.

Our phones give the illusion of presence…and good. We are doing “good” with a text to a friend or family member – a text taking the place of a full-on “showing up”. Social media have grown a forest over our sleepy selves where we become lazy and reactive (mildly or harshly depending on the subject matter).
Now I’ll take a text over no contact. What the concern here is more what is happening to us when our online life is more real to us than our actual face-to-face, with skin-on, encounters with people… What’s going on in our brains long-term? Something to think about.
For more than a few seconds.

The Effects of Smartphones on Your Brain – Kendra Cherry

Is Social Media Making us Stupid? – Alex Kantrowitz

3) Late Summer – My sweet husband’s garden is all a tangle now. The vegetables are finishing up, and the flowers, though still beautiful, are winding down. As the feel of Fall teases us in the early mornings, I wanted to capture, once again, for your enjoyment and my own, some of this not-to-be-undone late summer garden of ours. Please post some of your own beauties below.

4) Older Generation – Just want to give a quick shout-out to the older generation – our parents and others who have graced our lives with wisdom, beauty, humor and Godly values.

When our children gather around our table, I realize we are fast becoming the older generation. We have one precious mom left this side of Heaven and hopefully she will be with us for many years more. I am thankful for her – and all I’ve learned from her over the years… Hopefully our own adult children and the grands will take every opportunity to lean in to her wisdom and love. We are a bit of an “old soul” family and I’m thankful for each one in this family.

“But I know people who as children had their grandparents’ memories in their memories, so that in a sense, as young people
they had old minds.  They had a kind of seasoning.”  Wendell Berry, 1973 [Source undetermined]

So here’s just a bit of gratitude for the older generations…those who give us a glimpse into the future which can seem too dark at times, and yet with faith in a good God and a love that holds us together, we take hope. Thankful for three sweet parents who have gone on ahead…and for MomMom still very much with us, encouraging us always.

Do you have the pleasure and great good of the company of “olders”?

YouTube Video – Mother – (Love Bigger Than the Ocean Is What You’ve Given to Me)

5) Friendship – Friendships have always come easy for me and I’m thankful. A few years back, I read Scott Sauls‘ book Befriend. It was both affirming and convicting as the realization that friendship, like marriage, takes nurturing…more than maybe I was giving. Then 2020 happened and the Coronavirus wreaked havoc on relationships, isolating us from one another.

Fast forward to 2022, and I find myself very much needing Jennie Allen‘s latest book Find Your People. Oddly, her online study (shades of COVID Zoom calls) drew me to the book. Finishing the study this coming week, I now want to take her counsel in finding my people.

Allen talks about how we can quite accidentally just stop investing in relationships. Our post-COVID culture has pushed us into even more independence and self-reliance than we had before. We isolate without even thinking about it and our days move quietly on.

Maybe that isn’t your experience…so hang in there with me.

Allen reflects back on how life through the ages flourishes within community. More a village experience than whatever it is we have today. People know each other and they are invested in each other. She lists out the realities necessary for healthy community:

  • Proximity
  • Transparency
  • Accountability (real connection)
  • Shared Mission
  • Consistency

It’s out of this realm that true friendship grows. Spending time together. Being our real selves. Allowing others to speak into our lives. Teaming together for a greater good. Showing up again and again.

These are the basic elements of community…and friendship.

If you are experiencing the loneliness of untended friendships, Allen’s book will help. If you just can’t put another book in your queue right now, at least consider what’s going on in your friendships. I’m not talking about acquaintanceships either. Deep, beautiful, lasting friendships.

Let’s get back out there and find our people.Photo Credit: Find Your People, Jennie Allen

[The liturgy below doesn’t really focus on friendship, but it speaks to hospitality which also took a hit with COVID. A beautiful prayer.]Photo Credit: Tiffany Holden, Facebook, Rabbit Room Chinwag

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Thanks for stopping by. It means a lot. Hope you have a weekend full of your people…with quiet in between.

Bonuses:

Even Tolkien Felt Like a Failure – Scott Sauls

An incredibly helpful Twitter thread on marriage:

[Trip to Cracker Barrel]

3 Simple Habits that Can Protect Your Brain From Cognitive Decline – Tara Swart

Photo Credit: AZ Quotes, C. S. Lewis

Photo Credit: Facebook, Rabbit Room Chinwag

*The rest of Beyond the Guitar’s medleys (so far):

5 Friday Faves – Beyond the Guitar Nostalgia, Parents & Adult Children, Welcome to Holland, Food Fit for Memory-Making, and Boundaries that Define Us

This week’s Friday Faves – GO!

1) Beyond the Guitar Nostalgia – How about all the feels from musical themes of favorite old movies? That’s what happens for us when Nathan arranges and performs themes from films we love.

While he takes a brief hiatus from his usual YouTube channel to focus on other work, only we Patreon subscribers get to hear the latest (subscribe). He is creating some new instructional content which makes me want to learn classical guitar. In this bit of time in the interim, I decided to highlight some of his arrangements already appreciated by 500k-plus YouTube subscribers. Enjoy. Oh, and comment below a favorite song of yours that he arranges/performs.

YouTube Video – The Last of the Mohicans: Promentory – Classical Guitar Cover

YouTube Video – How to Train Your Dragon – Romantic Flight (Classical Guitar Cover)

YouTube Video – Pure Imagination (Willy Wonka) – Classical Guitar Cover

YouTube Video – The Lion King Main Theme (“This Land”) on Guitar

YouTube Video – Amazing Grace Meets Classical Guitar (Epic Version) – this one Nathan did as a request from his mom and dad. So beautiful. Thanks again, Nae.

2) Parents & Adult Children – If we have grandchildren, then we have adult children. Loving them both in ways they understand is a crucial part of our life journey. This week I came across 3 excellent and empowering articles by author, counselor Dennis Rainey. If you want to parent adult children well, these articles have wise and applicable counsel for you. You adult children might enjoy them as well. The articles are linked below along with a couple of others that are also treasures.  https://debmillswriter.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/2012-December-family-snapshot-014.jpg

Sometimes, we can be hard on our adult children. Too many demands or expectations.  I’m sure I’m not alone with bringing my own vision into the present of what our family would look like, all grown-up with little ones. To be honest, they can also be hard on us (without even realizing it). However, what’s more important? The people in these relationships! Full-stop. Our kids have their own sharp learning curves of life without pressure from mom and dad to bend in our direction. It’s enough to see them when we can and cheer them on in their own new life configurations. If they make choices we would not make…it doesn’t change the love. Remember they also deal with the choices we make.

Read the articles. You’ll be glad you did.

“Life is a pilgrimage of learning, a voyage of discovery, in which our mistaken views are corrected, our distorted notions adjusted, our shallow opinions deepened and some of our vast ignorances diminished.”John Stott

3) Welcome to Holland – This goes out to you who are parents, siblings, extended family or friends of children/adults with special needs or medical complexities. A friend introduced me this week to   “Welcome to Holland”, a beautiful essay by Emily Perl Kingsley. My friend has a medically complex child, and so did I.

“Did” only because he is grown now. When he was little, he had major struggles and still has some of the aftermath of those struggles and always will.

When Dan came home to us through adoption, we knew he would have his challenges, but you’re never prepared for the twists and turns of that through childhood and into adulthood. With all the trips to doctors and therapists, meetings with teachers, and one-on-one times with him as the topic, there was still his joy that kept us marveling at this wonder.

He was an incredibly exuberant kid and seemed far less bothered by his struggles than we were.

A friend, years ago, asked us, regarding Dan, “What’s it like to have a ticker tape parade thrown for you, every time he sees you?”

It was something very special.

So…welcome to Holland.

Welcome To Holland

by Emily Perl Kingsley

Copyright©1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. 

All rights reserved. 

Reprinted by permission of the author.

 

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel.  It’s like this……

 

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy.  You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans.  The Coliseum.  The Michelangelo David.  The gondolas in Venice.  You may learn some handy phrases in Italian.  It’s all very exciting.

 

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives.  You pack your bags and off you go.  Several hours later, the plane lands. The flight attendant comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

 

“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy!  I’m supposed to be in Italy.  All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

 

But there’s been a change in the flight plan.  They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

 

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease.  It’s just a different place.

 

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language.  And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

 

It’s just a different place.  It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy.  But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips.  Holland even has Rembrandts.

Pin on WindmillsPhoto Credit: Pinterest

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there.  And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”  

 

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

 

But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.

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Love you, Dan.

4) Food Fit for Memory-Making – Writing for the last two weeks has been on the back burner. We’ve been traveling, seeing friends, and enjoying great food as part of those experiences. Now that we’re back home, eating to live more than living to eat will have to be restored to the daily.

However, can I just celebrate great food for a moment. The images below take us back, just the last two weeks, to food shared with friends in beautiful spaces. An anniversary was celebrated and Dave got his Butterfinger Blizzard – a twice-a-year indulgence which never disappoints.

My mom’s cooking has settled deep in my memories since she’s been in Heaven for 20 years now. Nothing like her biscuits and gravy, Thanksgiving dinners, and vegetable soup and cornbread. Sweet memories of her and the food she prepared. Memories imprinted by food shared together.

The memories we’ve made recently, accompanied by food, will suffice for now. Bon appétit .

Shyndigz – a local desserterie. Their fresh fruit cake has always been my favorite UNTIL they’ve recently introduced a Tres Leches cake. Once a month it will tempt me for sure…so amazingly good!

5) Boundaries that Define Us – All my adult life, I have struggled with (and been known by) being fuzzy-boundaried. Easy-going, fairly amicable, not very demanding. Then recently, on more than one occasion, friends have asked me about my preferences and desires in life. What do you like to do? What do you want to accomplish these days? How do you fill your day? What are your goals? Hopes? Dreams?

I stuttered…trying to answer. It seems much of my life has been spent bending toward helping, serving, pleasing others…That is NOT a bad thing, but to not be able to come up with answers to the above questions really got me puzzling about my own self-awareness.

Henry Cloud Quote: "That is why success and fruitfulness depend as much ...Photo Credit: Quote Fancy, Dr. Henry Cloud

Presently I’m reading a book that may very well help me get to those answers. It is Dr. Henry Cloud‘s Changes That Heal. His chapter on Boundaries has me stopped in my tracks.

“Boundaries, in a broad sense, are lines or things that mark a limit, or border. In a psychological sense, boundaries are the realization of our own person apart from others. This sense of separateness forms the basis of personal identity. It says what we are and what we are not, what we will choose and what we will not choose, what we will endure and what we will not, what we feel and what we will not feel, what we like and what we do not like, and what we want and what we do not want. Boundaries, in short, define us.”

Being a fuzzy-boundaried sort, I’m not really sure about some of these things, but now I’m on a mission of determining who I am and who I’m not. This may seem a strange venture for someone as old as I am. Hear me out.

Dr. Cloud talks about the various boundaries that make up our identity: physical appearance/body; attitudes; feelings; behavior; thoughts; abilities; desires; choices; limits; and, lastly, negative assertions (who/what we are NOT).

If we don’t know these things about ourselves, then we are bound to bump into, step over, or be drawn into the boundaries of others.

Here’s an example of this: I AM a reconciler, and I AM NOT a grudge-holder. So when my extended family is struggling with a family rift, it’s somewhat confusing for me, and really hard personally. How boundaries come to play in this is that I can’t make this rift go away…my own limits, attitudes, feelings, and desires (among other things) keep me from crossing others’ boundaries…This leaves me feeling hopeless, and sometimes helpless. My alternatives (and they are good ones) are to love my family, encourage those also reeling from this, and praying for all of us.

I can NOT fix it. If my fuzzy-boundaried self insisted on somehow making things better, it would leave me worse for the wear…and the rift still unchanged. We all have boundaries at play in our relationships.

In fact, some boundaries we set up voluntarily by our attitudes and thoughts. When we feel harmed by someone, we impose boundaries to prevent getting hurt again. Are these actual or imagined? It seems the pain continues in the trauma of unforgiveness. I just don’t know. One thing I do know is that this sort of boundary is something I AM NOT willing to do…especially with family. Where does that leave us who disagree on this?

So…forgive all verbal processing on this. Just trying to figure some of this out, and I’m only beginning. Unless you know yourself well, Dr. Cloud’s lesson on boundaries might be an excellent one to consider. One very beautiful extra thought on this: although we are made in God’s image, this is one place we differ from Him. He is infinite, and we are finite. As we get to know ourselves better, we can appreciate Him all the more and depend on Him even more readily for what we need both inside and outside our boundaries.

[This same Dr. Cloud also wrote Necessary Endings and Boundaries.]

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That’s all for this week. Any comments or thoughts you have, please share below. Blessings on you and thanks for stopping by.

Bonuses:

Road to Wholeness Podcast – Redeeming Heartache

How Do You Move Through Past Trauma? – Interview with Jerry Sittser – Podcast – Adam Young Counseling

Photo Credit: Laugh It’s Free Facebook page

Books on my Summer Reading List

Your Home Affects Your Longevity – Here’s How the Longest-Living People Outfit Their Spaces – Erica Sloan

5 Friday Faves – Christmas in July with Beyond the Guitar; No Advice or Not Without Relationship; Summer Fun, Food, & Film; a Working Kitchen, and Parenting Trials & Travails

It’s Friday. Faves of the week lined up. Add yours in Comments below.

1) Christmas in July with Beyond the Guitar – OK, so Christmas in July is actually a thing. I’m actually a big fan…especially when the Hallmark Channel has its Countdown to Christmas movies through the month of July. Sentimentality and plot predictability not withstanding, you can’t beat the gorgeous winter scenes (or summer for you in the Southern Hemisphere) and all the Christmas-themes food and decor. So fun.

That’s why, I’m offering up these Christmas classical guitar creations of Nathan Mills at Beyond the Guitar. Merry Christmas in July!

Photo Credit: Beyond the Guitar, Tyler Scheerschmidt, John Shutika

While Nathan takes a brief hiatus from his usual YouTube channel to focus on his other work, only we Patreon subscribers get new content (subscribe). In this bit of time, I decided to highlight some of his arrangements already appreciated by his 500k-plus subscribers. These four linked below are for your Christmas in July enjoyment.

YouTube – 3 Christmas Movie Classics on Guitar – Beyond the Guitar

YouTube – A Star Wars Christmas – Classical Guitar Mashup – Beyond the Guitar

YouTube – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (w/ a surprise guest) – Classical Guitar Cover – Beyond the Guitar

YouTube – December Song (Peter Hollens) – Classical Guitar Cover – Beyond the Guitar

2) No Advice or Not Without Relationship? My husband and I are currently in a summer soulcare experience. It’s been fascinating and super helpful. One of the guidelines in the small group times is No Advice. I was surprised at how quiet I became in the sessions. Asking good questions that will allow others to make their way to their own solutions is a skill that may be just stirring for me. Sure hope so.

New Mom Advice Quotes. QuotesGram
Photo Credit: Quotesgram

When

Why are we so bent on giving advice? Can it be for the thrill of having power or influence? I don’t think that is my goal, but it could be part of my unconscious motivation. Also, it is not a conscious goal for me to advise so we can move on from the painful moment…I don’t think giving advice is born out of my own discomfort.

I frankly love advice personally (good counsel, mentoring, coaching). Maybe, though, it has always been in relationship with people who clearly love me and want the best for me.

That’s definitely the best foundation for any of us to advise others. We need to truly care bout them.

As for those who really don’t want advice from anyone else?…that’s a risky way to live, for sure.

Photo Credit: Heartlight
Photo Credit: Heartlight
The answer for sure, unless someone is stepping out in front of a proverbial bus (or a real one), don’t lead with advice. Ask questions. Go deeper. Give the seeking one an opportunity to understand their own situation better. Take it to God. He gives the absolute best advice.
Photo Credit: Heartlight
3) Summer Fun, Food & Film – Road trips. A day of fishing. Botanical Garden in full bloom. Summer fruits and vegetables. BLT sandwiches at their best. Ladies’ Teas. Fish fries. Top Gun Maverick.
Any road trip has to have Wawa coffee attached to it:
A day of fishing with three sweet generations:
Visits in the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden:
Summer fruits & vegetables:  
The summer BLT sandwich with a perfect tomato from the garden:
A tomato grown and enjoyed by this guy:
A ladies’ tea:
Fish Fries:
Top Gun Maverick – the best movie I’ve seen in a very long time!
4) A Working Kitchen – Just this week, I heard the term “working kitchen” and was intrigued. My sweet little kitchen has probably not had an update (except the floor) since it was built in the 60s. It is small but quite functional. Still it is not like the kitchen I had years ago in East Tennessee that supported a growing family, lots of company, and the huge vegetable garden of my green-thumbed husband. We used to can and freeze so much until I wasn’t very gleeful with the buckets of produce he’d bring in late in summer. And maybe I’m just not feeling it, work-wise right now. Still the idea of a working kitchen – with all the food prep, in-season fruits and vegetables, baked bread cooling on the stove, and something always simmering in the slow cooker – sounds so lovely. How about you? Would you say yours is a working kitchen?
[Our youngest son’s cooking club in a working kitchen of ours in Morocco.]
5) Parenting Trials and Travails – Those of us with children  want to be good parents, right? Now it’s possible the parenting gene isn’t dominant in some of us (therefore we need advice/counsel – see above). Good parenting is hugely important to help children know they are seen, soothed, safe, and secure…and to open the future for them to be good parents as well.
Photo Credit: Heartlight
We struggle sometimes with the culture where we parent. Western culture isn’t easy on parents these days. So many opinions. So many approaches. So much judgment… We are better served by searching maybe a mentor or two, or a book or two…and possibly changing those as our kids grow.
Sigh…
“Make the ordinary come alive” is something we can all do for our children. I have struggled with the guilt (or shame) of not being that “good parent”…or good enough parent. Fortunately, most days, I can turn toward that negative thought and face it down.
Our kids are grown, but we have the blessing of grandkids. What I might have missed in parenting well our kiddos may well be possible with the grandparenting of these littles. Making the ordinary come alive with them…and encouraging and praying for their parents. God knew what He was doing when He placed these precious one in their hands (as He knew the same placing our kids in our hands). Whew…
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That’s the 5 for this week. Please share in Comments below any favorite finds or favorite re-visits. We’d love to learn from you. Thanks for stopping by. It means the world!
Bonuses:
“We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.”
– C.S. Lewis, “Mere Christianity”

Classical Art Memes That Are Too Accurate

Heaven In Ordinary

Because high heaven made itself so low

That I might glimpse it through a stable door,

Or hear it bless me through a hammer blow,

And call me through the voices of the poor,

Unbidden now, its hidden light breaks through

Amidst the clutter of the every day,

Illuminating things I thought I knew,

Whose dark glass brightens, even as I pray.

Then this world’s walls no longer stay my eyes,

A veil is lifted likewise from my heart,

The moment holds me in its strange surprise,

The gates of paradise are drawn apart,

I see his tree, with blossom on its bough,

And nothing can be ordinary now. – Malcolm Guite

5 Friday Faves – The Exquisite Beauty of Classical Guitar, Refugees and the English Language, Laughing Out Loud, Foodie Friends, and the Treasure of Old Photos

Friday Faves! Here we go.

1) The Exquisite Beauty of Classical Guitar – We need beauty in our lives. We are made to create beauty, in fact…we are meant to refresh and to rejoice in beauty. To discover our own hearts when arrested by it. To appreciate the beauty in others as we pause to see it…even in those so different from us. Beauty surrounds us. Here’s one significant example – the classical guitar creations of Nathan Mills at Beyond the Guitar.

Photo Credit: Beyond the Guitar

While Nathan takes a brief hiatus from his usual YouTube channel to focus on his other work, only we Patreon subscribers get new content (subscribe). In this bit of time, I decided to highlight some of his arrangements already appreciated by his 500k-plus subscribers. These 5 (5 for Friday Faves) are just a sample of the beauty we can bring into our lives from the realm of classical guitar. Enjoy!

YouTube – Toy Story – You’ve Got a Friend in Me (Classical Guitar Cover) – Beyond the Guitar

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

YouTube – The Last of Us (Classical Guitar Cover) – Beyond the Guitar

YouTube – Princess Leia’s Theme – Classical Guitar Tribute – Beyond the Guitar

YouTube – Braveheart Meets Classical Guitar – Beyond the Guitar

More to come. Any favorites of your own from his channel? Comment below.

2) Refugees and the English Language – [Obviously this relates to refugees whose host countries have English as the primary language, but this could relate to any country’s first language.]

For many years, we lived overseas. We had jobs already in English but worked hard to learn the local language. We knew we would need it to flourish in the home culture there, including being “good neighbors”. Language learning takes persistence but the rewards are incalculable.

Our church is a providing local resettlement support to an Afghan refugee family. The children came with some English language ability which helped them enormously in school and cultural understanding. In our relationship with them, we have met other Afghan refugees. Some with English and others with none. One family, in particular, has really captured my heart this week.

In this family of mom, dad, and four kids, they know Dari, Farsi, and Turkish. None know English yet. [That’s all the details I will offer.]

[Fortunately there are some similarities to English in the Turkish alphabet.]

Photo Credit: Turkishaholic

How do families like this get jobs in our country? Pay bills? Shop in American stores? Learn in school? Meet their English- and other-speaking neighbors?

They get English as fast as they can.

Although teaching ESL was something I did for years, it was always with people who had some English. I didn’t have to start at the complete beginning. Thankfully English language helps abound online.  So…we learn and we teach (or help learn maybe is a better way to describe this process).

Lost in Limbo: Thousands of Afghan Migrants in Turkey – Still Awaiting Help from the West, Including Canada – Now Face Deportation – Adnan R. Khan

Just yesterday, shopping with the Afghan family we are helping resettle, a small unsettling thing happened. In the shoe department, I caught the face of a lady who was trying to get around us with her cart. Her face was stern, and she was clearly impatient with us. I apologized to which she said nothing. It is possible she was having a really hard day. Or something darker related to foreigners could have been going on. I hope not…in fact, hopefully, her day got better all the way around.

For us as native English-speakers, we can be enormous help to refugees with little cost of time or money…as we welcome them with our language. Appreciating the courage and fortitude they must exert every day to even live here, far from home and all that was happily familiar there.

I will always remember, with gratitude, all the people who knew so little English, but used it to connect with us when we lived overseas. “Welcome in Egypt”. We felt the welcome.

I’m learning a little Dari, but more importantly, I’m hoping to communicate in English in ways that empower and encourage.

Something we can all do for these so far from home in a strange, new one.

Thinking in Foreign LanguagePhoto Credit: Vikash Gupta

10 Best Language Learning Methods and Techniques – Vikash Gupta

3) Laughing Out Loud – Laughter is a balm to our minds and bodies. It is just plain good medicine. I had several experiences just this week that were so funny they made me laugh out loud. In fact, a couple of times, in the car with grandkids, I had to just pull over, laughing to capture the moment in a note so as not to forget it.

We were on an errand in a neighborhood they didn’t know. It’s one of the oldest residential areas in our city – tall, 3-story houses of a different era. Our grandson commented that it looked haunted. When I told them that, yes, some of the houses were old and tired, but many had been renovated and they were all beautiful. Then he said, “There are bad guys on my side of the road throwing doughnuts at the car.” Then he asked his sister what she saw on her side of the car. Without hesitation she said, “There are baby bunnies jumping on my side and they are throwing baby kittens at my window…and they’re soooooo sweet.”

Then on the car ride home, the little one always wants a treat to eat on the way. She said, “Gram, I want gummies.” Continuing to reinforce asking instead of telling in such matters, I said, “I don’t respond to that sort of request.” When she then asked, I told her she had had enough sweets. Then she asked, “What can I have then?” I replied, “You can have peace of mind”. Whereupon she immediately responded: “OK, then can I have a piece of yours?”

These may not seem as funny without their voices, but they made me laugh so much.

An unexpected “home for lunch” visit from Papa was another cause for laughter.

Any laughter out loud happening your way these days? Hope so. Books and movies can help with that if grandchildren aren’t around. Also some friends, like our dear Heba, have that great gift of just making us laugh at every occasion. Hope you have some of those as well.

Online search for books that make you laugh out loud

11 Books that Will Make Your Kid Laugh Out Loud – Lindsay E. Mack [Includes a separate link with even more funny books for kids and adults alike]

Facebook page – The Rabbit Room Chinwag – subscriber suggestions for all ages

 

5) The Treasure of Old Photos –In this age of minimalism, I have had to confront the bins of pictures and photo albums from a lifetime before the digital era. Including those given to my parents that are now back with me. Photography has always been my hobby as far back as the late Kodak Brownie camera days. [In fact, my first summer job beyond high school babysitting was at a Kodak film processing lab. It was so fascinating being a part of that work of turning film into treasured keepsakes.

I have gotten rid of most of the pictures only interesting to me. Including hundreds of film negatives and contact/proof sheets from my black-and-white days.

The sheet above had been stuck in a different storage bin so it avoided the purge for now. I took pictures of some of the images. They are not great quality but the emotion is still all there. Enjoy!

My beautiful Mom

Mom and Dad

My brother Dwane

Stephanie & her mom

Stephanie & Chad

…and capture the past even in this minimalist age. It is precious and it is still with us.

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That’s it for this week. Hope your weekend is full of joy with your people present with you. Blessings!

5 Friday Faves – Beyond the Guitar, Keep Climbing, the Spirituality of Food, Foul Weather Friends, and Rhiannon Giddens

Friday Faves…GO!

1) Beyond the Guitar – It’s difficult to fully describe the joy this guy’s music brings to me. He posts videos on YouTube a couple of times a month (have you subscribed?). Sometimes it’s a recent film theme, this time Pixar’s Luca with music by Dan Romer. Other times he reaches back to beloved songs from years past: Joseph Kosma‘s romantic jazz standard Autumn Leaves. Nathan Mills, of Beyond the Guitar. Besides arranging and performing all the beautiful songs on his YouTube channel, he is always at work developing content to help other musicians play music they love. There’s so much noise in the world, but in this small space, there is sheer beauty. So enjoy.

2) Keep Climbing – Rock climber Erik Weihenmayer (who is also blind) is someone I look for online these days. He is an encourager and overcomer, passionate about life and using adversity to his advantage. In fact, he wrote a book about it. [I wrote about some of his story here.]

This Spring he spoke at the commencement service of his son’s alma mater, The University of Vermont. Below you will find a highlight reel and the full speech in the link following. He talks about life in a deeply empowering way…His challenge for these young people was to “Keep climbing!” – worth a listen.

Erik Weihenmayer – 2022 UVM Commencement Speech – Start at 2:09:40 of video

3) The Spirituality of Food – A documentary on the spirituality of food just came to my awareness this week. Its title is Taste and See. Now I haven’t watched it yet, but the trailer was even satisfying. The title beckons to the Psalmist’s words, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Food and drink are such blessings. Enjoying them with people we love is one of the great joys of life. Food scarcity/insecurity is lately a frequent news topic as the world faces shortages in a coming “slow-moving disaster”. For some, it is already here.

So…to talk about the spiritual nature of growing, preparing, and sharing food seems frivolous on the surface. Yet, it is the very common and natural experience of eating that draws us together as a world of people. Compassion is rekindled. Resoluteness in our actions to make food accessible to all flourishes.

Celebrating food and its source is a good. Being grateful in our plenty can move us to extend our table to those less fortunate than we are. Anyway, I’m not sure about the theology or life science at the core of the documentary “Taste and See”…but I’m intrigued.

Life From Death: an Interview with Director Andrew Brumme – Drew Miller

I will watch it…and I will read the book that inspired it: Robert Farrar Capon‘s The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection. Below are a couple of excerpts from the book that speak the gift of food.

“O Lord, refresh our sensibilities. Give us this day our daily taste. Restore to us soups that spoons will not sink in, and sauces which are never the same twice. Raise up among us stews with more gravy than we have bread to blot it with, and casseroles that put starch and substance in our limp modernity. Take away our fear of fat and make us glad of the oil which ran upon Aaron’s beard. Give us pasta with a hundred fillings, and rice in a thousand variations. Above all, give us grace to live as true men – to fast till we come to a refreshed sense of what we have and then to dine gratefully on all that comes to hand. Drive far from us, O Most Bountiful, all creatures of air and darkness; cast out the demons that possess us; deliver us from the fear of calories and the bondage of nutrition; and set us free once more in our own land, where we shall serve Thee as Thou hast blessed us – with the dew of heaven, the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine. Amen.”
Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection
“To be sure, food keeps us alive, but that is only its smallest and most temporary work. Its eternal purpose is to furnish our sensibilities against the day when we shall sit down at the heavenly banquet and see how gracious the Lord is. Nourishment is necessary only for a while; what we shall need forever is taste.”
Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection
Robert Farrar Capon – Books, Quotes, Excerpts – Justin Holcomb [One of my favorite quotes of Capon’s is this one – totally not related to food – “We are in a war between dullness and astonishment. The most critical issue facing Christians is not abortion, pornography, the disintegration of the family, moral absolutes, MTV, drugs, racism, sexuality, or school prayer. The critical issue today is dullness. We have lost our astonishment. The Good News is no longer good news, it is okay news. Christianity is no longer life changing, it is life enhancing. Jesus doesn’t change people into wild-eyed radicals anymore; He changes them into ‘nice people’.” –Robert Farrar Capon, The Astonished Heart]

4) Foul Weather Friends – Talking to a friend earlier today, she had this to say, “I’d not sure if I’m fun. More of a foul weather friend, than fair weather”. She was noting that she seems not thought of for the fun, rousing, weekend get-togethers…but is remembered when times get hard. Her observation was less a lament and more of a statement of fact…and one about which she had peace.

It gave me pause. What delight if we could be all-weather friends, enjoying the company of others in all the extremes and as well as middling times of life. Maybe, however, we must pace ourselves. Maybe some of us are more bent toward being there in foul weather.

Just this week, I wrote about different sorts of friends. This sort of friend wasn’t on the list. In doing an online search for “foul weather friends”, most of what was written described someone not at all like the friend I know above. They were either friends who only reached out to you when they were going through hard times. Or these “friends” were those who seemed to thrive on the drama of hard times in your life, having the “need” to be needed. Or, worse, they took some bizarre pleasure in coming alongside someone having a hard time. I’m reminded of Job’s so-called friends.

When I think of the friend above, she is a complete grace in a friend’s life. Beth Merrill Neel wrote a sweet piece on foul-weather friends and here is a bit of what she said:

I’ve known people who are foul-weather friends. I won’t hear from them for months or years, but if there’s a crisis, they are there with a phone call or email or casserole. And somehow they know just what to do – how to be present without being pushy, just when to express the gallows humor, to bring the big box of kleenex and not the little travel-size pack.

If it were one of those forced-choice quizzes, would I rather be a fair-weather friend or a foul-weather one?

Truth be told, a foul-weather one. Friendship takes time and energy and if I’m going to spend some of that time or energy, I’d rather spend it with someone in a bind rather than sitting back and sipping mojitos on some exotic beach with a friend who just won the lottery.

But if I were standing in front of the pearly gates and St. Peter were checking my account, would I be found faithful in my friendship? Would he say, “There is joy abundant and you missed out on that”? Or would he say, “You showed up when it was hard and the dawn was far off”?

I’ve realized the gift of so many kinds of friendship lately, and I’ll take what I get, which is folks who show up in the rain, and folks who show up in the sunshine, and folks who bring umbrellas, and folks who bring casseroles.

May I do the same. – Beth Merrill Neel

What’s Your Listening Style? – Rebecca D. Minehard, Benjamin B. Symon, & Laura K. Rock

[In foul weather, reaching out to friends is hard, but isolation is worse. Hopefully your foul weather friends will figure it out and come after you, but if they miss signals, just reach out. They WILL want to show up. So…I want to leave these last two resources right here.]

YouTube – Comedians Tackling Depression & Anxiety Makes Us Feel Seen – Laughing Matters – Documentary [Beware: there is language in parts of this that may/will be offensive.]

Me, Myself, & Lies – The Spiritual Dangers of Isolation – Marshall Segal

5) Rhiannon Giddens – Thanks to The Richmond Forum, we had the opportunity, this past week, to hear musician Rhiannon Giddens speak and perform. She was phenomenal.

Photo Credit: YouTube

As she talked, my husband commented on what an overcomer she was. Even as she talked about slavery, she didn’t talk about slaves but rather called them “enslaved people”. Everything in her talk –  about music and music origins, the banjo, and the history of “American” music – was honoring. She gives opportunity to learn and understand and embrace possibilities, without the need to blame or shame people. When you listen to her music, you will see that overcoming worldview. Her song “At the Purchaser’s Option” is so powerful.

Photo Credit: YouTube

If you don’t know her or her work, get to know her, beginning with the links below. She is truly a brilliant and beautiful person.

TED Talk – Songs That Bring History to Life – Rhiannon Giddens

Rhiannon Giddens – 2022-2023 Perspectives Artist

YouTube Video – Rhiannon Giddens on African American Contributions to Music – Amanpour and Company

 Singer Rhiannon Giddens Taps America’s Deep Musical Roots – PBS Newshour

5 Friday Faves – Catwoman on Classical Guitar, The Ethical Skeptic & Lying, Notes to Self, Celebrating, and American Idol Highlights

Here we go! My faves of the week that flew by! What were some of yours? Post them in Comments so we can learn from you.

1) Catwoman on Classical GuitarThe Batman is the latest film in the franchise. Catwoman is one of Batman’s crime-fighting partners. I didn’t see the film and probably won’t. Too dark for me, but the music…wow! Composer Michael Giacchino worked his magic again in laying down the emotional themes for this movie. Beyond the Guitar‘s Nathan Mills does his own magic covering the Catwoman theme. Enjoy!

2) The Ethical Skeptic & Lying – I like Twitter. It has an underbelly for sure but I have found all sorts of knowledgeable influencers there that news/social media would never highlight. One such person is @EthicalSkeptic. He doesn’t name himself for professional reasons, but he helped me with some of my own misgivings about our mitigation of COVID.  Just looking at the problem globally, we seemed not to have done as well as we should given our technology and wealth.

The Ethical Skeptic is, by his Twitter bio and his writing, as he calls himself, skeptical. His focus on ethics is compelling. I actually never read his blog until just now. His latest piece, The Antiwisdom of Crowds, was fascinating. He draws on the research on lying done by the Paul Ekman Group (link below) and takes it farther in regards to crowd thinking and behavior.

Why Do People Lie? – 9 Motives for Telling Lies – Paul Ekman

Lie to Me – award-winning TV series inspired by Dr. Ekman

Photo Credit: Paul Ekman Group

The Ethical Skeptic writes:

Specifically, people lie in order to

  • attain or preserve something precious,
  • win or preserve the admiration of others, or
  • exercise power over others by controlling the information their target can access.

When a group in authority, seeks to exercise or preserve that authority, all these ubiquitous human factors not only come into play, but moreover become part of the re-enforced culture of the club itself. It’s alright to lie a little. After all, it’s for the club, it’s for science, it’s for virtue, and besides everyone in the club is also doing it.

…over time a syndicate or collective party will therefore be more likely to also be inhabited by a number of accrued false paradigms. Tangled webs which themselves must also be protected by means of more lies. This is what makes the silence of embargo a much more sustainable tactic than mere lying. Individuals then are innoculated by this collective antiwisdom…

This is just a taste of The Ethical Skeptic’s thinking. I don’t agree nor understand all of what he is saying in his substantive body of work BUT I resonate with much of it. If you want a good sense of how deep your vocabulary is, read his blog (rather, essays). He actually often gives definitions because honestly, it is stretching (or at least for me) to grasp all of what he is saying.

Lying has become a common and horrifying problem in our culture. Is it possible people don’t believe each other anymore? Or don’t trust what we’re saying when all we want is to be faithful to what is true? Or is it possible that people {the “crowd”] believe too easily what someone is saying? I would love to hear your take on this.

[Sidebar: the link below, including the comments that followed, shows something of an ethical experience he had involving the church, as well as some of his thinking about God and the Scriptures. It is hard to say how I feel about the whole of it…but his thinking is intriguing…so as not to confuse my readers, the God of the Scriptures and the Book itself have never led me down a bad path. Ever.]

The Riddle of Sin – The Ethical Skeptic

3) Notes to Self – So there’s this sock company called Notes to Self. Laura Schmidt is the owner/creator of this brilliant venture – “What you say to yourself matters!” I LOVE the idea of notes to self because it’s actually a daily habit of my own. Wearing socks that give affirmation for the day is a very sweet idea. Now they aren’t cheap ($15/pair, but like many companies, the price you pay helps others who can’t). Full disclosure: I got my socks by way of a charity thrift situation. They are wonderful socks! High quality! Comfy and encouraging! May reconsider the price tag as Christmas comes closer. Great socks and, again, a super sweet idea.

 

4) Celebrating – This weekend we’ll be celebrating moms (dates vary depending on country, of course). It’s a true phenomenon because 1) we all have a mom, and 2) many of us are moms or act in some mommish role. AND it mostly gets celebrated.

Photo Credit: Facebook, Sarah DeJarnette

Just the commercialism of this day greases the tracks for celebrating. I wish we celebrated more…not just moms, but dads, aunts and uncles (either real or stand-ins), children (born and not yet born), as well as great work teams, volunteers, and neighbors.

Celebrating is tremendously humanizing and the time it takes is so little compared to the outcomes. If the celebration is genuine and much-deserved. It’s one of those efforts that, like the tide, “raises all boats”.

Here’s to the two closest moms in my life – my own and the one I got when I married. So grateful for them.

Here’s to the moms I also get in marriage (my two married kids’ moms-in-law). Again, so grateful for them.

Finally here’s to the kids who made me a mom. So grateful for them!

5) American Idol Highlights –This is the 20th season of reality TV show American Idol. The young contestants are vying for a record contract and, even for those who don’t win, national exposure of their amazing musicianship. The music is really good, and we learn about genres we wouldn’t normally listen to. Below find a couple of highlights from a recent show, as well as one of the videos from a previous American Idol winner Scotty McCreery. I need to listen to more country music.

That’s it for this week. Thanks so much for stopping by. Much love!

Bonuses:Photo Credit: Picture Quotes

For the Joy!! – Kattie Normand, Facebook

8 of the Best Cognitive Therapy Exercises to Sharpen Your Mind – Eva Lewis

Being Known Podcast – Season 4, Episode 10: Healing Trauma: the Power of Presence – Dr. Curt Thompson & Pepper Sweeney

YouTube Video – Introduction to 8 Keys to Safe Trauma RecoveryBabette Rothschild

8 Keys to Safe Trauma Recovery – Babette Rothschild – Review by Ruby Usman

Why Make Your Life So Complicated? [25 Ways to Simplify Your Life] – Frank Sonnenberg

40 Random Pieces of Advice for the Christian Life