Happy New Year! Whew! May 2022 be a reprieve from the struggle of 2020 and 2021. May we see the fruit of new wisdom and sound actions taken toward a healthier future and a closer community across our world. Thank You, God, for this new year and getting us through the last. Here are my favorite finds from this first week of 2022.
1) One Small Step – A couple of years ago, Dave and I had the privilege of listening to Dave Isay, the founder and president of Storycorps. He is a strong advocate of the power of telling our stories (to each other, face-to-face). [See his TED Talk on this here.] Given what we’ve been through the last couple of years (with our country divided over politics and trying to keep our balance with COVID), his One Small Step Initiative has been incredibly timely. Isay has a vision of bringing our country together (and maybe yours as well if you live elsewhere) through the experience of face-to-face dialog. We may have some sharp disagreements and consider ourselves enemies, but we can find common ground and common values…if we keep (or start) talking to each other. StoryCorps has made a platform where strangers can engage. Strangers who would not usually, given their differences, talk together. This One Small Step Initiative is actually being highlighted on this week’s CBS TV show 60 Minutes. Don’t miss it (or catch it later).
Photo Credit: RVA Library, Ben Himmelfarb
P.S. Two phrases that speak to the above…and positive, healing communication, in general, are contingent communication and contact hypothesis. They are both worth taking note of and considering:
Contingent communication – Face-to-face conversation with a determination of deep listening, strong affirmation, and the mutual sense of “feeling felt”. Dr. Curt Thompson describes it as “communication, in which two individuals, through both their spoken dialogue and non-verbal cues, each affirm the other as they interact”. (Anatomy of the Soul, p. 139)
Contact hypothesis – “suggests that prejudice and conflict between groups can be reduced if members of the groups interact with each other”. In this article, Dr. Elizabeth Hopper goes on to say that “One especially promising possibility is that contact between groups might encourage more powerful majority group members to work as allies”. Instead of talking around each other, we come together. One conversation at a time.
2) A Father’s Good Gifts – This week I discovered an article by Jon Bloom entitled A Father’s Good Pleasure. Bloom talks about the joy we as parents have when we participate in generating joy in our children’s life.
One example of this for me is how my sweet step-dad continued to travel overseas to see us after Mom died. This was not a thing on his bucket list He came because he loved us and he came because he knew the joy it would bring to us.
“Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” – Jesus (Matthew 7:9–11)
“Give them [your children] good things — things they value as good and really want. And really, authentically enjoy doing it. It has God’s endorsement, since he too takes great pleasure in giving good gifts to his children…Become, through your joyful, affectionate generosity, an opportunity for your children to experience [and you with them…what C. S. Lewis calls] transposition — to see and savor the higher, richer pleasure of God in the natural pleasure of their father giving good gifts to them.
Become a student of what gives them joy.” – Jon Bloom
I love that Jon posted this piece the first week of January – when we are reeling with all the “stuff of Christmas”, including the credit card bills coming in this month. It is a joy to give our kids what they want when we can (and that is carved deeply in our western Christmas culture). It is also a joy to give our kids joy in deeper ways.
Our youngest son eats lunch with us on some Sundays. Often it is just him and us; his older siblings and families joining us occasionally. When Dave and I are most attuned to him, we just take the opportunity to affirm him and take joy in him. He feels that joy.
Have you Buried Your Gifts? – Jon Bloom
[Sidebar: The piece above talks about the gifts that we have and how our abilities and capabilities (the strength to operate out of our abilities) go hand in hand. Don’t want to bury my gifts because of a lack of gumption.]
Photo Credit: Nancy Tillman, Facebook
3) Gossip – What we may consider processing (with a friend or spouse) could be just plain old gossip. Pastor, writer Scott Sauls calls it in a recent tweet.
Photo Credit: Scott Sauls, Twitter
Such a wake-up call about gossip helps us think about the damaging impact of it on relationships. Gossip (which we too often call processing or ranting) makes us think we’re doing something about the dysfunctional relationship we have, when really we’re causing it further harm. What we’re doing is something called triangling. When we have a problem with one person but complain about that person to another. It is passive-aggressive and if we aren’t coached to go to the person missing from the conversation, then it just remains complaining. The relationship continues to be dysfunctional.
We aren’t to just bury a struggle, but we can deal with an offense with care and respect…even if it feels undeserved. This is the beginning of a healthy connection in the place of dishonoring and dismissing complaining.Photo Credit: Heartlight
A Gentle Answer: Our ‘Secret Weapon’ in an Age of Us Against Them – Scott Sauls
Beautiful People Don’t Just Happen: How God Redeems Regret, Hurt, and Fear in the Making of Better Humans – Scott Sauls (Publish date June 2022)
4) Blended Families – Step-families, or blended families, can provide safe and loving refuges for children of divorce. As an adult child of divorce, I remember well the shame of being a child whose dad just seemed to forget his children over time. When Mom remarried a man also divorced (with children of his own), we experienced the positive (and negative) of being in a step-family.
Photo Credit: Pixabay, John Hain
As older adults, both children sets have issues of parental neglect mixed in with loving relationships. Every step-family is different, of course. Many are healthy. For those who struggle, there is always help and hope…if we reach for it.
[Just some of my large blended family…including some friends who are family…for which I’m so thankful.]
A podcast I would recommend for step-families who have had broken or painful relationships is therapist Ron Deal‘s Family Life Blended. The podcast (and other resources) is a help for any family but especially for blended families. The link below is an excellent example.
Ridding Your Soul of Shame – Family Life Blended Podcast – Ron Deal with Curt Thompson
Photo Credit: Pixabay, Ben Kerckx
5) Mission BBQ on a Mission – Mission BBQ is one of our favorite restaurants in Richmond. Their generous customer service (even in this era of COVID) and consistently delicious food are super special.
We are members of their birthday club and receive a free barbecue sandwich when our special day rolls around each year. Besides that, we will get an email occasionally inviting us in for another free sandwich. Today we redeemed our “Merry Christmas” freebies.
The food is great, but it’s also an uplifting in-restaurant experience. Mission BBQ sets the bar high in honoring first responders and members (and families) of the military. In fact…they make all their customers feel honored. Sweet. And very unique.
In fact, if you’re in the Richmond area (or have a Mission BarBQ in your area, and are thinking about heading over on Monday, they will be closed. It’s their National Day of Service when they feed homeless veterans around the city.
The Restaurant Dishing Up Patriotism with a Side of BarBQ
If you have one in your town, don’t miss it. If you don’t, can you suggest your own exceptional business (in Comments below)?
Those are this week’s Faves. How about you? Please also use the Comments to share some of yours. Thanks for stopping by. You are a blessing.
Endangered Attention: How to Guard a Precious Gift – Scott Hubbard
One big mistake people repeatedly make is focusing on proving themselves right, instead of focusing on achieving the best outcome. This is the wrong side of right. — The Wrong Side of Right
Top 10 Surprising Lessons on the Genealogy of Jesus – Joshua Infantado
A Facebook post by a friend of mine in January 2020 – still speaks:
Photo Credit: John Williams, Facebook
“I make my bed every morning because it’s a gift that I get to open at the end of every day. A gift that not everyone has. So while I’m wrapping my bed in the morning and I’m unwrapping it at night I’m reminded of what a great blessing my bed really is in my life. When we stop viewing what we have as little, insignificant or not enough then we get to see what we do have as gifts we get to enjoy, great blessings in our lives and provision for our needs.” – Theresa Nicely McCoy, Facebook