Category Archives: Parenting

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

5 Friday Faves – Beyond the Guitar Does Batman, the Hard-won Wisdom of Erik Weihenmayer, Without Grumbling, Parenting & Grandparenting, and Urban Farming

Friday Faves – Go!

1) Beyond the Guitar Does Batman – Nathan‘s latest. Enjoy the music below and all his other sweet pieces at Beyond the Guitar‘s YouTube channel.

…and this one.

2) The Hard-won Wisdom of Erik Weihenmayer – We had the great joy of hearing Erik Weihenmayer speak at The Richmond Forum this past week. He is a climber, kayaker, and biker, among other sports, AND he is blind. That distinctive is huge, but even so he doesn’t talk about his adventuring life as executing one impossible stunt after another. He speaks from a deeper place that we can all understand. He talks about the meaning of struggle and the advantage of adversity (even has a book with that title). His persuasive take on how one uses struggle to grow and reach beyond where we are at the moment is both inspiring and emboldening.

Below please note just a few of his wise words, and then find and watch the films, and read his books, where he discovers and fleshes out this wisdom.

Photo Credit: AZ Quotes

There is a very blurry line between the things we can’t do and the things that we can.

You don’t just deal with adversity. You use it to propel you forward.

I found climbing to be a very tactile sport. There’s no ball that is zipping through the air ready to crack you in the head. It is just you and the rock base.

I have a variety of friends I climb with. But the common thing is I trust all of them. They’re solid climbers, the sort of people I trust to know what they’re doing.

You can’t always get out on the mountain, so I’ll put rubber on the end of my ice tools and climb the tread wall, a rotating rock wall I have in my backyard.

I’ve been lucky to have lots and lots of mentors. I think that is incredibly important in anyone’s life to encourage and inspire them, let them understand that their own potential is a reality that they can strive for.

What a thrill to be able to say that you had a contribution in the life of someone – a young person, perhaps, who is trying to take a look at the possibility of their own lives and find out what they are good at and you can help steer their career.

The key is to really have tremendously high expectations and to teach kids how to be self sufficient and confident and give them the skills that they need to succeed.Erik Weihenmayer

3) Without Grumbling – Which comes first – anger or grumbling? Or is it a more subtle but growing discontent? When does occasional complaining settle into a set habit of grumbling? What does grumbling communicate to our own minds and to others within hearing?

I’ve written plenty on complaining, grumbling, and negative thinking, in general (see links below). It can absolutely change the wiring in our brains. In my younger years, I always looking for the good and the beautiful in a person/situation…and I found it. Now, as an older person, my temptation is more toward darker thinking. This is NOT where I want to stay.Photo Credit: QuoteFancy

Below is a beautiful bit of writer Trevin Wax‘s post on grumbling and joy (it is geared toward Christians but there is wisdom for all of life here).

In Philippians 2:6–11, Paul commands the church to adopt the same mind of our risen Lord.  And his first command is, “Don’t grumble.”
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” (Philippians 2:14–15)
Why start with grumbling? We might expect an exhortation to spiritual disciplines, or strategies for thriving as pure and faultless people in a sinful world. And yes, Paul does speak about blamelessness and purity and holding firm to the word of life (Philippians 2:16). But this purity in action is somehow connected to the first command to do everything without grumbling. Somehow, grumbling will keep us from faithfulness.
Why start here? Because Paul knows the story of Israel.
Remember the children of Israel? They chose grumbling over gratitude. Grumbling stalled their journey and led to actions that were anything but “blameless and innocent.”
Whether we are given suffering, chains, imprisonment, or worse (Hebrews 11:36–38), or whether we conquer kingdoms, stop the mouths of lions, escape the sword, and put armies to flight (Hebrews 11:33–34), we must know that only joy in and gratitude to Jesus will win the war for our culture…Yes, we may face obstacles, setbacks, and tough days ahead. But in it all, and under it all, we are also joyful. And this cheerful courage comes not from ignoring darkness or looking only for the bright side, but from believing that the Light will overcome the dark.
Do you want to shine like stars? Then do everything without grumbling.

Trevin Wax, Facebook, March 27, 2022

Monday Morning Moment – Life & Politics – What If We Refused to Get Angry? – Deb Mills

Monday Morning Moment – Rewiring Your Brain Toward Thinking in the Positive – Deb Mills

Monday Morning Moment – Grumpy Begets Grumpy – Understanding It, Not Reacting, and Turning It Around – Deb Mills

Monday Morning Moment – Them and Us, How Can That Be? Could Them and Us Become a We? – Deb Mills

How Changing This One Bad Habit Changed Our Home for Good – Complaining

Blog - Work Culture - delta7Photo Credit: Delta 7

4) Parenting & Grandparenting – Who are the adults in your home? Usually we think of them as parents, but maybe they are grandparents, aunts/uncles, older siblings, or some other configuration of guardian. When our daughter taught elementary school, she never presumed her students’ parents would be the ones showing up at the parent-teacher conference. The most important issue is that there is one or more adult in the home who is doing the parenting.

Writer Vikki Claflin contrasts parents and grandparents this way:

“Parenting is hard. It’s basically 18 years of schooling an often-recalcitrant young human into how to be a socially acceptable, productive member of the community.

Grandparenting, however, is less goal-oriented. We are not actually raising the future of our country…Simply put, we are not responsible for the way they turn out. That’s the parents’ job, and we’ve already done it. Now it’s just fun.”

14 Contrasts Between Parenting and Grandparenting – Vikki Claflin

Imagine how your children (or you, as a child) didn’t have those adults who took the responsibility for the way we/our children turned out. Claflin lists 14 lessons that might be missed without parenting. Check those out and think about the many others that could be missed…including resolving conflict and a reasonable bedtime.

I love being a grandparent, making fun memories and lavishing love on our grands. However, I’m thankful that they have parents holding the hard line on the things they especially need from their mom and dad. For you grandparents acting in the role of parents, you are doing a huge work. Whatever circumstance foisted this work on you, you will never regret fully embracing it. Kids need raisin’. By someone.

Do you have families in your lives where although adults are in the home, they struggle to stay on top of the growing up of their children? Leaning in as loving mentors of both the adults and children (if you’re allowed) can make a huge difference.

Monday Morning Moment – Teach Your Children Well…12 Essential Lessons of Life – Deb Mills

Parenting – the Way We Did It and the Way the French Do It – Bringing Up Bébé – Deb Mills

Routines, Rituals, & Rhythms of Life – 10 Disciplines that Can Help Us Reclaim Our Life for Good – Deb Mills

5) Urban Farming – In our years in Casablanca, Morocco, we were able to participate in an urban gardening venture. The weather and seasons were perfect for growing vegetables and herbs in containers on apartment balconies.  We lived in a house and had a compost bin in our backyard in support of this food venture.

[A funny story attached to this: Months into composting, I was concerned that rats were devouring the vegetable and fruit peelings tossed into the bin every night. The next morning, those peelings were gone. Then one night, I was late putting the last of the day’s vegetable leavings into the bin. Coming close, I heard sounds coming from atop the compost. Going back into the house, I brought out a flashlight. The top of the bin was shiny black with what must have been hundreds of African beetles. At the light, they scurried, burying themselves below the surface. I couldn’t deal…so we dismantled the compost bin the next day. Sigh…]Photo Credit: Bug Spray

However, we have an excellent compost bin now and use its rich product in our garden every year.

Urban agriculturist and farm manager Allison Hurst showcases the work of Church Hill Activities & Tutoring (C.H.A.T.) and Legacy Farm in the video below. The efforts of these two organizations is changing the culture of what has been a food desert in our city. Exciting and enlightening.

Front Porch RVA

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Thanks for stopping by. It means a lot. Also any of your own faves, share in Comments.

Bonuses:

Singing the Blues with Kevin Gullage:

Fighting with My Family – fun film about wrestling

Worship Wednesday – What If – Matthew West with Lathan Warlick

Photo Credit: Heartlight, Jeremy Taylor

Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.Psalm 90:12

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business, and make a profit.” You do not even know what will happen tomorrow! What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.James 4:14

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.Deuteronomy 6:6-7

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.2 Peter 1:3

The older we get the less surprised we are by the brevity of life.

Heaven keeps getting sweeter as more and more of our loves exit this crazy world. However, as much as we look forward to seeing Jesus, we want to stretch our days out with the joys of this life. Family, friends, our work and art, the every day splendors of life.

As we turn our thoughts to the day-to-day, we can shrink our view of forever. We soak up the sweet moments with our grandchildren and the beauty that surrounds us…even in a world scorched by war. Most of us live outside of the hard of that reality and can turn our thoughts to tending our yards and finding deals for family vacations.

Those are good things.

The dilemma is when good overrules what God is up to in our lives. God is about revealing Himself through us to a world that desperately needs Him…and we receive back the joy of being part of that loving, comforting, healing work.

The thing we face each day is whether we are willing to be part of that. God’s ways are higher than ours but are also scarier as well. But oh so satisfying!

I’ve lost four days this week to a cold. Just no energy added to complete brain fog. The keeping company with the couch was about the best I could do. Then hearing the song “What If” coincided with my day of starting to feel better. Joy!! That I have today to follow God.

It’s all we ever have, for sure. Today.

The official video of “What If” shows a series of family events around singer, songwriter’s Matthew West‘s birthday (with a little surprise ending). Fun times. Making memories. Going after experiences over material gifts. All the sorts of things that are large in our culture right now.

Larger still is the deeper meaning of West’ song. He is definitely communicating to be intentional about life, being that it is but a vapor. As video spells out, we squeeze all the good we can out of life, but that “good” is far more than just trips of a lifetime or every fun memory we can give our children.

If we’re hoping to orchestrate the “best version of our lives“, we have all we need…today…for that to happen.…as God defines it. His idea of that is so much larger than we imagine for ourselves. To bear witness to Him, to reflect the love of Jesus, to display joy, to give hope, to make a difference, to stand in the gap, to repair the breach.

Matthew West has given us many empowering songs including “Do Something”, “Forgiveness”, “Look What You’ve Done”, and “I’m Not Strong Enough” – all of which I’ve written about and taken hope from.

West talks about the story behind the song “What If”:

“You should do one thing a day that scares you…What if is a life-defining question. What if I made a change that I know I need to make, what if I sought help for an area of my life where I’m struggling, what if I stepped out and lived boldly for Christ, what if I stepped into the fullness of God’s plan for my life?  Or you can wait until the story is all but written, then you’re answering the question in the past tense. I want to answer that question now. While I still have a chance to change the things that can change. I don’t want to be answering the ‘what if” question when it’s all too late. Then it’s just about regret. I want to look back and know that I have no regrets. John 10:10 –Jesus said “I’ve come that they may have life and have it to the full”. The time is now. Live like today is the only day you’ve got. For the best version of your life, answer that “what if” question now.”Matthew West

What scary thing might God be calling you to endeavor today? He is with you. He is always with you. West reminds us to live today like it’s our last. A good word.

I’ve had a few regrets in my life…not so many because Mom taught us to keep short accounts with God and people. Asking for forgiveness and forgiving others are two parts of that. As much as it is possible, live at peace with all men (women). No grudges. No regrets. It is a daily battle, but one filled with God’s purposes and promises, as we keep our minds on Him.

Keeping Short Accounts with God – Jonathan Kirby

Worship with me to West’s song “What If” featuring artist Lathan Warlick:

I’ve heard ’em say before to live just like you’re dying, yeah
Wish I could say that’s how I am but I been lying, yeah
Lying in my bed at night, and one too many times I’m thinking
What if, what if
My biggest fear is waking up to find what matters
Is miles away from what I spent my life chasing after
Is my story gonna have the same two words in every chapter?
What if, what if

But last I checked this heart
Inside my chest is still beating
Well, I guess it’s not too late

What if today’s the only day I got?
I don’t wanna waste it if it’s my last shot
No regrets in the end
I wanna know I got no what ifs
I’m running till the road runs out
I’m lighting it up right here right now
No regrets in the end
I wanna know I got no what ifs, yeah

See, I refuse to be a shoulda woulda coulda been
I can’t go back in time, I don’t have a DeLorean
What I’m trying to say is I don’t wanna say these words again
What if, what if

But last I checked this heart
Inside my chest is still beating
Well, I guess it’s not too late, no no

What if today’s the only day I got?
I don’t wanna waste it if it’s my last shot
No regrets in the end
I wanna know I got no what ifs
I’m running till the road runs out
I’m lighting it up right here right now
No regrets in the end (yeah)
I wanna know I got no what ifs (no what ifs)

I can see the clock is ticking and I’m tired of wasting my time
I’ma do it for today, so if tomorrow come, then I’m fine
Yeah, I’m far from perfect, I’ll be asking God to keep me in mind
And this life is shorter than we think, it’s really passing us by
I can’t be taking what’s going on for granted and when it get hard you won’t see me panic
Went through the storm and came out with scars but you don’t see me with no permanent damage
Yeah, this life is like a vapor, so go ahead and take advantage
Of what’s going on now, while you still got time to manage, yeah

‘Cause what if today’s the only day I got? (I’ve got it, got it)
I don’t wanna waste it (haha) if it’s my last shot (let’s go)
No regrets (no) in the end (in the end)
I wanna know I got no what ifs (I got no what ifs)
I’m running till the road runs out (whoa)
I’m lighting it up right (ah) here right now (yeah)
No regrets (no regrets) in the end (in the end)
I wanna know I got no what ifs (no what ifs, let’s go)

I wanna know I got no what ifs (no what ifs)
I wanna know I got no what ifs (no what ifs)*

*Lyrics to What If (Songwriters: AJ Pruis, Matthew West, Ran Jackson)

What If Bible Reading Plan – Matthew West

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Monday Morning Moment – Generational Sin and Trauma – Don’t Trip Over What’s Behind You

Photo Credit: Seneca, Facebook, Natural Life

My maternal grandfather was a drunk. When he wasn’t withdrawn, walking trails in the woods, he could be mean to both his wife and his five children. How he and my grandmother, a pampered and passive woman, came to be married, I didn’t think to ask. Nor did I ask them or my mom about their childhoods.

My mom was an elegant woman. Beautiful, generous, selfless. She took the brunt of her father’s rages – standing between him and her mother or him and her two younger brothers. The two older brothers left home as soon as they could lie about their ages to join the military.

How she and my biological father married was less a mystery. He was her way out of a hard life at home. Then it would turn out that although there was not so much violence in our childhood home, there was neglect. He wasn’t a drunk but he never cared to work. When Mom finally divorced him, her heart had become so wounded and weary, it was a matter of just having one less mouth to feed.

Mom would later marry my step-dad who was a sweet daddy to me. He was harder on my brothers…and on his own kids from his first marriage. It made me sad and a little frightened, especially for my older brother. He was old enough to have seen our grandfather drunk; he knew the dismissive behavior of our biological father; he felt the anger of our step-father. My younger brothers and I missed a lot of that.

Divorce and its fallout became something I would determine to avoid…even if it meant not marrying at all.

I did marry, and a wonderful man. We are very different from each other. We have different struggles and different childhood experiences. However, from the beginning, we shared the personal experience of the nurturing love of parents, faithful to God and each other. This has been a strong foundation for us to learn to love well and parent well (hopefully). It is not the whole of it though.

In all of this, there is still the puzzling over what we bring to our marriage from past generations…and what will we transmit to our children?

Looking into our pasts isn’t always inviting. Some prefer to “let sleeping dogs lie”. I’m learning that our past informs our future; in fact, our past can predict or prescribe our future. It seems wisdom then to examine what we can of our past, and that of parents and grandparents.

Not to blame. Not to lay responsibility for some present lack in ourselves. We all make mistakes as parents even when we deeply love our children. The look back is to help us to heal any harm and to guard from bringing past hurts to our children…without thinking… without intending.

When our parents experience trauma in childhood – or endure the consequence of sin from a parent – they carry that into adulthood and potentially will transmit it to their own children. Not all survivors of adverse childhood experiences will follow this cycle, but it’s rare to avoid altogether.

My mom was very intentional in showing us love after experiencing so little in her childhood home. She did bring some of her trauma forward and we experienced it…without her meaning for us to. I remember trying, from an early age, to be as good as I could be for my mom…and failing. She had tried to do the same as well, in her growing up years…but with harsher consequences than I had.

“The child speaks what their parents could not. He or she recognizes how their own experience has been authored, how one has been authorized, if unconsciously, to carry their parent’s injury into the future.”Molly Castelloe, How Trauma Is Carried Across Generations

Photo Credit: Twitter

Have you discovered areas in your own life that if left unattended will transmit to your children’s lives? Fears, self-worth issues, anger, negativity, anxiety, perfectionism, sadness…or sin of all kinds that we have harbored (and maybe witnessed in our childhood). We can change the future, with God’s help, but taking a good long look at our past. Asking questions and considering what consequences are playing out in our current lives and our children’s.

We can break the cycle of generational trauma or sin, but it requires relentless intentionality on the parents’ part. Both for our own healing and for our children’s health. I didn’t want my children to be afraid or unsure of how valued they were. I wanted them to always know the experience of being safe, seen, soothed, and secure. Was I successful…not always…in fact, I was unaware of how generational sin clung to me. I didn’t have words for it like now.

The Adam Young Counseling podcast has been a tremendous help to me in looking at childhood trauma and generational sin. He gives practical and reasoned helps in how to heal from our own trauma as well as how to curtail the repeat of generational sin in our children’s lives.

What are your thoughts? Please add to Comments. May God help us all to be blessings (and not cursings) to our children and to theirs.

What Is Generational Trauma and Is It in the Bible? – Ashley Hooker

The Sins of the Fathers Visited Upon the Children – S. Conway

What Are “Sins of the Father”? Understanding Generational Consequences – Michael A. Milton

YouTube Video – Generational Sin + Trauma – Gospel Care Class

5 Friday Faves – Beyond the Guitar’s Latest, Parenting Pearls, Aging Well, Words, and War

Quick take on favorites of mine over the last couple of weeks:

1) Beyond the Guitar’s Latest – Enjoy!

2) Parenting Pearls – So thankful for wisdom of others…especially in parenting and raising children to be mentally healthy and resilient. How other cultures parent is also intriguing. Below are some of both.

Mom blogger Becky Mansfield wrote a great piece on things we don’t want our kiddos to forget.  Please share in the Comments what you hope your children don’t forget.

What Really Matters: Things I Never Want Our Kids to Forget – Becky Mansfield

Photo Credit: Facebook, Becky Mansfield, Your Modern Family

First, You Decide that Kids Belong in School – Carrie McKean – a writer friend of mine in Texas; everyone won’t agree with her, but she writes well and with reason for us as parents during our time with COVID.

A Top Researcher Says It’s Time to Rethink Our Entire Approach to Preschool – Anya Kementz

It’s Easy to Judge Until It’s Your Kid; Let’s Try Compassion – MaryBeth Bock

The Secret of Arctic ‘Survival Parenting’

3) Aging Well – Start young. Start young to age well. If you have to catch up (like me), there is still time.

The Seven Habits That Lead to Happiness in Old Age – Arthur C. Brooks

Forgiving People Is Good for Your Health. Here’s How to Do It. – Rachel Feltman

Forgiving People Is Good for Your Health. Here’s How to Do It – Rachel Feltman

Photo Credit: John & Julie Gottman, Yes! Magazine

4) Words – As much as I love words this quote from Jesus’ teaching gives pause: “But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.”  – Matthew 12:36-37
Words matter. Words mean things. We should be generous with life-giving words and sparing with words that destroy.  Silence and restraint have their place.
What If– A poem by Malcolm Guite
What if every word we say
Never ends or fades away,
Gathers volume gathers weigh,
Drums and dins us with dismay
Surges on some dreadful day
When we cannot get away
Whelms us till we drown?
What if not a word is lost,
What if every word we cast
Cruel, cunning, cold, accurst,
Every word we cut and paste
Echoes to us from the past
Fares and finds us first and last
Haunts and hunts us down?
What if every murmuration,
Every otiose oration
Every oath and imprecation,
Insidious insinuation,
Every blogger’s aberration,
Every facebook fabrication
Every twittered titivation,
Unexamined asservation
Idiotic iteration,
Every facile explanation,
Drags us to the ground?
What if each polite evasion
Every word of defamation,
Insults made by implication,
Querulous prevarication,
Compromise in convocation,
Propaganda for the nation
False or flattering persuasion,
Blackmail and manipulation
Simulated desparation
Grows to such reverberation
That it shakes our own foundation,
Shakes and brings us down?
Better that some words be lost,
Better that they should not last,
Tongues of fire and violence.
O Word through whom the world is blessed,
Word in whom all words are graced,
Do not bring us to the test,
Give our clamant voices rest,
And the rest is silence.
Then, on a lighter note:  there’s this sweet game that is all the rage right now. Wordle created by Josh Wardle (launched in October 2021). I love it because it is not time-consuming. You get one word puzzle a day that is challenging but doable. So fun.

What to Read About Wordle While Everybody’s Still Talking About It – Alex Dalenberg

Twitter, Karen Swallow Prior (Click to read the full thread)

Wordle App (different game, different creator)

5) War – We have all read and watched about the current invasion of Ukraine by Russia. How to respond? Who to respond? I won’t pose an opinion here because we have so many, and they don’t help really. Praying is the most important thing we can do. Below are some links I found interesting this week (well, links that weren’t behind a paywall). Praying…

Photo Credit: Facebook

War in Ukraine: Essential Reading

Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky: the Comedian President Who Is Rising to the Moment – Stephen Mulvey

Wendell Berry’s Advice for a Cataclysmic Age – Dorothy Wickenden [Lengthy biographical piece on Berry’s advice – also includes an audio file which you can listen to instead of reading the story.]

Here are a few quotes from the piece above:

“Think Little. Nearly every one of us, nearly every day of his life, is contributing directly to the ruin of this planet.” Berry went on to say that he was “ashamed and deeply distressed that American government should have become the chief cause of disillusionment with American principles.”

In a Jefferson Lecture in 2012, he quoted Stegner’s description of Americans as one of two basic types, “boomers” and “stickers.” Boomers are “those who pillage and run,” who “make a killing and end up on Easy Street.” Stickers are “those who settle, and love the life they have made and the place they have made it in.” They are “placed people,” in Berry’s term—forever attached to the look of the sky, the smell of native plants, and the vernacular of home.

He told the crowd that, as a member of the human race, he was “in the worst possible company: communists, fascists and totalitarians of all sorts, militarists and tyrants, exploiters, vandals, gluttons, ignoramuses, murderers.” But, he insisted, he was given hope by people “who through all the sad destructive centuries of our history have kept alive the vision of peace and kindness and generosity and humility and freedom.”

“A properly educated conservative, who has neither approved of abortion nor supported a tax or a regulation, can destroy a mountain or poison a river and sleep like a baby,” he writes. “A well-instructed liberal, who has behaved with the prescribed delicacy toward women and people of color, can consent to the plunder of the land and people of rural America and sleep like a conservative.”

“If two neighbors know that they may seriously disagree, but that either of them, given even a small change of circumstances, may desperately need the other, should they not keep between them a sort of pre-paid forgiveness? They ought to keep it ready to hand, like a fire extinguisher.”

“Jesus said, ‘Take no thought for the morrow,’ which I take to mean that if we do the right things today, we’ll have done all we really can for tomorrow. OK. So I hope to do the right things today.”

Wendell Berry – Americans Who Tell the Truth Website

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Any favorite finds you’d be willing to share? Post them in the Comments and thanks so much for stopping by.

Bonuses:

Setting a Valentine’s lunch for our grandchildren:

The Real-Life Diet of Kenny G, Who Learned to Cook to Set an Example for His Son – Mick Rouse

YouTube Video – Jesus’ Heart – Eric Gilmour and Dane Ortlund

Three Encouraging Quotes

Saturday Short – My Mom – a Lifetime Full of Love Notes – Her Birthday Just Ahead of Valentine’s Day

[Today is Mom’s birthday – 19 of them now in Heaven. This blog adapted from the Archives. ]

Our little family never lived close to the grandparents. This was not easy…for any of us. Before I married, I lived close to home, and Mom was my best friend. She died almost 20 years ago, and I miss her every day still. To people who knew her well, I would often say  “when I grow up, I want to be just like her.” Still working on that.

Mom and I shared a weakness for words…they are probably excessively important to us, delivering both positive and (sometimes) negative weight. She was an amazing encourager. She rarely missed an opportunity to lift another’s spirit or to speak loving truth to someone desperate for God’s touch.

Mom pictures for website 012

When I moved away to take a teaching job, she and my dad helped me with the move. New Haven, Connecticut would be a 2-day drive from Georgia. At that time, it was the farthest I had ever wandered from home. She stayed a week to help me settle in.  While there, she was such great company. We explored the city together and laughed over a new culture and cried at the missing that was ahead for us.

She filled my freezer with her baking, and, while I was at work, she wrote notes. Then she hid them everywhere. After she flew home, I began finding them. In my coffee mug. Under my pillow. In the pocket of my coat. Among my reference books. Behind my music books on the piano. She was with me in the love notes she left, and it made the distance between us…less.IMAG2720 (2)

My mom and I also had a weakness for bits of paper. I have kept every one of her notes. These from that move over 30 years ago are fading…red ink on pink paper. There is a lifetime of notes between Mom and me. The tradition she started on that first move has become a life-long tradition for our family. Our visits back and forth, across the US and then the globe, have been papered by these little notes.

Our children, from the time they could write, entered into this tradition much to the joy of their grandparents. Before we would leave from visits with them, these three young ones would write of their affection for their grandparents and hide them all over their houses. I delighted in their cooperation in this conspiracy of love.

Mom always wrote notes…not just to us but to so many. She and her Sunday School Class ladies would send cards every week to the sick ones or the sad ones. She had a special burden for the elderly, for widows (including functional widows, deserted by husbands) and for fatherless children (again including those “orphaned” by still-living fathers). She inspired me by her humble ambition .

Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world. – James 1:27

I am so thankful for my mom’s bits of paper…for her love…and for her perseverance in encouraging and serving others. Her generation is sadly almost gone, and it is for us to pick up these traditions, or traditions like them. Passing them on somehow to the next generations…Maybe there won’t be bits of paper or love notes like in the past. I do hope we still take the time to write. Definitely, the call to serve and to encourage is as current as ever. My life continues to be rich with those, young and old, who reach out with words of kindness and encouragement. Written or spoken, they are love notes to the heart.

Thanks, Mom. Thank God for you.

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.1 Thessalonians 5:11

The 59 “One Anothers” of the New Testament

Memory-of-Mildred Byrd McAdams

5 Friday Faves – Beyond the Guitar’s “Halo”, Best Film Scene, Secure Attachment, Letters to Children, and Birthdays

Happy Friday! It’s been a sweet week around here with birthday celebrations, snow, and so many captivating discoveries. Hope your week has worn well for you. Here are this week’s faves of mine (please share yours as well, in Comments, below).

1) Beyond the Guitar’s “Halo” – For twenty years, Halo and its sequels are wildly popular videogames (first person shooter). I don’t know it personally but first saw it played by son Nathan and his high school buddies. Halo Infinite came out before Christmas 2021. It is the latest rendition of the game. The theme is beautiful as you’ll hear with Nathan’s arrangement and performance below. Another amazing feat of taking a gorgeous orchestral piece of music and rendering it beautifully and a single instrument. His classical guitar.

 

2) Best Film Scene – Full disclosure: I haven’t seen the 2021 film CODA (“children of deaf adults”), but I will. It came to my attention from Josh Larsen’s tweet below, looking for fan favorites:

Several folks replying to his “scene of the year” question posted “CODA (2021) – The Audition”. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched that scene. Goosebumps. Every. Single. Time.

[The song “Both Sides Now” was written and first performed by Joni Mitchell in 1967.]

In mid-life, my mom began working in a printing company. It was a loud workplace and everyone wore earplugs and communicated often with hand signals while on the floor. She made friends with a deaf woman named Mary. Mom didn’t have to learn sign language to communicate with Mary on the floor, but their friendship grew as did my mom’s determination to learn how to truly be a friend to her. I can’t tell you how proud and enthralled I was at Mom’s learning sign language at her age…just to truly know and understand her deaf friend. They had a long beautiful friendship even after retiring from their work. Both have since died.

We have a hearing-impaired son (whose hearing is assisted with hearing aids, but who still engages with the world a bit differently because of his hearing issues. He struggles learning languages and depended more on lip-reading early on before we knew for sure he had hearing issues. He amazes us still how he has dealt with life in the hearing world.

This scene…this movie…captures some of this tension. Also the tension of the blue collar work world juxtaposed with the arts symbolized in the young [CODA] Ruby’s pursuit of admission to Berklee School of Music. You see the beauty of both.

Josh Larsen and others like him are why I stay on Twitter. I follow the most remarkable people and they open up ideas to me that are life-giving. [I don’t follow people otherwise.] Josh is a podcaster but has also written the book Movies Are Prayers. Check it out. Here’s a review.]

[P.S. I LOVED the review of the film CODA by some deaf moms. Oh my goodness! How rich and tender. Can’t wait to see the film myself.]

3) Secure Attachment – The flourishing of relationships is strongly impacted by the nature of attachment from infancy. The baby with her parents/caregivers. Was (s)he seen, truly seen, by the adults caring for her and was she soothed, kept safe and secure, in ways that communicated the same to her? Or was the attachment more geared to the caregivers’ needs or emotional strain at the time?

Photo Credit: Gabor Mate, dr_anniephd, Instagram

Psychiatrist, research, and educator Daniel Siegel has given us so much help in parenting our babies. His work on attachment-based parenting is ground-breaking and foundational to how we look at the role of the adult caregiver in raising resilient children into adulthood.

When parenting our little ones, we need to be aware of how our own stress (including the past experience of our own being parented) is affecting our attachment to them…how we communicate our care for them. Then how ever secure our children’s attachment to us might be, when hard things happen to them (trauma later in life), they can fall back on the security of their early childhood attachment. Let’s say, these young people, even young adults, did not have a close attachment to their parents, they can psychologically “walk those memories back” such that they can become more secure and flourishing adults.

This may make some wonder why I pose these ideas. “We’re all doing the best we can”, right? My parents were divorced when I was little and I have huge gaps in my memory. I wonder at that. My mom was super loving and understanding of our needs, but she had to work long hours and just wasn’t there much.

Also, in my family and friend groups, there are those who have endured terrible trauma in relationships, both as young children and into their teen and young adult years. Are they flourishing? I hope so, but it isn’t always clear. Reading and thinking through AND talking together about attachment (having reading so much of Siegel’s work) have been helpful and made me more hopeful.

Monday Morning Moment – As Adults We Still Need to Feel Safe, Seen, Soothes, and Secure – Deb Mills

The 4 S’s of Attachment-Based Parenting – Daniel J. Siegel – Podcast

I just read his brief but illuminating paper “The Verdict Is In – the Case for Attachment Theory”. Siegel and his co-author Alan Sroufe

The Verdict Is In — The case for attachment theory

The Verdict Is In – The Case for Attachment Theory – Alan Sroufe and Daniel Siegel – pdf

Photo Credit: Dr. Dan Siegel & Dr. Tina Payne Bryson

The Power of Showing Up – Daniel J. Siegel, MD & Tina Payne Bryson, PhD

Mindful Parenting: 4 S’s of Secure Attachment – Esther Goldstein

The Neurobiology of Attachment to Nurturing and Abusive Caregivers – Regina M. Sullivan, PhD

How We Come to Define Ourselves – Attachment Research Over Decades with Guest Alan Sroufe – Therapist Uncensored Podcast

4) Letters to Children – Author C. S. Lewis felt great responsibility in answering the many letters he received through the years. Especially replying to the children who wrote him. The small book C. S. Lewis’ Letters to Children is especially delightful as he writes both eloquently and playfully to them With respect for them as fellow readers and a certain peership with them in loving the characters and stories in his books. In particular The Chronicles of Narnia. No question was treated as childish. In fact, we can learn quite a lot about Lewis in his correspondence with these children.

For this blog, I’ve screenshot just a few of the letters. They were magnificent. In fact, in one of his letters he shared with a child the two favorite books he had written: Perelandra and Till We Have Faces. What a wonder to have a letter from this great storyteller! Lewis wrote hundreds of letters over the course of decades of his life, right up until the day before he died.

[I have saved letters…especially from my mom and a few other adults in my life. Letters these days are a treasure. Are you writing any? Are you young people saving any?

5) Birthdays – This is my birthday week.

Photo Credit: Samantha Reynolds, Instagram

The weather here has been quite cold and wet. A small snowfall stayed with us due to temperatures remaining below freezing. This kept me wanting to stay inside, except for one trip to Cracker Barrel for a birthday breakfast. In the country store attached to the restaurant, you can always find word art, images of which you will find below.

My love languages are words and acts of service. Blessed with both for my special day. Cards. Grandchildren drawings. A dinner at home with the kids taken care of completely by them. Sweet birthday. Thanks to many of you for your greetings, and I hope your 2022 birthday is a good one.  

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That’s it for this week. Please do add any of your favorite finds or experiences of the week in the Comments below. You are a blessing!

Bonuses:

The One Unexpected Sign You May Be Gaslighting the People Around You – Anna Brech [Hint: Beware of unintentional use of gaslighting.]

The Angel of Patience

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Photo Credit: NICABM

Photo Credit: Instagram, K. J. Ramsey

5 Friday Faves – One Small Step, A Father’s Good Gifts, Gossip, Blended Families, and Mission BBQ

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 MissionMission 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. http://debmillswriter.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/IMG_6824.jpg

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.http://debmillswriter.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/IMG_6827.jpg

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)?

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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.

Bonuses:

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

 

 

 

5 Friday Faves – Epic Spanish Romance Guitar Cover, Languishing, From Sad to Mad, Christmas Events, and I.O.U.S Acronym on a Divided Heart

Christmas week is upon us! This past week’s Friday Faves finally:

1) Epic Spanish Romance Cover– Get ready for one of the most beautiful pieces ever written for classical guitar. The composer is unknown. The arranger for this piece is  Nathan Mills, at Beyond the Guitar. Enjoy.

[One of his subscribers on YouTube asked him to do for Niel Gow’s Lament what he did to the Spanish Romance. Here in his college days, Nathan plays that piece. Hope he does put his own touch to it again…all these years later. A funny sidebar to the piece below: Nathan’s sister wanted him to play this for her wedding. He said something to the effect that the whole title of the piece is “Niel Gow’s Lament For the Death of His Second Wife” so Nathan played other pieces instead. Didn’t seem a good fit for a wedding day. ]

2) Languishing– Who even knows what this is?! Well, author and organizational psychologist  Adam Grant does. He defines it as:

“Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it may be the dominant emotion of 2021.

As scientists and physicians work to treat and cure the physical symptoms of long-haul COVID-19, many people are struggling with the emotional long haul of the pandemic. It hit some of us unprepared as the intense fear and grief of last year faded.

In psychology, we think about mental health on a spectrum from depression to flourishing. Flourishing is the peak of well-being: You have a strong sense of meaning, mastery and mattering to others. Depression is the valley of ill-being: You feel despondent, drained and worthless.
Languishing is the neglected middle child of mental health. It’s the void between depression and flourishing — the absence of well-being. You don’t have symptoms of mental illness, but you’re not the picture of mental health either. You’re not functioning at full capacity. Languishing dulls your motivation, disrupts your ability to focus and triples the odds that you’ll cut back on work. It appears to be more common than major depression, and in some ways it may be a bigger risk factor for mental illness.

So what can we do about it? A concept called flow may be an antidote. Flow is that elusive state of absorption in a meaningful challenge or a momentary bond, where your sense of time, place and self melts away. During the early days of the pandemic, the best predictor of well-being wasn’t optimism or mindfulness. It was flow. People who became more immersed in their projects managed to avoid languishing and maintained their pre-pandemic happiness.” – Adam Grant

There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing – Adam Grant

I’m very thankful to come across this article by Dr. Grant. He has much more to say both in the above piece and in his TED talk below. We can learn how to move from languishing back to flourishing.

The links below point to a varied and fascinating reach into languishing. Worth your time.

The Neglected Child of Mental Health – Bruce Isdale

The Neglected Child of Mental Health – Caron Leid

The High Cost of Calm – Why Relaxing Is So Much Work

I’m a Short Afternoon Walk and you’re putting way to much pressure on me – Emily Delany

How to Describe Our Pandemic State(s) of Mind – WNYC Podcast

Why You Need to Address Languishing to Retain Your Talent

3) From Sad to Mad – In the midst of a sweet time of year for some of us folks, I have found my capacity for sadness stretched super far. With a background in cancer nursing where loss was always part of life, and with all the hello-goodbyes in our overseas season as a family, and finally having lost very significant people in the last few years…sad is stretched. What has surprised me of late is how fast my “sad” goes to “mad”. I get angry at the losses – deaths to COVID, marriages broken, families estranged from each other, moral failures…and more. Mad is not where I want to be. “Righteous indignation” never stays righteous. It gets mean way too quickly.

Photo Credit: Pexels, Serkan Goktay

From Sad to Mad: How Suppressing Your Sadness Invites Anger – Joshua Nash

The piece above helped me immensely. Therapist Joshua Nash offers helpful steps (go there if this has become an issue for you as well). The main take-away for me is that I shift from sadness at a loss to anger at the injustice of it. What is better for my emotions, body, and relationships is to stay in the sadness. Feel it, examine its impact, mourn the cause. Sadness will subside. Moving into anger (as natural as it is in grieving a loss) mucks up the sadness. Anger is punishing (to yourself and others). As hard as staying in the sadness is, we (and our relationships) will be better for it.

Christmas Bitter and Christmas Sweet – Tim Challies

4) Christmas Events – December is practically glutted with events to celebrate Christmas. In a month when meditating on the mystery of a virgin birth and the long-anticipated coming of a Savior King, quiet is hard to come by. We make room for it…alongside all the fun of this month. Below is a photo array of just some of this past week for us.

  • Christmas Cookie & Ornament Exchange (us women):
  • Old-fashioned Carol Sing (mostly in our own basement):
  • VCU Holiday Gala with our favorite alum and his little son: 
  • Tacky Lights RVA:
  • Ethnic lunch out (#Mezeh) with our youngest:
  • Quiet times in front of the fire (quiet on the schedule AND with cookies & coffee):
  • Christmas with The Chosen:

[If the recording of Christmas With the Chosen: The Global Live Event becomes inaccessible, you can find it on The Chosen app.]

5) I.O.U.S Acronym on a Divided Heart – This morning I was struck afresh how little undivided attention is exercised in my day. Even my introverted husband will spill out all sorts of wise and wonderful words – when I am wholly there. Fixed. Not leaving the room mentally. These moments are more rare than I’d like to confess…all because of the struggle to focus.

Author theologian John Piper tackles this issue with our heart toward God. We struggle with all sorts of noise and clatter pulling us in directions that leave off the wonder of deeply knowing Him.

Photo Credit: John Piper, Quote Fancy

Piper uses an acronym that is hugely helpful in this (setting us in a positive direction for the New Year):

I.O.U.S. – [From John Piper’s Divided Heart article linked below]

“The embattled heart is typical of the Christian life. None of us has a consistently united heart in longing for God.”

  • “The letter I stands for incline. “Incline my heart to your testimonies,” we pray with Psalm 119:36. We ask God to take away resistance. We ask God to incline us toward God and his Word instead of away from God. And so we admit all our inclination toward God is a work of God. The psalmist would not be praying like this if the inclination was ultimately within our own power. If it were, he wouldn’t be asking God to incline his heart. We plead with God to take our hearts in his hands and to incline them, bend them, toward his Word.
  • Then the letter O stands for open. Psalm 119:18 says, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” We need God to work a miracle on the eyes of our heart so that we can see the truth, beauty, value of who he is right there in his word. If we are left to ourselves while meditating on God’s word, we will see nothing of his spiritual beauty and worth.
  • Then comes the third letter, U. It stands for unite. Psalm 86:11 says, “Unite my heart to fear Your name.” What an amazing prayer: “Unite my heart.” So what’s the problem that this psalmist is praying to solve? The problem is a divided heart.”

Plead Psalm 86:11 in prayer: ‘O God, unite my heart to fear your name.’Is It Normal to Have a Divided Heart? – John Piper

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Bonuses:

The Last Word – A one-minute video speaks volumes about our country, the media’s impact on us all, and one decision to step away. 62 y/o news commentator Brian Williams stepped away from a 28-year career with NBC/MSNBC. His last show was December 9, and he announced his resignation in this powerful short statement. We can all take something away from this, whatever our politics or nationality. There comes a time…

How to Engage a Parent Who Has Harmed You with Autumn – Podcast 23 – Adam Young Counseling

Photo Credit: Instagram, Adam Young Counseling

Women & Work Book Club – The Common Rule by Justin Whitmel Earley – Check out previous books reviewed and discussed with the authors.

Did Chevrolet Have to Make America Cry With Its New Christmas Ad? – Joe Cunningham

The Great Challenge of Every Marriage

9 Habits that the World’s Healthiest and Longest Lived People Share – Dan Buettner

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Contemplative Monk, Facebook

5 Friday Faves – Work Songs, People Who Inquire, Fall’s Breathtaking Beauty, a Rightful Memorial, and a Christmas Tree

Here we go: this week’s Friday Faves. Thanks for reading.

1) Work Songs – On a walk in the neighborhood this week, I pulled open the door of the little free library near us and discovered a tiny book. Its title and cover art were intriguing. It was Matt Johnson‘s Work SongsI tucked it in my pocket and finished my walk, thinking about some of the work songs of my day: The Eagles’ Get Over It or Bachman & Turner’s Takin’ Care of Business or Sam Cooke’s Chain Gang or Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 or Rose Royce’s Car Wash. However, it is not a volume about work songs, per se, but more about the lack of them in our current culture. Johnson has written a book of true stories of notables through decades. People who may have been considered ordinary to begin with but who persevered in the work of their day. He (and they through these short essays) teach us lessons on the impact possible when both individuals and connected groups stay at it and refuse to be dissuaded from their task or their vision. 

Podcaster and leadership trainer Laurie Ruettimann had a fascinating conversation with author Matt Johnson on the topic of his book Work Songs. The title of her piece is “Modern Work Has No Song – How Stories Create Perseverance”.

“For as long as we’ve had language as a species, we’ve actually had music for the work we do,” he says. “We’ve actually, for a long time, had music that actually created meaning — not just unify the sort of actions in the job of the people, but it actually gave them a bigger context for the work they were doing. And what’s interesting is, if you look at the evolution of that, modern work absolutely has no song.”  – Matt Johnson

Work Songs – Matt Johnson – Buzzsprout Audiobook (narrated by Matt Johnson, in individual essay chunks)

This Is How a Book Can Change Your Life – Matt Johnson

2) People Who Inquire – Psychiatrist Curt Thompson preached a sermon in the Spring of this year on the topic “Generational Trauma, Shame & Redemption”. While on errands, I was listening and actually had to pull the car over to capture one quote in particular.

“One of the most important developmental experiences for us, not only as children but that continues for us as adults, is to have others inquire of us and teach us to be people who do the same…Who is inquiring of you?” – Curt Thompson, MD – Generational Trauma, Shame & Redemption

We are told as parents of adult children not to give unsolicited advice. Same actually with friends and coworkers. I get how wary our grown children might be to seek advice because then there is the perceived expectation they must follow it. What happens when young people (and older ones) inquire of others  about life and what their experiences have been? Instead of going straight for the advice offering, our inquiring and listening can be a springboard can encourage and embolden toward wise decision-making. It is a joy to see people inquire of others – wanting to know them in deeper ways as well as wanting to know how more deeply to follow God in life.

In his sermon, Thompson used a passage out of the book of the Prophet Jeremiah.

Thus says the Lord , “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.'”Jeremiah 6:16

In the text, Jeremiah is challenging the people of Israel to take four actions as they proceed in life, especially in situations when they aren’t sure of the direction or struggle with making a sound decision. He says to:

  • Stand – when we come to a fork in any road (relationally or situationally), we should stop. We don’t have to have a knee-jerk response. We are not bound to take a direction we always have in the past. We stop…we stand…and
  • Look (or examine) – we take a breath. We count the cost. We consider.
  • Ask (or inquire) – Inquiring in this passage is done as a people not just an individual. We inquire of each other. We inquire of the Lord. We seek counsel. We explore the thinking of the others. We consider.
  • Walk in the good way. – Then, and only then, do we continue on. We do so with confidence and hopefully with peace and a pure heart…that we have considered God’s definition of what way is good, and we have considered those on the paths with us…not making assumptions but inquiring what is their thinking on the paths before them.

Jeremiah tells the people, if they will “stand…look…ask/inquire …and then walk (in the good path…God’s path, not our own self-serving or impulsive path) – we will have “rest for (y)our souls“.

The sad part of this verse is the last phrase: “But they said, ‘We will not walk in it’.” What makes us break with each other and/or with God? What makes us determined to go our own way, no matter where it leads?

In our culture today, the inclination is toward self-sufficiency and self-determination. We don’t know each other as we might if we would but lean in and inquire of (get to know, truly know) each other. We might do this on a small scale with those very closest to us, but on a larger “people of God” scale, we are what? Disinterested?

What are your thoughts? Please comment below.

The Conversational Habits that Build Better Connections – David Robson

3) Fall’s Breathtaking Beauty – Just a few shots from our neighborhood and Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden:

4) A Rightful Memorial – A dear friend of ours died recently and his family arranged a fitting celebration of life. This 91-years-young man was a delight to his family and friends. He took so much joy in the people in his life and the work he relished in his long career. With faltering health and mounting years, his family knew time was precious and did all they could to be very present in his life. I wish I could provide an image of his crinkly, smiling eyes. All I can say is that he took joy in life. His family and friends took joy in his.

Funerals these days aren’t always treated as the opportunity to salute these passing figures entering into eternity. It’s a pity. Our friend (who I don’t identify by name to protect privacy) would himself have been pleased and humbled by this one. Military honors (including an honor guard, presenting the flag, and the shooting of three volleys) were an appropriate part of his funeral, given his military service, followed by his long years as a deep sea tugboat captain. The reading of Scripture and singing of hymns and remembrances from friends were all a part. The pastor spoke of his life and our friend’s relationship to Christ. We prayed and wiped tears away and counted ourselves blessed to know this friend, gone too soon at 91. See you again, dear Brother.

 

5) A Christmas Tree – For many, an early start on Christmas is just wrong. Sorry, not sorry. We start listening to Christmas music in October. Starting to decorate by mid-November is not to laud this holiday above all others. Simply, it is hard to pack in all the joy and remembering that come with Christmas in just the confines of one month. Our main Christmas tree is still stored. It will be covered with white lights and ornaments celebrating the birth of Jesus. [It actually stays up right through February 14 – Valentine’s Day – changing out the nativities to hearts and snowy winter ornaments.]

The Christmas tree we do have up (see images below) is one of a vintage feel. Colored lights (LED but reminiscent of my childhood). Ornaments depicting eras gone-by, storybook characters, and symbols of the past that continue to lift our hearts.

My parents’ names on quilted ornaments

Is your tree up? There’s still plenty of time… The lights have been a sweet respite from the darkness coming so early these days.

AND…for those who would appreciate a nod to our American Thanksgiving – the Hot Turkey Bowl at Wawa’s is amazing!

Photo Credit: Pinterest, Wawa Hot Turkey Bowl

Until next time…thanks for stopping by.

Bonuses:

Nokia to Release New Version of Its 6310 ‘Brick Phone’ – Andrew Court – This is so exciting if you are really wanting to get less screen intrusion in your life and just use your phone as a phone. It does have a camera but less than what we’ve become used to. Watching for its arrival in the US after its introduction to the UK market.

[With permission, the Instagram post below made me smile all over. That sweet girl and the amazing breakfast displayed. I miss Moroccan cafe breakfasts!!!]

Your 9-Step Strategy to Maintain Your Weight During the Holidays – Darya Rose

11 Mental Tricks to Stop Overthinking Everything – Scott Mautz

Leaders, Talk About Power to Protect the Vulnerable – Chris Davis

How to Maintain a Healthy Brain to Reduce the Risk of Dementia – Kailas Roberts

Watching Children Learn How to Lie – Gail Heyman

Gandalf’s Best Lord of the Rings Line Explains the Trilogy’s Magic – Susana Polo

How Anxiety and Depression Can Take Years Off Your Life

Photo Credit: Facebook, Gods Armour