Category Archives: Anxiety

Worship Wednesday – Remember – Maverick City Music x UPPER ROOM

Photo Credit: Heartlight, Jeremy Taylor

From the mouths of children and infants You have ordained praise on account of Your adversaries, to silence the enemy and avenger. When I behold Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place – what is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You care for him?Psalm 8:2-4

Let’s just start right here. It’s been difficult for me to write a Worship Wednesday this week because the news has been so distracting and demoralizing, even defeating at times.

How do we let that happen? Given the God we know who also knows us (1 Corinthians 8:3). Nothing in our world right now is a surprise to Him. Is He angry at how sin is abounding? Absolutely. A pure and measured anger. An anger that accompanies His perfect compassion for the suffering of His children.

Gentle and Lowly – the Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers – Dane Ortlund – highly recommend this for our comfort in knowing Jesus

In this season of distress, our own compassion is matched by our accompanying anger at the wrongs around us. Our attention is drawn to what’s seen and we forget the glorious unseen.

Author, pastor Tim Keller‘s tweet helped me clear my head.

Photo Credit: Twitter –  @timkellernyc

Oh Lord, help us remember You. You are near and You are wholly and perfectly feeling the pain this world is experiencing. Your plan is in motion…whether we see it or not. You are moving in our lives today. We do not need to fear. Our eyes are on You right now.

Maverick City + UPPER ROOM‘s song Remember applies well to these moments of upheaval and struggle. It reflects Jesus’ command to remember Him through the Lord’s Supper and takes it farther to a daily sacrifice of praise. What He did for us we could not do for ourselves or each other. The Lord Jesus is still our advocate and intercessor. Hallelujah!

Photo Credit: Timothy Keller, Quote Fancy, Get Wallpapers

Worship and remember with me.

We see You on the cross
And You’re beautiful, God
The blood speaks a better word, yeah

The bread, Your body
The wine, Your blood
Sweet communion
You set a table for us
The crucified Jesus
No greater love
Than the bread, Your body
Than the wine, Your blood

Oh-oh, we will remember
Oh-oh, Jesus, our Savior
Oh, just to know You in Your suffering
Just to get me closer than I’ve ever been
Oh-oh, we will remember
Yes, we will, yes, we will
Yeah

The holes in Your hands
And the wounds in Your side
Thirty-nine lashes
Brought me back to life
And before resurrection
There was a grave
In hell, there was a battle
And my life was saved

Oh-oh, we will remember
Oh-oh, Jesus, our Savior
Oh, just to know You in Your suffering
Just to get me closer than I’ve ever been
Oh-oh, we will remember

Yes, we will, yes, we will (Hey)
Oh, we can see it now
And we can see how (Mmm, yeah)
Oh, Your blood made a way
Your blood made a way
Hey, hey

And this is our Savior
Look at Him, look at Him
This is our Savior
Look at Him, look at Him
This is our Savior
Look at Him, look at Him
This is our Savior
Look at Him, look at Him
Our Christ Redeemer
Look at Him, look at Him
Our Christ Redeemer
Look at Him, would you just look at Him? Look at Him
Our Christ Redeemer
Look at Him, would you look at Him?
Our Christ Redeemer
Look at Him

And oh-oh, we will remember
Oh-oh, Jesus, our Savior
Oh, just to know You in Your suffering
Just to get me closer than I’ve ever been
Oh-oh, we will remember

This is our Savior
Look at Him, look at Him
This is our Savior
Look at Him, would you just look at Him? Look at Him
This is our Savior
Look at Him, look at Him
This is our Savior
Look at Him, would you just look at Him?
Oh, our Christ Redeemer
Look at Him, won’t you look at Him?
Oh, our Christ Redeemer
Look at Him (Look at Him)
Our Christ Redeemer
Look at Him, look at Him
Our Christ Redeemer
Look at Him (Look at Him), oh (Hey)

Would you just look at Him? Look at Him
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him (Look at Him, look at Him)
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him (Look at Him, look at Him)
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him (His eyes like fire)
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him (His hair like wool)
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him (His feet like brass)
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him (He’s beautiful)
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him (His eyes like fire)
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him (His hair like wool)
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him (His feet like brass)
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him (He’s beautiful)
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him
Would you just look at Him? Look at Him, oh

Oh-oh, we will remember (Oh, hey)
Oh-oh, Jesus, our Savior
Oh, just to know You in Your suffering
Just to get me closer than I’ve ever been
Oh-oh, hey, we will remember

And how could we forget?
After what we’ve experienced
Oh, it’s unforgettable (Woo)
It’s unforgettable
Oh, how we could forget? (Look at Him)
After what we experienced
Oh, up from the muck and the miry clay
He lifted me (He lifted me)
Up from the muck and the miry clay
He lifted me (He lifted me)
Oh, I remember, I won’t forget
How He took my life from the pit (Hey)
I remember, I won’t forget
How He took my life from the pit, oh
We remember, we won’t forget (Yeah, yeah)
How You took our lives from the pit
We remember, we won’t forget
Look at where we are now
Look at where we were back then
We remember, we won’t forget
How You took our life from the pit (Hey)
Oh, we remember, we won’t forget
Look at where I am now
Look at where I was back then
We remember, we won’t forget
How You took our life from the pit (Yeah)
We remember, we won’t forget
Look at where I am now
Look at where I was back then
We remember, we won’t forget
How You took our lives (From the pit), hey
We remember, we won’t forget
(Look at where we are now)
Lift your voice, lift your voice

Oh-oh, we will remember
Oh-oh, Jesus, our Savior (Oh, just to know you)
Oh, just to know You in Your suffering
Just to get me closer than I’ve ever been
Oh-oh, we will remember

Oh-oh, we will remember
Oh-oh, Jesus, our Savior
Oh, just to know You in Your suffering
Just to get me closer than I’ve ever been
Oh-oh, we will remember*

We are far from unmoved by the news of the day – war, wildfires, abortion battles, soaring prices, drug deaths, and racial divides. Yet, in the midst of being the church in these situations, we turn our eyes to Jesus, fix them on Him…and remember.

*Lyrics to Remember by Maverick City x Upper Room

YouTube Video – Remember (Shortened Version) – Lyric Video

Photo Credit: Timothy Keller, Quote Fancy

Photo Credit: Heartlight, C. S. Lewis

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

___________________________________________________________________________

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

5 Friday Faves – Beyond Grumpiness, the Coming of Spring, Shame as Our Personal Assistant, Vulnerability, and Great Marriage Advice

Friday Faves – Go!

1) Beyond Grumpiness –A friend of mine pointed this blog to me today and it bumped its way to the top of my Faves. English professor Alan Jacobs mused about the grumpiness of old people. I don’t know when it happens and why exactly it happens, but it is something that has happened to me of late…and I don’t think I’m old enough yet for it to happen.

Photo Credit: Stream

Here’s a bit of what Dr. Jacobs says about grumpiness, but you should read his whole piece, especially if you’re finding yourself becoming grumpy (whatever age you are).

“I think the explanation for such widespread grumpiness is fairly simple…It’s not the big foul acts or horribly cruel words that do you in, it’s the slow drip drip drip of little annoyances that become over time a vast sea of frustration. Surely you’ve been there? You become exasperated by someone’s passing comment and when they are genuinely puzzled by your anger over so trivial a matter, you try to explain (apologetically, penitently, I hope) that it wouldn’t be a problem if this thing had happened once but it has happened a thousand times. It’s the repetition that kills you.” [Dr. Jacobs goes on to talk about the divisions on which we’ve taken sides give the sense of being new and revolutionary…and yet they are old divisions revisited.] “You can’t learn from the past if you don’t know what happened in it. So yeah, I’m gradually turning into a grumpy old man. Because nobody learns anything…” [About these things that divide us: We seem to care too much, or too little, or just plain not at all. Dr. Jacobs challenges us to that only truly loving people gives us the right to voice an opinion, and definitely not a shaming one.] “It’s a hard path to walk, this Way of avoiding both indifference and ‘the conscious impotence of rage / At human folly.’ But the hard path is the only real Way. (All the others circle back on themselves.) So I try every day to follow it. I don’t think I could manage even that if I did not have an Advocate to accompany me, to encourage me, and to guide me.” – Alan Jacobs, Beyond Grumpiness

Against Stupidity – Alan Jacobs

The Destructive Power of Grumbling and Complaining – Michael Brown

2) The Coming of Spring –March weather – “In like a lion, out like a lamb”. Of course, we’re only mid-way through March, but we have no more predictions of snow. Daffodils bloomed in snow last week, but the winds of March have blown all the rough weather away for now. I’m not rushing Spring, but it is such a beautiful and refreshing time of the year. Here are some pics of our March so far.

Photo Credit: Kathryn Visneski (East Tennessee; we had this same snow but no captures of red cardinals in it.)

3) Shame as our Personal Assistant – In Dr. Curt Thompson‘s excellent book The Soul of Shame: Retelling Stories We Believe About Ourselves, we find the intriguing term shame assistant.

Imagine having a personal assistant who means us only evil. Whispers in our ear of how we’re not prepared enough, not attractive enough, not smart enough…just not enough.

It’s hard not to believe what seems to be coming out of our own reasoned thinking. Maybe…just maybe…we’re not enough.

To defend ourselves, without consciously being aware, we armor up against those thoughts…protecting ourselves from being too exposed to others. Isolating ourselves. This hiding keeps us from community which we need the most in dealing with shame.

At times, we strike out against the shame. Either by punishing ourselves or by blaming someone else for the pain we feel. Again, this further isolates us from others…leaving us alone with the shame attendant of our lives.

There’s good news, though, Friend. See #4.

Shame: Your Inner Attendant – Katelyn Entz

Toxic Shame Has Its Own Neurobiology. The Gospel Offers a Cure – Werner Mischke

4) Vulnerability – Curt Thompson spends a chapter in his book on the remedy for shame. It is vulnerability. How do we convince ourselves, all armored up against being exposed that the path to healing is dropping the armor? Here’s the thing: armor or no, we are vulnerable. Period. Full stop. We can’t keep shame at a distance. It crouches at our mind’s door, ready at a moment’s notice, to destroy our peace…and diminish our relationships.

Photo Credit: Curt Thompson MD, Instagram

“To be vulnerable is not first something we choose. It is something we are.”* We are vulnerable. It is our state of being. We spend an enormous amount of energy protecting it. We can be free of this.

*Being Known Podcast – Vulnerability – Season 1, Episode 3

You know how we teach little ones to say, “Please” and “Thank you”? These aren’t just practices of good manners. They are actually acknowledgements of our vulnerability from an early age. Little ones have to ask for what they can’t get on their own, and then they express gratitude that their need was seen and responded to.

Our willingness to be openly vulnerable within community moves us toward intimacy. “Vulnerability creates opportunity for connection.” When we don’t avail ourselves to these opportunities, we just stay in our protective armor. Opening up to a trusted friend or small group emboldens us to tell our stories and recognize that the stinging words of shame don’t belong to us. We matter. We are enough. Being able to share such things with people who will NOT leave the room gives us the courage to then be more vulnerable with others – like our boss, or professor, or estranged family member.

Dr. Thompson also talks about the other side of being vulnerable – when we are the ones others are being vulnerable with. We may want to move away from the awkwardness of that kind of disclosure. Or we may want to try to fix it which early on is more to help ourselves dealing with the discomfort than the one sharing. “What they most need from us is our empathic presence…” To lean in, to demonstrate that they are being seen, and to connect with them, and validate what they are feeling, to see them in whatever the hard is for them in being vulnerable. In the end, we may ask how we can be helpful but we don’t go right there in the immediate of their telling their story.

This is vulnerability and it moves us to healing, to community, and to joy.

5) Great Marriage Advice – Marriage…whew! Earlier in my adult life, I always cringed at the observation that marriage is work. It didn’t look like work, and having the opportunity to share life with your special person seemed more joy than labor. Then I got married.

It is joy and it is work…not in the dull, redundant sort of work we may have from time to time…but the challenging, invigorating, problem-solving, “in it to win it” kind of work.

I happened across a sweet thread on Jane Lewis’ Twitter page. She reached out to her followers for marriage wisdom. Lots of response!

Below are just some of them…the ones I especially found valuable:

“No one”……and I mean “no one” can read your mind!

Develop and maintain hobbies independent of each other AND protect the hobbies you do together.

Attack the problem, not the person.

Faith (if you are inclined that way), mutual respect, and honest, loving, open communication are the Big Three that get you through life together.

Don’t take the little things for granted.

There is a challenge to live connected but free with your spouse. I’ve read that your primary job in marriage is to protect your spouse from your control.

My advice is laugh a lot, kiss each other often, and pray for and with each other daily.

Forgive quickly and keep a short memory of the bad. Focus on the good and appreciate him immensely!

1. Communicate, communicate, communicate – not just about money, work, chores, kids or health, but also spirituality, fun, world events. 2. Each of you needs ‘me’ time. 3. Do something fun together every week. 4. Sex is great, but marriage is about more than that. 5. Communicate.

Seek to have a quiet heart each day. Thought today of Mary facing extreme excitement (Luke 1:18,19) and deep coming sorrow (Luke 1:35). The Lord is your Keeper in highs and lows.

Don’t criticize or complain about your spouse in public. Smile at the “husbands be like” jokes, but don’t contribute. Be honest & kind. Talk to each other about your problems, not to friends/family. Keep your own hobbies, bank account & bathroom if possible.

Don’t be easily offended. As John Bevere says in his book, it is “The Bate of Satan.”

Stay curious. Keep flirting. Never forget to tell him you appreciate his hard work…never forget the reasons why you fell in love with each other…never forget that you are on the same team.

Neither of you is the same person you will be in 5 years, 20 years, or 45 years. You’re each committing to the version of the person you love now, but you’re also committing to the many versions they will become.

As much as you love him and he loves you, know that you cannot completely fulfill him, nor he fulfill you…it’s unfair to put that burden on either and will only end in heartache.

Have close girlfriends. Be humble when you fight. Hold healthy boundaries. Learn how he processes. Let him be different than you. Stick. Bad times pass. Glorify God. Forgive. Remember marriage is a picture to help us understand Christ’s love for the church. Let that sink in.

Find ways to laugh together and always have compassion for one another.

Find a reason to laugh, fist bump or high five with your spouse everyday.

Mind who you talk about your marriage with and who you listen to about your marriage. There’s a lot of wisdom to be gained from others who have gone before, but there are also people who you shouldn’t let speak to your marriage.

My advice to a new bride- maintain your friendships.with your girlfriends. He does not want to chit chat, go shopping or do your hair the way your girlfriends do. Keep your girlfriends. He will be happier and so will you.

Hold to your integrity. Trust Jesus w everything. Listen deeply. Celebrate madly. Speak truth in love. Have fun! Pray together. Walk together. Hold hands. Let there be space in your togetherness. Let go & hold on.

Give dignity to your differences. Make adequate space for whatever conversation needs to happen. You’ll both still be there tomorrow, and few things are urgent. Have your own tubes of toothpaste.

An abbreviated quote by Camille Paglia: “Men have sacrificed and crippled themselves physically and emotionally to feed, house, and protect women and children. (But the world) portrays men as oppressive and callous exploiters.” Be understanding of his burden.

Talk through how you deal with money and come up with a budget you both agree on. One spouse can pay the bills but both of you should be aware of the state of your finances and financial goals.

You are the same team. In disagreements, in different skill sets and ways of communicating, you are all on the same team. Argue and forgive like teammates. Notice and applaud like teammates. Work out problems and brainstorm like teammates. We use “same team” as shorthand to stop ourselves when we disagree or misunderstand each other. Take a breath and explain what is going on. Learning to argue well, to listen well and be self-aware enough to give names to things and be heard. And give loads of grace.

@janeelisabethh, you have some wise women (and a couple of guys) in your Twitter world. People (and threads) like this are why I am still on Twitter.

Coming up on 38 years with this guy.

___________________________________________________________________________

Thanks for stopping by. It means a lot.

Bonuses:

Photo Credit: Ann Voskamp, Tim Keller

Photo Credit: Instagram, Tim Keller NYC

10 Ways to Live Life to the Fullest After 60 – Rebecca Wilson

Worship Wednesday – You Are My Hiding Place – Selah

Photo Credit: Heartlight

You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.Psalm 32:7

When I am afraid, I will trust in You.Psalm 56:3

This I know: God is for me.Psalm 56:9b

OK…so I seem to write a fair amount about fear and being afraid.

As a child, I was unfortunately a bit of a Chicken Little…with “the sky is falling! The sky is falling” response to confusing, disquieting situations.

How Many Times Is Fear Not in the Bible? – Chris L.

My move to Connecticut to take a faculty position at Yale’s School of Nursing was a huge stretch for me. Arriving there in snowy January 19, 1983. I was new to a very different city and culture. I had loosened my Southern roots, and the Bible Belt that had cinched me in was dropped behind me somewhere between Georgia and Connecticut. I took refuge in songs like Michael Ledner’s  “You Are My Hiding Place” . Published in 1981, it quickly became one of my go-to songs for comfort and assurance. Not just in hard moments alone, but definitely, pretty much in every hard moment.

Sitting down at the piano on those winter evenings, alone with God and the music, I would play and sing away the days of sharp learning curves and homesickness. Sometimes Broadway tunes, sometimes old rock standards, but often worship songs. In fact, I think I fell in love with my husband Dave, early in our relationship, playing that piano and singing side by side…in the 80s. “You Are My Hiding Place.”

These days, fear can so easily churn up from deep inside.

How anyone gets through all that’s going on in the world today, without Jesus…I just don’t know. So thankful for His Word, His presence, His comfort and redirection. #DoNotBeAfraidPhoto Credit: Flickr

Worship with me, (words and music in the link). This is Selah‘s cover. [After you worship a bit, and this song leads us to worship, go back and read the comments on the YouTube video linked above…story after story of God’s kindness and provision in hard times.]

You are my hiding place
You always fill my heart
With songs of deliverance
Whenever I am afraid
I will trust in You

I will trust in You
Let the weak say
I am strong
In the strength of the Lord

You are my hiding place
You always fill my heart
With songs of deliverance
Whenever I am afraid
I will trust in You

I will trust in You
Let the weak say I am strong
In the strength of the Lord
I will trust in You*

*Lyrics to “You Are My Hiding Place” Songwriter: Michael Ledner

Photo Credit: Heartlight

YouTube Video – El Shaddai Medley – You Are My Hiding Place – Jesus Image

YouTube Video – You Deserve the Glory – Jew & Arab Worship Together – just an extra – so beautiful.

Worship Wednesday – Coming Out of the Dark of Shame – Glorious Day – Passion Music

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.Romans 8:1

For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” – 1 Peter 2:6

Turns out I’ve written a lot about shame. Strange for me, in that until a few months ago, I didn’t think shame was something that bothered me. Guilt, yes. Shame…no.

I was wrong. Even studying Scripture, I must have just skipped over all the “shame” passages. We are introduced to the experience of shame very early in the Bible as Adam and Eve (before sin) were described as “naked but unashamed”. Too soon, they tasted the bitter fruit of disobedience and couldn’t stomach the shame of their nakedness. Naked and, this time, ashamed…and wanting to hide themselves from each other…and God.

What are we trying to hide? What are we working so hard to bury or cover or avoid? Quick to judge someone else before we ourselves are judged.

Christian psychiatrist Curt Thompson helps us understand shame and find a way to healing and freedom. In his book The Soul of Shame: Retelling the Stories We Believe About Ourselves, he talks about how shamed people try to shame others. We don’t want our lives to be examined too closely…our secrets might be exposed. We hide. We isolate ourselves. We turn aside rather than be truly known.

“When we experience shame, we tend to turn away from others because the prospect of being seen or known by another carries the anticipation of shame being intensified or reactivated. However, the very act of turning away, while temporarily protecting and relieving us from our feeling (and the gaze of the ‘other’), ironically simultaneously reinforces the very shame we are attempting to avoid. Notably, we do not necessarily realize this to be happening-we’re just trying to survive the moment. But indeed this dance between hiding and feeling shame itself becomes a tightening of the noose.  We feel shame, and then feel shame for feeling shame. It begets itself.” – Curt Thompson, The Soul of Shame: Retelling the Stories We Believe About Ourselves

Photo Credit: IIRP, Nathanson

The irony here is that none of us is exempt from this experience of shame. We have all endured the pain and sorrow of it. How we deal with it is to name it and take it out of the darkness into His marvelous light… Shame is not meant to be a tormentor. God gave us this gift, really, as a signal, a marker, that something is wrong and can be righted. We are to turn our eyes away from hiding our sin and look to Jesus to heal our sin.

To this God, whom we meet in Jesus, we must direct our attention if we are to know the healing of our shame. We must literally look to Jesus in embodied ways in order to know how being loved in community brings shame to its knees and lifts us up and into acts of goodness and beauty.”
Curt Thompson, The Soul of Shame: Retelling the Stories We Believe About Ourselves
Sometimes we feel shame not from anything we’ve done wrong but from what others have communicated to us about us…from childhood. Our “not enough-ness”. That communication gets wired into our minds and we recall it over and over through life.
We can derail that messaging when we name it for what it is, talk about it with a person with whom we feel safe, and give it to Jesus.
Just this week, I had the responsibility of arranging housing for a refugee family. Rentals in our city are often expensive, and even at that, hard to come by. I found an apartment that would work well (praise God!), then in the process of applying for a lease, the monthly rent went up (LIKE $50). It changes daily I was told. After venting my frustration with the rental office agent, and we ended our phone conversation with me answering his question, “Yes, I still want the apartment!!!” After a few minutes, the shamed bubbled up. What if I lost us the apartment? What if my rant meant we would have to keep searching for a home for this weary, displaced family? What if? What if?! Shamed turned my focus inward and I was terrified at being found out…being found wanting…being a failure.
The Lord, in His mercy, reminded me of all I had been learning about shame, and I recognized it for what it was. Processing it, I prayed… and I called Dave. Talking through it took away much of its power. In the end, there was nothing to worry about. We agreed to the rent offered (which was still within the budget…I overreacted!), and the agent had taken no offense, it turns out. God had quieted my heart and reminded me of the truth of His love. He provided. Period. Full stop. We take deep breaths, and look to Him.

“…Keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.” – Hebrews 12:2

What Does It Mean for Jesus to Despise the Shame? – John Piper

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Shame’s healing encompasses the counterintuitive act of turning toward what we are most terrified of. We fear the shame that we will feel when we speak of that very shame.  In some circumstances we anticipate this vulnerable exposure to be so great that it will be almost life threatening.  But it is in the movement toward another, toward connection with someone who is safe, that we come to know life and freedom from this prison.Curt Thompson, The Soul of Shame: Retelling the Stories We Believe About Ourselves

The key here in dealing with shame is to refuse to let it isolate us. In the dark of our own silent shame, we allow our thoughts to torment and accuse…or we tamp down those thoughts by dismissing them or turning on others in judgment. When we hide, we miss the comfort God means for us through fellowship with Him and each other.

You did it: You turned my deepest pains into joyful dancing; You stripped off my dark clothing and covered me with joyful light. You have restored my honor. My heart is ready to explode, erupt in new songs! It’s impossible to keep quiet! Eternal One, my God, my Life-Giver, I will thank You forever.”Psalm 30:11-12

Worship with me (Passion Music‘s Glorious Day – music & lyrics in link). Let’s celebrate the blessed freedom we have in Christ…

I was buried beneath my shame
Who could carry that kind of weight
It was my tomb
Till I met You

I was breathing but not alive
All my failures I tried to hide
It was my tomb
Till I met You

You called my name
And I ran out of that grave
Out of the darkness
Into Your glorious day
You called my name
And I ran out of that grave
Out of the darkness
Into Your glorious day

Now Your mercy has saved my soul
Now Your freedom is all I know
The old made new
Jesus, when I met You

You called my name
And I ran out of that grave
Out of the darkness
Into Your glorious day
You called my name
And I ran out of that grave
Out of the darkness
Into Your glorious day

I needed rescue
My sin was heavy
But chains break at the weight of Your glory
I needed shelter
I was an orphan
Now You call me a citizen of heaven
When I was broken
You were my healing
Your love is the air that I’m breathing
I have a future
My eyes are open

You called my name
And I ran out of that grave
Out of the darkness
Into Your glorious day
You called my name
And I ran out of that grave
Out of the darkness
Into Your glorious day*

For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”  Romans 10:11

*Lyrics to Glorious Day – Songwriters: Jonathan Smith, Kristian Paul Stanfill, Jason Ingram, Sean Curran

Behind the Song: Passion Shares the Heart Behind Their Song “Glorious Day” –  Abby Young

20 Quotes from Curt Thompson’s New Book The Soul of Shame – Jordan (the Levite) Williams

Worship Wednesday – Somebody’s Prayin’ – John G. Elliott

Photo Credit: Heartlight

 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.1 Timothy 2:1

When we lived overseas, one of my greatest joys was to pray, on the streets doing errands. In Cairo, Tunis, Sfax, and Casablanca. Just walking in and out of stores. Praying for people as they came across my path. Strangers with lives of which I had no knowledge. Except for those things we all hold in common. Work, health, family, and some understanding of God. I felt such a connection with these people who I might never really know…or maybe I would…one day.

Praying.

What a privilege also to pray for those near to us…family, friends, neighbors, colleagues. Near…and far. Those in power and those far removed. Those who deeply need prayer in the moment as well as those who discount their need…but it is still there.

In the early 90s, an album by singer, songwriter John G. Elliott found an enduring place on our playlist. Let All the Thirsty Come (1988). Beautiful lyrics and Elliott’s voice brought these heartsongs to life for us. In particular, our favorite song is his Somebody’s Prayin’. Not surprisingly, he is on staff today at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri.

My Mom was a great pray-er, and we, her children, are still buoyed on the wings of those prayers. Now, my praying mentor is my treasured mom-in-law. She is praying, early morning and through the day, for many somebodies…us included. [She won’t love the image below that I captured without her knowledge. For me, it is a beautiful, albeit early-morning-grainy image for me of one before the throne of God.] So thankful for her and for the God who draws her to Himself.

If you wonder sometimes if anyone is praying for you…take that wondering to God and with it your own prayer for someone else. Keep in mind that in our loneliest, most isolated times, Someone is always praying for us…His name is Jesus.

Who is there to condemn us? For Christ Jesus, who died, and more than that was raised to life, is at the right hand of God—and He is interceding for us.Romans 8:34

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Worship with me (lyrics and music in the link. This cover done beautifully by Ricky Skaggs).

Somebody’s prayin, I can feel it
Somebody’s prayin’ for me
Mighty hands are guiding me
To protect what I can’t see
Lord I believe, Lord I believe
That somebody’s prayin’, for me

Angels are watchin’, I can feel it
Angels are watchin’ over me
There’s many miles ahead ’til I get home
Still I’m safely kept before Your throne
‘Cause Lord I believe, Lord I believe
Your angels are watchin’ over me

Well, I’ve walked through barren wilderness
When my pillow was a stone
And I’ve been through the darkest caverns
Where no light had ever shown
Still I went on ’cause there was someone
Who was down on their knees
And Lord. I thank You for those people
Prayin’ all this time for me

Somebody’s prayin’, I can feel it
Somebody’s prayin’ for me
Mighty hands are guiding me
To protect me from what I can’t see
Lord I believe, Lord I believe
Somebody’s prayin’ for me*

__________________________________________________________________________

I hope you know you’re prayed for…thanks for those of you who have prayed for me over the years.

*Lyrics to “Somebody’s Prayin’” – Songwriter: John G. Elliott

John G. Elliott – Bandcamp – Music

The Heart of Songwriting – John G. Elliott – International House of Prayer, Kansas City

Our Top 10 Blogs of 2021 – International House of Prayer, Kansas City

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Worship Wednesday – Overcoming Regret – Mercy – Elevation Worship & Maverick City

Photo Credit: Heartlight

The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?Jeremiah 17:9

If You, O LORD, kept track of iniquities, then who, O Lord, could stand? But with You there is forgiveness, so that You may be feared.  I wait for the LORD; my soul does wait, and in His word I put my hope. – Psalm 130:3-5

For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I have not been justified by this; but the One judging me is the Lord.1 Corinthians 4:4

Let’s spend a few minutes looking back. Thinking about regret. We aren’t going to stay there, because God saved us for this present moment, and, beyond this, our glorious future. However, looking back (with righteous intention) can empower us for our lives in the present. Looking back can also grow gratitude for the God who has graciously forgiven us.

Maybe regret isn’t something that plagues you. That is a grace, Dear One. Pastor John Piper says: “A life without regrets is built on a mirage. We have all sinned.” I have never thought much about regret until recent years. Getting older seems to grease the tracks for that.

I have regrets…and it turns out, so do we all. In pondering it this week, I’ve asked several in my life about their regrets. Surprisingly, these conversations revealed things I didn’t know about people I know well…regret exposed tender memories and heartbreak.

Some things we can’t change…but the things we can, then… hallelujah!

Let’s pull our regret out of the dark recesses of our memory, put it on the table, and examine it with the help of the Holy Spirit…and a trusted friend. If we don’t deal with our regret, it is still affecting the freedom we have in Christ and our sense of ourselves and each other.

Let’s do what we need to do with that regret…and get truly free.

Researcher and clinical psychologist Dr. J. Kim Penberthy posted a fascinating and empowering piece on overcoming regret.

Regret is a very real reaction to a disappointing event in your life, a choice you made that can’t be changed, something you said that you can’t take back. It’s one of those feelings you can’t seem to shake, a heavy and intrusive negative emotion that can last for minutes, days, years or even a lifetime.”

Regret mentally references something we did or that we didn’t do (in the spiritual realm: sins of commission and sins of omission).

Penberthy offers a cognitive model for overcoming regret. It involves the acronym “REACH“:

  • Recall the hurt (face it)
  • Empathize (be kind and compassionate)
  • Altruistically offer forgiveness (to oneself)
  • Commit publicly (share it) and
  • Hold on to that forgiveness and stay true to the decision.

Regret Can Be All-Consuming – a Neurobehavioral Scientist Explains How to Overcome It

The Psychology of Regret – Melanie Greenberg

Our tendency is to either bury our regret or burrow into our regret. Either way robs us of 1) what we can learn from it, 2) what we can do to correct or overcome it, and 3) what freedom we can experience, living fully in the present (beyond the conscious/unconscious burden of regret).

Christian psychiatrist Curt Thompson writes about overcoming regret:

“The process of repair requires us to confront the reality of the wound that has taken place. This includes naming the offense (what someone did or failed to do), acknowledging that it has caused pain to the one offended, and pledging to work to never repeat the behavior. In the language of faith we describe this maneuver of repair as confession and repentance – the act of turning around and going in the opposite direction, not merely feeling regret for having done something wrong.”Curt Thompson, The Anatomy of the Soul

John Piper answers the question “How Should I Handle My Regrets?” in a 10 minute podcast. He reminds us of the Savior we have and the salvation we’ve received…recalling the thief on the cross, being executed because of a regrettable life, and yet, in a moment, repenting and receiving assurance of Paradise with the Lord. Wow!

Piper warns us that our memories are faulty causing us to be either too hard on ourselves…or too easy. Then he calls us both to remember and to forget:

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.Ephesians 2:12-13

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

“Wherever remembering our failures will help us fly to Christ, love Christ, rest in Christ, cherish grace, sing of mercy, serve with zeal, then let’s get on with remembering and regretting…

but…

Wherever remembering begins to paralyze us with the weight of failure and remorse so that we don’t love Christ more or cherish grace more or serve with greater energy, then let us forget and press on by the power of grace for the little time we have left…Press on in faith for the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ.”John Piper, Desiring God

Let’s close out as Pastor John calls us to “sing of mercy” with the song below: Mercy.

REACH Forgiveness – Everett Worthington – wonderful resources!

5 Friday Faves – Beyond the Guitar on a Lava Me 3, Christmas Poems, Overcoming Anxiety, and Which Is It? Christmas or XMas?

The countdown is done. Christmas Day looms. For those with an Eastern Christmas, there is still a week to go. We loved celebrating two Christmases when we lived in Egypt. Then there are the 12 days of Christmas still ahead until Epiphany (or Three Kings Day). So we continue to celebrate. Sweet especially for those of us dealing with COVID interruptions or other struggles (loss, holiday work,etc.). Here are my faves this week. Please share some of yours as well …and Happy Christmas!

1) Beyond the Guitar on a Lava Me 3Nathan Mills‘ most recent piece is an original composition entitled “Dreams”. He plays it on this amazing smart guitar – the Lava Me 3 guitar. Check it out below:

2) Christmas Poems – Christmas is the kind of holy day that inspires poetry. This week, I had the opportunity of catching the online program A Christmas Celebration: Theater, Song, & Scripture. Created and produced by the Fellowship of Performing Arts, it was a lovely mix of classic Christmas songs, poems, and monologues. Some surprisingly humorous and some deeply spiritual. Two poems, both by Scottish poet George MacDonald, were powerfully performed.

Photo Credit: Poem Hunter

Photo Credit: Poem Hunter

My absolute favorite Christmas poem is “Little Jesus” written by English poet Francis Thompson. It’s a bit long but such a treasure.

LITTLE JESUS

by Francis Thompson (1859 – 1907)

Little Jesus, wast Thou shy

Once, and just so small as I?

And what did it feel like to be

Out of Heaven, and just like me?

Didst Thou sometimes think of there,

And ask where all the angels were?

I should think that I would cry

For my house all made of sky;

I would look about the air,

And wonder where my angels were;

And at waking ’twould distress me–

Not an angel there to dress me!

Hadst thou ever any toys,

Like us little girls and boys?

And dist Thou play in Heaven with all

The angels that were not too tall,

With stars for marbles? Did the things

Play Can you see me? through their wings?

And did Thy Mother let Thee spoil

Thy robes, with playing on our soil?

How nice to have them always new

In Heaven, because ‘twas quite clean blue!

Thou canst not have forgotten all

That it feels like to be small:

And Thou know’st I cannot pray

To Thee in my father’s way–

When Thou was so little, say,

Couldst Thou talk Thy Father’s way?–

So, as a little child, come down

And hear a child’s tongue like Thy own;

Take me by the hand and walk,

And listen to my baby-talk.

To Thy Father show my prayer

(He will look, Thou art so fair),

And say: “O Father, I Thy Son,

Bring the prayer of a little one.”

And He will smile, that childrens’ tongue

Hast not changed since Thou was young!

3) Overcoming Anxiety – Even as lovely and magical a time as Christmas can be, we can experience anxiety. Over family gatherings, or under-performing on gift buying, or just a creeping loneliness. Whatever our anxiety, the 4-step approach for overcoming anxiety is a healthy practice. Thanks to NICABM.

Infographic: A 4-Step Approach for Overcoming Anxiety – NICABM

4) Healing From Harm – We hope as parents that we do no major harm to our children. Unfortunately, there are relationships between parents and children that can go terribly wrong. Counselor Adam Young tackles this topic (and others) really well in his podcast . I listened to Episode 23 this week where he interviewed a woman named Autumn, on her relationship with an abusive mother. The title of this episode is “How to Engage a Parent Who Has Harmed You”. Her story gives hope. The dialog between her and Young is both instructive and prescriptive. To be able to get actual help from a podcast is a blessing. Especially in a time when counselors are hard to find (not enough of them or over-scheduled in these days of heightened mental health issues thanks to COVID).

One of Young’s free resources is “How to Write a Story”. I’m excited about this assist, because writing the story of my life since my earliest memories is actually on my list for 2022. Not that my parenting was harmful – I had a wonderful mom and step-dad, but my biological father was neglectful and then eventually just disappeared from our lives. I know the wounds of that have had impact, and actively recalling my growing-up years seems a way to take hold of anything that has harmed and can still be having impact on my family. By the way, this is not an exercise in blaming parents. We all have failings in this area. It’s an exercise to reframe memory such that it doesn’t control us.

Words That Harm, Words That Heal: A Short Guide for Parents – Justin Coulson

Any resources you recommend for healing from harm? Please comment below.

5) Which Is It? Christmas or XMas? – The great thinker and writer C. S. Lewis became a Christ-follower at the age of 33 (in 1931). He did not come to this decision lightly having first rejected God altogether, as a public and punishing atheist, and then a theist, and finally a Christian…the most reluctant convert. He never looked back. His writing and teaching since then have greatly influenced generations to follow. Even the most uncertain have been riveted by his works on the beauty and reality of God, and Jesus, the Son and Savior.

Again, in watching A Christmas Celebration: Theater, Song, & Scripture, I heard, for the first time, Lewis’ essay Xmas and Christmas: A Lost Chapter From Herodotus. He writes of the irony of Christmas celebrated in the two ways done in the West – the sacred and secular – and how we as Christians blend the two. It is a rich narrative, short and very much worth the read. He targets the United Kingdom but it could be about the US as well. We rush around buying, buying, buying, and then partying, partying, partying. To the point, we end up in a heap on Christmas Day with the children wondering aloud “Is there anything else?” As they are practically covered over with wrapping paper and presents. Our little grands said themselves, so wise for so small, “It’s Jesus’ birthday, but we get all the presents”.

I don’t mean this as a rant…just wanted to point to the brilliant, short piece by Lewis…and maybe to call for a pause in the rush. I’m almost past caring that I get equally amazing gifts for the grands. It’s ok for the other grandparents to shine. I’m just thankful to have them all in my life.

So…have a happy Christmas, Dear Ones. For those who get caught up in the maddening rush without the transforming experience of Christ in it, watch for the Hound of Heaven …In the flurry of activity to make Xmas happen, you might chance to notice, like C. S. Lewis did finally, that persistent wooing of God to draw us to Himself…out of His deep love for each of His created ones.

‘Rise, clasp My hand, and come!’

Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly,

‘Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest, I am He Whom thou seekest!” – Francis Thompson (1859–1907)

Bonuses:

Labor to Give (Or Take) No Offense – Jon Bloom

5 Keys to a Great Apology (and Why Leaders Need to Apologize First) – Carey Nieuwhof

Photo Credit: Greg Mathias, Twitter

One of my favorite “Christmas songs”:

The most beautiful and powerful Christmas cantata I’ve ever heard: “Saviour – The Story Of God’s Passion For His People” – written by Greg Nelson and Bob Farrell – the cantata itself begins 9:45 minutes into the video. 

[Product description: Saviour is a pop-classical oratorio created by Bob Farrell and Greg Nelson, in performance around the world since 1994. Recorded live at Gateway Church, this spectacular performance features full orchestra and choir with standout solo performances by Steve Green, Twila Paris, Wayne Watson, Larnelle Harris, and Keron Jackson. – Available on DVD.]

Funny pic captured by our daughter – vultures at Voter Registration – must have gotten wind of the rumored registering dead voters:

Pic below from my dear friend Marc Merlin who captures the most fascinating images at a favorite cemetery – Oakland in Atlanta:Photo Credit: Marc Merlin, Instagram

A favorite Christmas tradition – canstruction for the food bank:

All the candles lit – focused on the coming Christ:

The Christmas cactus – somehow it knows – just days ago, nothing, no buds, nothing – and then…it blooms.

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

___________________________________________________________________________

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