Tag Archives: Decluttering

5 Friday Faves – Spoken Word, Final Fantasy Guitar Arrangement, Kindness, Becoming a Super Achiever, and Acts of Service

Friday Faves is a highlight of my week. Just like my reading and life experiences are enriched by other writers’ weekly favorite finds, I take pleasure in thinking mine also encourage and even delight you as well sometimes. Unfortunately, in the last few weeks, I’ve run out of steam by week’s end. Travel is part of the drag on my writing, and some grieving over a very ill dad. Not many words to float my faves. Thanks to you who continue to stop by. It means the world to me. Following are five of my favorites for this week…enjoy…

1) Spoken Word – A poetry form, spoken word is defined as “an oral art that focuses on the aesthetics of word play, intonation, and voice inflection – includes any kind of poetry recited aloud, including hip-hop, jazz poetry, and traditional poetry readings”.  Glen Scrivener is poet and performer of spoken word. He’s Australian now living in the UK, so he’s got the accent and all.  He also has to be a very cool minister, given his gift with words that grab the heart. I just discovered him this week as one of his videos crossed my Facebook news-feed. It is entitled Santa Vs. Jesus and follows:

He Came Down and Christmas in Dark Places are two others that will minister to your heart…especially if life isn’t going as you thought it would. You can read more about Glen here and here.Photo Credit: Mackellars

2) Final Fantasy Guitar ArrangementNathan Mills of Beyond the Guitar has added another haunting arrangement to his guitar repertoire. His inspiration this time was the main theme (“Somnus”) of the video-game Final Fantasy XV. Nathan is an accomplished classical guitarist who has also applied his craft to arranging themes from movies, TV shows, and video games – music he’s loved over the years. I am still astounded at the beauty of these pieces when they are rendered through his skill, heart, and classical guitar. So lovely.

3) Kindness – When you are distracted by the stresses of life, and you’re just not yourself…every kindness is a great mercy. I’ve certainly experienced many over the last year during the illness of my dad. This week was not an exception. Traveling to Georgia to help care for dad, I was struck again at all the kindnesses extended to him by other family members, hospice staff, and friends. His pastor has become a pastor to me even. It got me thinking again of how we teach kindness to our children… I have the book Each Kindness by  Jacquelin Woodson and E. B. Lewis about a young girl, new to a school, who didn’t quite fit in. Although she was kind herself, she was shunned by other children. That tension and the story’s resolution captured so much about the transforming nature of kindness.

Modeling kindness is foundational as children see and then do. Reading about kindness can also strengthen that message. Joanna Goddard and her commenters have listed a treasure trove of books on kindness lessons for children.  A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead is a sweet story about a man caring uniquely for various animals in the zoo. Also The Empty Pot by Demi speaks of both kindness and truthfulness. Lastly, Mo Willems’ My Friend Is Sad speaks to a tenderness found between true friends. 

What books or experiences do you recommend to help young ones learn to be kind? Please comment below.

4) Becoming a Super Achiever – Camille Sweeney and Josh Gosfield have authored a book on how any of us might become a “super achiever” – The Art of Doing: How Superachievers Do What They Do and How They Do It So Swell. I have not read this book yet (nowhere near a superachiever in this skin…yet). However, thanks to Forbes writer Tanya Prive, we have a great intro to the subject in a quick list of 10.

Photo Credit: Amazon

Sweeney and Gosfield interviewed several highly successful individuals across many fields and discovered ten practices common to “super achievers”. They are:

  • Good Storytelling
  • Dedication to a Vision
  • Listening and Remaining Open
  • Pursuing Happiness
  • Intelligent Persistence
  • Testing Ideas in the Market
  • Fostering a Community
  • Constantly Evolving
  • Managing Emotions
  • Practicing Patience

Read more on each of these from Prive’s article, or better yet, check out the book. From the reviews so far on Amazon, it’s less a “how-to” for us and more a “how they did it” – as a myriad of super achievers tell their stories to the authors…worth the read for me to hear those stories.

5) Acts of Service – Years ago, I read this book 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. He talks about how we express and receive love in five major ways – time, touch, gifts, words of affirmation and acts of service. My husband, Dave, and I both experience love most deeply through words of affirmation and acts of service. Photo Credit: Pinterest

Christmas is a huge gift-giving holiday in our culture. I’m not the best at that, BUT I understand it, especially for those who experience love most happily through receiving gifts (our youngest son, for example). For me…acts of service and words of affirmation. Now…that can come through gift making or buying. [I need socks, etc., like everyone else.] Or, it can come through the raw work of serving. Dave has taken on a much harder job of giving me a requested act of service for Christmas, and the time he’s putting into it is already like receiving this gift every day, even before Christmas arrives. I won’t go into details, but we are both “pilers“. It’s just hard for us to expediently go through and get rid of stuff we’re no longer using. Order is a lovely thing, and as we get older, it is even more calming to a stressed and tired mind. He is giving the gift of “order” to me this Christmas…and hasn’t even asked the same from me. What love!!Photo Credit: DawsonandDawsonInc

So….there you have it…another Five Friday Faves…and on a Saturday. That’s just the kind of week it’s been. Enjoy the rest of your weekend…and receive every kindness as the gift it’s meant to be.

5 Friday Faves Plus a Bonus – New Year, Fruit in Season, Shepherding People, Decluttering & Thrift Shops, Self-awareness, and a Playlist

Blog - Friday Faves

Happy New Year! Thanks for stopping by. It means a lot. Here are 5 plus 1 faves of this week. Hope you find them helpful and/or refreshing for your first day of 2016.

1) New Year StormsLeslie Leyland Fields wrote a fascinating piece for us as we face the New Year. She reflects on the Apostle Peter’s experience of a stormy sea and applies that to our personal storms. The One who calms storms is the same today as then.  We all hope for a fair weather year, but staying storm-ready is wisdom.Blog - Winter Storm - gull - Theo BosboomPhoto Credit: NaturePhotoBlog.com – Theo Bosboom

2009 May Trip to Scotland 276Our son Daniel in Scotland

2) Fruit in Season – When we first moved to Egypt, I was happily surprised at the long growing season of this desert nation. With irrigation from the Nile River, and the hot sunny days, we had yummy fruit for many months. Fruit that, in the US, we would have too briefly. Large luscious strawberries in December were a special treat in Egypt.Blog - Fruit in Season - Strawberries - EgyptPhoto Credit: Fresh Plaza

Mandarin season in Morocco is also very special. Ripe from the tree. Sweet and perfectly juicy. It’s mandarin season now. Happy New Year!2015 December - Phone Pics - Christmas, Delaware, Sadie, Blog 045Photo Credit: Sarah Storm

3) Shepherding People – Think of those for whom you steward leadership. Shepherding does not just apply to pastors and churches, but to parents and children, and to those in our charge in the workplace. Abraham Kuyper writes of our example of the shepherds watching their sheep on the night of Jesus’ birthday. “If the shepherds in Ephrata’s fields had not been faithfully involved in keeping watch over their flock, they would have seen nothing of that night’s brilliance, witnessed nothing of the Lord’s glory shining around them, heard no angel song, and would never have paid homage to God’s Holy Child. Doesn’t the same apply to you? The heavens still sometimes open.” It is often in the ordinary faithfulnesses of the day that we see the most extraordinary…if we keep watch.Blog - Sheep & Shepherd - bpnews.netPhoto Credit: BPNews.net

4) Decluttering & Favorite Thrift Shops – If December doesn’t drive us to look at our household clutter, January sure will. I struggle with this. Holding on to beloved books and sentimental bits of this or that. Or those precious piles of “things I may need later”. The article 200 Things to Throw Away Today was very helpful for me this week. She gives a tremendous array of things I can work with, and there is no judging. Whew! You also don’t have to “throw away” all these items because there are various avenues through which you can recycle, repurpose, or reuse (including local agencies that help house the homeless, for instance). Two of my favorite small business thrift shops in our neighborhood are 2BInspired and Nomadic Attic.

Blog - Small Business - Thrift Shop - 2 Be InspiredPhoto Credit: 2BInspired

Blog - Friday Fave - Small Business - Nomadic AtticPhoto Credit: Nomadic Attic

Decluttering: 300+ Things to Throw Away Today – City Waste Services

5) Self-Awareness – Matt Monge of The Mojo Company published a great pre-New Year article on 13 Questions to Increase Your Self-Awareness. Our default with people is to scrutinize those around us as to how they are doing life, work, relationships. Self-awareness seemed a negative thing because anything with “self” in front of the word must not be good. Right? Wrong! The questions Matt presents are so insightful. Two of my favorites were: Did I demonstrate vulnerability today? If not, why not? What is the root cause of my reluctance to do so? and Was my leadership today reflective of someone who views his role as one of a steward rather than one who views the team and organization as something to be used for my benefit?

I want to go into 2016 having done my homework such that, at least, I have looked at my own heart, thinking, and motivations…first! Don’t miss this gem of a piece before heading back to work on Monday.Blog - themojocompany.com - self-awarenessPhoto Credit: The Mojo Company

6) A Playlist – What a delight when someone else does the work of putting together a playlist. I still have some audiocassettes, from our days in Egypt, that local friends put together with our pop music favorites of that time. Mary Carver (co-author with Sarah Frankl of the new book Choose Joy) put together a playlist to take us into the New Year. Every one will make you smile, dance around, or just have a mind break to reset toward job. Enjoy!

Blog - 31 Songs of JoyPhoto Credit: GivingUpOnPerfect.com

The video below is a bonus bonus. It’s been viewed a lot, but I only saw it yesterday. It reminded me of a book I read years ago by television producer Bob Briner. In Roaring Lambs, he challenged us to use whatever profession we are in to be “culture-altering” for good. These hair stylists are sure an example of that. Lovely.

Would love you to share one of your week’s favorites. Please use the comments section. Have an amazing start to your New Year! Step by step.

5 Friday Faves – Leadership, Keeping House, Mentors, Wonderful Defects, & a Phenomenal Guitarist

Blog - Friday Faves

Fridays come so fast. So here we are again. My top finds this week (and there were so many great reads and experiences this week, it was hard to narrow down to 5). Hope yours is a lovely day and a stretched-out weekend.

1. On Leadership – Brian Dodd creates great lists. In this week’s blog, he published 24 Steps to Successfully Leading Through CrisisOf his 24 steps, these are my favorite (but do read all of them):

  • To Successfully Lead Through Crisis You Must Provide Stability – Stabilizing the organization gives your people a sense of security.
  • To Successfully Lead Through Crisis You Must Become A Giving Engine – Rather than focusing inward and solely on the issues you are facing, look outward and turn your attention to others.
  • To Successfully Lead Through Crisis You Must Offer Hope – This tells others success is in their future.
  • To Successfully Lead Through Crisis You Must Offer A Plan – Hope is not a strategy.  There must also be a detailed roadmap showing why hope exists.
  • To Successfully Lead Through Crisis You Must Change – The behaviors which got you in the crisis will not get you out of the crisis.

Also not to miss is Paul Sohn’s Top 30 Must Read Posts on Leadership October 2015.

2. Keeping House – I struggle with keeping order in my house, even though now it is only Dave and me. No one else to make the mess but us. Ann Voskamp, farm wife, mother of 6, and best-selling author, wrote about keeping house this week – 6 Ways to Speed Clean to a Clean Enough House. Her photographs of life are so gorgeous that it’s hard to imagine things out of place or not camera-ready. Yet, even Ann had to come up with a system of order which she shares in this blog. My two favorite suggestions from her list of 6 follow:

  • Make your bed every morning. I love this one because it’s so easily done. It gives its own cheer of “Hurrah! You’re off to getting lots more done.” BLog - Keeping HouseMy husband and I have very different “sides of the bed” – he’s a bit neater; I’m a piler. Projects, bits of paper, “things to read later”…sigh…but, the bed is made. Score!
  • 30 Minute Love SHAKs“Do Surprising Home Acts of Kindness — Love SHAKs — 30  minutes of random cleaning [right after dinner], just 30 minutes of every single person who lives here seeing something that needs to be cleaned —- and everybody cleaning as quickly as they can. The point of everybody working together at the same time to surprise everybody? Everybody models the kindness of cleaning for each other, nobody gets to say what they’ve got going is too important to get in on loving each other, real progress is made because everybody is working fast and together, spurring each other on — and we all get to say we are on the same team.” I love this! Might start with 15 minutes with the love of my life. What do you think, Dave?

3. Mentors Jon Acuff rarely has guest bloggers, but this week he shared his spot with Lewis Howes, author of The School of Greatness. Howes writes about his personal experience of connecting with top mentors. Having been a professional football player, he might have been tempted to just ask them out for coffee. No, he did something altogether different. He offered to serve them in any capacity they would find helpful. Don’t miss his wise counsel on this.

“Don’t ask for anything. Just offer to be of meaningful service, in any capacity that will help the mentor in achieving what is important to them. Offer to work for free. Say yes to anything. Hustle hard. Show them you are grateful and willing to learn. Keep your word.” – Lewis Howes

4. Wonderful Defects – This week, I discovered Paul Phillips and his blog He’s Taken Leave. He tells a beautiful story of an old beautifully marred violin and bridges that to our own propensity to comparing ourselves to others.

“As with the old violin, the comparisons with others prove nothing.  Each person who walks through my door is a masterpiece of unique design. Every one, a treasure.  Every single one. Fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). I can almost hear the music again.”

Blog - Old Violin - wqxr.orgPhoto Credit: wqxr.org

5. Phenomenal Guitarist – This guy. Nathan Mills – related? Yes. I get to be Mom to this amazing young man… Because we are related and it’s not always comfortable for him how effusive I am about his music…I restrain myself. Once in awhile, it feels down-right wrong not to share with you something about him. Right now, he’s fairly new to that larger world of music, but he’s playing, teaching, arranging, and composing. One day, you will know him…and be able to enjoy his music beyond YouTube, social media, or local performance. Mark it down.Nathan at guitarPhoto Credit: Duy Nguyen

What are your favorites from this week? Would love to hear about them. Share in comments, please.

Blog - Fall Back YardOur back yard this week – Fall

For This, I Have Jesus – Connectedness – A Brush with the Life of John Hunter

Blog - Mom & Memories & John Hunter 002

Life is so fascinating and how people find each other and connect can be such a God thing. This whole connectedness possibility is one of the reasons I struggle with decluttering (not an excuse, just a fact). My mom died several years ago and I still have boxes in my attic of her paper bits – her own writing and preserved writing of others that touched her heart. This week I am attempting to deal with some of my own piles of paper, and discovered, mixed in with mine, a folder of hers. What a delight for me to find an unknown connectedness in one of her papers to others in my life.

So before I quickly share those associations, here’s a definition of connectedness:

Social connectedness is the measure of how people come together and interact. At an individual level, social connectedness involves the quality and number of connections one has with other people in a social circle of family, friends, and acquaintances.Wikipedia.org

I took the StrengthsFinders test a few years ago and found that connectedness is one of my top 5 strengths. This is a whole other subject but it informs the joy I had in discovering these connections.Blog - Connectedness - strengthsquest.uark.eduPhoto Credit: StrengthsQuest, University of Arkansas

Inside the folder of Mom’s stuff was a copy of the poem Without Thee by John E. Hunter. I don’t know how Mom got it, but I recognized it as a handout from a conference.IMG_0002

John E. Hunter (1909-2005) was a Christian writer, Bible teacher, and counselor. I never read any of his books until my friend, Jan McMurray, introduced them to me. Her connection with John E. Hunter came late in his life, after a stroke halted his public speaking.John E. Hunter by www.ccel.usLiving the Christ-filled Life by www.ccel.usPhoto Credit: www.ccel.com

“His ministry did not end at this point (after the stroke in 1994), as the Lord, in His miraculous way, brought a lady from Tennessee into his life. Jan McMurray had read one of John’s books, and wanted to buy more for her Bible Study group. When she found out that Zondervan was no longer republishing his books, she formed a publishing company called Fresh Springs, and republished four of his books – Finding What’s Missing; Let Us Go On to Maturity; Limiting God; and Knowing God’s Secrets.”*Blog - Balcony People - Jan McMurray

Because of Jan’s vision, John Hunter’s books were re-introduced to another generation. We had the pleasure of all four of Hunter’s re-published books and might not have except for knowing Jan. She and John became friends in his last years of life. What a delight Dr. Hunter and his wife must have been to her, and she to them, in that season!

Another connection in this for me was the song “For This, I Have Jesus” by Graham Kendrick. John Hunter was known for this proclamation on any situation that came his way…especially the difficult ones. When Kendrick heard a pastor refer to an old friend and this saying, it stayed with him. In 1995, he wrote the song.

In 1995 is when we moved to Cairo, Egypt. Attending an international church, we would often sing songs by the English worship writers of that time. Graham Kendrick was one of my favorites, as was this song “For This I Have Jesus”.

Reflecting on all this, I decided to call my friend, Jan. It has been awhile since we talked. What a gift to catch up, as if we’d never left off. I asked her what happened with her publishing company and the Hunter books. She is in a different season now, and she passed the remainder of her inventory over to Henry Blackaby, a speaker and writer on revival and renewal. This is my final connectedness on this topic.

Henry Blackaby was very influential in my walk with God during my 30’s. Today there are other pastor/teachers in my life. Somehow (and I don’t know how), he and one of those pastor/teachers, Michael Catt, connected. How I know is that I was at a retreat a year or so ago, and Michael Catt was speaking. He had a book table including those very books of John Hunter that Jan had re-published through Fresh Springs. When I told her about it, she said, “We went to college together, Mike and I.”

Such is the nature of connectedness. Small world, big God.

*Living the Christ-Filled Life: Serving God Wholeheartedly by John E. Hunter

For This I Have Jesus by Jan McMurray

Revival and Renewal by Michael Hodge

YouTube Video – Graham Kendrick – For This I Have Jesus

YouTube Video – Graham Kendrick – For This I Have Jesus (Coventry Cathedral 2007; live; sound of recording a bit uneven)

Six Degrees of Separation

Seven Degrees of Connectedness by Rodd Lucier

Connectedness – Clifton StrengthsFinder Theme

StrengthsFinder Descriptions – Azusa Pacific University