Tag Archives: classical guitar

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

Friday Faves – Go!

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

…and this one.

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

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

Photo Credit: AZ Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trevin Wax, Facebook, March 27, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

Blog - Work Culture - delta7Photo Credit: Delta 7

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

Writer Vikki Claflin contrasts parents and grandparents this way:

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

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

14 Contrasts Between Parenting and Grandparenting – Vikki Claflin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Front Porch RVA

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

Bonuses:

Singing the Blues with Kevin Gullage:

Fighting with My Family – fun film about wrestling

5 Friday Faves – Beyond the Guitar’s Spider-Man Theme Mashup, Engaging a Person Who’s Harmed You, True Community, Going Through Closets, and Spring Flowers

Friday Faves – super fast!

1) Beyond the Guitar’s Spider-man Theme Mashup on Classical GuitarNathan Mills of Beyond the Guitar arranged and performed the three big themes of the three Spider-Man franchises of the last 20 years. So much to love in these movies, in particular the ones starring Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield, and Tobey Maguire. You’ll welcome the nostalgia and the heart-filling beauty of what Nathan does with the classical guitar.

Which did you love the most? Share in Comments.

2) Engaging a Person Who Has Harmed You – Who is this person? A parent…a spouse…a child…an employer…a supposed friend? We have a way forward toward healing.

Engaging With Someone Who Has Harmed You – Part 1

I discovered Adam Young Counseling a few weeks back and have dived in to many of his podcasts. His 5-part series above on engaging with someone who’s harmed you was like sitting in a therapist’s office…a GREAT therapist’s office. We have all been harmed by someone, and we ourselves have harmed others, often without knowing or without intending. Still, to have counsel on how to take positive steps toward healing in such a scary situation is amazing. Adam Young has experienced trauma himself, and he has redeemed that trauma in so many ways, in particular his love and help for others.

In these podcasts, Adam Young distinguishes between the garden variety sinner, a wicked person*, and an evil person. I appreciated that he said we do well not to judge people as permanently in those states because God can move to transform any of us. He did however encourage those of us who have been harmed to determine if we are dealing with a wicked or evil person…and act accordingly. His helps are empowering and transformative if we have the courage to walk through them.Photo Credit: Alistair Begg, Truth For Life

*Dr. Young spends much counsel on engaging a wicked person who has harmed us. It helped me to be reminded that a person who is behaving wickedly can, on the whole, be a decent person. What causes a person to act despicably toward us could be generational sin – not to discount that person’s responsibility in harming us, but to strive for understanding and grace (which multiplies toward us, not just to the one who harmed us). Thoughts?

When we have been harmed by someone, we need safe people to counsel with in order to be wise in our engaging others with whom we don’t feel safe. Walling ourselves off from them, trying to just put the harm behind us, or claiming forgiveness when we haven’t – none of these things get us to healing. If you have been harmed by someone, spend some time in these podcasts. Seriously. It will make a difference.

Photo Credit: Adam Young Counseling, Instagram

3) True Community – We desperately need real or true community. Whatever the problem loneliness and isolation were for us before COVID has been severely compounded. We need one anther…not in a surfacy, thin-veneered way, but in a deep well of fellowship with each other. Jennie Allen has written a hopeful and provocative book about this in Find Your People.

The need for true community is neither new nor specific to our culture. It’s been written about, researched, and explored for decades. Two great thinkers and authors Jerry Bridges and M. Scott Peck (both now deceased) are quoted below.

Photo Credit: Jerry Bridges, Quote Fancy

“If we are to master the scriptural principles of true biblical community, we must master this one: True greatness in the kingdom of heaven involves serving one another. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20:26)…Fellowship is much, much more than food and fun and even more than reading and studying the Scriptures with another believer. Fellowship at times may involve blood, sweat, and tears as we stand side by side with our persecuted brothers and sisters…It implies a responsibility to fulfill our function in the body. We usually don’t think of fellowship in terms of fulfilling a responsibility, but that is because we have lost sight of the biblical meaning of fellowship. Fellowship is not just a social privilege to enjoy; it is more basically a responsibility to assume...But this is what servant-hood within the fellowship of believers is all about: being alert to the little things that need to be done and then doing them.” – Jerry Bridges

True Community: the Biblical Practice of Koinonia – Jerry Bridges

“In genuine community there are no sides. It is not always easy, but by the time they reach community the members have learned how to give up cliques and factions. They have learned how to listen to each other and how not to reject each other. Sometimes consensus in community is reached with miraculous rapidity. But at other times it is arrived at only after lengthy struggle. Just because it is a safe place does not mean community is a place without conflict. It is, however, a place where conflict can be resolved without physical or emotional bloodshed and with wisdom as well as grace. A community is a group that can fight gracefully.”~ M. Scott Peck

Photo Credit: One Community Global

The Four Stages to Building True Community

Do you experienced true community – where you are willing to serve sacrificially and receive that kind of care as well? We need to go after it for ourselves and one another.

4) Cleaning Closets- I’m not a spring cleaning kind of person, although, these days, we are so often called on to declutter, let go, and be free in the area of stuff management. Still we have two closets (among others) where things just get randomly tossed up onto the shelf. I decided to clear them out to know exactly what is stored there. One closet now contains my journals of the last 30 years!! Whew!

Haven’t re-read any of them but lined them up by date and found this little note from my sweet mama in the front of one of them (from many years ago). A treasure…

5) Spring Flowers – The month of March is bringing Spring along here in the US. With temperatures warming, trips to the park are becoming more regular. The glory of Spring is not lost on the kiddos.

I just want to share a few flower pics of recent days. Hope Spring is coming your way (of course, I get that’s only for the Northern Hemisphere…for you Southern Hem. folks, Happy Fall! 

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Thanks for a quick stop-by. It means a lot to me. Hope you’re surrounded by and creating beauty wherever you are…we sure need it in this world today…really every day.

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

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

1) Beyond the Guitar’s Latest – Enjoy!

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Facebook, Becky Mansfield, Your Modern Family

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

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

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

The Secret of Arctic ‘Survival Parenting’

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: John & Julie Gottman, Yes! Magazine

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

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

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

Wordle App (different game, different creator)

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

Photo Credit: Facebook

War in Ukraine: Essential Reading

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

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

Here are a few quotes from the piece above:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wendell Berry – Americans Who Tell the Truth Website

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

Bonuses:

Setting a Valentine’s lunch for our grandchildren:

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

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

Three Encouraging Quotes

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Gabor Mate, dr_anniephd, Instagram

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Verdict Is In — The case for attachment theory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5) Birthdays – This is my birthday week.

Photo Credit: Samantha Reynolds, Instagram

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

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

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

Bonuses:

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

The Angel of Patience

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Photo Credit: NICABM

Photo Credit: Instagram, K. J. Ramsey

5 Friday Faves – 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 – “Fly Me to the Moon” Finger-style, Costly Grudges, Building Focus, “Don’t Leave Crumbs”, and Fall & All

Hi All! Friday Faves on a Monday after a busy Friday-Sunday weekend. Go!

1) “Fly Me to the Moon” Finger-style – After Nathan posted his Squid Game medley, he was asked to do a stand-alone “Fly Me to the Moon”. Here it is! The jazzy, up-beat rendition is so fun!

2) Costly Grudges – Is there someone you struggle to like or be in their company? Would you say it’s a grudge, either originating from you or that person? Grudges rupture relationships. They have a negative impact not just on that relationship, but potentially on others as well. Not to mention, their impact on your own health.

Photo Credit: Pinterest UK

Writer Tanner Garrity has written a list of 100 Ways to Live to Be 100. #66 is “Don’t Hold a Grudge”. Here is his take below:

66. Don’t hold a grudge

Happy people live longer. Improve your happiness by practicing “epistemic humility,” an intellectual virtue predicated on the idea that one can’t ever know something for sure. It’s meant to help us admit our imperfections and forgive others. Sounds too good to be true in the 2020s? All the more reason to give it a try.”

When we start to feel a grudge brewing, or we make the first strike and cause the rift with another person, the situation is greatly helped by some measure of humility. We don’t know everything about what just happened. In the midst of a quarrel, assessments are feverishly being made and the tendency is that they favor one over the other. If we treat a disagreement with humility, with the understanding that we can’t fully know what is going on with the other person in the argument, then we stand a better chance of some sort of resolution.

Worth the effort…including the perk of adding to one’s longevity.

What Is Family Estrangement? A Relationship Expert Describes the Problem and Research Agenda – Kristina Scharp

3) Building Focus – Focus is like muscle; it has to be built through exercise. I struggle with attending issues. To come across some simple tasks to add to life and aid focus is a happy occurrence.

Photo Credit: Pexels

Author Eleanor Morgan presents How to Retrain Your Frazzled Brain and Find Your Focus Again. In her piece, she introduces the scholarly work of scientist Amishi Jha, author of Peak Mind: Find Your Focus, Own Your Attention, Invest 12 Minutes a Day.

“We can learn to focus better, but we need to think about attention differently. It is not something we can just choose to do. We have to train the brain like a muscle. Specifically, with short bursts of daily exercises.”Eleanor Morgan

Morgan posts some of the mental exercises that Dr. Jha prescribes, including the 5 tips below:

  1. Pay attention to your breath, and where on your body you feel it most: direct your focus like a beam of light. Do this for three minutes a day, for a week.
  2. Integrate this technique into everyday life – for example, brushing your teeth. If you’re thinking about your to-do list as you’re scrubbing, bring the light back. Focus on the sensations.
  3. A lot of people report that their mind is “too busy.” Your job is not to stop it – your job is to exist with it, and to place your attention back where you want it.
  4. Ignore “mindfulness myths”: you are not “clearing your mind.” This is an active mental workout.
  5. There is no “blissed-out” state you are aiming to experience; in fact, the whole point is to be more present to the moment. – Eleanor Morgan

How to Retrain Your Frazzled Brain and Find Your Focus Again – Eleanor Morgan

I love the idea of being present in the moment…rather than the angst of the past or the unknown of the future. Sure, we have to plan, but the present is a much-neglected experience, and it’s really the only one we truly have. Right this very minute.

I am focusing in on the now.

These Navy Seal Tricks Will Help You Perform Better Under Pressure – Stephanie Vozza

4) “Don’t Leave Crumbs” – So crumbs aren’t anything we want to leave behind (unless you are the fairy tale pair, Hansel and Gretel. The wildly successful actor and author Matthew McConaughey talked about “crumbs” in a university commencement speech he gave in 2015.

“Don’t leave crumbs,” he says. “What are crumbs? The crumbs I’m talking about are the choices we make that make us have to look over our shoulder in the future….They come in the form of regret, guilt, and remorse – you leave ’em today, they will cause you more stress tomorrow, and they disallow you from creating a customized future in which you do not have to look over your shoulder.”Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey’s 5 Rules for a Good Future – Niklas Göke

Relationally, this reminds me of an adage “Keep your accounts short”. This means that your name is safe on my lips, and that I will make a practice of refusing to think ill of you. Keeping accounts short. Leaving no uncomfortable crumbs behind us in relationships or work/play practices.

In McConaughey’s speech he also gave 5 pieces of wisdom:

  • Don’t fall into the entitlement trap.
  • Never say anything is “unbelievable”.
  • Seek joy, not happiness.
  • Define success for yourself.
  • Make decisions you’ll be happy about tomorrow.

He gives more rationale and commentary in the larger speech (linked above). He also used these same points in another talk, incorporating his faith as well. The messages of both seem blended in an artful (10 minute) video. Below.

5) Fall & All – It is my favorite season – Fall or autumn. I just want to close with some images of this brief and beautiful repose between Summer and Winter. It goes so fast and I am savoring it every way possible (except for adding anything pumpkin-flavored to coffee. I just can’t).

   

For me, Fall ushers in Christmas (American Thanksgiving sitting right in between), so I’m completely ok with the mix of all this beauty.

.

That’s the Faves for this week. Thanks so much for stopping by. You encourage me…put your own Faves in the Comments below. Until next time.

Bonuses:

Photo Credit: Facebook, Hallmark Channel

6 Steps to Better Communication – Mental Health Mama

The Good Part About “Waning” Immunity – Katherine J. Wu

Interoception: The Hidden Sense that Shapes Wellbeing – David Robson

How to Identify Your Shadow Emotions and Why You Should – Rachel Fairbank

5 Friday Faves – Beyond the Guitar, Senses and Memories, Parenting Well, Fishing Perks, and Attention Alcohol

Late again. That kind of week. Here’s the rapid but not to miss runthrough.

1) Beyond the Guitar – If you love Star Wars, you will love Nathan‘s interpretation of John WilliamsAcross the Stars. Actually…whether you love Star Wars or not, this is achingly beautiful.

Then there is his piece later this week, posting his arrangement of the theme of Genshin Impact video game. This was actually sponsored by the game creators. I am sure they are pleased. Another really gorgeous treatment.

2) Senses and Memories – One of the appealing features of Nathan’s music is the nostalgia attached to much of it. It takes us back. To a scene from a movie, a TV show we shared with family, a video game of one’s childhood. Sound is powerfully attached to memory. We have all had those experiences or have read/watched the positive impact of beloved music on critically ill patients, or those suffering with brain injury or Alzheimer’s. Memory is stirred.

Where we live right now, we can hear the sound of planes, trains, and interstate traffic. The sound is just in the background but it is oftentimes powerful. Looking up at a commercial jet going over takes me back to being new in Cairo, Egypt, walking toward a taxi stand. I wondered at the destination of the flight and in my stress as a newbie to to language and culture, that sound (and sight) comforted me somehow.

The sound of a train takes me all the way back to Sfax, Tunisia, when we lived by a train track. The train whistles marked time for us through the day.Photo Credit: Pixabay

Farther still, the sound of a train took me back to childhood, as we waited for it to pass, and looking between the cars to my friend Evelyn’s house. Her family was only there briefly, but I loved her. She was from a different era. Wore hand-me-down dresses to middle school every day. Old everything. Poor. Stretched by poverty, but she was elegant and full of dignity. Their large, spooky old house peeked between the passing train cars, and I wondered at their lives inside that house. They were gone too soon…but the memory of her remains…with the sound of trains.

We know when Fall is here, because all of a sudden, it is all things pumpkin spice. Flavored coffee, pies, and decor – all pumpkiny.Photo Credit: Pexels – Valeriia Miller

What the Nose Knows – Colleen Walsh

Brain’s Link Between Sounds, Smells and Memory Revealed – Rachael Rettner

Music and Memory – Why the Music We Love as Teens Stays with Us for Life – Catherine Loveday

Comment below what are some of your favorite sensory memories.

3) Parenting Well – Our grandchildren (six years old and younger) have big emotions. Then they act on those big emotions. Whining, crying, hitting, screaming. This is not who these precious children are, but they are trying to communicate what is going on deep inside. How we respond to them – as parents and other significant (to them) adults – is huge!

Emotions relate to desire. This topic hit me hard when I saw the poem below on a friend’s Facebook page.

Our responses to our children (in normal developmental situations as well as in distressed situations) communicate far more than we think. We have recurring opportunities to connect with our children in ways that help them grow into emotionally healthy and relationally mature adults.

Lately I’ve been learning more about this whole parenting thing from two brilliant psychiatrists Dr. Dan Siegel and Dr. Curt Thompson.

Dr. Thompson has written a trilogy of powerful, ground-breaking books – Anatomy of the Soul, The Soul of Shame, and The Soul of Desire.  He describes these books as exploring “how neuroscience relates to the ways we experience relationships, deep emotions like shame and joy and especially our own stories — and how we can process our longings and desire for spiritual connection with God and each other to live more fully integrated, connected lives.”

[I highly recommend the above books, and not just for parents.]

Thompson refers often to Dr. Siegel’s “4 S’s of Attachment-Based Parenting“. Those S’s relate to what we communicate to our children even as infants but throughout life. We want them to know they are “safe and seen” and to experience being “soothed and secure”. This is especially poignant when we introduce the word “No” into the great adventure of their lives. No…and discipline as they get bigger.

I’ll be writing about this more in the days ahead. For now, check out the “refrigerator sheet” below with Siegel’s 4 S’s, referencing his book The Power of Showing Up.

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

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

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

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

4) Fishing Perks – My sweet husband is a fisherman. He is a “catch-and-release” guy, fishing the rivers and lakes of Virginia. This joy started for him as a boy fishing with his dad. Then it grew during our years in Tennessee. Finally now, after years of living in North African cities, just on the edge of the Sahara. There are so many perks to this avocation. Some of which really came to mind on a recent adventure. [I realize this is a “duh” for many, but for me, it was a great revelation.]

  • The Buildup – The day of fishing is preceded by all the planning and preparation. Weather checks, getting the equipment ready, fueling the boat, provisioning for the day. It makes for a happy evening of anticipation…and to bed early.
  • The Thrill of the Hunt – or Thrill of the Catch – You hope not to get skunked, but the marking and revisiting sites where fish were caught once before, the thrill of the pull on the line, and finally the fish pulled into the boat. Fun stuff!

  • Solitude – the single chair on this old dock says it all. The quiet of being on the water in the woods. So refreshing. So invigorating.

  • Beauty – Everywhere you look. Water, trees, wildlife. Sun and cloud playing on the water. Changing colors as the hours pass.

  • Company [I’m glad Dave has fishing buddies who share the experience with him. I fish rarely but always gain from the time with him, in nature.]

5) Attention Alcohol –  Author attorneyJustin Whitmel Earley pointed to an article by journalist Derek Thompson‘s article on social media and its use like that of alcohol.

Photo Credit: Rachel Claire, Pexels

Earley gives these reasons below for considering limiting or taking sabbath fasts from social media:

THREE REASONS SOCIAL MEDIA IS LIKE ALCOHOL:

  • It is Addictive. This means you are not as in control as you think you are. Remember, there are 1,000 people on the other side of this screen paid inordinate amounts of money to get you to keep scrolling.
  • It Changes Your Mental Health. This means it is not neutral. Your interactions with yourself, your family, and your friends are changed because of what you do with social media. You must recognize that to use it appropriately.
  • Someone Needs to Teach You How to Use It. This is one of the hardest things about our cultural moment. Because this technology is so new, none of us had parents to teach us how to use it, set boundaries, and practice moderation. But that doesn’t mean we can’t start to learn now, teach our kids, and help our friends. 

Social Media and Alcohol – Justin Whitmel Earley

Social Media Is Attention Alcohol – Derek Thompson

That’s the 5 for this week. How about you? Please enrich my life and that of other readers with your favorite finds. Comment below. Thanks always for stopping by.

Bonuses:

Quote of the Week: “Beauty is…that which draws our attention with wonder and welcome and that ultimately leads us to worship – not worship of the object itself but worship of God in gratitude, humility, and joy.”Curt Thompson, The Soul of Desire

The “10 Things” Rule Keeps My House Uncluttered, Even with a Family of Six – Alexandra Frost – We actually had the 20 Things rule in our family once the kids were big enough to count to 10. It helped!

YouTube Video – Dr. Curt Thompson – Shame: The Details of Devouring

YouTube Video: Curt Thompson: Vulnerability Reframed: Healing Shame & Promoting Human Flourishing

Photo Credit: Ian Kremer, Twitter

How the Brain Stays Young Even as We Age – Katherine Ellen Foley

My Boyfriend Is Spiritually Lethargic. Should I Marry Him? – John Piper

87-year-old Man Rewrites News Headlines for 2020 and Inspires Us All

Biscuit Lover – Sean Dietrich

100 Skills Every Man Should Know – The Art of Manliness [Some are also excellent skills for us women as well. Not so ambitious about most of them, but glad I know men and women who do.]

Beauty is the extravagance that makes us human

Sunday Blessing – a Son’s Birthday and a Charge, a Quote, a Poem, and a Prayer

Adapted from the Archives.

This son of ours is 32 today. We won’t be seeing him but we will be celebrating him. Today and every day of his life.

Here’s to you, Nathan.

Happy birthday, Son. Over the years, you have single-handedly taken me to my knees more often than you realize – praying to be the parent God would have me be for you; praying for you to come to faith at an early age; appealing to God for all the moves (overseas and stateside) to not be too hard for you; asking for comfort when situations were sometimes hard anyway, and thanking Him for all He’s done for you – the friendships, the opportunities, and His relationship with you from forever.

So many memories. IMG_0034 (2)

“Let’s go kill buffalo!” was your call at your Native American-themed third birthday party. Following your sister around for play ideas. Grandparent visits. Family vacations at the Chesapeake Bay. Move to Africa. Carpool buddies. Gameboy. Drawing cartoons.IMG_8751Computer games. Getaways to the Red Sea. Dreamcast. Becoming a Christ-follower. Baptism back home in Tennessee. IMG_8749

Roadtrips to the Sahara Desert. Soccer. Cousins. Airports. Naps whenever and wherever. Basketball.

2007 - June -- Nathan scoresGrumpy when hungry – feed the boy. High School Rock Band. Great friendships. Game Nights. Sleep-Overs. PlayStation. Laughter. Working out. Classical Guitar. 2006 -- Dec -- Nathan, Jeremiah, Jared

Virginia Commonwealth University. Honors College. Aletheia Praise Band. Guitar Professor Patykula.

Sharing a house with your brother, sister, and then friend Duy.Blog - Parenting 4

Met and married beautiful Bekkah. Nathan & Bekkah collection

Grad school at East Carolina. Then back to Virginia, teaching guitar, playing beautiful music, and making a home…grown. Nathan & Bekkah - New House

With being grown, comes adult friendships, some nurtured since childhood, some within the family, others without. Siblings. Cousins. With being grown, comes new work challenges, fulfilling life aspirations, and deepening your faith in God. With being grown, comes new family designations – becoming uncle to your nieces and nephew. 

Then that crazy day the summer of 2016 that you wildly trended on social media through a posting of one of your krue.tv live streams. [Krue doesn’t exist anymore but it was a springboard for your social media presence as a classical guitarist.]

Best of all…the day Titus was born…and you became a dad.Nathan, Bekkah, & Titus July 2016IMG_8050Photo Credit: Helen Phillips, Bekkah MillsNathan & Titus lookalikesTakes after his daddy – Titus (l) & Nathan (r)

And then sweet Emma.

Nathan, you are settled for now in the U.S. after so many stamps in your passport. Settled in our hearts forever. You make us laugh, and you make us think. Your grown-up heart is so worth the childhood/teen year battles. And your music…what a gift to us. Whether you’re on electric, acoustic, or classical guitar. Your music goes right to the heart. Thank you for honing the gift God gave you. – that heart of yours first, and that music flowing out of it.Nathan and guitar on stepsPhoto Credit: Duy Nguyen

As you settle into your early 30s, I leave you with a charge from God’s word to Joshua, Oswald Sanders’ quote to leaders, a poem often quoted by our friend Tom Elliff, and a prayer credited to General Douglas MacArthur.

Happy birthday, Son. I’ll love you forever.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”Joshua 1:9

“When a person is really marked out for leadership, God will see that that person receives the necessary disciplines for effective service.” – J. Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Leadership

When God wants to drill a man,
And thrill a man,
And skill a man.
When God wants to mold a man
To play the noblest part;
When He yearns with all His heart
To create so great and bold a man
That all the world shall praise –
Watch His method, watch His ways!
How He ruthlessly perfects
Whom He royally elects;
How He hammers him and hurts him,
And with mighty blows converts him
Into trial shapes of clay which only God understands
While his tortured heart is crying and he lifts beseeching hands!
How He bends, but never breaks,
When his good He undertakes. . . .
How He uses whom He chooses
And with every purpose fuses him,
By every art induces him
To try his splendor out –
God knows what He’s about.
– Anon. – often quoted by Tom Elliff

Build me a son - Douglas MacArthurPhoto Credit: Pinterest

IMG_8616Nathan & his Dad

Nathan Mills at Beyond the Guitar

Nathan Mills – Patreon

J. Oswald Sanders’ Spiritual Leadership

Part of Joni Eareckson Tada’s Testimony – Poem Drill a Man

Book Favorite I’ll Love You Forever by Robert Munsch – Before Helicopter Parenting Became a Cultural Issue

5 Friday Faves – Beyond the Guitar’s “Take On Me”, the Woman Slowly Fading, Mama’s Table, Relationship Hacks, and Voices of Influence

Happy weekend! Here are my five faves of this week – rapid-fire.

1) Beyond the Guitar’s “Take On Me”Nathan Mills does it again.  He takes Norwegian band A-Ha‘s 1985 hit “Take On Me” to a whole new level on classical guitar. So beautiful that lyrics aren’t needed; the nostalgia is already there. This song is featured in the video game The Last of Us Part II. Whether you loved it or hated it in the soundtrack of that game (or not a gamer)…its melody is “all the feels” under the deft fingers of Beyond the Guitar. Enjoy!

2) To The Woman Slowly Fading – I didn’t know the work of Scottish poet Donna Ashworth until my great-niece posted the poem below on her social media. She (my great-niece) is mum to three little ones; in fact, three under the age of three at the time.

She is tired and pulled. Yet in the tired, she is full of joy.

I’m grateful she shared this poem because it told me something about her and it also illuminated something I had been feeling from a very different place. My niece is nearer the beginning of her life’s journey, and I am closer to the ending. Nothing sad here; just what is.

At our latest family dinner, I had that strange thought of fading. A moment of poignancy taking in the lovely scene of adult children and wee ones around the table. Ashworth describes this sense of fading so well. Read for yourself the lines below.

To the woman who has lost her spark.
To the woman whose get up and go, has well and truly gone.
This is for you.
This is to remind you whose daughter you are.
This is to remind you, that you don’t have to be everything to everyone, every day.
You didn’t sign up for that.
Remember when you used to laugh? Sing? Throw caution to the wind?
Remember when you used to forgive yourself more quickly for not always being perfect.
You can get that back again.
You really can.
And that doesn’t have to mean letting people down or walking away.
It just means being kinder to you, feeling brave enough to say no sometimes.
Being brave enough to stop sometimes.
And rest.
It starts the moment you realise that you’re not quite who you used to be. Some of that is good, some of that is not.

There are parts of you that need to be brought back.

And if anyone in your life is not okay with that… they are not your people. Your people will be glad to see that spark starting to light up again.

So, if you have been slowly fading away my friend, this is the time to start saying yes to things that bring you joy and no to things that don’t.

It’s really pretty simple. – Donna Ashworth, To the Women

I do take exception to the one line: “Saying yes to things that bring you joy and no to things that don’t.” Fortunately for my young niece’s children, she is not going to ignore their cries in the middle of the night, or their tears after a fall, or their fears of the unknown. These things do not bring her joy, but they are part of the journey.

Difficult family members, friends in crisis, health issues, mounting drama in the world’s press…we can’t always say no, but we can measure ourselves out in wise and thoughtful ways. There is sacrifice in life, and, with it, joy.

So if we are fading…may it be for good reasons. Squeezing all we can out of life and relationships…even the hard ones. Not leaving anything left on the field when the clock runs out (was that phrase from Vince Lombardi?). No slow fade. Intentional. Deliberate. Owning it.

For believers of Jesus, there is a call reflective of this: On the return of the Messiah one day, we are reminded of the joy of that great day when “He must increase, and I must decrease”. (John 3:30) As on a wedding day, we take in that glorious arrival of the bridegroom for his bride.

Fading may be how we feel, but the reality is we all have various seasons in our life’s journey. Each with its own glory, joy, and exhaustion.

Life…taking it all in.

“You may begin to notice that you’re invisible. Especially if you’re short and gray-haired. But I say to whom? And so what?”Grace Paley on the Art of Growing Older

Donna Ashworth – poetry website

“History Will Remember” – a Pandemic Poem – Donna Ashworth

3) Mama’s Table – Our youngest child, Dan, has been affectionately referred to as a food snob. He loves all kinds of food but can be hyper-critical of what he considers bland food or just the wrong mix of flavors or textures. Fortunately he is a good cook and he has been since middle school. On bake sale days back then, he would take his cupcakes into school and brought empty platters back home. His yeast rolls, from a favorite teacher’s recipe, were amazing. He and a small cadre of high school friends who loved to cook (well, to eat, for sure) even started a cooking club.

They had a great time together, and we enjoyed their feasts with them. Nothing like a kitchen full of friends and all good things – loud laughter, strong opinions, and the yummiest blend of fragrances.

Food has its own culture and anthropology. In fact, Dan has moved on from just cookbooks focused on recipes to thick volumes covering not just the food of Persia, Malaysia, or Russia but the culture that goes along with the food.

The article below reads like some of those texts.

The Economics Behind Grandma’s Tuna Casseroles – Megan McArdle

McArdle tells the story of how decisions were made in homes across America from the 1890s right through present-day. The quote below resonates deeply with the food experience I knew growing up.

“The great blessing of my life is that my mother did not let me become a food snob. She was from a small town in middle America, and she did not view this as any great handicap. Nor did she look down on the culinary tradition she inherited from her mother, a “good plain cook” of the miracle-whip-and-white-bread Midwestern persuasion whose pie crust was infallible. We did not mess around with limp chicken breasts and cans of Campbell’s Soup, but I have eaten plenty of Jell-O salad, and liked it. (On summer days, I still occasionally crave shredded carrots and crushed pineapple embedded in orange jello made with ginger ale. Don’t sneer; it is delightful and refreshing.) Apples, bananas and raisins, dripping with Miracle Whip, were served as a salad in my house, and one of my favorite dishes from my grandmother was ground meat and pasta shells in Ragu. I still bake out of the Betty Crocker 1950 cookbook, and have never found a better guide to the classic American layer cake.”

We got a Betty Crocker cookbook as a wedding present and I still use it. I remember growing up with Campbell soup and Jello salads. Money was always tight so Mom would use pork brains (??) from a can to add to eggs to make them stretch far enough for us four kids. My first pizza was from a Chef Boyardee box. We never ate out at a restaurant, but I remember when a McDonald’s opened up near us (the first one in our area), and Mom took us for burgers and fries as a reward for behaving ourselves at the grocery store. That was a big deal. Church suppers were a big deal as we sampled what our friends enjoyed at their homes. Food was (and is) much more than just nourishment.

How about you? What is your food culture? Or rather the culture you knew as a child. For many of us these days, our food cultures are diverse and delicious…but we still remember the culture of Mama’s table.

4) Relationship Hacks – Just a few finds on how we treat each other, and sometimes ourselves.

Photo Credit: C. S. Lewis, AZ Quotes

“Every day, we have the opportunity to be more thoughtful, respectful, supportive toward people living with ‘invisible’ challenges.”Ian Kremer

Someone Needs Your Encouragement – Marshall Segal

5 Phrases that Make People Discount What You’re Saying – Gwen Moran

Use the Magic 5:1 Ratio to Improve All Your Relationships – Jessica Stillman

5 Indicators of an Evil Heart – Signs of a Narcissistic Partner – Lesli White

Jacqueline Woodson’s Lovely Letter to Children About Kindness, Presence, and How Books Transform Us – Maria Popova

5) Voices of Influence – Amidst all the voices gracing our lives and in the news media, we have some truly stellar influencers. Below are just a few:

73-17 In the Making – Sho Baraka, Jackie Hill Perry, Propaganda

Rapper’s Twitter Thread About Human Behavior During Pandemic Goes Viral: People Will ‘Demand’ Authoritarianism ‘When Sufficiently Frightened’ – Zuby – Charlotte Pence Bond

YouTube Video – Black Self-Making – Glenn Loury & John McWhorter

YouTube Video – Breaking the Silence – 2021 Documentary on psychosis and psychotic disorders. Written, directed, and produced by Dara Sanandaji.

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Have a safe weekend filled with sweet times with people you love.
Bonuses:
Photo Credit: Twitter, Ian Kremer
Photo taken at the Jefferson Memorial, Three Panel

Monday Morning Moment – Soundtracks for Life – with Beyond the Guitar

Photo Credit: Tyler Scheerschmidt

Music is as universal as a smile. We understand its impact on our mood, our larger experience, and our sense of belonging. In fact, we unconsciously develop soundtracks for our lives with little effort.

When our children were entering their teens, we would often do long roadtrips, visiting family or heading to a beach somewhere. All three kids had their own headphones on, with their own individual soundtracks for the road. Occasionally, being the parents messing in their lives, we would insist they put away their private listening devices. Then we shared our various personal favorites through the car’s stereo. With differing levels of enjoyment for sure.

It was a bonding exercise of a sort. Or at least a cross-cultural musical experience between the five of us. I wonder if they remember.

My wonderful mom-in-law is visiting us this week.

Over the weekend, we were driving and Dave cued up Alan Jackson’s Gospel country song albums. Sweetly familiar to all of us, even though some of those songs we haven’t sung in a very long time. We all sang along, even our youngest adult son who remembers those songs from childhood (only). It was a lovely experience that wouldn’t necessarily have happened without MomMom in the car.

Memories.

Do you have favorite soundtracks for different times in your life? I know you do. Something nostalgic…or maybe new still? Something that restores you from a dark place or returns you to a happy time or just causes you to get out of your seat to dance or raise your arms in praise?

I sure do. A wide range of music because I’ve lived a long time now. One thing about music for me: for half my life, the soundtracks wouldn’t be instrumental. Music had to have words for me to engage. Marrying a quiet man began the reconstruction of that. If Dave was in the house, strains of big band, jazz, or classical music would always fill parts of the house. Even then, my appreciation for instrumental music just wasn’t happening.

Until our middle child, Nathan, picked up the guitar. He had his high school garage band days, but then honed in on mastering the classical guitar…and my soundtracks for life began to change.

Where words once seemed necessary, the music itself can bring “all the feels”. Especially when we already have the words in our heads, and all we need is just the right rendering of a melody, or harmony, to draw out the memory.

Nathan, at Beyond the Guitar, regularly brings to us his classical guitar arrangements of film, TV, and video game themes. Nostalgia is strong in this guy. When we listen to music that takes us back, we are, more often than not, fortified because we experience both an intimate connection (with our own sense of meaning) and with a social emotion drawing us toward others with similar music memories. It’s a sweet looking back. We don’t stay in the past, of course, but the emotions drawn out by such music refreshes, reconnects, and reorients us.

Speaking of Psychology: Does Nostalgia Have a Psychological Purpose? With Krystine Batcho, Ph.D.

We have various playlists from Nathan’s beautiful, lyrical music, but I will post just a few of my many favorite videos of his below. Including his most recent Tifa’s Theme” from the Final Fantasy video game franchise. No nostalgia attached to this one for me, because I never got into video games, but…The beauty of his arrangement of this gorgeous piece of music stands alone to touch my heart.

Here we go:

Just a few. Thanks for giving me this opportunity to share some of my soundtracks for life…music that lifts our mind and fills our hearts with sweet emotion. Put your earbuds in or turn your speakers up. Let the music flow and wash over you.

Please share some of your go-to tracks in the Comments. Have a soaring day!

We’re Living in a Nostalgia Boom. Here’s How to Harness Its Powers for Good – Julia Holmes (Fascinating nostalgia research)

The Psychology of Nostalgia – David Ludden Ph. D.

Music-Evoked Nostalgia – Ira Hyman, Ph.D.

Worship Wednesday – All These Babies – Raising Up Worshippers – Lullabies – Deb Mills