Tag Archives: Flowering Trees

5 Friday Faves – The Godfather Theme, Roaring Lambs, a Very Different Jesus, Core Values, and Finally Spring

Here’s to your weekend! 5 favorite finds from this week:

1) The Godfather Theme – One of the most iconic films of all time was The Godfather adapted from the 1969 novel of the same name. The story focused on the fictional New York crime family, the Corleone’s. So engrossing was the narrative that two later films of the same name followed. Composer Nino Rota‘s theme from The Godfather is beautiful and memorable. Whether or not you’ve ever seen the film(s), you know this melody. Nathan Mills has again taken this giant of a song and arranged a gorgeous piece for a single classical guitar.

[Sidebar: One of Nathan’s guitar students is doing a semester abroad in Dublin, Ireland. He heard a local guitarist playing and it reminded him of Nathan’s style of playing -at Beyond the Guitar. He engaged the guitarist in conversation and found out that he knows Nathan’s work and follows his music. Small guitar world. Sweet little story for you who follow and support Nathan’s music as well.]

2) Roaring Lambs – Many years ago, I read TV producer Bob Briner‘s book Roaring Lambs. Says Briner: “In my circles, Christians are thought of as people who are against things. I want us to be known as people who are for things good, wholesome, creative, wonderful, and fulfilling. That’s the message of the Gospel and it ought to be the message in all that we do.” His audience was Christians but there is wisdom for anyone who wants to make a difference rather than just a reputation or wants to make a change rather than just noise. We don’t think of lambs roaring, but Briner challenged the reader to take their work to the next level but not only aiming for excellence but for a depth and breadth that touches the lives of those around them.Photo Credit: Mountain Pleasant Granary

A woman I only know by what her “roaring lamb” reputation retired recently. Her job was made redundant by a new software program that was adopted in her workplace. What everyone will miss, as much as they will miss her diligence to task, is the beauty she brought to her department. Her generous gift of hospitality in both decorating common areas and serving food to her colleagues made it a joy just to leave the elevator and enter that office suite. She will be so missed.

Another “roaring lamb” work can be environmental services in a hospital. The tasks that make for a safe place to heal often go unseen and unrewarded. However, we all know personally or have heard stories of what can happen when either care or diligence aren’t exercised in this vital work group.

Finally, award-winning cartoonist Johnny Hart, after coming to Christianity later in life, made an intentional decision to incorporate his faith into some of his work. Some newspapers dropped his comic strips (B. C. and Wizard of Id) because of this, but most continued to publish them. His work was much-loved and his intent was just to use the medium of cartoons to inform on faith issues (as some use comics to do the same with political issues).

He died at his drawing table on Easter Eve 2007 after finishing his strip for the next day. It was fitting for this “roaring lamb”. [I wish I could post it but you can find it here.]

Roaring Lambs:  A Gentle Plan to Radically Change Your World – Bob Briner

How to Be a ‘Roaring Lamb’ – Warren Cole Smith

I Did It His Way: a Collection of B. C. Religious Comic Strips – Johnny Hart

3) A Very Different Jesus – I am always baffled when Jesus is treated as inconsequential…some sort of weak made-up messiah of even weaker people who call themselves Christians. Maybe, the reason is because of how we Christians have represented Him in the world. This historical profoundly world-changing Jesus is so much more than is captured in the Charles Wesley song “Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild”.Photo Credit: Slideplayer

The Scriptures say that Jesus is “the same, yesterday, today, forever” (Hebrews 13:8). If this is true then we can search out who He is and what He is like.

British scholar C. S. Lewis, in his Chronicles of Narnia, described Aslan, the Christ-figure, very differently:

“Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh”, said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he…quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”…”Safe?”, said Mr. Beaver…”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”Photo Credit: Mark Meynell, Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

The night before the crucifixion of Christ, a large mob of both religious authorities and Roman soldiers came for him in the dark of night (John 18:1-14). If he had resisted, by the might of His power seen previously, they would need large numbers to insure his arrest. Jesus did not resist arrest. He went of his own accord, knowing his journey to the Cross was at hand. For our sake, He laid down His own power…His own life (Philippians 2:5-8 and John 10:17-18).

We admire first responders – those who run into danger for the sake of those who can’t save themselves. Everything we know, when we read both the Gospel and other religious (and secular) texts, is that Jesus was this kind of different.

The question for all of us is “what will you do with this Jesus?”

The Rebellious Privacy of God: Rowan Williams on Narnia in “The Lion’s World” – Mark Meynell

4) Core Values – A friend of mine this week raised the question of what were my family’s core values. I hadn’t thought of that…in a long while. Not even sure I’ve wrestled with my own core values lately.

We hear of the core values of organizations.

Photo Credit: Multi Works Ltd.

The military publicizes and trains its personnel with core values in mind…differing somewhat depending on what branch of the military.

Photo Credit: Asia J. Sorenson

Corporate strategist and author Ben Sands has written a super helpful piece on discovering your core values. He talks about how our core values are those few we lead out with in our lives.

How to Discover Your Personal Core Values (and Why You Must!) – Ben Sands

So I went through this article and his list of values. He also gives a 4-step process for narrowing down to our core values. I’m still working through it, but below are my list of values (that I need to fine-tune to a Top 5, and then determine guiding principles, per his prescription):

  • Belonging/Inclusion
  • Collaboration/Teamwork
  • Community
  • Compassion/Kindness
  • Dependability
  • Faith
  • Family
  • Gratitude
  • Honesty/Transparency

How about you? Sands calls our core values our “safety net”. Otherwise, we don’t really have a mooring to dock our lives. I’m thinking he is right. What do you think?

5) Finally Spring – While this week marked the coming of Fall in the Southern Hemisphere, we in the North finally have Spring. Yes. Just a few pics of the glorious flowering around us right now.

Photo Credit: The Colorful Cottage, Facebook; An Extraordinary Day

Bonuses:

The Long Goodbye is finally available for purchase and rental. We watched it last night. Wow! Just wow!

From Sunrise House to forever home: teen finds adoptive family

Photo Credit: Homegrown Learners, Facebook

One of my favorite bloggers (a “roaring lamb” herself) on dealing with criticism from readers:

[This has been a week of hard and hard-to-understand events. They drive us to think and pray and reach out to serve.]

In the wake of the terrorist attack in New Zealand, your community needs you.

Wherever you happen to live, your community needs you to show up and say words out loud, because white silence is violence.

Your people need you to acknowledge that Muslims are people who Jesus loves, and that whether we agree or disagree with their beliefs, nobody deserves this.

They need you to pray against terrorism, violence, and white supremacy, but also to do something about it.

They need you to shut down jokes and little comments that make targets out of people of color or other faiths. Don’t let them slide. Make supremacists uncomfortable.

Your community needs you because only when white people, a LOT of white people, actively stand up and stand with those who experience oppression, terrorism, and loss of life because of the color of their skin and their place of worship, will the terrorists understand that they have lost. That their sickening philosophies are not welcome, even among other white people.

POC cannot do this for us. It is up to us to fill our lives and words and deeds and spaces with so much love and inclusivity that white supremacy cannot fit. That it is squeezed out. We do this by how we react to jokes and comments, what we say or do not say, what we do, how we speak about and treat Muslims and other folks in the margins. Again, we don’t have to agree with their theology, but are we kind? Are we gentle? Are we protective of the oppressed? Do we shut down casual racism and xenophobism when we see and hear it?

It’s up to us.

It’s up to you. Cattie Price, Facebook (with permission)

Agencies In Race Against Time After Cyclone – Mozambique

280 Christians Killed in Attacks in Nigeria

Thoughts on How to Be the Church in an Age of Terror and Tragedy – Carey Nieuwhof

Resting Your Eyes and Lifting Your Soul – the Glorious Banner of Love that is Spring

Blog - Spring Trees - Flame Tree - bestphotosite.net

“He has brought me to his banquet hall, And his banner over me is love.” – Song of Solomon 2:4

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Living in Egypt for many years gave us a deep appreciation for the change of seasons. Although it seemed in Cairo that there were only two seasons – one being hot and the other hotter – the trees knew when to bloom. We loved the deep red flame trees (above), the towering purple jacarandas (above), and the crimson-flowered poinsettia trees. The deep colors of these trees were striking on the canvas of this colossal sand-colored city, built atop the Sahara Desert.

Then in our years in Tunisia and Morocco, the seasons changed more like the four we were used to in the U.S. The rainy seasons there (October to March) ushered in spring vegetation. The flowering almond, apple, and cherry trees brought the promise of the first fruits of summer.Flowering Almond TreeApple Tree

Now settled back in the States, we are re-discovering this amazing season of Spring. At first, early signs of winter’s earth coming out of its hard freeze are very subtle. The yellow crocuses push through the gray soil almost overnight. Then wild violets peak purple through fallen leaves. As more and more flowers bud and bloom, our eyes are drawn up from the ground to see spring wonder all around us. Then the trees awake –  with the warming sun, the lengthening days, and whatever else signals the time of flowering. This is my favorite time of Spring. When the flowers open on the trees, and the leaves follow. We tune our eyes upward to the incredible glory. These magnificent trees are a grand display of exquisite beauty – a praise offering to Creator God. What a gift He gives us in these trees. They are truly like a banner of His love over us.

In our neighborhood, there are so many different kinds of flowering trees – some of which we remember fondly from other places and some which we’re just learning. Even the maple trees, for so long bare, have seed clusters adorning them as if they were flowers.Blog - Spring Trees 3Blog - Spring Trees #10Blog - Spring TreesBlog - Spring Trees #13Blog - Spring Trees #7Blog - Spring Trees #11

Just like with food, fragrance, and music, these flowering trees trigger memories of places, people, and graces of God. Flowering pear trees, for instance, remind me of my nephew, Chad, who died at 23 in a car accident. Our shock and devastation at losing him so suddenly was cushioned, in surprising ways, by the grace of God. One of those being the funeral procession in Georgia, during the month of March. As we slowly made our way to the cemetery, this long line of cars full of people who loved Chad, we traveled roads lined with dazzlingly white pear trees. It was as if they stood at attention, against the blue sky, like a military color guard, there to honor this darling young man.

Redbuds in bloom always remind us of Spring in East Tennessee where we lived when the children were small. The deep pink-purple flowering clusters were our signal that winter was finally over. Even though they are blooming now, here in Virginia, I am always reminded of Tennessee.Blog - Spring Trees #15Blog - Spring Trees #2

Dogwoods and crepe myrtle trees remind me of my mom’s yard. No matter where I see them, my mind goes back to our home growing up. The same goes for tulip magnolias and Dave’s mom. They bloomed so bright and full on the trees beside his parents’ white clapboard house on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. When I see them, it’s that place that comes to mind…even though they have long-since moved to another house, one without tulip magnolias.

Blog - Spring Trees #8Tulip magnolia

The flowering trees are my favorite part of Spring’s majesty. There are shrubs and bushes that rival the trees in beauty. Each with their own grand entrances. First the forsythia, then the azaleas. Then as Spring moves toward Summer, the wisteria, rhododendron, hydrangeas, and others.

Again memories are attached – the year our daughter was born in March and a surprise late snowfall hung on our forsythia bushes. Brilliant white on bright yellow.Blog - Spring Trees #9

Lastly, looking back to those years, again, in Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco….with hedges of bougainvillea, rows of hibiscus trees, and arbors wound with jasmine. Those glimpses of glory rested our eyes and lifted our souls. We were always reminded that nature gives witness to a good and gracious God who reveals Himself in so many ways. These breathtaking flowering trees of Spring are as a banner of His love unfurled over our heads. All we have to do is look up.

“I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert together with the box tree and the cypress, that they may see and recognize, and consider and gain insight as well, that the hand of the LORD has done this, and the Holy One of Israel has created it. – Isaiah 41:19-20

Blog - Spring Flowers Flowering TreesPhoto above by my friend Katrina Otto, Kansas City, Missouri

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Photo Credit: Images of flowering almond tree, jacaranda tree, and apple tree; flame tree; all others are mine.