Today I have a ridiculously long list of good stuff I have read. Sorry for the lengthy post, but I think it is worth it. There is so much amazingness here. Please check them out!
Photos and Videos
National Geographic Photo a Day - Oak Tree, Louisiana
World Vision - [Video] Away in a Manger - Today, that changes. You get the chance to see Kris Allen share a song with Sylvia and her family.
Tis the Season
Shawn Smucker - Why Christmas Can't Cure Us - We sing “Joy to the World” and “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays,” but for many of us the foundation of Christmas is Guilt. We feel bad that we don’t have the relationships we want with our kids or our spouse or our parents. We feel bad that we didn’t send a Christmas card this year or hang the lights on the house or bake cookies. We wish we could make up for that horrendous mistake we made in our past, you know, the one that destroyed everything.
And so, many of us, to cover up that guilt, manipulate Christmas. We use presents and lights and loudness to drown out what we’re really feeling: inadequate, insufficient, and hurting.
Ordinary Servant - It's About Giving - I walked past her. Until the Lord brought to my remembrance what I read on the bus and the twenty dollar bill stuck in my coat pocket which I had completely forgotten about it.
Mustard Seed - The Meaning of Christmas - To me Christmas is about redemption. Redemption from sin and redemption from the mess we have made of our lives the rest of the year. People are more willing to forgive, and more likely to forget, the wrongs we have committed against them. It is also a chance to forgive the people who have hurt you in the past, even if they haven’t asked for or deserve forgiveness.
Top of the Page - The 12 Names of Christmas - Immanuel was what He was called because He was God - the God who hung every star in place - who came to live WITH us. Imagine what it must have been like to be alive then. You could have hugged him. I can't even wrap my mind around it.
A Deeper Family - On Those Time When It Actually Sticks - But then, the sea parted and the heavens opened. Choruses of angels began singing “Hosana!” There were earthquakes and lightning and thunder and stars falling from the sky. Because something had actually stuck.
Good Thoughts about Hot Topics
Christian Post - Rick Warren on Gay Marriage: 'Tolerance Does Not Mean Approval' - "I don't happen to believe in everything that my gay friends believe, but when they want to end AIDS, I'm a co-belligerent with them. We have given millions of dollars to fight AIDS from around the world, and we have worked with both gays and straights. I can work with an atheist, I can work with a Mormon, Muslim, Buddhist, Jew – and that's one of the issues we have to work on."
Read more at http://global.christianpost.com/news/rick-warren-on-gay-marriage-tolerance-does-not-mean-approval-85653/#lKI1D0Gwu7X28Yz8.99
Dianna E. Anderson - Modesty and Hating Oneself: The Dark Side - And this, too, is a major problem. Modesty codes not only negatively affect women by informing them that their bodies are public objects to be commented upon and used at will, but they also create an attitude within men that is twofold. First, they abdicate responsibility for a problem with lust to that which exists outside themselves , perpetuating an immature “blame others” attitude. Second, the lack of definition around lust makes men hate themselves when they cannot control a perfectly normal reaction.
Prodigal Magazine - To Tell The Truth: Courage to Speak Out against 'Respected' Men - I wish someone had told me how common stories like mine are to women across the globe. I wish I had known the warning signs and had a clearer picture of what is and isn’t acceptable behavior. I wish we as women could wrestle with the truth that we are never to blame—no matter how we dress, what we look like, or how much we’ve had to drink. We never, ever deserve to have our bodies treated as objects of shame.
Katie Axelson: Living a Story Worth Telling - Worshipping at the Twitter Altar - Instead of reaching for my Bible when I roll out of bed, I reach for my phone and cruise through the Twitter world to make sure it hasn’t collapsed since while I was sleeping.
Compassion - A Prayer and a Pear - Cesar knelt while our group circled around him. We prayed, words thick with tears. And the rain began to pour, thundering on the roof. What a beautiful sound.
A Deeper Story - When I Don't Know What Jesus Would Do - Here, where I thought to not debate the integrity of a person’s life based on the colour of their skin or their nationality, where I thought that theology meant we all had agreed to some basic principles of value and worth, I am found undone and unsure of what to do.
World Vision - Praying for Turkana - John earned a degree in public health from Moi University in Eldoret, Kenya, and uses his knowledge to help families in the Turkana region.
Today, he shares with us how we can be praying for the people of Turkana.
Allison Versterfelt - Making the Most of Conflict - The other day I was talking to a friend about the idea of conflict, and he suggested that maybe conflict doesn’t always have to be a fight between good and evil, like the fist fight I described above. Maybe sometimes conflict, in stories and in life, can be between good and good. Something conflict can be the clashing of two positive values.
Jon Stolpe Streched - Walking The Tightropes of Life - Balancing Store and Steward - As I drove home, I continued to wrestle with my anger. And then it hit me, there were seven new kids at youth group last night. Every week, we are seeing new students checking out the youth group. Most churches would be ecstatic to experience this type of growth. The youth group is reaching students who come from broken homes, unchurched families, and typical teenager struggles. The group is having an impact on these students and their families.
Compassion - Once: A Story of Loss, Pain, and Redemption in an African Slum - And so the people had to leave Eden, because God had created Eden as a place to last forever. And forever is an awfully long time if evil is there.
Random, but Interesting
History Channel - Restaurants, B.C.E. (Before the Contemporary Eatery) - Of course, it wasn’t always this way, and our ancestors survived quite well for millennia long before the birth of taco Tuesdays. But the restaurant as we know it is nearly unrecognizable from the earliest eateries of ancient Rome and China—and even a far cry from the first dining establishments in Paris and New York.
Katie Hawkins: Missionary to Albania - What's So Funny? - Oh language stories. I will always have them. But are they really THAT funny?
The Isle of Man - The Hardest Thing about Being Unemployed - I don't know where it's going to come from, but I'm pretty sure it won't be solved because of a funny anecdote you heard the other day or a suggestion for me to apply for a job that in no way interests me and, quite frankly, I'm not qualified for.
I've received countless wisdom nuggets over these past few months. So, now I'm going to turn the tables here a bit. It's my turn to give advice.
Here's how you deal with someone who is unemployed:
The New York Times: The Opinion Pages - The Art of Being Still - The No. 1 question I get at readings is: “How many hours a day do you write?” I used to stumble on this question. I don’t write every day, but when I first started going on book tours I was afraid I’d be revealed as a true fraud if I admitted that. Sometimes I write for 20 minutes. Other times I don’t stop writing for six hours, falling over at the end like an emotional, wrung-out mess, simultaneously exhausted and exhilarated. Sometimes I go months without putting a word on the page.