Saturday, December 15, 2012

Good Stuff Saturday 12-15

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.
It struck me odd that I would find a neatly folded twenty dollar bill in the middle of the street on a busy intersection during rush hour. I wondered why I was the only one who saw it.
God knew I would be passing this homeless girl and wanted me to give her the money.

Mustard Seed - The Meaning of ChristmasTo 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.
He pulled Santa close (he has this habit of grabbing both of your cheeks when he has something really important to say) and said,
“But Santa, Christmas isn’t really about presents. It’s about Jesus.” 

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 

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' MenI 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.

More God 

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.
“Worshiping at the Twitter altar again this morning, are we?”
These words whispered to my heart hurt.

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.
After the last amen, Cesar’s mother ran into the yard. She grabbed a stick and began poking at their pear tree. Pears thumped to the ground. She picked them up and brought them to us.

Courtesy of Compassion International:

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.

Do I reach out to the one who speaks hate?
Do I defend the ones being hated?

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.

I'd Laugh, But This All Happened To Me - Tiny Jesus  - Like Ricky Bobby, we prefer a Tiny Jesus.  Tiny Jesus is cute, cuddly and much easier for us to understand.  Tiny J doesn't ask us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.  Tiny J doesn't remind us to take care of the "least of these."  Tiny J doesn't call anyone a "brood of vipers."  Tiny J doesn't tell us "to find your life you have to lose it."  It is much easier for us if we do not allow Jesus to grow up...

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.
And now their world was different from Eden. It wasn’t a forever place. It was a place where people no longer experienced perfect harmony with each other, with nature, with God.
It was a place out of balance, a place where sorrow and fear and pain and death became…normal.

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 other day, one of the ladies downstairs came up to help Nicole & I knit. It was cold in our house so Nicole made tea for us. She asked me what kind of tea it was. I answered fish. I meant peach. Fish is peshk and peach is pjeshke. There is only one sound that is different. Apparently, Nicole & I eat crazy enough food as foreigners that this lady thought we would serve fish tea.

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:

Writerly Stuff

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.

Jon Stolpe Stretched - Musical Stretch (Guest Post by Dan Erikson)I’m a musician and a songwriter.  I’ve written 100s of songs throughout three decades.  No, you’ve never heard any on the radio… yet.  A few years ago, I reached a point that many call “writer’s block” as a songwriter.  I was burnt out.  I felt like I’d explored nearly every style and genre of songwriting.  I currently haven’t written a song in nearly two years.  That’s a record for me.  However, I’ve decided to stretch myself musically.


  1. Thanks for the mentions! I'm honored to be in such great company.

  2. You are very welcome. I have enjoyed your blog and am happy to share it.