Five Minute Friday: Support

How can it Friday already?

Headed out this morning to Tribe Conference in Tennessee.  Yep. Nervous. Yep. Excited.

Linking up with Kate Motaung and the FMF gang.

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When Moses was too tired to lift his hands, he needed the support of his friends, Aaron and Hur.
It was critical to the mission that Moses had his hands lifted during the battle, because the troops would win as long as his hands were lifted.

But the reality remains:

He couldn’t do it alone.

We can’t do it alone.

Sometimes we’re the ones on the roof, ripping apart roof tiles, lowering our friend down into the room to have access to Jesus.

Sometimes we’re the ones on the cot being lowered down.

It’s easier on our pride to be the ones helping, to be in partnership with the Savior.

It’s hard to be the needy one. Devoid of strength, lacking even the resources to help ourselves.

We want to be the Good Samaritan, even if it means helping the unlovely.

What we don’t want to be is the one on the side of the road, beaten past the point of helping ourselves.

God help us to help others

and

give us the humility to receive help when we’re helpless.

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What I’m Reading, September 2017

September means soccer around here.

I’m feeling a little nostalgic because it’s our last season as soccer parents.  Our baby is a senior in high school, so an era is ending.

The weather’s been great for watching soccer games–not too hot, cold, rainy or windy.  You never know in Indiana.

Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy’s Quick Lit for September reads.

 Buy now from Amazon

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Before You Were Ours is a tragic tale with a hopeful ending.

This is not a feel good book, but it is well-written.

It touches on the trauma that children go through when their nuclear family is destroyed.

It traces the children of a riverboat family who were abducted and institutionalized in the South in the early 20th century.

Interspersed with that story is the story of a modern day teen in foster care who makes friends with a elderly widow, never dreaming that their childhoods carried similar threads.

This is the first Lisa Wingate novel that I’ve read, but I will be looking for more of her books.

It reminded me a little of Orphan Train.

 Buy now from Amazon

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

What if you lived in a small kingdom where the prince chose his bride from the graduates of the Princess Academy?

What if you had the chance for an education that would never be possible otherwise?

I loved this middle grade novel for telling a tale of what could be, the power of knowledge, friendships and courage.

One of my favorite parts of Princess Academy was how they snuck in principles of Commerce and Negotiation. It was fun how that played out.

There were a few weird and whimsical twists, but every fairy tale needs a little magic.

 Buy now from Amazon

Unselfie by Michele Borba

Michele Borba was in town last week to speak to the teachers in our district.  She’s gaining a following in our area.

I liked the stories of all the schools that developed programs or implemented teaching that turned the school community around or changed a classroom.

It gives you hope for the kids of this generation. It certainly is a fight, though, with the phones and digital devices.

I liked the support she gave for developing empathy by reading, especially fiction.

Lots of good tips on practical ways to teach kids empathy.

Lots of stories and good examples of kids at school and home demonstrating empathy.

It gives a good breakdown of the elements of empathy and the why it is such a critical trait for our kids.

 Buy now from Amazon

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Heads up for language and thematic elements.

The first half of the book was slow moving and a little confusing.

The second half was riveting.

A journalist is on assignment on a small luxury cruiser.  She notices some strange things happening, but when she looks into it, her story is called into question.

Good suspense.  Good resolution.

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday: Work

It’s Friday!  Time to link up with Kate Motaung and the FMF crew.

It’s been another busy week, after a busy holiday weekend, but it is nice to get past the stress of the August rush at work.

Speaking of work, this week’s Five Minute Friday prompt is (you guessed it):  work.

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One of our greatest needs as humans is the need for meaningful work.
We need to do work that matters, that makes a difference.

Deprived of that, we become hamsters on a wheel: working to eat and eating to work.

Whether or not it’s paid work, we have to do something that fulfills our need to contribute and leaves the world better than when we found it.

If we get paid to do meaningful work, all the better.

But, without that touch, without that feeling of accomplishment, we despair.

We can’t live without the hope that our work matters.

Aside from relationship, it’s our most critical need.

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6 True Adventure Stories that are Page Turners

What is it about adventure stories that draws you in?

It’s facing and overcoming adversity. The choices made. The sacrifices made. What the human body can endure. Giving up versus pressing on.

The thing about true stories is you know, generally, how they’re going to turn out. But, the draw is finding out how they got there.

True adventure stories are inspiring.

Reading or hearing someone’s story creates hope within us that we can also survive, endure and triumph.

(Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no additional cost to you.)

  Buy now from Amazon

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

The pathos of the story draws you in.  Joe Rantz is an almost Dickensonian hero.

Tracing the background of some others on the champion rowing team puts you in the boat with the rowers and has you cheering with the crowds on the shore.

I love the real life lessons of leadership and teamwork, and wonder how to transfer these lessons to other teams.

The up close and behind the scenes glimpses of history are instructive and sobering.  So much to glean from this book.

  Buy now from Amazon

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing

It’s little hard to put my finger on what I like about the book so much.

It’s a good study in leadership and teamwork. It’s an amazing triumph over the elements, even though the primary mission wasn’t accomplished. The feat was bringing back everyone home alive.

The decisions that had to be made; the feats of survival; the human interaction; the challenges that they faced. These are the elements of the story that draw you in and keep you turning pages.

 Buy now from Amazon

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken tells the story of Louis Zamperini, Olympic runner World War II soldier.

Zamperini faces so many incredible circumstances in his life before he turns 30.  The perseverance and resilience he displayed in the face the multiple titanic challenges is an inspiration.

Knowing his background and family intensifies the story.

The final resolution is satisfying and heart warming.

Aside from the story, the writing is a work of art.

  Buy now from Amazon

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

In 1996, eight mountain climbers lost their lives while attempting to summit Everest.  Jon Krakauer is a journalist and climber who survived and wrote about it.

To me, one of the most interesting dynamics is the role of leadership and teamwork in summiting as well as personal, individual responsibility.

One of the critical factors in the deaths of those on the mountain in 1996 was the enforcement of the turn around time.

Hall, the team leader, had been so strict about that for other teams, but with this one, he wasn’t.  He didn’t communicate clearly whether the turn around time was one o clock or  two clock.  On the actual summit day, people were summiting at 4 and 5 o clock.

No one seemed to know that there was a storm blowing in.

There’s a lot of competing forces at play:  people who spent a lot of money to summit, the commercialization of summiting, magazines that would pay a lot for the story, advertisers looking for heroes.

There’s also different teams that were summiting and the different philosophies of the team leaders.

Should a leader be making decisions that are unquestioned?  Does that actually put his team at greater risk because they don’t follow their own wisdom?  Actually, the genius of Hall’s leadership was to make the decisions ahead of time, not in the heat of the moment.  And the actual breakdown came in not following through with those wise decisions.

The safety net wasn’t there when it needed to be.

The bottom line is, it impossible to erase all the risk.  That’s one factor that makes the challenge so attractive:  there is an element of risk involved.  Defying death is part of the victory.

“The true story of one man’s miraculous survival after a mountaineering mishap high in the Andes of South America.”

 Buy now from Amazon

Touching the Void by Joe Simpson

I’ve been on the prowl for another great family read aloud, along the lines of Endurance and Unbroken.  Even though Touching the Void and Into Thin Air are incredible true life accounts, I didn’t think the writing was of the same caliber as those two.

There’s a lot of climbing terms and concepts that I didn’t understand and it took a while before the story became compelling.  If I hadn’t known what was coming, I’m not sure I would have stuck with it.  The account is a testimony to the human will to survive.  Although it was only given a passing reference, it’s also a testimony to the prayers of Joe’s mother.

It’s fascinating to me to analyze the decisions you make in the face of death.  What motivates you to keep going when it’s hopeless and what motivates you to give up?

 Buy now from Amazon

The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston

It took 100 pages for this story to really get good. But, when it did, I was hooked.

Who can resist the search for a lost city? There’s quite an appeal to explore virgin territory, untouched by human hands for centuries, but yet once a thriving civilization.

The book took a left turn for the last fourth and covered tropical diseases, almost leaving archeology in the dust. I found the information interesting, but it certainly wasn’t where I was expecting the book to go.

 

3 Things I Learned, Summer 2017

Linking up with Emily P. Freeman to share what we’ve learned this summer.

In August we celebrated thirty years of marriage with a week at the lake with the kids.

Thirty years is a long time.

That’s a lot of days.  It’s a lot of hours.

I’ll be the first person to admit that clocking 30 years doesn’t necessarily make you an expert. Scads of people who’ve been around the block didn’t learn anything on the trip.

For what it’s worth, here’s what I learned for making it to 30:

Keep re-negotiating your marriage and extend grace.

Having lived the past 30 years with a lot of upheaval and transitions on top of the normal phases of life, I’m more sensitive to the need for constant re-negotiation.

Getting on the same page can be difficult. Melding two personalities to head the same direction takes a lot of negotiation. We’ve made some big changes geographically and culturally in our marriage. With each change, we have to re-negotiate our marriage. It’s not easy.

Also, I don’t think you can make it to 30 years without heaping helpings of grace and forgiveness. There will be hurts and offenses. There has to be grace in equal measure. It might take an act of God.

“I just want my kids to be happy” is not a helpful parenting philosophy

It’s amazingly pervasive, though.

Sometimes what the kids need most will not make them happy.  Take immunizations, for example.  Or eating vegetables.  Or going to bed.

In order to be happy, your kids might just want pizza and french fries. But you know that’s not what’s best for them. What’s best for them is eating vegetables. And they might not like it at first, but they will develop a taste for it.

The same is true for many things, including doing dishes and doing laundry.

Our kids are independent, responsible young adults. And they’ve adopted the values that matter most to us. Our friendships with them bring us joy.

Tweaking my morning routines has made a huge difference for me.

Keeping up with paper clutter is one of the huge struggles of my life and just dealing with the mail at home every day was overwhelming. The bottom line is that it’s not that hard to handle.

But, the critical element for me was realizing that I couldn’t handle it in the evening. I was processing the mail in 3 minutes every morning while my eggs were cooking. That went well except for the mornings when my husband made breakfast or I didn’t eat eggs. A few slips and I fell off the bandwagon.

I was able to re-start with two minor tweaks. I process the mail for 2 minutes every morning while I heat my water for a hot drink (lemon, hot water and stevia to help deal with Hashimoto’s).

This is working.

There’s something about micro-habits that makes them easier. Knowing that it’s only two minutes helps. In the morning, I haven’t succombed to decision fatigue and the process is possible (even easy) instead of overwhelming.

It’s amazing to me that such little changes can make such a huge difference. It’s fun to figure out what works.

 

 

Five Minute Friday: Neighbor

It’s Friday!  Where did the week go?

Linking up with Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday community.

This week’s prompt is : neighbor

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Who is my neighbor?

Jesus was asked the question.

Maybe the need of humanity was just too overwhelming.

Maybe it paralyzes us to see the enormity of human need and realize we’re not up to the task.

So, instead of doing the little we can, we do nothing.

Maybe what Jesus was teaching in the story of the Good Samaritan is that your neighbor is the one in your path that is desperate for help.

You don’t have to worry about everyone. Of course you can’t meet the needs of everyone.

Just one.

Just the one in your path. With the resources that you have.

Just today.

Just one.

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3 Ways Global Nomads Find Community

One of the greatest challenges for gobal nomads is finding community.

Connecting with others is difficult for the nomad because not everyone understands his life. Finding kindred spirits takes more effort and probably isn’t the person living next door.

Another factor is the taste of community that the nomad has already experienced. He’s trying to replicate that in another context and finds it doesn’t work.

There’s also the matter of personal identity. With which culture does he most identify? Where’s his tribe? If he’s a fish out of water, where can he find some water?

(note: this post contains affiliate links. At no extra charge to you, a percentage of your purchase goes to support this site.)

There are three ways to face this challenge.

1. Embrace Imperfect Communities Right Where You Are

Geography is a critical factor.

It’s natural to cling to a community that grew in another part of the world. With Sykpe, Facebook, What’s App and internet phones it’s easier than ever to stay in touch with people all over the planet.

Technology is amazing, except when it keeps you from connecting to people where you actually live.

The community that you plug into in the new place will not measure up. Push yourself to do it anyway.

2. Re-connect With Former Tribes

Reunions are important.

When you’ve logged a significant portion of your life with a tribe, it’s good to re-connect and catch up.

Last week, we went to the funeral of a mentor from a decade ago.  We shared a meal with former colleagues.  Because our lives intertwined so closely with these people in the past, years of separation melted away.

The same thing happened at a wedding in May.

Doing life with these people has marked us indelibly.

We need to touch base or we lose a part of who we are.

3. Create Your Own Culture

Establish traditions, celebrate holidays, eat the ethnic foods.

Marry someone who sees the value in preserving observances and ritual.

Create a family culture that incorporates  world cultures.

Influence churches, clubs and schools to reflect values and traditions you want to perpetuate.

Of course, these efforts are fluid. They will only last for a season if someone else doesn’t pick them up and carry them on.

But, the encouraging fact remains that the nomad isn’t doomed to a lifelong search for community: he can create it.

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The best book I’ve read this year about globe-trotting and the search for belonging is Tsh Oxenreider’s book At Home in the World.  Tsh and her husband took with their three children and circled the globe. The book traces their journey as well as Tsh’s reflections on travel, life and personal growth.

  Buy now from Amazon

Five Minute Friday: Guide

It’s Friday!  Grateful to be digging out of the piles that accumulate during busy, stressful times. It’s been a good week.

Linking up again with Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday crew.

Writing this week on the prompt word: guide.

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The first thing that comes to mind is Gandalf.

Then, a winding, disappearing path in the forest.

You can’t make it without Gandalf there to guide you. And sometimes, you can’t even see him.

The reality is that we don’t know the path ahead.

My good friend lost her husband to cancer in June. She didn’t know ten years ago or five years ago or even last year at this time what the path would look like today.

It’s hard to trust when you can’t see ahead. When you can’t even see the guide.

You are forced to bank on your rock solid beliefs: that God is there, that He is in control and that He is good.

Even when you can’t see the path.

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Five Minute Friday: Speak

It’s Friday!  Another stressful week at work, but I think we’re finally gaining traction.

Linking up with Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday community.

This week’s prompt is: speak

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I’ve often heard that one of the most common phobias is public speaking.

I get it.  There’s been a few times when I’ve actually wanted to speak, but most often I’m reticent.

I think if I had a burning passion that I wanted to communicate, it would be easier.

Actually, I have a lot of burning passions, but none that are focused and well-articulated.  Plus, they tend to migrate depending on what’s happening in my life and what’s influencing me at the moment.

Overall, I prefer written communication to spoken.  But, most speeches are written, so the mediums do overlap.

Fear to put your words out there transcends all forms of communications.

I’d say a percentage of that fear is healthy and keeps us from saying what we shouldn’t.  Most of it, though, is just a stumbling block that prevents us from connecting with people.

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What I’m Reading, August 2017

This month has been stressful, in spite of the fact that we took a week’s vacation with the kids to celebrate our thirtieth anniversary.

I am thankful for the chance to get away and build stronger relationships and store away good memories.

Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy’s August QuickLit.

Camino Island by John Grisham

The story begins with a theft of rare manuscripts from a university library.

Then we’re taken to a Florida bookshop and an undercover operation to recover the manuscripts.

John Grisham’s stories are easy to read. You can figure out the characters and stay with the plot without a lot of work, even if you’re stressed.

I’m not sure I would have noticed that, except that I heard him say something about not introducing more than 5 new characters in the first few chapters.

There’s some elements I didn’t like about Camino Island. I might not be reading John Grisham any more, since I seem to be growing an increasing sensitivity to those elements.

I wish I could combine the strengths of some authors with others.

It was interesting to see a story about the bookselling world, even if it was cheapened by taudry scenes.

The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston

It took 100 pages for this story to really get good. But, when it did, I was hooked.

Who can resist the search for a lost city? There’s quite an appeal to explore virgin territory, untouched by human hands for centuries, but yet once a thriving civilization.

The book took a left turn for the last fourth and covered tropical diseases, almost leaving archeology in the dust. I found the information interesting, but it certainly wasn’t where I was expecting the book to go.

A Place of Refuge by K. M. Gross

The story is set in Montana and revolves around Dani, a young woman escaping an abusive relationship and Matt, who’s dealing with grief and loss.

A Place a Refuge is recommended for young readers, say 12-16. I liked the moral tone of the book.

Kudos to the author for her debut novel.

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

The Kitchen House traces several decades of whites and blacks during slavery in the South.

I can’t really say I liked the story line. Like the author herself said, it has some disturbing elements.

But, the story is compelling. Tragic, really, what the people of the time endured. The twisted and convoluted relationships. The evil that existed. The foundational beliefs that paved the way for so much that was twisted and convoluted.

It wasn’t graphic, given the nature of the subject matter.

Unfortunately, it rings true.  If you really want to understand the times, you have to understand the undercurrent that runs through the story.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Orphan Train traces two orphans: a girl from modern times and one from the early 1900s. It’s interesting to see how the philosophy of orphan care has changed in this country, especially knowing some great foster parents and some of the inside pros and cons of the foster system.

I liked the book, except for one passage that was too graphic.

It was a fictional account, but the amazing fact is that 250,000 children rode the train over a period of several decades.

What are you reading this month?