What are you enjoying right now?
Sometimes, we need to step back and ask a question like that.
Philippians 4:8 challenges believers to think and dwell on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable.” So the Facts & Trends staff would like to regularly share our “Favorites” at the moment.
It might be a new book or podcast we’re enjoying or something going on in our lives we want to share. Hopefully, you’ll think about things that are your favorites right now and maybe find something else to add to that list.
Aaron Earls (@WardrobeDoor), online editor: As a writer, reading about the early careers of truly great writers can be a fascinating and often encouraging thing. Recently, scholars at the University of California, Berkeley have pieced together a collection of early dispatches written by Mark Twain.
Obviously, he later became famous for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and his razor sharp wit, but Twain was like almost every young writer—unsure of himself and his ability to “make it.”
In his late 20s, he was writing almost daily 2,000-word columns for the Territorial Enterprise newspaper in Virginia City, Nevada. He didn’t even know if writing humorously could be considered literature.
It is an excellent reminder to pursue the passions and gifts God has given you despite the fear and doubts you constantly face. After all, Mark Twain didn’t think he would ever be a successful writer.
Carol Pipes (@CarolPipes), editor: In the summer of 1927, three years before the roaring ’20s came to a crash, the Victor recording company headed to Bristol, Tennessee, and recorded the mountain music of southern Appalachia. These recordings, known as The Bristol Sessions, put Bristol on the map as the birthplace of country music. Local musicians spilled out of the hills and hollers for a chance to record the unique regional music steeped in the traditions of the merging cultures of immigrants from England, Ireland, Scotland, and Germany. Virtual unknowns like Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family were among them. Whether you call it bluegrass, folk, or mountain music, these songs of heartache and hymns of hope paved the way for today’s modern country music.
A new project from producer Carl Jackson pays tribute to these early recordings. The album Orthophonic Joy: the 1927 Bristol Sessions Revisited features some of the biggest names in country music (Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris) performing 18 of the most memorable tracks from the original recordings. In between songs, Eddie Stubbs, the voice of the Grand Ole Opry, tells the stories behind the songs and the musicians. With the likes of The Shotgun Rubies singing the familiar hymn “I Am Resolved” and Dolly Parton’s rendition of “When They Ring Those Golden Bells,” the album is pure joy.
Matt Erickson (@_Matt_Erickson), managing editor: I love watching Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors play basketball. Curry is the best shooter I’ve ever seen. He has perfect form and can get his shot off in a flash from anywhere within about 27 feet.
On top of that, he’s a deft ball-handler and clever passer. He plays with supreme confidence without quite crossing over into cockiness. In sports lingo, he plays “loose.” In more sports lingo, he has the “green light” to shoot from anywhere at any time. So, the combination of skill, confidence, and freedom makes him a lot of fun to watch.
Curry is a Christian and recognizes that his gifts and success come from God. He told Decision Magazine: “I know why I play the game, and it’s not to score 30 points a night, but it’s to use the stage I’m on. I’ve been put here for a specific purpose: to be a witness and to share my testimony as I go through it.”
Lisa Green (@lisaccgreen), senior writer: Trailing tendrils of straw longer than its own body, the bird in our back yard was determined to make a nest in our gutter this week. My husband was just as determined not to allow it. He cleared away the straw and put a cover over the gutter.
The bird tunneled underneath and put the straw back. He attached the cover more tightly and surrounded the battleground with ladders and brooms to scare the bird away. The bird was not frightened.
By the third day my husband had resorted to heavy-duty hardware and caulk, while the bird stood on the roof nearby, eyeing its target and pondering its next step.
If the bird builds its nest there, its babies will die. If the metal gutter doesn’t overheat them, then certainly the rain will drown them. My husband isn’t trying to frustrate the bird’s plans—he’s trying to protect its future. Yet my husband and I recognized ourselves in that bird.
Too often we cling stubbornly to our own ideas and fail to see the hand of God, working not to harm us but to shelter us from unseen hazards. “‘For I know the plans I have for you’—this is the Lord’s declaration—‘plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Katie Shull (@KShull), graphic designer: I came across a link about the Met releasing it’s artwork in an online initiative called “Open Access for Scholarly Content.” It’s pretty awesome, you can download high-resolution images and use them as long as it’s non-commercial.
The main website openculture.com has a ton of free stuff like audio books, movies, online courses, and textbooks. Who doesn’t love free stuff! It’s worth checking out.
What has made you smile so far this week? What would be your favorite today?