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: There is a reason Jesus used stories in His teaching. They often connect deeper than merely presenting a rational truth. Think back to Nathan helping David see his own sin of adultery and murder by using a story of a wealthy man taking a precious lamb from a poor man.
This week, I read two excellent short stories from Leo Tolstoy online: “A Spark Neglected Burns the House” and “God Sees the Truth, But Waits.” Despite being brief, like a biblical parable, they reveal significant spiritual truths about forgiveness, mercy, and grace.
If you have yet to read those two stories, take a moment to immerse yourself in them. Good stories remind us we are part of God’s story. Reading can help clarify and expound upon our role in that grand, eternal narrative.
Carol Pipes (@CarolPipes), editor: This week I’m bragging on the staff at Lifeway’s Ridgecrest Conference Center. This beautiful retreat and conference center is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. My husband and I spent a few days there earlier this week. We felt so well-taken care of by the friendly staff.
If you’re unfamiliar with Ridgecrest, they have a wide variety of conferences and events throughout the year, and it’s a great location for a church staff or family retreat. If you are a pastor or ministry leaders, check out their spiritual retreat rates.
I have fond memories of going to Ridgecrest as a child with my parents and other families from our church for music week andSunday school week. I still remember learning how to make edible play dough. (Who knew peanut butter, Karo syrup, and instant dry milk could taste so good?) Now, it’s a special treat to go as an adult and fully appreciate the beauty and wonder of God in such a picturesque location.
Matt Erickson (@_Matt_Erickson), managing editor: I vacationed in Seagrove Beach, Florida for a few days last week. It was a great trip. The house we stayed in was beautiful, the restaurants we tried were excellent, and the weather was close to perfect the whole time. On top of that, I got some good sleep and plenty of leisurely reading time in. All the makings of a nice, relaxing vacation.
And yet I like to stay active, too. Managed to run 4 miles twice, walk 4 miles along the shore twice, bike twice (including a 10-miler through a state park and a 15-miler down to Rosemary Beach), swim “laps” in the ocean, and, best of all, try paddle boarding and kayaking for the first time. (The paddle boarding was a bit of a struggle. I kept losing my balance and falling off, but it was still fun, though.)
But aside from the alternating much-needed relaxation and invigorating physical exertion, the change of scenery was great for slowing down and connecting with God and friends. Life is so busy most of the time. It’s easy to lose perspective. This trip, while brief, was something I really needed.
Lisa Green (@lisaccgreen), senior writer: Six years ago this week, I fell in a rain-slick parking lot and snapped my kneecap. The Florida resort where I was vacationing had no wheelchair, so I was rolled out on a luggage cart, splinted at an urgent care, and flown home a few days later for surgery in Nashville.
Until it happened to me, I had no idea this was such a serious injury. With my bones screwed and wired together, I had to learn to walk again. Mastering tiny movements required weeks in the gym. I couldn’t sit at the theater. I couldn’t stoop to get items off a low shelf. My efforts at running looked like a cross between comic relief and impending disaster.
Flash forward to today: I run! I jump! I kneel! I squat! It took two years and a second round of surgery before I could run again, but since then I’ve made it through a fitness boot camp and gone hiking in California. I can even sit cross-legged on the floor.
I’m thankful for mobility, for healing, for the medical professionals who reassembled my knee and trained me to use it. And I’ve gained a new empathy for anyone who faces knee surgery, from a simple scope to a full-out replacement.
This week I loaned my crutches, leg braces, and walker to a friend who’s having meniscus repair. I’m sorry she needs the surgery, but I’m glad I can walk by her side.
Katie Shull (@KShull), graphic designer: I did not realize “National Dog Day” was this week until I saw tons of doggie photos in my Facebook feed. Luckily my dogs aren’t on Facebook, so they didn’t realize I forgot to post their cuteness for the world to see.
It did remind me of some fun illustrations I saw by Russian artist, Valerie Susik. She combines hand-drawn pictures of dogs with photos of real objects. (Here are her galleries: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4.) Dogs have the unique ability of almost always making people smile.
What has made you smile so far this week? What would be your favorite today?