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: Being a South Carolina native with friends and family still there, I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about the historic flooding in my home state. Seeing people across the country come together to help South Carolina has been encouraging. I especially appreciated the gestures that have followed LSU agreeing to host their Saturday football game against USC, which was originally scheduled to be played in South Carolina.
If any school knows what it’s like to have weather impact sports, it’s LSU. The Tigers were forced away from home for weeks in the aftermath of Katrina. For the game Saturday, the LSU band is learning the South Carolina fight song and alma mater. Tiger Stadium will even play “Sandstorm,” an unofficial hype song for the Gamecocks. More than that, however, LSU is giving all of the proceeds of the game to South Carolina, planning to make a donation to flood recovery, and is collecting much-needed bottles of water for South Carolina residents. These types of occurrences serve as a needed reminder that sports are fun, but there are many more important things.
Carol Pipes (@CarolPipes), editor: On my desk sits an apple—red with hints of gold. It’s a simple and comforting reminder that fall is finally here. I’m one of those people who trudges through summer. I’m not a fan. Instead, I delight in that first nip of cool weather, when hints of color appear in the trees and all the farm stands overflow with apples, pumpkins, and squash.
Soon my tiny corner of the world will be awash with color. And though I know winter is on its way, I revel in all things fall. In the words of one of my favorite literary characters, Anne Shirley, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it?” Yes, yes it would. So grab a pumpkin spice latte, play some George Winston on the car stereo, and take a drive down a tree-lined street.
Matt Erickson (@_Matt_Erickson), managing editor: I’ve started reading a fun and insightful little book by Nicholas McDonald called Faker: How to Live for Real When You’re Tempted to Fake It. It’s about the false identities we take on to try to make ourselves look good to God, others, and even ourselves. McDonald writes: “The need to be justified is what makes us fakers in the first place. . . . We all want to be declared good, worthy of love, getting it right. . . . If we want to stop being fakers, we need to stop trying to declare ourselves good. We need to put down our masks, and come humbly before God, the King and Judge of the universe. Only He has the power to declare us good.”
Even though Faker was written primarily for a younger audience—it’s a great choice for high school and college students—I’ve enjoyed the funny drawings included throughout the book and the overall light touch. The book manages to be entertaining while conveying an important message—we need to look to Jesus for our identity. That’s a message we never outgrow.
Lisa Green (@lisaccgreen), senior writer: I know the hushed anticipation backstage as the last moments tick by before showtime. I know the exhilaration of a performance nailed, the breathless tension of waiting for scores. I saw it again this week as I watched 62 of my friends sing in the Sweet Adelines International competition in Las Vegas.
Two years ago I was with them in Hawaii, on stage in sequins and cowboy boots, singing Patsy Cline classics in four-part barbershop harmony. I couldn’t make it this year, but I watched via webcast as the TuneTown Show Chorus competed. I marveled at my friends’ tenacity — one was performing just weeks after a heart attack. I smiled at the camaraderie on their faces. And I loved hearing them ring their chords.
Katie Shull (@KShull), graphic designer: I have too many friends affected by cancer at this point in my life. Just this week, our youth minister was getting his thyroid removed for possible cancer, my college roommate is having reconstructive surgery after breast cancer, and several friends from church are dealing with cancer treatment or the loss of a loved one. Trying to find ways to encourage and support them is beyond difficult.
I have read the blog “Mundane Faithfulness” in the past and followed Kara Tippets‘ journey. Despite Kara’s death, her blog is still active and kept alive through her friends and family. Her friend Jill recently posted a list of verses and songs to see God’s grace. Kara reminded us, “Suffering isn’t a mistake and isn’t the absence of God’s goodness—because He’s present in pain.” That’s something to let simmer, and remind yourself God that doesn’t leave you of forsake you—ever. Here’s a great song to go along with that as well from Kari Jobe: “I Am Not Alone.”
What has made you smile so far this week? What would be your favorite today?