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: I grew up fascinated by space. I spent nights staring out into the inky sky broken apart by artistic dots of light. Coming inside, I covered my ceiling with glow-in-the-dark stars and wondered about God’s vast creation.
Like many, I wanted to be an astronaut at various stages of my childhood. I spent one week of middle school thrilled to be at Space Camp in Alabama. Eventually, reality set in and my disdain for math sent me away from space exploration and into writing, but I never lost the captivation with space.
Recently, NASA released footage from a Mars rover that allows you to see a 360° view of the red planet. Seeing distinct Martian mountain ranges and red dust plains stretching off to a distant horizon is awe inspiring and yet another reason to worship our good and creative Creator.
Carol Pipes (@CarolPipes), editor: Earlier this week, the music industry’s biggest and brightest stars gathered in Los Angeles for music’s biggest night—The Grammy Awards. There were some great performances, some not so great performances, and some real stinkers. But one of the best performances came from 12-year-old jazz pianist Joey Alexander.
The child prodigy earned a standing ovation from the likes of Herbie Hancock, Paul Shaffer, and a host of Grammy award-winning musicians. In a little more than a minute, Alexander wowed some of the greatest musicians alive and the millions of viewers watching. I watched mesmerized thinking how in the world is he doing that?
The kid was incredible—a reminder that some talent can only be explained as God-given. My co-worker Marty Duren wrote this piece about Alexander and the fingerprints of the Divine. As Duren notes in his article, God reveals Himself through His creation and humans are a part of His creation. Writes Duren: “Why then should we think He would not reveal Himself generally through inexplicably gifted people?” Why wouldn’t He indeed!
Lisa Green (@lisaccgreen), managing editor: Jeremy Cowart, labeled by the Huffington Post as the Internet’s most influential photographer, wants to use his influence to encourage forgiveness and reconciliation. This week I watched his inspiring story on video.
Cowart tells of his childhood as a struggling student with poor grades, difficulty focusing, and a dismal showing on his aptitude test. His mantra was “I can’t.” His parents consistently responded with the words of Philippians 4:13: “I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
In art class, Cowart finally began to believe it. Today he’s sharing that message globally, working to improve the lives of the needy around the world.
Bob Smietana (@BobSmietana), senior writer: My favorite this week? An old hymn.
One of the first songs I learned when my family first started going to church was “O Let Your Soul Now Be Filled With Gladness.” It’s a hymn inspired by the Moravian movement in Sweden, and written by Peter Aschan in the 18th Century. Karl A. Olsson, the former president of North Park University in Chicago (my alma mater) translated it into English.
Set to a lovely, but a bit tricky, folk tune, the hymn focuses on God’s unfailing love. “It is a good, every good transcending, that Christ has died for you and me,” says the final verse.
But it’s the second verse that always gets me:
If you seem empty of any feeling,
Rejoice, you are His ransomed bride!
If those you cherish seem not to love you,
And dark assails from every side;
Still yours the promise, come what may,
In loss and triumph, in laughter, crying;
In want and riches, in living dying,
That you are purchased as you are.
Katie Shull (@KShull), graphic designer: This morning on my way into work, I caught a glimpse of one of our resident eagles out soaring in the wind. A few years ago, bald eagles were spotted in Middle Tennessee, which was exciting because no one thought they were still here.
The wildlife conservation people confirmed we did have a few nesting pairs, and apparently they have stayed around. Catching a glimpse of them is still pretty rare, so when you see them it’s special.
My mind immediately went to Isaiah 40:31, and it reminded me, “but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.” It was a great pick me up and blessing to start my day.
Watching an eagle soar and float around the wind is breathtaking. While I didn’t get a video this morning because I was driving, I did find some interesting videos shot from the eagle’s perspective flying in France and Dubai.
What has made you smile so far this week? What would be your favorite today?