Saturday, July 31, 2010

Seen or read The Blind Side?

(Tricia here:  When you are reading a good book or watching a good movie, sometimes you don't want it to end.  And when it does, you want to know more - what happens next, that kind of thing.  Well, if you enjoyed The Blind Side, allow me to introduce In a Heartbeat, a look inside the minds and hearts of the Tuohys, the family that adopted Michael Oher)

In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving by Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy with Sally Jenkins (Henry Holt, July 13, 2010) takes readers on an extraordinary journey of faith and love and shares unforgettable lessons about the power of giving. The Tuohys’ deeply inspiring memoir offers readers a detailed picture of a family that makes giving a way of life, the huge blessings that decision has brought to them, and the ways we can all make a difference in our own communities.

Q & A with Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy Authors of In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving

Q: Besides dominating the New York Times bestseller list, The Blind Side has also broken Hollywood records. Why do you think your family’s story has captivated so many people?

A: We think people love the story because they recognize some aspect of themselves there. We want to be the kind of people who really make a difference in the world, but so many people are convinced they don’t have the resources to be that kind of giver. We wrote In a Heartbeat to share our story in our own words precisely so that people will begin to realize that they can be the kind of people who help change someone’s life.

Q: Let’s talk about the problem of homeless and needy children in America. How do you believe this problem can be solved?

A: There are a lot of intractable problems in the U.S., from terrorism to health care. But the problem of children in need is curable; we can all do something about it today, individually, through the smallest acts. If every church in the U.S. sponsored one child, we could wipe out the problem of homeless children in this country. There are a million Michaels. Not every kid has the potential to become a star player in the NFL, but he or she may be the person who grows up to cure cancer, or becomes a great husband or wife to someone.

Q: How do you respond when people marvel at the risks you took as you brought Michael Oher into your family?

A: You know, you take a risk every day of your life. When you get in your car and drive across a bridge you take a risk. You don’t know if your tires are good, or if the pilings are going to hold, or if the bridge will fall in. But you don’t really stop and think about it, do you? You don’t get up every morning and kick all four of your tires. You don’t stare at the bridge and say, ‘Yeah, I think it’ll hold me.’ How did you know that bridge wasn’t going to fall? Yet you went right ahead and crossed it. Everybody takes risks, every day. You just don’t realize that’s what you’re doing.

Q: How do you define “cheerful giving”?

A: This is not giving to impress someone who may be watching, and it’s not giving because you feel guilty. The Bible says it best: “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”-- II Corinthians 9:7

Q: In the book, you sum up your philosophy of giving in “The Popcorn Theory.” Tell us more about that.

A: The Popcorn Theory is about noticing others. It’s about seeing, not turning away from the immediacy of someone in need. It starts with recognizing a fellow soul by the roadside—even if he doesn’t seem to belong in your lovely red brick neighborhood and he is the biggest damn piece of popcorn you ever saw and his problems seem too immense to take on. It’s about assigning that person value, and potential. Like popcorn, you don’t know which kernel’s gonna pop. They just show up. It’s not hard to spot ‘em. The Popcorn Theory goes like this: “You can’t help everyone, but you can try to help the hot ones who pop right up in front of your face.”

Q: What if I don’t have many resources? How can I be a cheerful giver without a bunch of extra money?

A: Too often we think we lack the means to improve someone’s lot. We’re wrong. The Popcorn Theory doesn’t require you to write a large-scale check, or to take a hungry boy with eyes like leaping flames into your household. But it does require that you perceive the person standing right in front of you, and extend a hand in kindness. Consider this story we heard from a U.S. Senator during a trip to Washington for an Adoption Coalition convention:
There is a little-known Congressional initiative to give internships to young people who were so unwanted they have aged out of the foster care system. This Senator employs one such young man. One day the Senator passed by the mailroom, and paused and turned around. He noticed that his intern, fresh out of foster care, had reorganized all the old files. “This room has never looked so clean,” the Senator said. “You did a great job.” A few minutes later the Senator decided to get a cup of coffee. He returned to mailroom and found that his intern had tears streaming down his face. “Son, did I offend you?” he asked. “No,” the young man said. “That’s the first time anyone has ever told me that I did something good.” This gift had nothing to do with money. What this kid needed most was encouragement and self-worth, and that’s what he was given.

Q: As you share your story, one of the points you stress is that generosity is not just your personal value. It’s a core value for the entire family. What specific things have you done as parents to help your kids become cheerful givers?

A: One of our practices is something we call “Get one, give one,” which means when you receive something, give part of it away. To impress the lesson on our daughter Collins, we sent her to camp with underprivileged kids and on a searing mission trip to the Guatemala City Dumps, where she saw families living in lean-tos amid the garbage, yet with pictures of Christ hung amid the wreckage. Collins came to understand how fortunate she was: “He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” (Acts 14:17) She also learned how important it was to share some of what she’d been given. Long before Michael came into our lives, Collins and Sean Jr. learned to accept the presence of kids sleeping on the sofa or lounging around the house. Friends at the Briarcrest School whose parents worked two jobs. One afternoon 7-year-old Sean Jr. came home to find them playing with his X-box. He sought out Leigh Anne and said, “What gives?” She replied, “We’re just helping them out. Be generous.” Sean Jr. went back downstairs and watched the brothers play a video game. “I’ve got the winner,” he said.

Q: In the book, you point out that the most important gifts your children gave each other had nothing to do with money. Tell us about those gifts.

A: As Michael became a member of the family, he and our other kids gave each other two small but crucial mutual gifts—loyalty and protection. At Ole Miss, Collins and Michael went everywhere together, and they and their friends achieved a new level of racial integration at that old southern school. Even now, when our family attends Michael’s games, he remains extremely protective of his sister, insisting on one occasion that his teammate walk her to the car to keep her away from unruly male fans. And for Sean Jr. having Michael in his family means they do more as a family—he gets much more of each of them.

This is one of the blessings of cheerful giving. We have always felt that Michael gave us far more than he received. All we did was put a roof over his head. He has given us back a stronger sense of home and family.

In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving
by Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy with Sally Jenkins

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Exhorter

How would you describe an "exhorter"?  Here is one definition.  I am looking for others.  Input, anyone?

EXHORTER: That special ability to find and communicate to others practical ways of serving God. The exhorter is a positive motivator, knowing practical Christianity will change the lives of others (Rom. 12:8; I Timothy. 4:13; Heb. 10:25).

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Rise Up and Sing

Me here:  I am not a worship leader, nor is that my giftedness or calling.  But I serve on a worship team under a female worship pastor and I love anything that will lead me to be a better worshipper and closer to God.  So I was curious to read this book.  I really liked it and think that any female with a worship role in her church should read it.  It was a quick read and gave good insight into what it is like to be a female worship leader.

Discovering Your Spirit-led Ability to Lead Worship
Buckley offers a guide for women called to lead in worship ministry

Women are being called to lead worship in larger numbers than ever before, but many may feel ill equipped to do so. Lex Buckley discusses this trend in her new book, Rise Up and Sing: Equipping the Female Worship Leader. Buckley recognizes the unique challenges that women face as they enter positions that have been held primarily by men for many years. As a musician who served as a worship leader for Soul Survivor Ministries and who now serves with her husband leading the worship department for River City Church in Jacksonville, Florida, Buckley wants to encourage women to be discerning and Spirit-led about worshipping the Savior. She offers practical, down-to-earth advice to women who feel called to lead in this area of church ministry.

Drawing from the Bible, her heart, and her own experiences, Buckley begins by defining the many areas of worship ranging from worship leader and musician to worship team pastor and songwriter. She defines each role and discusses the differences that exist between men and women within these positions. From the pitch of the voice itself to the instrument of choice used to lead worship, there are many functional and practical differences that become obvious when a woman steps into a leadership role populated primarily by men. Understanding these differences and their impact on the style of worship enables a woman to lead confidently and more effectively, because she is able to better relate to the men with whom she is called to serve.

Buckley wants women who feel called to serve as worship leaders to be confident in their ability to lead and offers practical suggestions on songwriting, how to work with a worship band, and even ways to recruit members for and pastor a worship team. Rise Up and Sing also includes valuable insight from others in worship ministry including Beth Redman, Christy Nockles, and Kathryn Scott. These women want others who feel called to serve in this type of ministry to be well-prepared to follow God’s leadership in their lives and to wholeheartedly lead others in worship of their Savior. Women have much to offer their church family, and they can follow the examples set in God’s Word as they share their gifts with others.

Rise Up and Sing: Equipping the Female Worship Leader by Lex Buckley
David C Cook/July 1, 2010/ISBN 978-1-4347-0058-2/168 pages/softcover/$14.99

Get back up again

So what is this, day 2 of the new Mediterranean-eating me and I am already a mess.  Except for having some yogurt and not eating a hamburger, I don't think I was very Mediterranean at all today.  I am sure the 500+ calories I consumed eating a Reese's Cup Blizzard are NOT part of the plan.  Can you see a lady sunbathing on the beach in the south of France while downing a Blizzard?  Probably not.

But I did try to end the day on a positive note and for that I am proud.  Went on a bike ride and actually rode in the street.  (No, not in the middle of the street)  Usually I ride in our neighborhood, around the school adjacent to our neighborhood, or on a bike path.  The street scares me.  My old boss was hit while biking on the roads near her home and my Jim was hit by a car when crossing the street (not on a bike, but still enough to make me nervous).  Both of them walked away with no major injuries, but I don't want to push it.

I did it, though.  I rode in a big square on the streets near the house.  A square so I wouldn't have to make left turns (did I mention I feel like an idiot trying to do those bike signals they taught us in elementary school that no one actually uses?).  AND I kept going even when I realized my grand plan involved going over the railroad tracks.  Twice.  God was very good to me and kept me out of any hazardous situations, for which I am very grateful.

So I turned a bad day upside down and ended it on a good note.  (Yay, me!)  Now I feel much better and I am ready to conquer tomorrow - the Mediterranean way!  (but not topless)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Eating, Mediterranean Style

So the latest recommendation from the good doctor is that I should follow a "Mediterranean" diet.  Other than "Eat Fish and Olive Oil", I don't know very much about eating according to this lifestyle, so I am surfing the internet trying to learn more.

Here is what I have learned so far.  If you have something to add, or follow this plan/know someone who does, I would love to hear it!

More on Med Diet

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Heeding Good Advice

Did you ever not follow advice that in hindsight was really good advice, that you definitely should have followed?

If the crew of the ferry says "You will get wet," they mean it.  They know what they are talking about.  Listen to them.

(view from top deck of ferry and another brave/clueless traveler during a brief moment of not getting splashed to death - note the water drops on the camera)

This actually happened last summer.  Top picture is Hannah at the car, post-soaking.  You can tell she is miserable.  You can't tell how wet she is because I put my new sweatshirt on her (she was so wet and cold that she was shivering).  Taking another trip to Mackinac soon and got me reminiscing about last year...