What Lasting Gift Will You Give this Christmas?

What Lasting Gift Will You Give this Christmas?

A few years ago when I was in the Philippines, I marveled that they had Christmas ornaments and trees already in the stores in August. Have you started thinking about what to buy for your loved ones this Christmas? Trust me; the retailers have given it lots of thought. Getting you pumped to buy has become more important than encouraging thoughtfulness about what to give.

But I’ve discovered that the pandemic has heightened our realization of the love and richness of a connected family and the importance of relationships with friends and colleagues. After being separated from many of them, we have become more keenly aware of the fragility of life and the value of passing on a gift of knowledge or wisdom and not just “stuff.”

Christmas 2021 will be special.  

I have always been told that you should give what you’d like to receive. If you’re like me, you want to give something meaningful, lasting and ultimately cherished. You want to give something special. One of the fun things I have been able to do because of my travels to different countries has been to search for unique and original Christmas gifts. I look for handmade or artesian gifts – those one-of-a-kind conversation pieces from far-away lands. Often, I find antique and vintage items that have a history or story to them and have been able to come home with some pretty fun finds. I have purchased Tahitian pearls straight off the ocean pier from the pearl farmer, hand-painted Russian ornaments and boxes directly from the artist, reindeer rugs, antler mugs, and many other beautifully carved items along with some historic old books and paintings.

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Cultivating: Key Choices that Matter

Cultivating: Key Choices that Matter

Several months ago, I attended and spoke at a national conference at the Anaheim Convention Center in California. While I was attending my event, the annual and hugely popular Disney Convention, D23, was also happening simultaneously. It was apparent. Disney fans are cultivated, and, even more importantly, they are committed. They came ready to go, dressed head-to-toe and were clearly Disney “worshipers.”

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Identity Disruption: How Media is Contributing To Our Confusion

Identity Disruption: How Media is Contributing To Our Confusion

At The Influence Lab, our focus is to help Christians use media more effectively to tell their stories so that others will know the most important story ever told – the story of Jesus. Our passion is to mentor media professionals and leaders to create excellent media projects, develop leadership skills, and alert them to insider tips and sometimes the pitfalls of media manipulation. As the Bible commands, we want Christians to “defend their faith” (I Peter 3:15). Having worked in Hollywood for many years, I know how media and entertainment affect our emotional connections and in turn affect our actions and why we must be vigilant to use media and entertainment to tell powerful stories and share the wisdom of God.

Big Tech are the creators of our present-day media platforms and tools and have set themselves up to be media gods and idols in our present-day culture. They, along with Hollywood, are experts in using their fashioned communication tools, skills and crafts to tell the stories they want to be told and followed. These stories are changing what we identify with and even affect our own identities.

What are those stories Big Tech is telling?  (more…)

The Creative Explorer

The Creative Explorer

In 1843, John C. Fremont, an explorer (and the namesake for the junior high school I attended), set off to explore the unknown once again. He had just returned from an expedition to Wyoming but was driven to see what was then called Oregon Country. He ended up exploring what is now known as Portland, Oregon, but his journey took him through the Sierra Nevada mountains then south and east to the desolate deserts and the Great Salt Lake in what is now known as Utah. However, this passion for exploring almost cost him his life in the Sierra’s where he and his mate, Kit Carson (who would gain fame in Nevada and whose capital city is named after him), were forced to eat their horses to survive. With Kit’s instincts and keen sense of direction, he would be Fremont’s saving guide. Without him, things would have turned out much different. (more…)

Want a little Whine with that? Are you Lamenting or Complaining?

Want a little Whine with that? Are you Lamenting or Complaining?

The culture today is full of complainers — Christians and non-Christians both. It’s hard not to whine about the constant disruptions affecting our lives. We are creatures of continuous unhappiness and traumatic events. A recent Barna research reveals that 82% of teens (13 to 18 years of age) admit to having a traumatic experience in their life, an experience which can continue to haunt them throughout the rest of their lives. Even in the best of situations, complaining seems to be the only way to vent our emotions after a life-changing event. Overcoming it, however, involves more. It means confronting the painful experience, changing our thinking, and waiting on God’s final return to repair our broken world that caused it in the first place. After a year of pandemic disruptions, can we prepare our thoughts for Good Friday and Easter 2021 with a posture of lamenting and not complaining?

Can we think differently? What if we purposefully practice lamenting instead of complaining?

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The Determination of Creative Women

The Determination of Creative Women

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, What Women Artists Knew About Work,  Mason Currey cites Harriet Beecher Stowe’s (“Uncle Tom’s Cabin”) letter to her sister-in-law with these words…

“Since I began this note, I have been called off at least a dozen times – once for the fish-man to buy a codfish – once to see a man who had brought me some baskets of apples – once to see a bookman… then to nurse the baby – then into the kitchen to make a chowder for dinner and now I am at it again, for nothing but deadly determination enables me to ever write – it is rowing against wind and tide.”

As I sit at my desk and computer hashing it out with a multitude of to-do’s nipping at my feet, I feel very close to Harriet.  It requires determination and sheer work to find the time to read, think, research and write but I am compelled to do so by the pounding drum within me.

Finding time to create was difficult for many women throughout history. In many ways we have it easier today but media distractions can be one of our fiercest opponents. Technological advancements have disrupted and loaded our lives with interruptions and the one highest on the list is the smartphone in our hands. Its unrelenting grasp hooks us. We often get blindly swept away following social media, watching YouTube or are mesmerized by video games. (more…)