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Sunday Firesides: Resisting the Auto-Suggested Life

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Start typing a text or an email and the technology will anticipate what you wish to say and generate suggestions for subsequent words and phrases. These suggestions are based on the kinds of things most people write next, and that you yourself have previously written.

Before the Digital Age, it was possible to take a more romantic view of the individuality and creativity of human beings. But these auto-suggestions remind us that rather than expressing ourselves with frank originality, we largely traffic in stock formulations.

There is of course an element of efficiency in using language this way, at least when it comes to our more banal communications. But the matter of auto-suggested words parallels the same reality regarding choices with even greater significance.

Some of society’s options for living represent time-tested traditions — distillations of centuries of experiments in the art of human flourishing. Many of our mores, however, owe their existence to expediency, conformity, laziness. Practices born from once salient but no longer relevant circumstances are continued from sheer inertia, from that flimsiest of rationalizations: “That’s the way it’s always been done.”

While we want to believe we exercise radical free will, we very seldom create options anew, but rather select them from a predetermined menu of culturally-approved, often strictly dichotomized, choices.

Right or Left? Urban or suburban? School-school or homeschool (but always something that starts in the fall, ends in the spring, and involves a set curriculum). In-state college or out-of-state college (but always, college).

Which of these soul-sucking white collar jobs would you like to take?

Sounds good! Awesome, thanks! No problem!

You don’t have to follow the path set out by the masses, or even the groove you’ve worn for yourself in the past. Rather than tapping auto-populated suggestions, author your own hitherto-unconceived possibilities. 

The post Sunday Firesides: Resisting the Auto-Suggested Life appeared first on The Art of Manliness.

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cheerfulscreech
469 days ago
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Faithful Until the Harvest

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A woman I know planned an event at a local park and invited all the neighborhood children to participate. She was excited about the opportunity to share her faith with her neighbors.

She recruited her three grandchildren and two high school students to help her, gave the assignments, planned a number of games and other activities, prepared food, worked on a story about Jesus to present to the children, and waited for them to gather.

Not a single child showed up the first day. Or the second day. Or the third day. Yet, each day my friend went through that day’s activities with her grandchildren and helpers.

On the fourth day, she noticed a family picnicking nearby and invited the children to join in the games. One little girl came, entered into the fun, ate with them, and listened to the story about Jesus. Perhaps years from now she will remember. Who knows what the outcome will be? God, through the book of Galatians, encourages us, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people” (6:9–10).

Don’t worry about numbers or other visible measures of success. Our job is to be faithful to what He wants us to do and then leave the harvest to Him. Outcomes are of the Lord.

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cheerfulscreech
469 days ago
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Misdiagnosing Our Cyberhealth

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Why do we ignore information that could improve our ability to predict the odds of a personal cyberattack?

-- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com


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cheerfulscreech
486 days ago
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5 Reasons Many Marriages Fail

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I will never forget the first time I watched a marriage fall apart. The breakup took my friend Jonas, his wife, and everyone else by surprise. The empty nest hit them hard and it seemed that suddenly, the central focus of family life shifted. Only it wasn’t really sudden. It was gradual. This is one of the reasons marriages fail.

Children are happier when their parents put the marriage relationship first.

Life, work, children, and responsibilities tend to overwhelm us. Then we too easily forget what drew us together in the first place. Hint: It wasn’t the children! Your marriage isn’t about the children—it’s about the marriage. Children are happier when their parents put the marriage relationship first. Here are 5 reasons many marriages fail.

1. We forget why we got married in the first place.

Why? Because we’re not there anymore, we’re not doing those things, we have other stuff on our minds. Help each other remember. Look at the photos, read the marriage vows out loud, ask her out all over again.

2. We put ourselves first.

This is a natural response. I’m hungry; I want to watch a ball game; I want to be intimate right now; I want a cup of coffee. Let’s flip the switch and put our spouses first. The funny thing about serving someone else is we tend to love them all the more. They tend to serve us more, too.

3. Our children become more important than the marriage.

Putting our kids ahead of our spouse is an epic fail. We dote on our kids because we want them to feel secure. Kids’ number one security is parents who love one another. Any effort that parents put into their marriage is beneficial to their children. It’s a win-win.

4. We forget that love is more of a moment-by-moment choice than an emotion.

My parents celebrated 68 years together this month. They are happy today because they made hundreds of small decisions to be encouraging, kind, faithful, and authentic along the way. The romance meter stayed high because of those decisions, not the other way around.

5. We let our finances get out of control.

Money is the number one reason couples split up. Having more money doesn’t help. What does help is realistic planning, shared budget decisions, and the idea that you both are in control. My finance guru says, “It is never too late to move forward with a workable plan.”

Earn some points: Share this iMOM article with your wife: Couples Who Out Love Have Marriages That Outlast.

Sound off: Do any of these resonate with you? If so, what are you doing about it?

The post 5 Reasons Many Marriages Fail appeared first on All Pro Dad.

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cheerfulscreech
487 days ago
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For King and Country On Creativity in a Pandemic and Learning to Weep With Those Who Weep

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Joel and Luke Smallbone had to cancel a tour this year. Most touring acts did, of course, given the state of the world. But not every act has taken to quarantine with the creativity and energy that the brother duo better known as For King and Country did. They promptly set about recruiting some high profile friends like Tori Kelly and Kirk Franklin to make a lockdown music video, while also focusing on pushing their own understanding of the world to new highs. The brothers sat down with RELEVANT (over Zoom) to talk about their new song, their pandemic interests and how they’ve learned to weep with those who weep.

Like a lot of bands we’ve talked to in the pandemic, you two really had to roll with the punches. You got pulled from promoting your new album mid-tour. How did you deal with the disappointment?

LUKE: Obviously anytime you have expectations and hopes and dreams for something and those get dashed, there’s hurt and there’s sadness attached. And I think if you don’t feel that, then maybe you weren’t passionate enough about your dreams and your hopes.

But one of the things that’s different about this is, it’s one thing if your state is going through this and you’re feeling punished because you live in the state and this is happening here. It would be one thing, even if it was my country is going through this. It’s a whole different thing when the entire world is going through the exact same thing.

I have great grace for the fact that look, this didn’t pan out the way that we thought. But this is the same exact situation that everyone else is going through. For me to be butthurt about my aspiration of doing this doesn’t help much, and it certainly doesn’t help my soul. And so I think we’re just trying to figure out a way to say, “Hey, this is what we’ve been dealt. What are some ways that we can innovate? What are some of the things that otherwise we would never be able to have dreamt up?”

What have you dreamt up? 

JOEL: We did the music video for “Together” with Kirk [Franklin] and Tori [Kelly], which was quite a feat in and of itself.  The choir, Kirk, Tori — we literally sent a box in the middle of quarantine to Tori in California and Kirk in Texas with a camera and a backdrop and a ring light and said, “Set this up in your living room.”

You basically Blue Aproned them a music video.

JOEL: Yes. That’s what it was. I’ve got to hand it to them. They were really great sports about it. We had an instruction manual on how to do it. So we did that. You can dream as big as you want to dream. but it’s the execution that is the difficult part, as you well know.

Have you all had time to process everything else going on? Obviously, the pandemic has forced us inside and then, in addition, we’ve had to take stock of some ugly parts of American history. 

LUKE: I do read history a little bit differently now. I think the first conclusion I came to when all of the racial tensions things started to really spike to the level that they are now, is how little I know and how truly naive I am.

I think my first hope would be, that we wouldn’t see it as sides. And then the other thing is, in the Bible it talks about the people when they’re mourning and they’re hurting, you mourn with them. And in some cases, I don’t have the answer. And everything that I’m looking on social media, I don’t see anybody else that has the answer really either. But one thing I do know is that when somebody is hurting to come alongside them and hurt with them. And that seems to provide some sort of help. It seems to provide some sort of healing in the process.

Obviously, you had no way of knowing that “Together” would take on a much bigger meaning after you released it, given current events. Is it ever hard to release music into the world like that, knowing you don’t have a lot of control over how its meaning might evolve over time? 

JOEL: There are two sides to that. On one hand, you have the people just looking for the potholes in the song, the lyric or they’re like, “Well, you missed it.” The critique. The critic. And then on the other side, which is the more dominant side and the more beautiful side, you have this group of people that actually see a song and an idea through their own lens. One of the great, radical beauties of music is that Luke and I can write a song with the team about something that is very specific to our experience. And then someone completely in a whole different country, in this case, in a different political situation, racial, social, spiritual situation can take that same song and apply it to themselves. And it can mean something else.

This is bigger than Luke and me. These stories, they’re not our stories. They might have been our stories at one point, but the moment you release a “God Only Knows,” for example, it becomes Dolly Parton and Timbaland’s story. This became Tori’s and Kirk’s and the choir’s story.

Do you feel extra pressure as an artist to speak into these times? Especially knowing that everything will be taken in through a lens of what’s going on right now?

LUKE: I don’t know if pressure’s the right word. I think there is a responsibility to acknowledge. Look, if you’re going to just continue on and pretend as if nothing’s changed or that the conversation hasn’t changed, you’re doing more to hurt than help. But to actually engage, I think is helpful. My brother and I, as males, I love to fix things. My wife comes to me with a problem, I love to solve it for her. But usually, when you’re solving something and you’re fixing something, you are the solution. You are the one who is coming and saying, “I have figured this out.”

This is one of the situations where I think that the solution might be in the questions. The solution might be in the being. And I think that you have to ask those questions, you have to show up for those. But I think that the temptation for anyone is going to be, “Hey, I’ve got this. I’m going to label it this way. I’m going to change the language here. I’m going to call it this instead of that.” I’m just not convinced that that’s all that helpful.

JOEL: I think the reason we like our corners and our spiritual, political, racial corners is that it feels safe. I can define it. It’s figured out. But this is not about sides or even about safety at this point. It’s about understanding. It’s about humility. It’s about weeping with those who weep.

You can find out more about “Together” and For King and Country here.

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cheerfulscreech
514 days ago
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5 Negative Things You Want Your Kids to Say

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Would you buy a parenting book promising to help you raise unhappy kids? Of course not! As a parent, you certainly want your kids to be happy. In fact, much of our time, effort, and money in parenting goes to making our kids happy.

But what if happiness is overrated? What if sometimes, what you really want is unhappy kids? I would argue that occasionally-unhappy kids mean you are parenting your kids well—that you are doing something right. Here are 5 negative things you should want your kids to say that prove they are unhappy.

1. “I’m bored.”

It is not your job to keep your kids busy. In fact, it’s your job to fight against the pull toward busy-ness.

Parents often feel like it’s their job to entertain their kids by keeping them happy and occupied. However, study after study has shown that some degree of boredom is actually healthy for kids and stimulates creative thinking and inventiveness. As philosopher Bertrand Russell noted, “A generation that cannot endure boredom will be a generation of little men, of men unduly divorced from the slow processes of nature, of men in whom every vital impulse slowly withers, as though they were cut flowers in a vase.”

It is not your job to keep your kids busy. In fact, it’s your job to fight against the pull toward busy-ness.

2. “That’s not fair!”

No doubt you’ve heard this from your child. But our kids need to learn that life does not deal in equity. Some people have to struggle greatly while others struggle very little. Life is not fair and we can’t wait for it to be fair to find some meaning. We don’t want to intentionally frustrate our children, but we also don’t cater to them. “That’s not fair” can just as easily mean “that’s not what I want.” So we should do what we believe is good for our children and, along the way, help them deal with the reality that life is not always fair. In spite of that, they can still live full and meaningful lives.

3. “I’m so mad!”

Why would we want our children to get mad? Well, there are things in this world that should make us angry. We want our children to understand that some things are just and some are not—and that anger is an appropriate response to injustice. We also need to help our kids deal constructively with anger. They’re human; they’re going to get angry. As a parent, it’s important that you take those opportunities to help them learn how to deal well with their emotions.

4. “It’s so embarrassing!”

My kids most often feel embarrassed when they don’t fit in or meet some societal expectation. Of course, we don’t want our kids to be social rejects and deal with public humiliation. However, moments of embarrassment create opportunities to discuss how much they value the opinions of others (and how much they should). It’s a chance to help them discover a true sense of self.

5. “It makes me really sad.”

This statement, perhaps more than any other, is one we desire to avoid with our kids. We don’t want them to be sad. No one likes feeling sad. And yet, as a human, it is unavoidable. Our kids will get sad. What’s tragic is when they feel like they can’t be. When our kids are sad, we want them to be able to acknowledge and express it. We need to affirm that being sad is OK. We must help them process grief and move through it.

Sound off: What other ‘negative’ things do you want your kids to say?

The post 5 Negative Things You Want Your Kids to Say appeared first on All Pro Dad.

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cheerfulscreech
515 days ago
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