Royal- Day 2 of Advent

During Advent this year, I will be reflecting daily using this Advent Photo Devotional. The word designated for today is #Royal. 

One of my favorite Advent hymns is “Prepare the Royal Highway,” by Frans Mikael Franzen. The text is so beautiful and does a beautiful joy with its Swedish folk tune melody to capture the excitement of the season that accompanies the waiting, wondering, and preparation. It’s also a nice way to tie yesterday’s word, “Prepare” with today’s focus on “Royal.”

The hymn text reads (or sings):

Prepare the Royal Highway
Prepare the Royal Highway

Prepare the royal highway; the King of kings is near! Let every hill and valley a level road appear! Then greet the King of glory, foretold in sacred story: Hosanna to the Lord, for he fulfills God’s word!

God’s people, see him coming: your own eternal king! Palm branches strew before him! Spread garments! Shout and sing! God’s promise will not fail you! No more shall doubt assail you! Hosanna to the Lord, for he fulfills God’s word!

Then fling the gates wide open to greet your promised king! Your king, yet every nation its tribute too may bring. All lands will bow before him; their voices join your singing: Hosanna to the Lord, for he fulfills God’s word!

His is no earthly kingdom; it comes from heaven above. His rule is peace and freedom and justice, truth, and love. So let your praise be sounding for kindness so abounding: Hosanna to the Lord, for he fulls God’s word!

Earlier today my wife and I took advantage of what might be the last dry day for at least a week by putting up some Christmas lights outside that were dropped off earlier this morning by a friendly church member. You see, we have never lived in a house, only in an apartment. Thus, we have never really needed to have outdoor lights. It was fun to put them up as we prepare in this early part of Advent for Christ’s coming. We might not have branches to strew before our king today, and it might be a bit cold and wet to lay our coats down, but at least we have put a few more lights out to greet him.

In thinking about Jesus as King, I am reminded of Christ the King Sunday from just over a week ago. Jesus is no earthly king. His kingdom is built on love and service, not rules and people created order and boundaries. We face many challenges in the world today- like global climate change, fundamentalism of all kinds, and terrorism, as well as the major needs of people who are refugees in an unfamiliar land with an unsafe home to go to and many homeless near and far. In facing these challenges, we are confronted by the fact that Emmanuel, “God with us,” is a God whose rule is “peace and freedom and justice, truth, and love.” We’re part of that. Some times we might be afraid to admit that we are called to be a part of that work, and our fear keeps us from heeding that call.

It’s in these times where we are afraid to act, that we need to remember the royalty that is God in Christ. “God’s promise will not fail.”

Event though I am grateful to be able to spread some light and welcome Christ through the hanging of lights today, I wonder, if Jesus might rather have us overcome our differences and fear to welcome the homeless and refugees with signs of love and warm hospitality? Because after all, Christ is among the person in need and with them, just as Christ is with us. Instead of laying down our garments for some king as part of a caravan, maybe, just maybe, we’re called to spread our garments for our neighbors in need looking for a place whose gates are wide open to welcome them. What do you think?

Hymn Credit: “Prepare the Royal Highway,” by Frans Mikael Franzen. Swedish folk tune. Found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2006), 264.

Prepare- Day 1 of Advent

The sanctuary is ready for the start of Advent. Are you ready and prepared?
The sanctuary is ready for the start of Advent. Are you ready and prepared?

During Advent this year, I will be reflecting daily using this Advent Photo Devotional. To begin the series, the word of the day is #Prepare

“The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.'” – Jeremiah 33:14-16, NRSV.

And so it begins… with Advent we begin a new church year. We begin the journey toward the manger. We prepare by lighting the first candle of the Advent Wreath today and laying the greens in worship, like the sanctuary pictured at right at Messiah Lutheran Church.

The season of Advent calls us to prepare our hearts and minds during these four weeks leading to Christmas. During these weeks, we look at the ways that God’s kingdom has broken into the world, and wonder in what ways will it still yet come. We remember and dwell deeply in thinking about what it means that God’s kingdom and work is both a “now and not yet” reality.

During these weeks, we ask and pray that Jesus Christ come soon. We pray for Christ to come, not that we can open the presents of Christmas, but to redeem the broken and hurting world. We pray that the Prince of Peace come and end the madness of violence and war, and restore creation to health. We sing with Mary and proclaim that our “Spirit rejoices in God our Savior.”

There is much that we are preparing for this Advent, like every other. But perhaps in your life you are preparing for something different or unique this year?

I am preparing for the first Christmas Eve spent in the state of Washington by my wife Allison and I since we have been married. I am waiting for my first call. I am preparing for new conversations and important meetings, decisions, and work that will be happening in the next couple of weeks. I am excited, but I am also waiting and preparing as we all do this time of year. May you take the time to pause, reflect and prepare this day and every day.

This Advent, what are you preparing for? 

This Week’s Links

Internet1Each week on the blog I get to share some of what I have seen, read, and found interesting and thought provoking over the past week. To help make sense of all of these links, I have grouped them by the following categories: Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Millennials; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; Stewardship; Vocation; and Miscellaneous. I hope you enjoy these links!

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

Friend, blogger, creative genius, and pastor-in-waiting Emmy Kegler came up with this brilliant resource and liturgy
For Thanksgiving: A Table Full of Hope” last year. If you didn’t use it then, you should definitely use it this year for Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Eve.

This coming weekend is the first one of the new church year, as we begin with the first Sunday in Advent. If you are preparing a sermon or planning worship and following the revised common lectionary, check out friend and professor Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis’ thoughts on “Why Advent?” Also spend some time with Rev. Dr. David Lose’s thoughts about, “Advent 1C: Stand Up and Raise Your Heads!” Bishop Michael Rinehart also shares some thoughts on Advent 1C, and particularly reflects on the idea of “Hope in Chaos.”

If you are preparing a sermon or planning worship and following the narrative lectionary, check out this “Commentary on 2 Kings 22:1-10, [14-20]; 23:1-3,” from Vanessa Lovelace.

Friend and seminarian Ariel Williams shared some great “Advent Devotions” for this year just in time for the start of Advent. Check out these devotions.

Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, “encourages the support of refugee resettlement.”

Speaking of Lutherans, David Gibson wrote and asked, “Did Pope Francis Say Lutherans can take Communion at Catholic Mass?

Friend and LEAD director, Peggy Hahn shared some good thoughts about church, leadership, and ministry in writing about “Forecasting.”

Church and Social Media (#ChSocM) shared a transcript of its weekly Twitter chat which last week focused on “using social media to foster gratitude and Thanksgiving.”

Friend and pastoral associate Stefanie Fauth-Lemke wrote and shared a relatable what-if experience, “I screwed up… now what?

If you are looking for an innovative nine-month collaborative experience, and particularly drawn to communities created between artists, churches, and patrons, check out this new concept of a “Cascadia Residency.”

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Tom Murphy asked, does “Anyone have a spare $1.4 trillion to end global poverty?

Last week I shared some news about the sale of radio station KPLU from PLU. That story has continued to evolve over the past week. David Kroman wrote and noted that, “KPLU would have liked to save itself. It never got the chance.” In a somewhat new development, Joel Connelly revealed that, the “University president’s tribute (was) deleted from KPLU annual report before sale.” The way this story keeps coming tells me that PLU did not anticipate the problems that this decision would create and the backlash. From my end, though it might make business sense, I think it was a poor decision in terms of both legacy as well as as a community service. I view KPLU as one of PLU’s community services to the larger community, something Lutherans and Lutheran institutions have long valued and strived for providing. (Plus, I often listened to KPLU online while living in Minnesota for a “taste of home.”) I especially appreciate Cliff Mass’ explanation for “Why KPLU Must be Saved and KUOW Reformed.” (In an update, the KPLU advisory board voted unanimously yesterday to oppose the radio station’s sale, and formally sending a letter of protest.)

Social leadership theorist Julian Stodd shared thoughts and explanation about “The 3 Levels of Narrative,” and then looked more deeply at “Personal Narrative,” “The Story“; and “Unheard Wisdom.”

Leadership Thought & Practice

Steve Keating reflected about “The Awesome Responsibility of Leading.”

A Future Curious Leader?
A Curious Leader in the future?

Dan Rockwell shared a number of great leadership reflections and lists over the past week, including: “7 Surprising Questions to Measure your Leadership“; “The 7 Practices of Curious Leaders“; and a list of the “7 Surprising Strategies that Elevate Leaders.”

Tanveer Naseer wrote about, “Recognizing Our Power to Lead and Inspire Others.”

Laura McCafferty explained about “The Importance of Being Present As a Leader.”

Seth Godin reflected about “Saying vs. doing.”

Travis Bradberry highlighted, “6 Things Successful Leaders Do Differently.” According to Travis these things are: kind without being weak; strong without being harsh; confident without being arrogant; stay positive, but remain realistic; are role models, not preachers; and they’re willing to take a bullet for their people.

Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman wrote that “We Like Leaders Who Underrate Themselves.”

Lolly Daskal unpacked, “One Rule of Leadership that can Heal the World,” to follow and live by the “golden rule.” Lolly also wrote and explained about “Listening: the Forgotten Business Tool for Amazing Success.”

Adi Gaskell notes that a “Study reveals why organizations fall into the success trap.”

Meghan Biro unpacked and highlighted “4 Ways to Make Workplace Wellness a Culture Win.” The ways Meghan notes are: provide wearable tech; create occasions; offer tangible incentives; and measure its effectiveness.

Anne Loehr explained, “Why I’m a Hypocrite and my challenge with mental energy.”

Ted Coine shared a list of “12 Ways to Attract the Best Talent.” What do you think of this list? Any other ways you might add to it?

Millennials

Catherine Alford shared a look at “3 Ways Millennials Have Made the World a Better Place.”

With Thanksgiving in mind, Jon Mertz at Thin Difference writes a reflection helpful for leaders and Millennials alike, “Giving Is Easy. Receiving is Hard.”

Neighbor Love

Friend and professor Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis shared this Christ the King reflection based on John 18:33-37, “Kings of Relationship.”

David Brooks wrote about, “Finding Peace Within the Holy Texts.”

If you have not yet seen this video (and/or read his tribute), here is a powerful and very moving video that you need to see from Antoine Leiris. Antonie lost his wife Helene in the attack in Paris but he will “not give you the gift of hating you.”

"One Love" by Vonda Drees
“One Love” by Vonda Drees

Friend, blogger, and artist Vonda Drees shared a number of beautiful posts over the past week. These included: “expanse“; “interconnectedness“; “God is a verb“; “one love“; “dare to go inside“; “a nest of silence“; and “oh, the unexpected joy.”

In light of the refugee crisis, the needs of the refugees, and the response of the world (and nations) to this need, many writers have written, reflected and responded. Bishop Michael Rinehart caused us to ponder in writing, “When I was a stranger, you welcomed me…” Pastor and blogger Clint Schnekloth wrote about, “All our sins on the heads of Syrian refugees.”  Blogger Rachel Held Evans wrote a fitting and timely post given the start of Advent later this week, “There Was Room at the Inn.” The Houston Chronicle shared an open letter from Houston Christian leaders, “About those refugees.” Brian Schoeneman shared some “Myths vs. Facts in the Syrian Refugee Issue.”

My friend and program director for Hunger Education with ELCA World Hunger, Ryan Cumming wrote about “Lutherans and Refugees,” and highlighted the fact that this is an important conversation and work for Lutherans as it helps with: remembering who we are; seeing who we are; and becoming whom we are called to be. Check out this good post and the links included in it as well.

For a convincing video take, my Dad shared this brilliant look at refugees and our response (or lack thereof) to their need from Stephen Colbert, “No country for for anyone not already here.”

Governor Jay Inslee, the governor of my state of Washington explained rightfully “Why Syrian refugees are welcome in Washington.”

In connecting the refugee crisis more directly to the idea of fear, and a fear that keeps us from acting, Nate Pyle noted that “Fear May Cause Us to Deny Jesus.” Friend and stewardship director Adam Copeland wrote and asked, “They Will Know We Are Christian by Our…Fear?” Friend and pastoral associate Stefanie Fauth-Lemke reflected, “Give me your tired, your poor…

Friend, pastor, and blogger Frank Johnson reflected about, “The Christian moral obligation to refugees (or why I’m sick every time I open Facebook these days).” Frank also wrote about, “Work. Rest. Two commandments of equal importance,” and shared, “A litany of thanks.”

Outside of the Syrian Refugee Crisis, there has been another major neighbor love story over the past week. Protests have continued in Minnesota in response to murder, racism, potential cover-ups, and police brutality. As the autoposy has found, Jamar Clark was unarmed when shot to the head. This has led to a number of vigils including this one joined by the National NAACP president. Kayla Koterwski shared this update from the “MPD Fourth Precinct Shutdown.” Last night, five unarmed peaceful protesters were shot. Racism is real, and we’re all called to confront it. Let us all work for justice and reconciliation.

On a different topic, Bruce Wydick shared this look at “A Christian Development Economist.”

Social Media & Blogging

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared his version of the links with his “Really Recommended Posts.”

Molly Page at Thin Difference highlighted the “5 People Every Writer Needs.” The people include: the cheerleader; fellow-writer; wordsmith; idea explorer; and nitpicker.

I was honored to be included in Matias Honorato’s weekly edition of The Entrepreneur’s Journey

Damian Corbet took up the question, “Who Should Manage Your Social Media?

Stewardship

During November, the COMPASS blog is digging deeply into the question and meaning of why we give thanks. As part of this series, Nicole Brennan wrote that “A Thankful Heart is a Happy Heart,” and Ecumenical Stewardship Center director Marcia Shetler shared some thoughts about “When It’s Hard to be Thankful.”

Happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours!
Happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours!

Speaking of the challenges of giving thanks, friend Dan Ruth wrote over on the blog at Lutheran World Relief about, “Giving Thanks, In Spite of it All.”

Seth Godin shared a “Thanksgiving reminder.”

After Thanksgiving for many comes Black Friday, Christmas shopping, and other holiday costs and budgeting needs, as well as other experiences. In light of this, Kristi at Young Adult Money wrote, “Make the Most of Holiday Deals,” while Erin shared about “8 Things to do on Black Friday Instead of Shop.”

Also at Young Adult Money, Erin shared about “How to Stick to your Debt Repayment Plan.”

Next Tuesday, December 1st, is “Giving Tuesday,” and Bishop Michael Rinehart shares about how you can participate.

Friend and professor Dr. Lynn Hunnicutt shared, “Choose to Be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier” by Arthur C. Brooks.

A couple weeks ago I had the good pleasure of being able to join a Twitter chat pondering the question, “Why Stewardship?” Andy Kort summarized what he learned and some of what was discussed in this post “#whystewardship? A good question with a lot of good answers!

Vocation

Friend and blogger Julia Nelson shared her weekly vocational installments of “Tuesday Tea Time” last week and “Tea Time” for this week today too.

Sad news from PLU as “Hall of Fame Men’s Tennis Coach Mike Benson passed away.” Among his remarkable story is the fact that he coined the phrase, “It’s a Great Day to be a Lute!”

In other news from PLU, last weekend was “PLU Sunday at Eastside Baptist Church.”

Friend, pastor, and blogger Diane Roth reflected about “Using your weaknesses.”

Friend and COMPASS advisory board member Nicole Brennan reflected about “Why Your Little Decisions Matter.”

Miscellaneous

Friend and blogger Tim Chalberg shared some updates about the Mariners noting that the Mariners acquired Luis Sardinas and Leonys Martin.

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That concludes this edition of the links. I hope you have enjoyed them. As always, if you have particular questions or topics for me to think about on the blog, please share them. Also, if there are things you would like to see included in the links, please let me know that too. Until next time, I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving! I am grateful for all of you and for being part of the conversation with you. Thank you, thank you, thank you! -TS

Image Credits: The Links; “A curious leader in the future?“; and “one love.”

This Week’s Links

Internet1Each week on the blog I get to share some of what I have seen, read, and found interesting and thought provoking over the past week. To help make sense of all of these links, I have grouped them by the following categories: Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Millennials; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; Stewardship; Vocation; and Miscellaneous. I hope you enjoy these links!

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

If you are preparing for worship or preaching a sermon this coming weekend I have some links that might be helpful for you. For those of you following the revised common lectionary and celebrating “Christ the King Sunday” this coming weekend, check out friend and professor Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis‘ thoughts in “Kings of Relationship.” Also spend some time with Rev. Dr. David Lose’s reflections on “Christ the King B: Not of this World,” and Bishop Michael Rinehart’s links and thoughts on “Christ the King” as well.

For those of you following the Narrative Lectionary, check out Dr. Michael Chan’s “Commentary on Isaiah 5:1-7; 11:1-5.”

If you read one post on the church at large this week, read this piece by Will Willimon which importantly argues and reminds that “Churches Need to Take Care of Business.”

And, if you watch just one TED Talk this week, watch this one which my wife Allison (who is also a blogger and pastoral intern) shared with me from Chelsea Shields on, “How I’m working for change inside my church.”

Friend, blogger, and communications strategist Carrie Gubsch shared this exciting news about how the ELCA seminaries are exploring a “shared learning exchange.”

Pastor and blogger Clint Schnekloth did a good deal of writing over the past week about the church. Clint asked, “Can you imagine if we lumped all Christians into one sociological category ‘Not Buddhist’?” Clint also shared about a course opportunity for study next fall on, “Understanding and Engaging a Post-Christian World.”

For pastors and ministry leaders Clint Schnekloth shared and explained some digital ministry tips and ideas in his list of “7 Media Pro-tips that will Transform Your Ministry.”

Church and Social Media (#ChSocM) shared a transcript of their weekly chat which last week focused on “using social media to foster gratitude and Thanksgiving,” and was moderated by Paul Steinbrueck.

Kyle Matthew Oliver shared about “Digital Media for Ministry: Mapping the Landscape.”

Bishop Michael Rinehart shared pictures from the excitement and festivities of “Ashely Dellagiacoma’s Ordination.” Congratulations and blessings on your ministry Ashley!

Friend, pastor, and blogger Diane Roth shared about a recent experience of gathering with area pastors in “The Only One.”

Laura Crimaldi detailed about how local Lutherans and Catholics in the Boston area “vow unity ahead of Reformation anniversary.”

In response to the violence and tragedies last week in Baghdad, Beirut, and Paris, Sarah Pulliam Bailey shared the news that “Pope Francis condemns Paris terrorist attacks: ‘Using God’s name to justify this path is blasphemy.'” Also, at Liturgy Bits, Tim Graves shared “A Prayer After Paris.”

I don’t often link to The Wall Street Journal under church and ministry, but Melanie Grayce West shared about “How Churches Are Rethinking Sunday School.”

Friend and professor Rev. Dr. Terence Fretheim shared this look by Diana Butler Bass at how “Oprah’s new ‘Belief’ series shows how dramatically the nature of faith is shifting.”

For those of you preparing for Advent, Christina Embree offers some ideas for a “Practical Advent: Celebration in the Everyday.”

Friend, blogger, and seminarian Jessica Young shared some thoughts on “Church in the Round.” Within her reflection Jessica observes, “To see church as it should be seen in the world, partnerships must be made and encouraged as we reimagine earth as if God is in charge of everything.” What do you think? I think Jessica is definitely on to something.

Blogger and pastor Jan Edmiston shares thoughts on innovation and faith communities writing, “Let’s Innovate Before We Have To.”

LEAD shared about “The top five ways leaders say they are growing” in ministry and congregations.

Cross-Sector Collaboration

In sad and disappointing news my alma mater Pacific Lutheran University has released plans to sell their long-owned public radio station, KPLU. I am hoping that PLU comes to its senses and reverses course, as do most of these listeners who recently shared their reactions.

NWB shared some helpful insights for nonprofit organizations, teams, and leadership in sharing about “10 agreements for a happy and well-functioning team.”

Ruth McCambridge shares about how a “Study Suggests Nonprofit Sector Workforce Just Plain Better than Most.”

Social leadership theorist Julian Stodd shared about “Laying the Foundations for Change,” and some other change insights in thinking about “Lighthouses.” Julian also asked, “Are You Adapted?

Leadership Thought & Practice

Dan Rockwell shared a number of leadership reflections and posts over the past week. These included: thoughts on “How to Eliminate Stupid Rules“; a list of “The 10 Strategies of Obnoxious Leaders“; and some reflections about “Secrets that Elevate the Journey to Adventure.”

surveySeth Godin shared a quick insight about “Surveys and focus groups.”

Katy Tynan shared thoughts about “How to Manage Talent in a Flexible Workplace.”

Tanveer Naseer shared a guest post by Ken Goldstein explaining, “Why Leaders Need to Stop Using Performance Reviews.”

Bob Tiede shared a guest post by Dan Forbes highlighting and unpacking “12 Strategic Questions to Prepare You for 2016,” and plan to use these questions as you prepare and strategize as you plan your start for 2016.

Speaking of Dan Forbes, he shared a guest post by Louis Hayes Jr., on “Adaptive Thinking.”

Bill George explained about “The True Qualities of Authentic Leaders.”

Justin Irving reflected about, “Leading Organizations Fit for People.”

Steve Keating wrote that, “People Don’t Follow Positions.”

Anne Loehr takes up the fact that “Minorities are still largely underrepresented in the United States workforce.” In response to this, Anne writes and encourages to “Use ‘The Interruption Strategy’ to Tackle the Diversity Gap.”

Damian Corbet argues that “The C-Suite Must Embrace Social.”

Ted Bauer shared about, “One Simple Way to Make New Hires more Effective.”

John Bell highlighted “5 Ways Leaders Promote Innovation.” These ways include:  leaders unsettle the organization; they’re hardheaded about strategy; they make innovation a priority; they take note of what’s already going on; and they appreciate that not many ideas work the first time.

Megan Dougherty pondered and shared some thoughts about life, leadership, and creativity at Thin Difference, writing, “I Think, Therefore I Am- Creative. Or Am I?

Also over at Thin Difference, Eric Torrence wrote that “Knowledge Isn’t Always Power.”

Millennials

Jon Mertz at Thin Difference reflected about “Generational Empathy: Setting an Example.”

Meghan M. Biro wrote, shared, and asked, “The Future of Work is Here- Are Your Managers Prepared?

Anne Loehr shared and unpacked, “Seven Frequently Asked Questions from those who manage Generation X and Generation Y.”

Jessica Stillman noted “7 Ways Millennial Managers Will Change Work.” The themes that Jessica noted about Millennials are: they’ll kill work-life balance; insist on flexibility; lean on metrics; support employee growth; (finally) kill the performance review; everyone will know what everyone else makes; and the line between contractor and employee will blur.

Julia shared a profile about Millennial thinker and expert Chelsea Krost, writing that “This Woman is the Zuckerberg of Millennial Experts.”

Neighbor Love

Friend and professor Rev. Dr. Dwight Zscheile shared about, “Praying in an Age of Fragmented Attention.”

A.J. Swoboda shared a great and timely post over at “Christ and Cascadia” with thoughts about Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and REI, sharing, “Good (Black) Friday: Reflections on REI and Christian Discipleship.”

"one again" by Vonda Drees
“one again” by Vonda Drees

Friend, blogger, and artist Vonda Drees shared a number of beautiful posts over the past week. These included: “two small copper coins“; “a ribbon at a time“; “one again“; “contemplation poured out“; “Amsterdam canal“; “a secret place“; and “noticing.”

Lutheran World Relief shared exciting news that it received $350,000 from the Starbucks Foundation.

Friend, pastor, and blogger Frank Johnson shared a few different reflections over the past week. Frank wrote about “Keeping Christ in Christmas,” and about “The Punctuation of Life.” Frank also shared his sermon based on Hosea 11:1-9 entitled, “God of wrath, God of grace.”

Friend, pastor, and blogger Aaron Fuller also shared his sermon based on Hosea 11:1-9 on “Hosea & God’s Pathos.”

I shared some thoughts given recent events and their neighbor love implications and questions yesterday on this blog, writing about, “Cups, Refugees, and Neighbor Love in Action.”

In thinking more about Refugees, my sister Tamara Siburg shared a couple important links. First, she shared that “Paris Attackers Weren’t Refugees according to top EU Official,” as detailed by Dylan Hock. Tamara also shared these “3 things President Obama said about refugees that we all need to hear.”

Regarding refugees, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service shared this important response.

Friend, blogger, and seminarian Kristen Lee shared some thoughts “On Caring.”

John Pavlovitz wrote that, “If You’re Gonna Condemn Terrorism- Please Condemn All of It.”

Friend and professor Dr. Mary Hess shared, “Grieving with Paris…” and “Loving in spite of the pain.

Pastor and blogger Clint Schnekloth took up the question, “As a Christian, what should I think about Islam and Terrorism?” Clint also reflected about, “RedCups, Mizzou, and Veterans Day.”

Friend, pastoral associate, and blogger Stefanie Fauth-Lemke shared some food for thought in this “Love Feast Devotion,” as well as “A prayer for peace.”

Nurya Love Parish reflected about vocation, the neighbor, ministry, and the church in writing, “My Galilee: What I Haven’t Been Telling You.”

Friend and professor Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis shared some reflections on Mark 13:1-8 in “Storied Stones.”

Tom Ehrich wrote that “Starbucks did my-way Christians a favor.” What do you think?

Friend and National Lutheran Choir member Sarah Bane shared her recent devotion, “What does it taste like?

In news from Minnesota, last week charges were finally dropped against organizers of a Black Lives Matter protest at the Mall of America last year. Unfortunately, there was more bad news as an unarmed black man was shot by police in Minneapolis. This has rightfully led to protests. Keep the communities in prayer, and work for justice and reconciliation.

Friend, pastor, and blogger Stephanie Vos took up the question, “Why didn’t Jesus talk about sex?

Social Media & Blogging

Friend, blogger, and communications director and strategist Carrie Gubsch shared this helpful look at “Common Social Media Etiquette for Businesses” from Olsy Sorokina.

Joyce Grace shared some tips and ideas for “How to Make your Website more click-worthy with goals, words, and common sense.”

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared his version of the links with his “Really Recommended Posts.”

Stewardship

The COMPASS blog is sharing reflections about Thanksgiving and especially the reasoning for why we give thanks this month. As part of this series, I reflected about “Why Do I Give Thanks?” See what I highlighted, and the stewardship and faith reasoning for my gratitude, this day and everyday. Now it’s your turn, why do you give thanks?

Speaking of giving thanks, Seth Godin shares about “A Thanksgiving Reader.”

Friend, professor, and stewardship director Adam Copeland shared about the insights and results from his stewardship class “Debating Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.”

Vocation

Friend and blogger Julia Nelson shared a guest post from Lacey Bauer as part of her regular vocational insights and reflections in “Tuesday Tea Time.” Julia also returned to her blog this week today with her own new edition of “Tuesday Tea Time.” Welcome back Julia, and thanks again for letting me help you out while you were away exploring.

Friend, pastoral associate, and blogger Stefanie Fauth-Lemke shared some life and vocational reflections about “Clerical Dress..

Miscellaneous

Seattle Times sports columnist Larry Stone wrote about “Why Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners deserves to be baseball’s first unanimous Hall of Famer.” As a baseball today largely because of the excitement of the Seattle Mariners, Griffey, and the magical run they shared in 1995, I can’t agree more.

Speaking of the Mariners, friend and blogger Tim Chalberg shared news about the team’s recent acquisition of Joaquin Benoit.

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That concludes this edition of the links. I hope you have enjoyed them. As always, if you have particular questions or topics for me to think about on the blog, please share them. Also, if there are things you would like to see included in the links, please let me know that too. Until next time, thank you for reading and being part of the conversation. Blessings on your week! -TS

Image Credits: The Links; “survey“; and “one again.”

Cups, Refugees, and Neighbor Love in Action

I haven’t been blogging as much as I like to lately. I think that might mean that my plate might actually be full? Well, none the less, I need to be blogging more. There has been so much to digest and confront lately.

To begin this post, consider this take from another person who sums up my thoughts better than I could, and as the author invites, I invite you to also to join me in holding the communities, families, and witnesses to all of these tragedies in prayer.

I woke this morning deeply disturbed by the news from #Paris, but more amazed by the attention it received on social media. I understand Paris is a beloved and familiar space for a lot of people, but it troubled me that #Beirut, a city my father grew up in, had received so little attention after the horrific bombings two days earlier. It also troubled me that #Baghdad, a place I have absolutely no connection with, received even less attention after the senseless bombing that took place there last week. Worst of all, I found the understanding of the refugee crisis skewed and simplistic. If you've been following the journeys of the people leaving their homes around the world right now, perhaps you'll understand why the words #SyrianRefugeeCrisis are just as devastating as #PrayForParis. It's time to pray for humanity. It is time to make all places beloved. It's time to pray for the world. #ezarawrites

A post shared by Karuna Ezara Parikh (@karunaezara) on

On Friday, I first learned of the terror and violence in Paris while drinking my Peppermint Hot Chocolate in a red cup at Starbucks while working alongside my wife Allison (and enjoying the “holiday drinks” 2-for-1 deal). To think that places of everyday gatherings such as a coffee shop could be a target is heartbreaking. But I remember back to September 11th, what is the way to guarantee that terrorists do not win? That you do not live in fear and isolation.

This gets to my next observation. States and countries are trying to prevent acceptance of refugees from Syria. These are the people of many faiths (especially Christianity and Islam) who are trying to flee and live safely from the insanity of ISIS. We are called to welcome the neighbor, refugee, and stranger. As one of this blog’s core themes is “neighbor love,” this is where the love of neighbor hits the road. Central to my faith is an understanding of how we respond to the gifts of love and life through the way we love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. If we were ever facing such dire straights, I would hope that we would be welcomed.

It’s time to welcome those in need. To not welcome the refugees would be to let the terrorists win. Too many times in history the world has seen what happens when nations do nothing when they see people fleeing for their lives or stuck trying to escape persecution and murder. Haven’t we learned by now that this is exactly when we as society are supposed to act in defense and aid of our neighbor in need?

I have been keeping my opinions of the ridiculous presidential debate spectacles to myself lately. But the thought of requiring people to take some kind of a “faith test” before entering the United States is not only wrong and unconstitutional (obviously does not pass muster for church and state separation), its un-Christian. We are called to love and serve our neighbor, that’s it. Jesus doesn’t put any strings on this claim. Think of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Think of the woman at the well (John 4).

Whenever people or society create barriers, Jesus is there on the other side. Lest we forget, Jesus himself was a refugee in Egypt as a baby, fleeing Herod with his parents shortly after his birth (Matthew 2:13-23).

How do we confront the evil of ISIS? How do we respond to the violence we saw in Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad last week?

We respond by shedding light into darkness. That’s the starting place I believe. What does that look like? At the very least, it’s strengthening our resolve to welcome and meet the needs of the homeless and refugees.

How do we proclaim the promises of God’s love? By showing it in action and telling the story. What do you think?

This Week’s Links

Internet1Each week on the blog I get to share some of what I have seen, read, and found interesting and thought provoking over the past week. To help make sense of all of these links, I have grouped them by the following categories: Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Millennials; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; Stewardship; Vocation; and Miscellaneous. I hope you enjoy these links!

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

For those of you preparing for worship or writing a sermon for this coming weekend I have a number of helpful resources. If you are following the revised common lectionary, Bishop Michael Rinehart shared about “Pentecost 25B- (and focused on) Hannah’s Prayer.” Rev. Dr. David Lose wrote and focused on, “Pentecost 25B: Pretenders to the Throne.” Friend and professor Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis focused on the appointed gospel passage of Mark 13:1-8, in “Storied Stones.”

If you are following the narrative lectionary, Dr. Michael Chan provides this “Commentary on Hosea 11:1-9.

Friend, professor, and mentor Dr. Terri Elton shared some missional thoughts and ponderings in, “Rethinking Concerts. Rethinking Church.”

The Lutheran World Federation shares about the “LWF General Secretary keynote presentation on global perspectives on the Reformation.”

My friends at LEAD have put together some absolutely beautiful (and free) “Advent Resources for Your Home and Congregation.” Check them out!

"we heal in community" by Vonda Drees
“we heal in community” by Vonda Drees

LEAD also shared a post by Pastor Rich Nelson explaining about “the need for nature-based faith formation for children.”

Pastor and blogger Eric Worringer shared this post from Tom Gjelten noting that a “Poll Finds Americans, especially Millennials, moving away from Religion.”

The Pew Research Center recently released findings that suggest that the “U.S. Public is Becoming Less Religious.” Take a look at their findings.

Related to this, friend, adviser, and professor Rev. Dr. Matthew Skinner shared this look from Douglas Laycock at “Secularization in the U.S.: Overblown or Underestimated?

Pastor and blogger Clint Schnekloth reflected about “Living and Managing without Reference to God.”

Friend, pastor, and blogger David Hansen moderated last week’s Church and Social Media (#ChSocM) Twitter chat focused on “Social Media and Thanksgiving.”

Blogger and pastor Jan Edmiston shared some light on transitional ministry in taking up the question, “How Many of Our Congregations are in Transition?

Friend, pastor, and blogger Aaron Fuller wrote about, “Revisiting ‘Bi-vocational’ Ministry.”

Aaron also shared this look from Allen T. Stanton on “Community Engagement and the rural church.”

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Social leadership theorist Julian Stodd asked and shared, “The Future of Learning? It’s Here.” Julian also shared some thoughts on “Foundations” as well.

Nonprofit Tech for Good shared, “A Fundraising Success Checklist for Nonprofits.”

Daniel Newman noted what he believes will be “The Top 10 Marketing Trends that will define 2016.”

Leadership Thought & Practice

Steve Keating shared some leadership thoughts about “Leading with Care,” as well as some thoughts about why “It’s Never Too Late,” to start planning.

Lolly Daskal shared, “8 Success Lessons Richard Branson didn’t learn in Business School.”

Tanveer Naseer shared a guest post by Amy Brann considering, “5 Behaviors Successful Brain-Aware Leaders Practice,” including: illuminate contribution; connect; build confidence; give control; and celebrate.

Daniel T. Stephens shared, “3 Leadership Lessons from my 3 year old.”

In the spirit of more leadership lessons, Patrick Ambron shared about, “6 Leadership Lessons I Learned in Conversation with Barbara Corcoran.”

Dan Rockwell shared some thoughts from “The CEO of Ace Hardware on Leadership.”

Tess Horan wrote and reasoned that, “Collaboration is a Buzzword. What you want is a Shared Language.” Check out the post and see why.

Skip Prichard shared a look at “7 Practices of Authenticity.”

Dan Forbes shared some good thoughts on “How Life Really Works,” especially in moving from point A to point B.

Millennials

Jon Mertz asked and highlighted about, “How Can You Open Doors for Millennials?” Three ways Jon notes for connecting with Millennials include: open opportunities; be open and clear; and open purpose, inside and out. Jon also wrote at Thin Difference about “How to Flow from College to the Workplace.”

Also over at Thin Difference, Jeremy Chandler wrote about, “Breaking Down the (Communication) Barriers between Generations,” and Thin Difference featured a guest post by Andrew Howe on “Living in the Digital Era: Pros and Cons.”

Kristi at Young Adult Money shared a list of “20 Easy Ways Millennials Can Practice Minimalism.”

Neighbor Love

Friend, blogger, and pastor Diane Roth shared, “Holding on Loosely- a sermon on generosity for All Saints Day,” based on John 11 and Psalm 24. Diane also wrote about, “The Song You are Teaching Me.”

Rev. Tiffany Chaney shared “Living Lutheran: My Story,” remarks that she shared at the New England Synod Lay School of Ministry event.

Friend, blogger, pastor, Navy chaplain, and Veteran, Aaron Fuller shared about “Remembering Veterans’ Day: An Old Story.” Thank you Aaron and all Veterans for your service.

Allison on the beach
Allison on the beach

My wife Allison shared her sermon from this past weekend, “A sermon on being seen,” based on Mark 12:38-44. Within this, Allison asked and preached, “What are you hoping for? What do you dare to hope for? Do you hope that every returning veteran is loved and cared for? Do you hope that every child in a one mile radius of this church has everything they need to learn? Do you hope that young people discover God’s unique call for them, as they’re supported as college and seminary interns, and residential pastors? Just like God is not done bringing life from that old tree stump in the forest, God is not done holding your hopefulness. The steam from that tree stump continues to rise and refuses to hide. Admits all the signs of death in the forest, it continues to rise and be seen over, and over again. A widow passes by the central treasury and puts in her two coins. An invisible woman puts in all she has. And yet Jesus sees her.” Go and read the whole sermon.

Zack Hunt shared some thoughts about, “The Suspended Praying Football Coach: A Perspective You Probably Haven’t Considered.” What do you think?

Friend, blogger, and communications strategist Carrie Gubsch shared this week’s neighbor love in action story about, “A determined barber (who) helped a boy with autism through his first proper haircut.”

Jim Wallis wrote and promised, “Dear Speaker Ryan: We’re keeping our promise on Immigration Reform.”

Catherine Humikowski shared an important and powerful commentary on “Our terrifying children’s epidemic: Gun violence.”

Friend, pastoral associate, and blogger Stefanie Fauth shared her sermon based on 1 Kings 18:20-39, “Hey, Ba’al!

Sarah Carson wrote and asked, “What is your story?

Friend, blogger, and artist Vonda Drees shared a number of beautiful posts over the past week. These included the: “no-matter-what-ness of grace“; “we heal in community” (pictured above); “fullness unfolding“; “a journey of truth“; “from first touch to last breath“;  “outpouring Trinity“; and “awe and law.”

Pastor and blogger Keith Anderson shared about “Emoji Theology with our confirmation class.”

Friend, pastor, and blogger Frank Johnson shared his sermon for this past weekend based on the Narrative Lectionary focus text of 1 Kings 18:20-39, “A Perfectly Rational Story.”

Bishop Michael Rinehart shared some neighbor love type thoughts about “Augustine, On Christian Doctrine.”

Social Media & Blogging

Frank Geric shared, “5 Keys to Building a Great Content Map and Editorial Calendar.”

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared his version of the links with his “Really Recommended Posts.”

Stewardship

Susie Allen notes news from a recent study that found apparently that, “Religious upbringing is associated with less altruism.” Michael Hausam adds that according to that study, “Christian and Muslim Children are surprisingly less willing to share than this group.”

Friend, pastor, and blogger Diane Roth pondered about what might be, “Another Word for Stewardship.” She writes, wonders, and invites us all into the conversation by pondering, “Maybe we need a different word, one that somehow brings to our imagination all of the things we can do together, when we pool the resources that God has entrusted us with.  Maybe we need a different word, a word that brings to our imaginations the mission of God and all of the resources that God has given us, so that we can share it.  Maybe we need a different word, a word that makes us excited for the feast that we will share and the songs that we will sing, and the gifts that we will open — gifts that we have given to one another. Maybe we need another word, but what would it be?”

Margaret Marcuson shares a post from Kevin Lee which notes that a, “New study shows active churchgoers want e-giving options.”

Erin at Young Adult Money unpacked a list of “7 Ways Stress Can Mess With Your Finances,” as well as “6 Ways to Simplify Holiday Shopping.”

Vocation

Justin Irving shared some thoughts from “David Brooks on Vocation and Making Commitments.”

Miscellaneous 

Eric Hand shared interesting geologic news about how “Deep Magma Chambers (have been discovered) below Mt. St. Helens.”

Friend and blogger Tim Chalberg shared news about how the Mariners’ “Offseason Begins Unexpectedly.” Tim also shared that the “2016 Hall of Fame Ballot has been Announced.”

Sports columnist Bill Plaschke shared that, “Listening to Keith Jackson’s rhapsodic voice is still quite a treat.” I miss hearing Keith’s college football announcing and ability to tell a story each week.

Are you tired of turning your clocks back every year? Maddie Stone is, and I’m with her. I would rather have lighter evenings, than sun a bit earlier in the morning. Wouldn’t you?

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That concludes this edition of the links. I hope you have enjoyed them. As always, if you have particular questions or topics for me to think about on the blog, please share them. Also, if there are things you would like to see included in the links, please let me know that too. Until next time, thank you for reading and being part of the conversation. Blessings on your week! -TS

Image Credits: The Links and “we heal in community.”

This Week’s Links

Internet1Each week on the blog I get to share some of what I have seen, read, and found interesting and thought provoking over the past week. To help make sense of all of these links, I have grouped them by the following categories: Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Millennials; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; Stewardship; Vocation; and Miscellaneous. I hope you enjoy these links!

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

For those of you preparing for worship, or writing a sermon for this coming weekend, I have a few resources for you. If you are following the revised common lectionary, check out this reflection by friend and professor Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis based on the gospel reading from Mark 12:38-44, “Whole Life Living.” Bishop Michael Rinehart also shares some resources regarding Pentecost 24B, with special focus on stewardship and legacy.

If you are following the narrative lectionary, Vanessa Lovelace provides this focus text “Commentary on 1 Kings 18:20-39.”

Inspired by the Reformation, friend and professor Dr. Dan Peterson shared, “9.5 Theses Against the Church in America Today.” What do you think about these?

Adelle Banks shares news about the recent installation of new Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopalian Church who urged, “Episcopalians to join (the) ‘Jesus movement.'”

Last week on this blog I reflected back on my learning and observations from “Social Media Sunday.” Did you and your faith community participate? If so, what did you learn and observe?

Speaking of social media and ministry, pastor, blogger, and author Keith Anderson shared about, “Youth and Social Media: Lessons from a 15 Passenger Van.”

Friend and professor Dr. Mary Hess also shared this piece by Keith Anderson asking, “Can the World Wide Web put Humpty Dumpty Denominations Back Together Again?” Good question.

Christina Embree shared a good luck about children and their faith questions in, “And When They Ask…

Pastor and blogger Clint Schnekloth shared and listed, “9 Ways to Save the Church (Really!).” The ways Clint points to are: go be with people; don’t patronize people; literally give the faith away; have more babies; become less but also more clerical; become less but also more theological; social justice; swim in the river; and joy in the spirit. What do you think of this list?

Clint also asked, “Why are Lutherans so bad at evangelism?” Why do you think?

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Social Leadership theorist Julian Stodd pondered about “Change: To Own or to Allocate?” Julian also provided “An introduction to Scaffolded Social Learning.”

Leadership Thought & Practice

Pandora's Box
Pandora’s Box

Dan Rockwell shared a number of leadership reflections including thoughts about: “The 4 Powers of Respect and How to Earn Them“; “10 Ways to Seize Leadership’s Greatest Opportunity“; as well as some thoughts about why “Rethinkers are Stinkers.”

Justin Irving continued sharing more life and leadership lessons inspired by youth sports this week with “10 Life Lessons from Youth Sports (Part 3).”

Anne Loehr explains that “Opening Pandora’s Box of Emotions is Actually Good for Work.” What do you think about that?

Cynthia Bazin and Dan Forbes shared a sampling of a number of great leadership reads for this month in “The Best of Lead with Giants- November 2015.”

Steve Keating asked, “Are You an Added Value?

Thin Difference shared a guest post by Sebastian Boyer unpacking, “3 Leadership Qualities Every Project Manager Must Obtain.”

Millennials

J.T. O’Donnell invited and asked each of you to “Guess What Millennials Value More Than Health Insurance?” What would your guess be? Check out the article and see how close your guess was to being right.

A few Millennials over at Salon summed up many Millennials’ (like myself) frustration about the broken system of politics in the United States in explaining, “Here’s why we’re committing civil disobedience: Millennials can no longer be silent about our broken system.” Amen.

Neighbor Love

Friend, professor, and mentor Dr. Terri Elton shared and wrote about, “Pragmatism, Utility and Beauty.” I’m struck by the sense of awe, imagination, and wonder in this as Terri ponders, “What if I gave us – busy leadership, students, parents, friends, family members, employees – space, even an hour of class to be creative? What if we spent time dwelling in a text (Acts 2:38-47) and let our imaginations go…perhaps sketching with colored pencils or painting on canvas or assembling a mobile or writing a parable.” Check out the whole post and the included video too.

Friend, blogger, and seminarian Kristen Lee shared some great thoughts “On Interdependency,” with implications for how we show love to our neighbors, and how we function in community and even as churches and faith communities.

"it can change" by Vonda Drees
“it can change” by Vonda Drees

Candice Czubernat importantly and powerfully wrote about being “Queer and Christian.”

Friend, blogger, and artist Vonda Drees shared a number of beautiful posts over the past week. These included: “inspiriting vision“; “it can change“; “solidaridad inmensurable“;  “light and embrace“; and “Glory!

If you are looking for an interesting (and sobering) read on the church in Iraq, Keith Perkins shares about how, “‘The vicar of Baghdad’ explains what happened when he invited Isis to dinner.”

As All Saints Sunday was this past weekend, I have a number of friends who have shared their wonderful words and messages which I want to share with all of you:

Friend, blogger, and pastor Frank Johnson shared his All Saints sermon based on the Narrative Lectionary’s focus text of 1 Kings 12, “Age, Divisions, and All the Saints.”

Friend, blogger, and pastor Aaron Fuller also shared his sermon for All Saints’ Sunday based on the Narrative Lectionary’s focus text  titled, “Jerk Kings & Accidental Saints.” Aaron also shared his “Weekend Word,” focused on “Beginnings & Benedictions.”

Friend, blogger, and pastoral associate Stefanie Fauth-Lemke also shared her “All Saints Sunday Sermon” based on the revised common lectionary’s text of John 11:32-44.

And, friend, blogger, pastor, and Ph.D. student Mandy Brobst-Renaud shared her message also based on the John 11 text, “God’s Homecoming.”

Friend, pastor, and mission developer Melissa Melnick shared some good reflections on “Community Organizing as Gospel.”

Social Media & Blogging

Friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes wrote and shared, “I Give Up: Electronic Etiquette is a Lost Cause.” Do you agree?

Russell Goldsmith shared a new podcast focused on “Using Social Media in Public Services.”

My friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared his version of the links with his “Really Recommended Posts.

Stewardship

Over on the COMPASS blog I pondered the question of “Why be Frugal?” as part of the October focus on enjoying a “Frugal Fall.”

During November, the COMPASS blog will be thinking about giving thanks, Thanksgiving, and particularly why we give thanks. To get the series started, Beryl Jantzi shared ideas for “Cultivating a grateful and generous spirit.” Check out the post and join the conversation.

Vocation

My Uncle Jeff (who also happens to be a pastor) shared this news that being part of a choir may be the best way to make new friends as an adult. I think this is probably music to the ears of many a choir director.

I shared some “Tuesday Tea Time” over on my friend Julia’s blog, filling in for her, and shared some thoughts and dreaming about travels, adventures, and even honeymoons. Where do you dream about traveling to?

Are you, like me, always looking for ways to be and work smarter? Friend, blogger, and communications director Carrie Gubsch shared this list of “5 Scientific Ways to Make Yourself Smarter” as compiled by Geoffrey James.

Miscellaneous 

My sister Tamara (among others) has often accused me of being a “clean freak.” Well, because of this she shared this list of “42 Seriously Useful Tips Every Clean Freak Needs to Know.” Great stuff here which I will have to try soon.

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That concludes this edition of the links. I hope you have enjoyed them. As always, if you have particular questions or topics for me to think about on the blog, please share them. Also, if there are things you would like to see included in the links, please let me know that too. Until next time, thank you for reading and being part of the conversation. Blessings on your week! -TS

Image Credits: The Links; “Pandora’s Box“; and “it can change.”