Richie Reads: “Whoever You Are”, by Mem Fox

Today we read “Whoever You Are”, by Mem Fox and illustrated by Leslie Staub. We sing “Jesus Loves Me”, and “Open My Heart”.

Please send your requests and suggestions for songs and stories and any questions or comments to richie.anderson@alvinwestsidechurch.com.

Westside Church of Christ:
http://alvinwestsidechurch.com/
https://www.facebook.com/WestsideChurchofChristAlvinTX
http://www.youtube.com/WestsideChurchofChrist

Just Show Up!

Just Show Up

If you haven’t noticed, there is a lot happening in our world today. This year (2020) has been a doozie so far, hasn’t it?! Corona Virus has had us shut up in our houses for weeks, a man named George Floyd was murdered by a police officer, rioting and looting have been going on all across the country…

I promise, this blog isn’t trying to depress you or be political. One thing I know for a fact is that YOU have a friend – whether or not they live next door, across town, across the country, or they’re virtual friends on social media – who has been affected in some way by 2020’s disasters. Maybe they or one of their family members has had COVID-19, and maybe they have been hospitalized or their family members have died. Maybe your friend is a person of color and they feel deeply impacted by the incident in Minneapolis and the resulting violent and destructive actions of a few people. Maybe you aren’t affected by these events, but you don’t to look far to find someone who has been.

Now, I’m not asking you to agree with me or with your friends. But I am asking you to have some empathy, compassion, and love toward them. Just show up for them! You don’t need to fix them, or say profound words or make a profound Facebook post. Just let them know you’re there.

Job went through a terrible loss. He lost all of his children and all of his possessions. He was known to be a very, very good man. In Job 2:11-13. his friends hear about his loss and they go to him. They see his suffering and cry for and with him. Then in verse 13, “… they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.” They didn’t say anything! They just sat in silence with Job for a week!

They did eventually open their mouths and talk. That is where they messed up.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15

Just show up, and shut up.

 

 

My First Photography Print Sale!

I don’t know how customary, or even if its very professional, to celebrate your first sale on your blog – but here we are. I made my first sale! And I’m pretty excited about it.

The prints are Sunset over the Gulf, and Mono Lake. Mrs. Martha, I hope they are a great addition to you home!

Photography Etsy Store Update

Link to a photograph of Mono Lake, California.

My Etsy store still has the same four photos, but I changed them from digital downloads to 8×10 prints. The store got a lot of views very quickly, but no sales on the downloads. I can’t complain, I’m not sure that I would want to buy a JPEG file either, I’d rather have a print that has been signed by the artist.

Have you been successful in selling your prints? Can you share some pointers and take aways? Have you sold any other form of artwork online? Are you successful in selling on Etsy in general? What has made you successful?

Thanks everyone, have a good one!

 

Getting back into Photography

I used to be really into photography. Like, I wanted to go to college for fine art and make a living shooting portraits, weddings, and selling landscapes. But, as life goes things change. But, I have been doing a lot of video work in my ministry while we haven’t been able to meet in person due to COVID-19 measures, and it has sparked my interest again.

I’d like to do some free sessions with a few families and individuals to get back into the swing of things. My overall goal is to have fun, but help while I’m doing that. Since photography isn’t my main income source, I’d like to keep costs low for families who can’t afford a high end photographer. Also to help young or new professionals with headshots, or maybe new makeup artists with their first few shoots.

Link to Richie Anderson Photo Etsy StoreI’m also looking into selling some of my better landscape and scenery photos. I started an Etsy shop to explore this possibility. Right now I’m only offering digital downloads on three images until I find a print service I trust and that is affordable but good quality. And shipping, I have no idea how to handle shipping.

If you have a few minutes, please take a look at the Etsy shop, https://richieandersonphoto.etsy.com. And if you have any recommendations on a printer, I’d like to hear about it. And any help on shipping would be welcome!

Lay Your Burden Down

Have you even been so busy that you just don’t know what do next? Maybe you have so much to do on your list, you just shutdown and don’t do any of it. Ever felt overwhelmed? Anxious? Can’t catch your breath? You know, other things…

I have, and I’m feeling that right now. When I teach my youth group or preach I often remind people that everything I teach is something that I need to hear or has been on my heart. This blog is no different. The burdens for me right now are: school, big events for the church and youth group, health insurance (I’m getting out of the Air Force and Tricare is going away), our vehicles need some work, and a few other more private matters.

Here are some scriptures that I have been thinking on and praying about today.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  (Hebrews 12:1-2)

 

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

 

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

 

Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. (Psalms 55:22)

 

fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

And this song:

 

What are burdens you are carrying today? I’ll be happy to pray for you and I’d appreciate your prayers for me.

Perfectly Imperfect: Get Out?

Perfectly Imperfect
I came across this while reading for a class this week:

“I do not require my clients to be virtuous in order to continue in therapy. There would be few clients and few therapists if the standard of full moral integrity was imposed on all of us.” (Doherty, 1995)

That’s comforting, right? I mean, the reason most people seek counseling is because they are having trouble with their values, feeling, emotions, etc. So it makes sense that a counselor wouldn’t kick a client out because they’re not perfect! But the author also says there wouldn’t be many counselors either, if they were expected to be perfect. Hmm…

The church is like that… right? It should be. Could you imagine what it would be like if we had to be perfect in order to be a part of God’s family? I think sometimes we expect perfection, and we should most definitely try our best, but we’re just not. We need to stop expecting perfection out of imperfect people who just want to come worship God and have a church family to be a part of. This also goes for ministers, teachers, elders, and deacons… no person in the church, no one on this planet is perfect.

One big difference in the church and a counseling practice, is our Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6) is perfect! But the same as an earthly counselor, he doesn’t expect us to be perfect, he understands us (Hebrews 2:17, 4:15). This isn’t an excuse to not strive to be perfect, to be like Jesus, what it is though is love. He loves us even though we’re not perfect. We need to love each other, even though we’re not perfect.

 

Doherty, W. J. (1995). Soul searching: why psychotherapy must promote moral responsibility.

Focus!

FOCUS!

If you’re anything like me, you have some trouble focusing on the current task at hand. I have been diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, just in case you’ve never heard of it), but I wasn’t diagnosed until my mid 30s. It was great to finally have an idea of why I had trouble finishing anything I started. It could be a household project, writing a blog post, schoolwork, work-work, etc. Pretty much anything I did, except for reading a book or watching a movie/tv would get left undone. Those only get done due to hyper-focusing, another trait of ADHD.

But you have a college degree and are working on your master’s! How can you have ADHD and be successful in school? I have a few tools in my toolbox I’ll share with you. Even though I have these tools, and they do work very well for me, I often forget to use them. Here they are (I’m not sponsored in any way by these companies).

Pomodoro Technique

Pomodoro TechniqueThe Pomodoro Technique is an interval time management method. It was created by Francesco Cirillo. Pomodoro means “tomato” in Italian after the tomato shaped kitchen timer used as its icon.

Basically you work on a task for 25 minutes, then take a 5 minute break. After four sets of work, you take a longer 15 minute break. Then continue on until your task is complete. Or its lunch time. Or its time to go home…
I use the Pomodoro Timer Lite app for Android.

Brain.fm: Music for the Brain

Brain.fmBrain.fm has several tools you can use, the one I use the most is focus music. There are others like sleep, meditation, relax, etc. We’ll get to some of those in a future blog post.

There is science behind how this all works, I think I have a handle on it, but here is a link to their own explanation of it all. Basically the music has an underlying rhythm that your brain attunes to and reacts in kind. So listening to the focus station gets you focused. I find that in myself, the focus music induces hyper-focus, one way that ADHD can be beneficial.

You can try it for on the website or use the app (Android). This is one of the only apps that I’m willing to pay a subscription for because it works so well for me. Its $15.99 for 3 months. Totally worth it.

Medication

Yes, this is a great tool for you if you have ADHD. If you don’t – don’t take a stimulant! First of all, its illegal. Second, it won’t help you like you think it will. You may have energy and be able to study all night until the cows come home, but you won’t really be able to retain anything.

Having said that, how do I use this tool? I take 20mg of Adderall XR, twice a day. Its taken several years to really get this nailed down. I started on normal release Adderall, and it really worked, but it wore off too quickly for me. Then my doctor and I switched to the extended release once per day, it lasted longer, but not long enough to help with doing school work in the evening. So we revisted my prescription and started taking it twice a day, it worked great, but then I didn’t sleep well at all because it was still in my system when I went to sleep. Finally, I started a new medication schedule. I set an alarm and take my first dose at 6:00 am, then go back to sleep. I wake at normal time after that, then take my second dose 8 hours later at 2:00 pm. This lasts me until just about bed time.

Medication isn’t right for everyone, so please don’t expect results like mine just because it worked for me. My son also has ADHD and he hates taking medication, but he still does well in school and his behavior (outside the home) is great.

Counseling/Therapy

I have not been through any kind of therapy for ADHD, so this is not first hand experience. If you Google for licensed professional counselors (LPC) in your area, you’re likely to find they list things like ADHD as a specialty. From what I understand, they help you to recognize when you’re mind is straying away from your task (SQUIRREL!!), then re-frame your thinking back under control. This is really very oversimplified, but its the basic idea.

I’m sure there are many other tools out there for helping retain your focus. If you have any tools or methods please share them in the comments.

Family Defender?

Again, I find myself not posting in quite sometime. This time its been over a year! I also haven’t been using this as a personal blog like I had planned. My intention was, and is, to share my thoughts as a Christian dad but I have really only been sharing devotional thoughts. Which are great and I’m not planning to stop with those types of articles, but I also want to share my everyday thoughts and concerns as a Christian dad and husband. One long standing thought of mine is family and self defense.

I have been avoiding this topic a bit because for some reason it becomes a hot button issue. It can degrade into arguments very easily, but we’re not going to do that here. I appreciate comments and your thoughts on the issue, but I don’t appreciate rudeness or arguments for arguments sake.

As I get older and my children get older, I find myself becoming more and more aware of my responsibility to defend them. I fall into a spiral of self doubt. Am I doing enough to keep them safe? What would I do if someone tried to hurt them? How would I respond if someone tried to take my child at the grocery store or at the mall? Could I even do anything? Do I have any skills or a plan to defend them? Or even myself? As a Christian, do I even have the ability or authority, to physically defend myself or my children? Am I still a child of God if I have to hurt or kill another person to defend my wife’s, children’s, or my own life?

We will often go to the book of Luke to justify our ability and need for protection. Jesus told his apostles to sell their cloaks and buy a sword if they didn’t already have one (Luke 22:36), so we assume that we also have the right to protect ourselves. I think we need to be careful to apply this to ourselves, Jesus reminded them in verse 35 that before they didn’t need to take anything like gear, money, or weapons on their missions to spread news about Jesus because he, the Son of God, provided those things for them. But, after he is crucified they would be going out into the world, past the borders of Israel, without his protection. He is telling them as you go out this time you are going to need to provide these things for yourself. I’m not saying that this precludes you and I today of needing protection, but in this case he is speaking specifically to a certain group of people in their current situation.

But take a look at Nehemiah, basically a governor, and his work in rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem.

And our enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work.” At that time the Jews who lived near them came from all directions and said to us ten times, “You must return to us.” So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

 

Nehemiah 4:11-14

Some people didn’t want to see the wall rebuilt, these people liked having an unguarded city and easy prey. Evil people. These people planned to sneak in and kill indiscriminately so the wall couldn’t be completed. The friendly Jews who lived in surrounding areas warned Nehemiah, so he made sure there were armed men hiding in wait, willing and ready to do violence, to protect those who were working. Then he charged the rest of the inhabitants of Jerusalem to fight! Why? To protect their friends, their families and themselves.

Paul wrote to Timothy that a person doesn’t provide for his family he is worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8). Paul doesn’t specify what he means by provide, but I know my wife and I provide food, clothing, and shelter for our children. But shelter also needs safety and security, also know as defense.

But why? Why do I feel the need to defend my family? Why did Nehemiah want his people to defend themselves? Why did Jesus warn his followers they would need to take their personal safety into their own hands? Love. I love my family and want to be sure their safe – by any means at my disposal. Nehemiah loved his people, and wanted to see them safe. That included seeing them properly armed and a protective wall built. Jesus loved his followers, and he loves us, and wants to see us all safe from evil people.

John Lovell of the Warrior Poet Society has some great content about being a lover of people, willing learn how to and to do violence to protect innocent people from the evil people of the world.