Just In Time

This Just For You is just in time for summer. You’ll find something to hear, something to read, and something to watch that is sure to make you feel like you’re walking on sunshine. When you get to the good parts.

I’m listening again to a podcast series I recommended a couple of years ago called Dolly Parton’s America. Even if you’re not a fan, this series is an intriguing look into the life of someone who holds onto hope and refuses to let her heart be hardened. You might think that is an easy thing for her, as famous and wealthy as she is. Then I’d wonder if you know her story.

This series is about much more than Dolly Parton. They take a deep dive into some important issues, give us a history lesson on where the terms redneck and hillbilly come from (this was a surprise to me) among more history, we learn what makes a sad song, and why lawmakers proposed a statue of Dolly at the Tennessee Capitol building. This 9-part series is perfect for your long summer road trip to anywhere.

Refined Resistance

My delight in Dolly Parton’s America is connected to my reading of Steven Garber’s book Visions of Vocation. He writes about knowing the world: all the joy and delight of it but also the pain and sorrow of it. Knowing the world and and still loving it. He tells stories of those who know it fully, yet resist the tendency to become cynical. They choose to love and hope instead.

That’s Dolly’s story. She’s living that way, and it’s the way Christ followers are called to live. It’s the only way we can love God, and love others as we love ourselves.

Often the longer we live, the more hardened we become. But sometimes some people still choose to enter in, knowing what they know of the world. Not naïve, not innocents, but time-tested, and able to step in again.

Steven Garber in Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good

If you’ve ever wondered about the value of your work in the world, this book will remind you just how important it is. Another of my favorite quotes from the book is:

As the poet Bob Dylan once sang, “Everything is broken.” Yes, everything, and so we must not be romantics. We cannot afford to be, just as we cannot be stoics or cynics either. But the story of sorrow is not the whole story of life either. There is also wonder and glory, joy and meaning, in the vocations that are ours. There is good work to be done by every son of Adam and every daughter of Eve all over the face of the earth. There are flowers to be grown, songs to be sung, bread to be baked, justice to be done, mercy to be shown, beauty to be created, good stories to be told, houses to be built, technologies to be developed, fields to farm, and children to educate.

Our work matters. It always matters.

Who’s Otto?

Otto is the kind of neighbor you think you don’t want to have. He’s grumpy. He complains. And he’s closed his heart off to all the good and beautiful things in life.

Hearts usually close slowly, over time. A wall here, another there. A vow to never trust again. One to never care again. Until one day, we’re the grump in the neighborhood and don’t even know it. A Man Called Otto is the predictable feel-good story of Otto learning to open his heart again…to step into life again. It’s a movie you don’t want to miss.

Photo by Nadya Spetnitskaya on Unsplash

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