Larry the Mentor

Early in my Junior High years, this guy in my small community rented out the attic of an old office building in town. It was a Friday night and he invited any junior high kid from the community to come and hang out–no cost unless you wanted to buy a can of pop or a candy bar pretty much at cost. On Saturday nights, he invited the high schoolers to come out. I remember a few friends hanging out at the bottom of the steps that first night it was open. No one was sure about going in. Finally, I took the lead and ascended the steps. There was music, games, televisions, and a pool table. There was likely some shag carpet in a variety of colors and textures and a room full of mismatched furniture. And there were a few adults, one of them was Larry. Read the rest of this entry »
Advertisements

Review of My 2012 Reading

Over a year ago, a friend of mine introduced me to GoodReads.com, a social app for avid readers. At the beginning of 2012, it had a reading challenge of how many books I could complete in a year. I set a goal for myself to read 48 books, just four a month. As I went through the year and kept track of my reading, I was surprised on December 31 to learn that I had actually read 52. So, now that we are more than a month into the new year, let me share some of my favorites with you and why I enjoyed them.

Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman was encouraging to my heart. Mary Beth’s personality really comes out through the stories she tells of her family, the experience of losing a daughter, and love of the Christian community as they wrapped their arms, literally and spiritually, around the Chapman family during their personal tragedy. I laughed and cried as I read the touching memories, struggles, highs and lows. Throughout the story, the truth of a loving God who cares is marvelously woven onto each page.
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is another biographical story of Louis Zamperini, a young lieutenant in the Army Air Force of WWII. Louis’ plane was shot down in the South Pacific in 1943 and the book is his story of survival until the end of the war. What I got out of the book was an account of life-giving hope. The hope Louis held and the vision of freedom from his captures allowed him to survive terrifying ordeals.
The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne is a book that challenged me the most throughout the year. Shane describes his faith as he puts it into practice. Before writing the book, Shane served with Mother Teresa and the Sisters of Mercy in Calcutta, visited families in Iraq during the most recent war, and dumped thousands of dollars in coins on Wall Street as his way of redistributing wealth. Shane’s perspective of living a Christian life challenged me in a few ways. Most notably, it challenged my perspective of being an American Christian. A few things I thought about living a Christian life, were more likely views consistent with being a Christian in America.
This year I was introduced to Andy Andrews’ writing. I read several of his books, but Island of Saints really stuck out to me. A follow-up to The Traveler’s Gift, this book examines the question, “What is one thing humanity can do to change the course it is on?” Wise sages from across the ages are invited to help brainstorm the correct answer to this question. While they bring up many things, the correct answer will likely surprise you!
What books have you read recently that have inspired or challenged you? Please share in the comments below so that we can all build our reading lists!

I Believe…

This past week, I, along with a colleague, began a leadership program for a group of nurses from the local hospital system. The first class is an introduction to leadership and what makes a great leader. We incorporated a heavy dose of self-reflection into this day, including time to write a personal credo.

Read the rest of this entry »

Expect the Unexpected

It is Advent season. Many know this, we are lighting a new candle each week at church. What many may not realize is that “advent” means “coming,” a time we celebrate the coming of God to earth–Emmanuel, God with us. This month in my small group, we have been looking at the Christmas story as told by Luke. A theme that I caught the first week and have continued seeing throughout has been “the unexpected.” Read the rest of this entry »


Momentum

Have you ever thought about momentum? It is a force of movement. Some definitions define it as a quantity of movement. Momentum has been on my mind recently. Often when I think of it, Newton’s First Law of Motion also comes to mind. This law (I had to look it up) states that an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force.

As I have thought about these things, a few things come to mind. I share them in hopes that you will find value in these questions as well.

  1. Do I have any momentum? Yes, I must conclude that I am moving, and since I have mass I must also be a force. Personally, I have delineated six to seven areas in which I would like to build momentum. This leads me to my next question that often arises.
  2. Is my momentum in the direction I want it to be? In most of those areas, yes, I am moving in the directions I desire. But there are some that are not.
  3. What outside forces are acting upon my momentum? There are many: demands of others on my time, expectations I feel like I need to meet, commitments I have made somewhat foolishly, and more. I recently read The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau. In it, he has a chapter entitled “Radical exclusion and the Quest for Abundance.” Things like the “to-don’t” list and defining your purpose so succinctly that you are able to say “No” to those things that are distractions.
  4. How can I change to avoid those forces? Building new habits. After reading Chris Guillebeau, I picked up The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. I just began reading this book yesterday, but am learning how habits are formed and cravings begin. What are the cues in my life that lead me into those habits that are unproductive? Which leads me to my final question.
  5. How can I create momentum in areas where it is lacking? The easiest answer is to simply take the first step. To create momentum, I need to create movement. No movement = no momentum. Easy to type, difficult to do.

So, my goal this week is to find an area of my life and create positive momentum.

I am curious, what momentum-killing forces do you experience and how do you avoid them?


Listen to Your Customer

Have you ever worked with a sales person who would just not listen to you? I just had this experience and I felt bad for the poorly trained soul on the other end of the line.

telephone

telephone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just got off the phone with student from one of my alma maters. It is phone-a-thon time for that institution, when the development office hires students to chat up some alumni, help them recall great experiences from their college years, then ask for a donation. I get these calls from both of my alma maters and we usually give to one of them. This call was from the one we usually do not give to. I was there only a year and my connection is with a very few individuals and not so much to the institution. Read the rest of this entry »


Keep Dreaming

One of my favorite roller coasters is the Raptor at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. Probably my second favorite used to be right behind the Raptor in this photo–the Blue Streak. There are many reasons the Raptor is one of my favorite coasters. The biggest has nothing to do with the coaster itself.

Raptor , montagnes russes à Cedar Point

Raptor , montagnes russes à Cedar Point (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The biggest reason the Raptor is my favorite coaster is because of a conversation I had while waiting in line. It was the summer of 1996 and the Raptor was in its third season at Cedar Point. My future wife and I tried to get there each summer while we were dating, it was less than two hours from her home, so an easy trip. That summer we had been dating for about two years and would be married that winter. The line for the Raptor was long, probably close to two hours. This was fine because it meant that my future bride and I could stand in line and talk for that long. On this particular trip, I remember talking about our future together and the dreams we each had.

Read the rest of this entry »