How to Drive in the Snow

Do you like to drive in the snow? I do but know I am biased. My father drove a plow and my mother loved to drive in the snow. Whenever she talks about  the opportunity, she begins talking about her dad and how he taught her. I remember getting a couple of inches just days after I got my driver’s license. I was ready for a new adventure and asked my dad (because mom would have said no) if I could run to town. I was eager to try out this  new surface and see how I did in the 1980 four-speed Chevette that I drove at the time (I often shortened the name and just told people I drove a ‘vette’). Things were going fine until I needed to make my first turn and nearly ended up in the ditch, taking the turn too fast. Eventually, I got home just fine and without damage to the car.
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More or Less?

In the first eight years of our marriage, my wife and I lived in eight different locations. For the last eight years, we have had one address. When we moved from Indiana to North Carolina, all our possessions fit into a 12 foot box truck. Five years later (and one kid), it took a 30 foot truck to move to Ohio. Today, it may take two of those trucks to move our family of four, but I have no plans to find out for fear it would.

Table-Saw-Assisted

Table-Saw (Photo credit: Jóvan Jules ρнσтσgяαρну)

I often walk to our basement, attic, and garage and see tools and other items I have not used for a very long time, if ever. Many of the tools were from my dad after he passed away. I thought I was going to make a lot of items of wood. There are also workbenches, storage boxes, and extra wood from my father-in-law, all waiting around for me to do something with them. Most of it has been sitting around for at least three years, some as long as five or six years. Add to that the kites we flew four Easters ago that have not moved since, a child’s dresser we moved out of her room two years ago, and several items sitting in corners of the attic that have been there since we moved in.

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March: Lion or Lamb?

You know the idiom–March will come in as a lion and go out as a lamb. It refers to the weather. At the beginning of the month, the weather is cold, brutal and powerful. In four short weeks, it will be calm, warming, and peaceful (hopefully).

Today, I was enlightened to learn about a different lamb that many expected to be a lion. As he was born, people were looking for a lion, for someone to overthrow the current regime that had oppressed them and ruled harshly. But they got a lamb–a little baby, meek and mild, born in a barn.

Fast forward 30 or so years. This man comes into town for a national celebration. The people are waving palm branches–the symbol of their national pride. They shouted a slogan that means “give us freedom.” In the background, there is an increased presence of the military as this time of year commemorates their freedom from slavery under previous captors. As this man watches the goings on, he cries. He realizes that the citizens are seeking a lion to deliver their nation through peace and rebellion. In a few days, they will ask for the famous jailed insurgent to be freed

This man comes as a peaceful lamb. At a time where their national heritage has them choose a lamb to represent their family, this man comes to town in peace. He comes with a great love to deliver the people from those things oppressing them. Those things are personal and inward. They are not what other people and powers are doing to them, but what they are doing to themselves. This man comes to liberate their hearts. He cries because the people do not see that they are lost themselves. His time is nearly done yet there is more to accomplish.


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!

Waking Up is Hard to Do

The other day, my alarm went off at the regular time of 5:10 a.m. My first thought was, “I really don’t want to get up.” But the alternative of picking up my phone and fumbling with it to snooze the alarm required too much thought and effort. I decided it was just easier to turn it off and get up. Read the rest of this entry »


Picture of a Servant Leader

Being a leader is about putting others first. Throughout my life, I have had the privilege to have an amazing role model of a leader who puts others first. This is known as servant-leadership. Robert Greenleaf in his essay “The Servant as Leader” wrote this:

It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first… The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types…The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served.

Photo by Pam Denlinger

Photo by Pam Denlinger

Let me tell you about a guy who lived his life putting others’ needs above his own. As the twelfth of 13 children, Buck was Uncle Buck to nearly 40 nieces and nephews. Throughout high school, Buck was a friend to all. Fifty years later, many of his classmates will still tell you stories of Buck—all grounded in the love that they knew Buck had for them. At age 17, Buck’s father died. As the only son still at home, Buck spent the next couple years serving his mother and greater family by caring for the family farm until it was sold at auction.

Buck next enlisted in the US Army and served his country for two years in Europe. After returning home, he joined the local volunteer fire department where he served his community for over 35 years, retiring as chief. He responded to emergencies facing his friends and neighbors. One night, Buck had to tell some of those neighbors that their two young boys perished in the house fire. Even though it was the most difficult night of his life and the lives of those neighbors, Buck was able to do it with love and compassion, because that’s the kind of guy he was.

Buck also served his neighbors as a policeman in his small town and as a member of the county road crew. On many snowy nights while folks were home warming by the fire, Buck would work through the night to clear roads allowing his neighbors to get to work and school safely the next morning. In the summer, Buck would literally dig the best ditches in Miami County, just so that they looked good to everyone who drove by and served their purpose to clear the farmers’ fields of rain water. While Buck was protecting his neighbors or digging those ditches, he would always take time to teach the young guys on the crew how to do their job better, smarter, or with more enthusiasm.

Buck loved his neighbors and it showed through his service to his country, his community, and his family. Sure, his family had to eat many cold Thanksgiving meals because a neighbor would inevitably cook their’s too long and require a visit from the fire department. And his son had many cancelled birthday parties because Mother Nature decided to have a snow day. But his family would have it no other way because they knew their father loved them and loved their neighbors.

Three years ago today, Dad passed away after battling cancer. At his viewing and funeral, nearly 500 friends and neighbors waited hours, many in the freezing cold, to honor my family by sharing memories of how Dad served them with laughter, protection, or his time. During those few days, I heard the impact of dad’s service to his neighbors. As I look back on the life of my father, I can see what a great leader he was because he always put others first.


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.

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