Monday, June 6, 2011

Plan Your Work

I wrote a blog March 16, 2009 titled “Get to Work.” It was a summary of a book I read back then titled It’s Called Work for a Reason by a wild looking guy named Larry Winget. It was a way out there book with the primary purpose of disputing every leadership book and theory ever developed. Winget’s thesis was that people just don’t work anymore. I have to agree with Winget; for the most part.

As I said in my March post, “I’m a worker. I’ve always been a worker. My father instilled this mentality in me. I don’t know very many people that work any harder than my father and his brothers. They grew-up in a day and age on a small West Texas farm when you worked to make a living. You milked the cows before school and you drove the tractor until dark (while getting an education in-between). I know my life was far from difficult like theirs, but one thing my dad did expect was hard work. From nine to five he worked at a bank. So we primarily worked on the farm and ranch on the weekends and any time the bank was closed (Labor Day had an entirely different meaning in my family). In the summer we either got a job or we worked on the farm. Vacations pretty much amounted to a long weekend trip to Dallas to watch the Ranger’s play and a day at Six Flags.” So Winget obviously hit most of the right buttons with me.

I’ve always liked the saying “Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan.” But, like Winget, I’m not sure we are missing an extremely important component to in our strategy. Proverbs 16:9 reads “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” I’m a planner. If my wife actually read my blogs she’d have some snide remark to insert here. I’m detail oriented. Again, insert snide remark. I like to work on the details every step of the way. I still carry a day planner. And, I use a calendar on my iPhone. And, I use Evernote on my iPhone. You get the picture. However, this verse makes me think I may be taking the wrong approach, or at least forgetting a very important ingredient; PRAYER!

All my planning in the world obviously cannot make something happen. Now, at the same time I don’t think the right approach is to fly by the seat of my pants. You know, pray and then sit around and wait for a miracle. I had a customer once that believe he could just pray, hang out at the coffee shop, and farm through the windshield in his pick-up. Obviously he was wrong. Planning is important and I believe it is relevant to success. We just have to make sure to allow God to be an ingredient (the most important ingredient) and allow Him to enact the plan.

So, step 1) Pray; step 2) Plan; step 3) Pray; step 4) Work!

Aspire to new heights.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Re-Entry (Not for the weak at heart)

Last Friday I drove my kids to Ruidoso for the weekend, by myself. The "are we there yets" started before we'd even made it 20 miles. Crazy thing is, they've made this trip 10 times a year since they were born. They know we aren't there yet! But, I can't say much because I've been asking myself that very same question the past week after returning from my 10 day mission trip to Romania. All too often I feel like I’m stuck somewhere between here and there (maybe around Iceland or something), both mentally and physically. Re-entry can be so hard. Why do you think so much effort is made to perfect the space shuttle re-entry? Take the wrong angle, go to fast, or attempt in the wrong vehicle and all will end in a fiery mess.

Re-entry after a lengthy mission trip can be just as difficult. The first few days are oh so hard, almost like slow motion or like you are walking with concrete boots. It feels like you are pushing a van full of Romanian children up hill (all 30); like the lemons keep coming faster than you can make the lemonade! How dare our life get in the way of all this fun we’ve been having! To complicate things you can’t sleep, your appetite just isn’t what it was (probably due to the sudden absence of meat and potatoes), you can’t hold your eyes open past three in the afternoon and that darn cat just won’t stop smelling you (I mean do I stink or something).

Then there is the coma like absence the past 10 days. Life has moved on and we’ve been stuck in pause like a good TiVo machine (what do you mean Hines Ward won Dancing with the Stars. I thought they still had three weeks left). But when we push play there just isn’t enough hours in the day to catch up. You don’t get a two day pass for re-entry, a vacation from your vacation if you will. The kids want to jump on you NOW. The wife wants you to mow the grass TODAY (holly cow do I need more proof 10 days has passed). The hubby needs his laundry picked up ASAP. Your boss and/or co-workers are ready to give you your work back immediately. While you were off “digging holes” they were putting out fires! Half the things you put off in an effort to pack and get ready for your trip are now nipping at your heals like a Romanian goose.

So how do we cope. How do you get 36 hours out of a 24 hour day on as little as 3 hours of sleep? Unless you can get a Joshua size miracle at Gibeon and make the sun stand still you’re going to have to find another way to make it work. Somehow each day makes the process a little bit easier. We wake-up a little later each morning. The pile on our desk shrinks a little bit each day. Our farmers tan from the long days on the end of a shovel starts to fade. Life almost resembles some form of normalcy. Oh, but how to get back to "normal" without getting back to "normal?"

In Ruth 1, Naomi returns to Bethlehem after years of absence. Upon her arrival she is recognized by several locals. However, Naomi does not want to be recognized and she goes on to explain how different her life now is. In verse 21 she says, “I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty…” Ten days on the mission field will empty you. Much of which is probably in a good way. Like a good detox diet we've cleansed ourselves of the toxins in our body. But as we get home and things return to normal it's so easy to let these toxins back in. We've renewed our focus on the Lord. Our prayer life has improved (blame it on the Romanian drivers if you will). Our "me first" approach has gone by the wayside and we've developed more of a "HE first" approach. Now just to find that balance in our life. It's hard, especially when the demands of a job, a family, and the ever-present selfishness takes over. I must admit I took a 45 minute break on Thursday to watch an episode of Vampire Diaries. I justified it with being too tired to think!

Thank goodness for a long weekend. Thank goodness for a supportive wife and kids. Thank goodness for an understanding boss. Thank goodness for an understanding Lord. Aspire to new heights!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Derby Day

Saturday was the Kentucky Derby. By the way I picked Animal Kingdom to win (not bragging or anything). It was fun to gather around the TV with the family and cheer on our favorite horse. The show leading up to the big race was as much entertainment as anything. I found it humorous how many people flocked from all over the world to Louisville. There were 160,000 people dressed in their finest (and strangest), goofy hats and all! It was strange to me that so many people come to an event they care nothing about in a costume they’d never wear anywhere else. Most of these people don’t even know which direction the horse runs around the track! Aaron Rodgers in his giant sunglasses. Joey Fatone in that nasty white suit. And the hats, don’t get me started on the hats.

But, in full disclosure I started thinking about how many costumes we wear on a weekly basis. We wear our Sunday School outfit on Sunday where we get dressed up in our finest and put on our best behavior for good measure as well. Then we have our every day “copy room” costume where we dress like all our other coworkers and do our best to blend in with the IN crowd and never, ever stand out. We have our family costume where we try to be comfortable in our own skin and make our families proud of us but we would never be caught dead acting this way anywhere else.

I wish people loved horse racing year round. It is a great sport. However, in the same ways I wish we (me included) could just be who we should be, who He designed us to be, and who we know we should be 365 days a year. Our wardrobe would have a lot less “costumes” in it. By the way, next year I’m going to the Derby and I’m going to wear the powder blue tux I wore to Kacee’s college formal! See what kind of attention I get! Aspire to new heights.

If you get a chance please lift up our Red Page mission team leaving for Romania on Thursday. I’m blessed to be leading a wonderful group of 14.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Let the countdown begin. March paved the way for the things yet to come with our basketball court in Romania. Many friends, both personal and of Red Page, contributed to the basketball court campaign. God blessed our time, our efforts, and answered our prayers. Now here we are, less than two weeks from our first summer trip; a trip that will see the culmination of the March Mania campaign by building the actual court.

Just last week the land work began. A few days ago numerous truck loads of gravel were delivered. Nets, hoops, and backboards have been purchased. Striping is in hand. The chain link fence has been delivered. Word is already spreading throughout our service area. Our Romania team has visited eight schools to challenge the kids to attend our camp/tournament/celebration on May 21. The bracket is in hand for all eight schools to play a little HOOPS! You know if you look real hard you can almost see HOPe in HOOPS!

Thank you to everyone for paving the way for this wonderful event. We are blessed to call you teammates. Looking forward to sharing with you pictures as the team builds the court. Aspire to new heights.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Necklace

Last week one of my co-workers said, “I didn’t know you were involved in the church.” My first reaction was, “What made you think this?” (Yeah, yeah I know, sad, but follow me for a minute). I mean, we were in the middle of trying to get our bleach tanker to work. We were beating and banging and scratching our heads. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. We weren’t having any kind of conversation other than “hand me that hose” or “try it again.” He just said this out of the blue! I answered his question and we moved on.

It wasn’t until I headed home that it really hit me. As I thought more about our time together I was most taken back by the fact that we’ve spent two years together and this is the first time he’s felt compelled to ask me this question. But, before I dwell on this I first want to touch on what led him to ask me this question. Trust me, I spent three days racking my brain trying to figure out what I said or did to lead him to ask me this question. I know, sad, right? More on this later as well! Anyhow, it finally hit me. He’s a strong Catholic. While we were working on the tanker my St. Christopher necklace was revealed (Please, nobody tell OSHA). This necklace was a gift from a friend years ago when Kacee and I moved to Romania. Honestly, I don’t wear the necklace for protection. It has an entirely different meaning for me. I look at it as a symbol of the support we received from so many friends and family members while living overseas. I keep wearing it as a reminder that when we live in concert with God’s will, and family and friends support us, all things are possible.

What a relief I felt to finally realize why my colleague asked me this question. Or at least I thought it was a relief! Once I knew how he knew I had to live with myself for allowing a necklace to do my talking. How sad that my actions never gave away my faith, but rather a necklace. Oh how hard we work to keep our cover. And why? Are we embarrassed? Are we afraid we may do something to push them away? What if they don’t accept us? What if they don’t copy us on the office gossip? What if they don’t send us the dirty jokes? I’ll be honest and transparent. I have had, and still have, many of these fears. I want to fit in. I want to be liked. I mean come on Facebook doesn’t have a Dislike button for a reason! Our greatest, my greatest, struggle is to be who He wants me to be, not who the world says we should be.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting you go get a cross necklace. If you think we need to “wear” our faith then you are missing the point. After all, should a necklace, tattoo, shirt, or bumper sticker give away our faith? Shouldn’t the “words of our mouth and the attitudes of our heart” be the real indication? All too often our actions lead others to believe we are not Christian. We are more likely to push people away than we are to draw them to Christ. I want people to know, not assume that I’m a Christian by my actions not my attire, not even by what I say. It’s easy to say something. It’s much harder to prove something. Be encouraged, we ALL have a long way to go in this department. Aspire to new heights.