Thursday, May 18, 2017

Facilitating the Mission: Refugees

There was a fury around the topic of refugees earlier in the year, but the shrill pitch has died down lately. While we mostly handle this discussion as a political one, there are other angles to view this topic from: ethically, culturally, morally, and theologically.

I've been privileged to work with my friend and mentor Jeff Jackson, founder of Shepherd's Staff Mission Facilitators to discuss this on the ministry's podcast, Facilitating the Mission. Listen below.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

The Dip

I’ve been working out of the treadmill quite a bit now that I’m here in New Hampshire (more about why we’ve moved to New Hampshire from sunny South Florida in a future post). I like running outside in the cold, believe it or not, but sometimes, it’s just not possible. It snows here even in the Spring. That’s why I have the treadmill three steps from the desk in my home office. Running has never been more convenient or fun as it has been now that I live up in these North Woods.

Since I can set the speed of my pace on the treadmill, I’ve been working on increasing my speed. Every minute, I increase the pace in small increments until I reach my goal pace, and then I run the last half of my determined distance (usually three miles) at this increased speed. I start off great. But after a few minutes, I want to walk. The effort becomes too much. It’s easier to quit than to keep going.

Seth Godin talks about the life cycle of a startup or project in his book The Dip. When a project is launched, there is excitement and momentum. But as time wears on, the inertia that keeps the project moving forward is no longer powerful enough to overcome the friction that occurs. The start of a project is like a downhill ski run. But when the ground flattens or the grade starts to run uphill, you have to get out ski poles and push. You slow down and you have to start using muscles that haven’t been used since you were younger.

That's where I am in the cycle of this book blogging project. Keeping it moving forward, keeping interest up, doing the work of posting links, editing content, and thinking through painful memories is taxing me. As I look back through my stats, I see that my interest and your interest in this story was higher when I first started than it is now that I’m in the middle. That’s normal. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Here are links to post 13 and post 14 in this book blogging project.

Post 13

Post 14

post 1 | post 2 | post 3 | post 4 | post 5 | post 6 | post 7 | post 8 | post 9 | post 10 | post 11 | post 12 | post 13 | post 14 | post 15

Monday, March 13, 2017

Meat Grinder

Writing the next post in our book blogging project has worked me over. I've been cranking through these few words for weeks. There are feelings in this post I haven't wanted to revisit. Yet, we want to tell the truth. 

I'm also struggling with how to say things so that you're not confused. Emotions at the time were schizophrenic. Friend, if you read this and my writing has left you confused, would you let me know either in the comments here on this blog, in the comments in the post, or in an email to me. Here's the thing: this is the internet. With the right kind of feedback I can edit it in seconds. That's one of the reasons I'm doing this writing exercise so publicly.

Our readers fingerprints are all over the work we've done so far. Even the smallest typos and mistakes are easy to miss when you're reading your own work. Your minds and eyeballs have been invaluable. Thanks for your help.

Here's post twelve in our book-blogging project.

post 1 | post 2 | post 3 | post 4 | post 5 | post 6 | post 7 | post 8 | post 9 | post 10 | post 11 | post 12 | post 13 | post 14 | post 15

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Why Put Your Story in the Hands of a Publisher?

Why put my book out on a blog rather than publish traditionally through a print house?

I realized in high school that I wanted to write. I had a love/hate relationship with my eleventh grade English composition teacher at Eureka High School. Mrs. Collins would read the writing assignments that scored the highest every week to the class. Most weeks, my paper was on the list. Some weeks, she would read my "A" paper to the class right before I got kicked out of the class at least once being a class clown. She found it was more productive to wait until after I got kicked out of class to read my paper.

It was when I was taking college courses that I realized that I still liked to write. Since then, and I've always wanted to write and publish a book. Almost 20 years ago, when I first saw my own writing on a web page, I knew that the future was going to be different. Traditional publishing where a small cadre of operators decided what the masses would read, listen to, and watch, for the first time, had a short shelf-life. Newspapers, magazines, music companies, and Hollywood were no longer in control. The script was about to flip.

Industry gurus like Guy Kawasaki and Seth Godin are my biggest influencers in my decision to go strictly digital with blogs and social media platforms. Kawasaki's book APE and Godin's daily offerings have empowered the masses. Gary Vaynerchuck reminds his audience that these things in our hands - this phone I'm typing these words into right now - are never more than six inches away. This is true even when sleeping.

So that's the thinking behind launching this book-blogging project. I've put it on the Medium platform because I love the built in social and sharing features. It's simple to use as a digital self-publisher. Viewer statistics are built right in so I can see when you love me and when you hate me.

Here's the thing: you can do this, too. Pause and let that sink in. You found this blog post or read our story because you found it through our mutual social media relationship. 

Why do we need to put a traditional publisher between you and me? You're the one I'm trying to get my message to. You're the one I have to impress.

Here are the next two posts in the book-blogging project:

Post 10

Post 11

post 1 | post 2 | post 3 | post 4 | post 5 | post 6 | post 7 | post 8 | post 9 | post 10 | post 11 | post 12 | post 13 | post 14 | post 15

Saturday, February 11, 2017

A running thank you

This week, the book-blogging project we launched on Medium last month has gone over 1,000 views. We're really pleased about this and wanted to say thank you. Here's a video I shot really quick with that message.

Begin reading our story here, or read the most recent post and track backwards from there.

Read post 9 here.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Adoption ain't easy, but it's worth it

We have friends that are trying to adopt children from Ethiopia. We've followed their story for years, literally, and it has been grueling for them. We're friends with two other couples — both amazing — that have adopted multiple children while also having many of their own, natural born children. One family has a total of twelve kids and the other sixteen!

I have friends that have traveled to China, others to Russia, some who are empty-nesters starting over in mid-life with adopted kids, and still others who open their homes as foster parents to provide emergency care for children from families in crisis. Many children are rescued by a foster family that becomes a forever family.

As I think through the roster of moms and dads that make room in their homes and hearts for children, they're not super heroes. In most cases, they don't have above average resources or incomes. They just want to make a difference one kid at a time. They find that it's possible and they learn that it is the most rewarding
"God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure." —Ephesians 1:5
In this eighth post from my book blogging project, I write about the early steps of our adoption journey. The Charming and Beautiful Susan and I have never looked back.

Read Post Eight here.

Friday, January 27, 2017

21 day fast

On January 1, an announcement was made at church that we were, as a denomination, going to participate in a 21 day fast. Everyone was encouraged to pick some activity, luxury, or — I don't know... vice — and replace it with an activity that would help us connect with God.

I liked the idea, but I hate having things dropped on me without time to prepare. It was January 1 and January 1 was the first day of the fast. I felt compelled, rushed, and unprepared. I panicked because I hated that I was instinctively nonspiritual. I have plenty of things I could give up, (i.e., binge watching Netflix series, Ben and Jerry's, Dunkin' Donuts, coffee) but what should I pick. And why should I? I developed an attitude.

We Mondoks have been through some transition in the past year with a job loss and big move to New England, and I've gotten out of the habit of writing. I've actually been in a writing and creativity slump, if I'm honest.

I've been wrestling with this for several months. I've even questioned if continuing to write as a habit or as a creative outlet was even worth it. I've had a hard time answering that question affirmatively.

Before January 1 was over, I decided to participate in the 21 day fast. I gave up watching shows on Netflix and replaced it with this book blogging project. It wasn't planned, but a plan started coming together. I wanted to replace the activity of watching TV with an activity that nourishes my spirit and causes me to meditate on the good things God has done in our lives. That's the precise effect doing this project is having.

The project is going to take longer than 21 days. It already has. If you've been tracking with the project, it has been some very sad reading. It has dredged up painful memories. But I will tell you that working through this has caused me to abundantly thankful for where our lives are now. I'm blessed to recount all that has been provided and all we've learned. I'm amazed at the capacity the Charming and Beautiful Susan and I have to love this little girl we've adopted.

I'm grateful for the 21 day fast and I pray you get something out of what we have to share with you.

In the next post, God sends us more angels. But he also sends more trials.

Read post 7 here.