I Have Called You to This, I Will See You Through It

23 08 2015
TNU graduation

TNU graduation, May 2015

I’m 42. I have a full-time job. I have a family.  Most people who know me would say that I am busy enough as it is with my “normal” life (whatever “normal” looks like these days.)  So why did I start grad school again two years ago to pursue my MBA?

Since high school, I have wanted an MBA.  I wanted to be a business woman, not a teacher.  In fact, growing up, my mom often recommended I go into teaching.  I fought her every step of the way.  How I came to be a teacher is a completely different and wild story, but that will be told another time.

The MBA was put on hold for a couple of decades for many reasons.  When we got married, my husband was working on his Ph.D., so it was not a god time for me to go back to school since we had bills to pay.  Since I was teaching, a Master’s in Education made more sense so that is the first higher degree I received.  And we had a couple of kids.  That always makes going back to school a little more difficult for a working mom, too.

An MBA was on the back burner for a long time, and I was just fine keeping it there indefinitely.

Until two years ago.  Through some personal and professional situations going on at the time, I felt a calling, from God to “Do.  This.  Now.”  He was emphatic on the “NOW” part.  This was in March 2013.

I rarely get such a direct call from God.  I didn’t question it, but prayed (a lot) that if this wasn’t really from God, the doors would close.

But they didn’t close.  They opened wide. An application was submitted and the acceptance was received.  My first class was in September 2013.

In those first few months, there was much crying and much cursing.  And more crying.  And more cursing.  I complained to God, “Why?  This is cursing my family more than it is blessing it.”

When I needed it most, God confirmed on several occasions this is what I was, indeed, supposed to be doing.

Twice he reminded me, “I have called you to this, I will see you through it.”  Both times were amidst severe doubt and praying for a sign to quit.

Once, through tears on the way home from class (Economics to be specific), I prayed for a sign to let me know I was still doing what He wanted me to do.  I turned on the radio and heard, “You’re an overcomer.”  Normally, I don’t take too much stock in such things, but I needed this song at that time.

Another time as I pulled onto the campus, I noticed a stained glass window on the main library’s dome I had never noticed before.  I thought to myself, “I wonder what it would be like to teach here someday?”  The immediate reply was, “I have greater things in store for you than this.”

What does one even do with that kind of answer?  I immediately felt a surge of excitement followed by trepidation. Greater than being a university professor?  I guess for many people, there are a million careers greater than being an educator, but being a university professor has been a dream of mine for a while.  Every time I step onto a college campus, I feel “home” in terms of my career.

I began to dissect what “greater” often means in the Kingdom mindset.  It usually doesn’t mean wealth, fame, or success, at least not by human standards.  I want to explore this idea, too, but that will also be the topic of another post.

I began my MBA at Trevecca Nazarene University on September 12, 2013, and I finished on August 6, 2015, with a 4.0, which still amazes me considering I’m not even a business professional.  I learned a tremendous amount of material, and I am so thankful for the professors I had who were not just experts in their fields, but who modeled Christ throughout their teaching and who challenged us to model Christ throughout our coursework and in all aspects of our lives.

Here a few fun facts about this journey I just completed (for those of you considering something similar):

  • I took 14 courses, one at a time with each lasting 6 weeks. Class meetings were held every Thursday from 6:00-10:00 p.m.
  • I literally wrote over 1,000 pages of papers, projects, and homework assignments.
  • My lowest grade final grade in a class was a 95% and my highest a 116%.
  • I failed two quizzes in Economics, but they didn’t count toward my grade since our four lowest ones were dropped.
  • The longest textbook I read was just over 1200 pages (thank you, Project Management).  Yes, I did read all of it even though we weren’t required to.
  • The longest paper I wrote was 59 pages and had 38 sources (Marketing).
  • I averaged 15-30 hours per week of course work, depending on the class.

Despite all the accolades, I still don’t know why I was called to this program at this time.  The MBA won’t affect my current teaching position, and I have no plans to enter the world as a business professional.  I need a doctorate to move up to university level teaching.  An Ed.D. is actually my next goal, but I plan to take a few months off to reacquaint myself with my family and friends and to read as many books as I can of my own choosing before jumping back into my final round of grad school.

This was a wild, difficult, and incredibly challenging season for me and my family.  My professor in my very class told us as we embarked on this endeavor, “the greater the sacrifice, the greater the potential reward.”  I have no idea what this “reward” might be for me, but I am nonetheless filled with gratitude that God made good on his promise to “see me through it.”





Faby

4 07 2015
Matthew, me, Erlin - Flores, Guatemala

Matthew, me, Erlin – Flores, Guatemala

While in Guatemala a few days ago, I was reading through two required summer reading books for the faculty at my school.  Both were on innovation in education, and both gave me some really good ideas on curriculum changes I want to make this year and even a new course I want to submit for approval for 2016.

As our rental bus in Flores, Guatemala (not a car, BUS) made its way from our hotel to the neighborhood where our Compassion International child lives, I was reading about the resources afforded to one school in the US to create innovative experiences—in their various forms—to the educational experience for middle schoolers.

We pulled into the Compassion project in Flores, Guatemala, and I was surprised at the lack of “things.”  Now, this was our sixth visit to Compassion kids we sponsor.  We’ve been to projects in Peru, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, two in India, and this one in Guatemala.  This was the sparsest one yet.  The classrooms only had three walls and were pretty much bare.  Another classroom that looked more like a cage had a huge padlock on it.  The prized possessions under lock and key were student desks.  These desks were so rundown they would have been tossed in a dumpster immediately if they had tried to make their way into the private Christian, uber-upper class school I teach at.

Compassion project center in Flores, Guatemala

Compassion project center in Flores, Guatemala

empty classroom (the project was closed for the day)

empty classroom (the project was closed for the day)

Compassion project center in Flores, Guatemala - padlocked desks

Compassion project center in Flores, Guatemala – padlocked desks

Compassion project center in Flores, Guatemala - the pastor lives on the second floor, and the classrooms are the three open areas underneath (only three walls, no doors)

Compassion project center in Flores, Guatemala – the pastor lives on the second floor, and the classrooms are the three open areas underneath (only three walls, no doors)

Compassion project center in Flores, Guatemala - where the desks are padlocked when not in session

Compassion project center in Flores, Guatemala – where the desks are padlocked when not in session

The contrast between haves and have-nots was profound.

“Innovate!  Request more resources!  Do more!  Educate outside the classroom!  Provide authentic experiences!”  scream the books I was reading and indeed my own experience as a teacher in a first-world country to families with a ridiculous amount of discretionary income.

The walls of this Compassion center in Flores humbly tell another story about education:  “We’re thankful to have a place where we can keep our desks from being stolen.  We’re thankful to have running water where we can teach our students about basic hygiene, even though it’s not safe to drink.  We’re thankful for the few posters that remain on the walls.  We’re thankful . . .”

Maybe I wouldn’t have been struck as intensely by this contrast had I not for the past few days been reading these two particular books, but that was the serendipitous timing of these two events.

School in Guatemala was out for a week-long break to celebrate Teacher’s Day (YES!  Other places around the world actually celebrate and esteem their educators!)  The Compassion center was also closed the day we visited so we traveled to Erlin’s house to meet her and her family.

Again, the disparity was evident between my world and hers.  Her home was on a quiet corner in Santa Elena, just a few kilometers south of Flores.  She greeted us at the door, followed by the rest of the family comprised of her mother, maternal grandmother, older brother, and baby brother.  The paternal grandfather had died one year almost to the day before our visit, and no father was in the picture.

They did have electricity and running water, but other than in Guatemala City, there is no potable water for drinking anywhere else in the country.  All water for human consumption must be purchased.  Erlin’s family had lived in this house for close to 30 years, and it was paid off—a HUGE blessing—since her mother and grandmother made less than $10 a day to feed, house, clothe, and provide for everything else a family needs to survive.

Erlin’s mother was a hairdresser, and her grandmother sold cakes and homemade tortillas.  Both woman had the opportunity to attend vocational schools for their trades—another blessing that would not have been possible without Erlin’s sponsorship through Compassion.  Erlin, or Faby as she is known at school (Fabiola is her middle name), helps her mom by painting nails in their little one room salon attached to the front of the house.

Erlin's mother's salon (Erlin's middle name is Fabiola and her nickname is Faby)

Erlin’s mother’s salon (Erlin’s middle name is Fabiola and her nickname is Faby)

Erlin's mother's salon

Erlin’s mother’s salon

Erlin's family house

Erlin’s family house

Erlin’s older brother was 15 and was sponsored by a family from Korea, but his sponsors had never written to him.  He wasn’t even sure of their names.  Erlin’s 9-month-old baby brother will have the opportunity to be sponsored in a few years.  An older male cousin also lives with the family, and their immediate neighbors are relatives.

Their home consisted of two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen/dining area, and an outdoor area for laundry, processing the corn for tortillas, and a crude toilet and shower.  It was the largest home of the Compassion kids we’ve sponsored, but it was also encouraging to see how our financial contributions to this family was helping to lift them out of poverty into a more sustainable life—one in which every member could thrive instead of just survive.

Erlin's older brother, mother, Erlin, me, Matthew

Erlin’s older brother, mother, Erlin, me, Matthew

one bedroom in Erlin's house (yes, that's a half-wall with the living room on the other side)

one bedroom in Erlin’s house (yes, that’s a half-wall with the living room on the other side)

bedroom two where Erlin, her mother, her grandmother and baby brother sleep (there is another bed behind me)

bedroom two where Erlin, her mother, her grandmother and baby brother sleep (there is another bed behind me)

Erlin and her grandmother

Erlin and her grandmother

Erlin's family kitchen

Erlin’s family kitchen

laundry area

laundry area

laundry/storage area

laundry/storage area

toilet and shower rooms

toilet and shower rooms

Erlin and her 1-year-old cat (who almost died from eating a nest of baby pigeons)

Erlin and her 1-year-old cat (who almost died from eating a nest of baby pigeons)

We spent the morning at her home talking about everything, and then Erlin got to pick the restaurant for lunch.  Of all the choices available to her:  Pizza Hut.  To us, it’s too common a place to visit in the States.  If we wanted pizza, we’d try any number of gourmet eateries in which to partake.  For Erlin, Pizza Hut was a luxury, so off to Pizza Hut we went.  The entire family joined us at our request, and we talked some more about everything.

lunch at Pizza Hut

lunch at Pizza Hut

outside Pizza Hut - there are five people, 2 adults and 3 children, on the motorcycle

outside Pizza Hut – there are five people, 2 adults and 3 children, on the motorcycle

The Pizza Hut was part of a small strip mall, so we walked around after eating, and then we had a couple hours to kill before the bus would pick us up.  Thankfully there was a nice little playground at the mall, so we adults sat there and continued to talk about everything while Erlin and her brothers played.  Back at her house, we said our goodbyes and prayed with one another before heading back to our hotel.

at the playground - Erlin's baby brother and mother

at the playground – Erlin’s baby brother and mother

Erlin and her baby brother

Erlin and her baby brother

Erlin and her two brothers

Erlin and her two brothers

Erlin's two brothers

Erlin’s two brothers

Erlin's grandmother and baby brother - she held a towel under his arms so he could learn to walk without holding on to anything. (I commented to Matthew that someone in the US could invent a similar contraption and sell it for a ridiculous amount of money if it had the right branding.)

Erlin’s grandmother and baby brother – she held a towel under his arms so he could learn to walk without holding on to anything. (I commented to Matthew that someone in the US could invent a similar contraption and sell it for a ridiculous amount of money if it had the right branding.)

Visits like this are always surreal to me.  We plan months in advance:  submitting the paperwork, going through the background checks, arranging the travel logistics.  When the day finally comes, I’m almost always at a loss for words, and my emotions have to work overtime to process everything.

The work of Compassion is incredible, and we have been privileged to experience it first-hand six times now around the world.  If you are looking for a worthy charity to contribute to, one that really does make a positive impact on children, their families, and their entire community, this is the place.  If you don’t sponsor a child, please consider doing so today.  For those who already sponsor a child, please write to him/her.  You have no idea how much a letter means to these kids, and you can even do so online at the Compassion website.  These are treasures to be sure.  For those who sponsor and have the financial resources to do so, please consider visiting your child.  The impact will last for generations.





Guatemala 2015 – Musings and Observations

3 07 2015

My husband I and just returned from a whirlwind tour of Guatemala, our 2015 international trip.  We only had eight days in the country due to my grad school schedule, but it was a fabulous trip.  Here are my observations and musings about Guatemala and travel in general. (Photos below.)

  1. I no longer find long layovers annoying. Give me a kindle loaded with good books, and I’m a happy camper for hours.  14 hours of travel to get back home?  No problema.
  2. I go to bed earlier when I’m traveling. Probably because I’m not up till 1 or 2 a.m. working on homework.
  3. I eat a lot less when traveling. When I have to shell out cash at every single meal, I tend to eat on the cheap.
  4. Speaking of eating cheaply, I love to eat street food. Tamales, chorizo grilling on a dirty grill in the middle of the street, chocolate cake sitting out in the sun, it’s all bueno.
  5. I also eat a lot of ice cream. And it must be chocolate in a waffle cone.  Nothing else will do.
  6. Guatemala has the most amazing guacamole ever. We ate it at almost every meal.  I need to add way more lime to mine when we make it from scratch.
  7. I drink tea when traveling abroad.  I never drink tea anywhere else, and my version of tea is pretty much sugar water.  Why?  I know the water is safe to drink.
  8. I don’t think I’d ever get tired of looking at volcanos. Antigua, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala City . . . you can look in pretty much any direction and see a volcano or two . . . or three.
  9. Overnight busses are cooooold. I would take them again if I needed to, but I’d bring a big blanket.
  10. The only straight roads in the country are in Antigua and the north.
  11. Tikal is much more impressive than any other Mayan ruin in the Americas. Chichen Itza does not at all deserve to be on the new list of Wonders of the World.  We even got a private, behind-the-scenes tour with an amazing guide who took us on all of the back trails through the jungles so we could avoid the crowds and see more monkeys.  We could even climb many of the temple structures to the top which visitors are not allowed at the other sites like Chichen Itza or Tulum.  If you only see one Mayan ruin in your life, Tikal is the one.
  12. Guatemala was surprisingly clean, compared to many other Central American and developing countries. The people are humble and poor, but they take pride in the beauty of their country.
  13. At some point in my life or retirement, I need to live on a coast with a view of the ocean, or a very large lake AND mountains (or volcanos).
  14. hotel in Antigua

    hotel in Antigua

    Antigua

    Antigua

    Angigua

    Angigua

    Antigua, view from Cerro San Cristobal, an organic farm-to-table restaurant

    Antigua, view from Cerro San Cristobal, an organic farm-to-table restaurant

    Antigua sunset

    Antigua sunset

    Antigua sunset

    Antigua sunset

    Chichicastanego market

    Chichicastanego market

    Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, view from our hotel

    Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, view from our hotel

    San Pedro, Lake Atitlan, touring an organic coffee plantation co-op

    San Pedro, Lake Atitlan, touring an organic coffee plantation co-op

    Tikal tour

    Tikal tour

    Tikal tour

    Tikal tour

    Tikal tour

    Tikal tour

    Tikal tour

    Tikal tour

    Tikal tour

    Tikal tour

    Tikal tour

    Tikal tour

    Tikal tour

    Tikal tour

    Tikal turkey

    Tikal turkey

    La Isla de Flores

    La Isla de Flores

    La Isla de Flores

    La Isla de Flores

    Guatemala City, view from hotel

    Guatemala City, view from hotel

  15. I look at clocks and care about the time much less than when I’m in the States. My soul needs this.




Jason – 7

28 03 2015

Jason-7

Dearest Jason,

You bring joy and laughter to our home every single day with the sparkle in your eye, your silliness, and your constant singing, even while eating.  You amaze us with your love for God and your faith in Him.

This past year, you:  lost your first tooth, finally played on the Big Piano at FAO Schwartz, became a really good reader, still want to be a paleontologist, are still obsessed with Legos and Minecraft, fell in love with brussel sprouts (at least for a day), were spoiled by your Maga and Papa (not so much by Mommy and Daddy), still like to snuggle with Mommy, and had a peanut butter and banana sandwich every day for lunch.

To my Lego-building, Minecraft-obsessing, come play with me begging, midnight snuggling, read to me asking, peanut butter and banana sandwich eating, dream telling, Subway Surfer mastering, crazy (and sometimes inappropriate) dancing, smiling, giggling, loving, hugging, skipping, running, kind-hearted littlest boy . . . our prayer for you is this . . .

That you continue to love God first, others second, and yourself third; that you always enjoy learning and reading and writing and discovering new and cool things about the world around us; that you always love music and art and expressing yourself creatively; that you never stop exploring and wondering and that your imagination soars; that you will be a friend to all; that you will marry a girl who loves you well and who you love well; that you will overcome trials and temptations victoriously; that you will always know how loved and adored and how precious you are to God and to those around you.

Love,
Mommy and Daddy





A Scriptural Stream of Consciousness Based on Psalm 23

19 01 2015

First, I take absolutely no credit for this; it is the work of my husband.  One night when he couldn’t sleep he got up, and in the wee hours of stillness and darkness, he wrote this.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall want for nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.

He restores my soul

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entirely, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

He restores my soul

The God of all grace, who called you by Christ Jesus to his eternal glory, will restore you, establish you, strengthen you, and support you.  (1 Peter 5:10)

He restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  (Isaiah 41:10)

You are with me

“Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:20)

He is with us

God raised us from death to life with Christ Jesus, and he has given us a place beside Christ in heaven.  (Ephesians 2:6)

He is with us

In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.  (Ephesians 2:22)

He is with us

He says “Here I am, with the children God has given me.”  (Hebrews 2:13, Isaiah 8:18)

He is with us

The mystery which has been hidden for ages and generations but has now been manifested to his saints, to whom God was pleased to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.  (Colossians 1:26-27)

I will fear no evil, for you are with me
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

You prepare a table before me

“And I confer a kingdom on you, just as my Father has conferred a kingdom on me,  so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit down on thrones to govern the twelve tribes of Israel.”  (Luke 22:29-30)

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

You anoint my head with oil

(a sign of sanctification, dedication, coronation)

You anoint my head with oil

And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee of what is to come.  (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)

You anoint my head with oil

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  (1 Peter 2:9)

You anoint my head with oil

You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.  (1 Corinthians 6:11)

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever

There are many rooms in my Father’s house. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going away to prepare a place for you?  (John 14:2)

I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever

We know that if the earthly tent we live in is torn down, we have a building in heaven that comes from God, an eternal house not built by human hands.  (2 Corinthians 5:1)

I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever

You, too, as living stones, are building yourselves up into a spiritual house and a holy priesthood, so that you may offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus, the Messiah.  (1 Peter 2:5)

I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever

“For we are the temple of the living God, just as God said: “I will live and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”  (2 Corinthians 6:16)

I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever

I also saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.  I heard a loud voice from the throne say, “See, the tent of God is among humans! He will make his home with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them, and he will be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There won’t be death anymore.  There won’t be any grief, crying, or pain, because the old order of things has disappeared.”  The one sitting on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new!”  Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”  (Revelation 21:2-5)

Lord God, restore our souls we pray, for you are with us at this table you have prepared for us.  Anoint us with your Spirit as you join us together, building your temple, your dwelling place, that will last forever.





2014 Reading List

17 01 2015

Not much to offer this year as most of my reading was from textbooks for my MBA work.  That is one of the things I miss the most about life not in grad school mode–reading books of my own choosing from which I will NOT be quizzed or tested or have to cite in research papers.  Less than seven months, and I’ll be able to start tackling my growing book list with fervor. 

  1. Essentials of Economics, 3rd Edition by Stanley Brue, Campbell McConnell, Sean Flynn
  2. Corporate Information Strategy and Management by Lynda Applegate, Robert Austin, Deborah Soule
  3. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  4. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
  5. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
  6. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
  7. Learning to Walk in the Dark y Barbara Brown Taylor
  8. Leaders, Fools, and Impostors by Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries
  9. Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership by Gary L. McIntosh and Samuel D. Rima
  10. Organizational Ethics: A Practical Approach by Craig E. Johnson
  11. Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers
  12. Mindset by Carol S. Dweck
  13. Falling Into the Face of God by William Elliott
  14. You Had Me at Woof by Julie Klam
  15. The Agile Pocket Guide by Peter Saddington
  16. Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design by Chip Kidd
  17. Coffee with Jesus by David Wilkie
  18. Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling by Harold Kerzner
  19. The Voice of the Heart by Chip Dodd
  20. The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business by Patrick Lencioni
  21. Human Resource Management by Robert L. Mathis and John H. Jackson
  22. Business: Its Legal, Ethical, and Global Environment by Marianne M. Jennings
  23. Holy Bible

Holy Bible
Yes, this book will always be at the top of my reading list.  This marks year five of reading through the entire thing, and I never get tired of it.  In fact, the more I read it, the more I desire to read more.  It’s a wonderful circle.  I continue to be challenged, rebuked, and encouraged, and I hope I always will.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
I’ve read this book numerous times, but I felt I needed to revisit it this year.  Even though I know what’s coming, I’m still in tears throughout this historical fiction retelling of the book of Hosea.

Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership by Gary L. McIntosh and Samuel D. Rima
This was a Christian approach to becoming an effective leader by confronting potential failures—the dark side of our personality.  Though it was required reading for one of my MBA classes on Ethics and Culture, it was an insightful book that I would recommend to anyone in any kind of leadership position, Christian or not.

Go:  A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design by Chip Kidd
Kidd takes the beginning graphic designer through the basics of form, typography, content, and concept of graphic design.

I wish I had read this a decade ago.  This is by far the best “how to” for beginning graphic designers that I’ve yet to read.  Absolutely everything about this book is an example of incredible graphic design.  I will be using this as a text book in the Digital Media & Graphic Design class I teach for my high school.

Coffee with Jesus  by David Wilkie
This is a collection of the popular online comic strip, Coffee with Jesus.  The characters are selfish, judgmental, childish, bitter, angry, and jealous.  Sound like anyone you know?  I saw a little bit of myself in each of them.  Jesus’ words are that still, small voice we hear and too often ignore, but spelled out in print gives it a little bit more edge.  I will probably be reading through this book frequently.

The Advantage:  Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business by Patrick Lencioni
Lencioni argues that rather than become smarter or having a better strategy, the one thing that organizations need to focus on first and foremost is their organizational health:  leadership, communication, behaviors, etc.

Even though this is a business book, Lencioni’s style is incredibly approachable, and his writing is filled with plain old common sense.  His advice works just as well in family relationships as it does in organizational relationships.

Falling Into the Face of God by William Elliott
This memoir chronicles Elliott’s adventure in the Judean desert—spending 40 days and 40 nights there to draw nearer to God.

Despite the monotony of living in a desert in a tent where it’s too hot to do much of anything, this was still quite a fascinating story.  For several years now, I’ve longed to go on an extended silent retreat—not 40 days and not in a desert—but now I realize this is something I must do at some point in my life.

Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers
Lena Scott/Abra Matthews is a young girl who runs away from home with the proverbial “bad boy” to find her life turned upside down in an instant.  Abused, ridiculed, unloved, she turns to the one man who can make a star out of her, but at what cost?

Rivers tells the story of Ezekiel 16 in this amazing novel set in the 1950s.  Unconditional love, redemption, and forgiveness are the main themes.

Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor
Brown reflects on why we have been taught “the dark” is a scary place or is synonymous with sin.  Brown takes the reader on a journey explaining how our lives do not always work in the light; like the moon, it waxes and wanes and disappears altogether.

There were some incredible gems in this book.  “One of the hardest things to decide during a dark night is whether to surrender or resist.  The choice often comes down to what you believe about God and how God acts, which means that every dark night of the soul involves wrestling with belief.”

Leaders, Fools, and Impostors by Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries
This was another required reading for my MBA class on Ethics and Culture, and it, too, dealt with the dark side of our personalities and the problems it creates for leaders.  While not quite as practical as Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership by Gary L. McIntosh and Samuel D. Rima, Kets de Vries still gives numerous real examples of the dangers leaders face when they give in to the psychological traps of their personalities.

Mindset by Carol S. Dweck
World-renowned psychologist, Dweck explains her idea of fixed- versus growth-mindests and how, with the right, mindset, anyone can achieve most anything.

This was required summer reading for my job—because, really, who needs a real vacation?  The main idea is more common sense than some ground-breaking concept, and the book could have been drilled down to just a couple of chapters.  Instead, it seemed like Dweck was repeating the same premise 100 different ways with 100 different examples, but all said the same thing:  a growth-mindset is better than a fixed-mindset.  Growth mindsets allow us to accept criticism, acknowledge our faults or weaknesses and seek to improve and continually grow and mature in how we handle setbacks and disappointments.

You Had Me at Woof by Julie Klam
Klam describes her life transition into becoming a “dog person” and working with a dog rescue organization in New York City.  I appreciated Klam’s humor and realism in describing life with a dog.  It was a quick, easy read and one I would recommend for dog lovers, especially those who have a heart for rescue and adoption.

Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth
Considering these were not text books, they automatically move to the top of my reading list for the year.  I read through all three of them in a week, and they reminded me a lot of the Hunger Games trilogy.  If you liked the one, you will probably enjoy the other.

The only disappointment was the very ending of the book.  No spoilers, but I was MAD.  I don’t remember ever finishing a really good book or series, and feeling mad.  I’m still not over it.

The Agile Pocket Guide by Peter Saddington
Only Project Managers will understand this:  this book was a “quick start to making your business Agile using Scrum and beyond.”  It was actually a fairly easy, quick, interesting read once I got used to the terminology.  I admit this little book got me interested in pursuing my CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) certification.

The Voice of the Heart by Chip Dodd
Dodd explains the eight core emotions of the heart:  anger, fear, guilt, hurt, loneliness, sadness, shame, and gladness.  I don’t agree with everything Dodd believes, but there were some gems buried within.

Project Management:  A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling by Harold Kerzner
1200+ pages of All.  Things.  Project.  Management.  At least I’ve been told this is really the only text I need to study for the CAPM certification exam.

Human Resource Management by Robert L. Mathis and John H. Jackson
This was a textbook about . . . wait for it . . . human resource management!  Surprise!

Corporate Information Strategy and Management by Lynda Applegate, Robert Austin, Deborah Soule
This was a text book about corporate IT strategy and management.  For a text book, it was one of the better ones I’ve read so far.  But still, it was a text book.

Business:  Its Legal, Ethical, and Global Environment by Marianne M. Jennings
This was a textbook about business law.  Other than the chapter on securities law, I enjoyed a lot of this.  I’ve always contended I’d have made a good lawyer.

Organizational Ethics:  A Practical Approach by Craig E. Johnson
This was a textbook about ethics in organizations.  The case studies presented in each chapter were interesting, but not so much the rest of the text.

Essentials of Economics, 3rd Edition by Stanley Brue, Campbell McConnell, Sean Flynn
This was a text book about economics.  That is all.





12

28 11 2014

Dear Caleb,

I can’t believe you’re 12.  How did you grow up so quickly?  You are still my miracle.  Every day, I look at you and smile at the young man you are becoming.  I am so thankful for so many things about who you are and who you are turning into.

You love your daddy and me well.  I am really thankful you feel loved and safe enough to come to us with any problem you are facing.  I know far too many families for whom that is not the case.  Their parents are the last people they want to talk to.  I pray you will always trust us and know that we will love you no matter what.

You love your brother well.  I love to watch you and your brother play your silly games.  You can certainly push each other’s buttons with the skill and ease of an expert, but I pray you grown into being each other’s best friend.

You love your Maga and Papa well.  You will do anything they ask, and you will do it without complaining.  Of course, I wish you’d exhibit the same eagerness to help at home, but what a blessing it is to me to observe your love for your grandparents.  You have a very special relationship with them, and for that I am incredibly grateful.

You love your friends well.  Your desire to help your friends do better in school, your efforts to hold them accountable for their work, and your fight to not get sucked into their idiocy make me proud.  Oh, I know you make mistakes and go along with the crowd sometimes, but even then, I know your heart, and your heart is good.

You love Christ.  You are generous.  You are kind.  You are polite and respectful.  You work hard.  You are studious and conscientious.  You do your best.  You care.

I am thankful you still let me give you hugs and kisses, even at school.  I am thankful you still let me snuggle with you occasionally at bedtime.  I am thankful you are growing taller and stronger, but I’m also thankful you haven’t overtaken me yet on that front.  I know time will pass quicker than I want it to, but for now, you are still mine, and for that, I am thankful.

To my Lego loving, Minecraft creating, brother bothering and brother loving, iPad charging, phone begging, Facebook not wanting, piano playing, Gravity Falls obsessing, Shark Tank watching, mail scanning, 9:00 p.m. snack wanting, raspberry Nutrigrain bar eating, free samples taking, Honors Choir making, joke telling son . . . I love you with all of my heart, dear one.

Mommy

From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Psalm 22:10 








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