Dreams (redux)

(I wrote this in a coffee shop on one of the busiest intersections of New York City)

In the depths of the city, diverse with anger
My heart turns cold, my humanity’s in danger
I came to make a name
I came to change the game
I came to claim the fame
I came to clear my shame

In the depths of the city, billboards promising new life
My mind’s spinning fast, rejection cuts like a knife
I’m here, but don’t know where to go
I’m here, but lost my way to the show
I’m here, but haven’t found my song
I’m here, but not sure for how long

In the depths of the city, success ‘round every corner, not far ahead
I’m almost there, I can see it now, but traffic light is stuck on red
I’m making good time, but getting quickly passed
I’m pretending to be first, but in reality last
I’m wide awake, but can’t wake up
I’m dry with thirst, but have no cup

Dreams, they make you
Dreams, they break you
Dreams, they mock you
Dreams, they take you to places unknown

Dreams, they shake you
Dreams, they fake you
Dreams, they shape you
Dreams, they take you to places unshown

In the depths of the city, invisible, masses drown my being
I’m shouting out loud, waving my hands, but can’t be seen
I’m rare, I have to remind
I’m unique, one of a kind
I’m one in a billion
I’m lost in the million

In the depths of the city, our eyes look away, as bodies collide
Fake smiles, firm handshakes, while fear works hard to hide
Look at me, I’m fine and strong
Look at me, I can do no wrong
I turn away, I’ve got regrets to bury
I run away, tired of burdens I carry

In the depths of the city, I’ve found my breath, I’ve found my voice
I look past the shallow, I see behind the curtain, I rise above the noise
Weariness my invigoration
Brokenness my declaration
Woundedness my inspiration
Confession my liberation

Dreams, they make you
Dreams, they break you
Dreams, they mock you
Dreams, they take you to places unknown

Dreams, they shake you
Dreams, they fake you
Dreams, they shape you
Dreams, they take you to places unshown

This is what I have learned…in no particular order


This is what I have learned…in no particular order.

It’s easier to eat an entire bowl of chips and guacamole than to eat just a few.

It’s easier to sit in my chair with my remote after a long day than go and serve someone in my community.

It’s easier to give up than to keep fighting.

It’s easier to stay bitter than to forgive.

It’s easier to start something than to finish something.

It’s easier to judge someone than walk in their shoes.

It’s easier to give into temptation than to walk away.

It’s easier to watch TV than to exercise.

It’s easier to get into bed than to get out of bed.

It’s easier to stereotype than to see each person as an individual.

It’s easier to understand karma than to understand Grace.

It’s easier to get into debt than to get out of debt.

It’s easier to question a decision than to make a decision.

It’s easier to impress people “once” than to consistently be impressive.

It’s easier to move on when things get tough than to stick it out.

It’s easier to ruin a relationship than to build one.

It’s easier to say “I have faith” than to “live by faith”.

It’s easier to play it safe and not get criticized than take a risk and feel the heat of the critics.

It’s easier to be in denial than to face the truth.

It’s easier to get “in” than get “out”.

It’s easier to do nothing and succeed than to try something and fail.

It’s easier to make your wedding vows than to keep your wedding vows.

It’s easier to be a spectator than a participant.

It’s easier to be popular than to be relevant.

It’s easier to say the safe thing and be liked than to say the hard thing and risk rejection.

It’s easier to speak 98% truth than to speak 100% truth.

It’s easier to say “someday” than to do it today.

It’s easier to sound impressive than to be impressive.

It’s easier to make a promise than keep a promise.

It’s easier to sign up for a 10k race than to run it.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

I would love to hear from you.  It’s easier to…

A New Name, A New Start


In the book of Revelation, in its unique symbolic language, Jesus says this: “I will give a white stone with a new name written on it…” Revelation 2:17

In the ancient world, jurors at a trial would vote with stones: black for guilty, white for innocent.

Jesus says that when we stand before God we will be declared innocent. Not because we are innocent, but because we will be tried under a different name, a name with no record attached to it.

We will be given a white stone, with a new name on it. All our failings, all our crimes against God, will be lost forever, recorded against the old name.

Our record will be clean.

When you declare Jesus your Savior, when you choose to follow him, (not perfectly, but you choose his will over yours), then he will change your name.

He will change your name from Futureless and Hopeless to PURPOSE and HOPE.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

He will change your name from Fatherless and Lonely and Abandoned and Joyless to ADOPTED and LOVED and FOUND and JOYFUL.
“Father to the fatherless, defender of widows–this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.” Psalm 68:5-6

He will change your name from Overwhelmed by troubles to OVERCOMER and SAVED ONE.
“Though I am surrounded by troubles, you will protect me from the anger of my enemies. You reach out your hand, and the power of your right hand saves me.” Psalm 138:7

He will change your name from Accident to INTENTIONALLY MADE!
“You are the one who put me together inside my mother’s body, and I praise you because of the wonderful way you created me…Everything you do is marvelous! With your own eyes you saw my body being formed. Even before I was born, you had written in your book everything I would do.” Psalm 139

Because of Grace, He sees your value not in what you look like or perform like, but because you are wonderfully made by him to be his son or daughter. So your name is not Slave, but CHILD and no matter how crumpled up or run over you might feel, you are INFINITELY VALUABLE.
“…you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:15-16

Because of Grace, He sees us as we will become and not as we are, so our name is not STRUGGLING SINNER, but REDEEMED SAINT.
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

If we believe we are an accident, then we will behave accidentally.
If we believe we are intentional, then we will behave intentionally.

If we believe we have no value, then we will have no values.
If we believe we are invaluable, then we will treat ourselves and others with high value.

If we believe it is too late, then we will give up.
If we believe it’s a new day, then we will get up.

If we believe some matter and some don’t, then we will spend our lives in feudal attempts to be recognized.
If we believe that we all matter, then we will spend our lives in purposeful attempts to help others be recognized.

If we believe that we’ve been dealt the hand we’ve been given, then life will be empty and out of the grasp of heaven.
If we believe in redemption, and the hand of forgiveness, then we will overcome death, and on that day, we will be given a white stone with a new name.

God is a game-changer, where relationship trumps religion.

God is a shame-changer, where forgiveness trumps condemnation

God is a blame-changer, where the shepherds voice trumps the accuser

God is a fame-changer, where His glory trumps my pride.

God is a name-changer, where His future for me trumps my past.

“I will give a white stone with a new name written on it…” Revelation 2:17

Christmas Gratitude


I am thankful for Christmas, it’s a gift not deserved
It symbolizes the privilege to humbly serve
I am thankful for the manger, my Savior’s bed
Giving up his rights, a life of poverty he led

The King of Kings, creator of all things
Came lowly, quietly, bound as a human being
From riches to rags, a story seldom told
No room in the inn, God left out in the cold

I’m thankful for Christmas, when down is up
It reminds me that giving actually fills my cup
I am thankful for the poor who teach me real faith
They teach me how to walk, in more eloquent ways

I’m thankful for Christmas, God gave up all rights
He honored lowly shepherds, on that bright starry night
Jesus came to love the unimportant, turning success upside down
With no earthly titles, born in a forgotten town

I’m thankful for Christmas, Jesus experienced every human grief
He walked on this earth, homeless, rejected, forsaken, not believed
But it teaches me about pain, pain I too often try to avoid
That it draws me to the only One who can fill my heart void

I’m thankful for Christmas, God came for a relationship
Jesus had close friends, experienced loss and actually wept
It shows me that tears that fill my eyes
Bring healing to my hurt and that he hears my cries

Christmas teaches that man is not perfect, as not to depend
It reminds me to put my hope in the One without end
Jesus came for my mistakes, for my sins and disgrace
Christmas keeps me from religion and makes me run towards Grace

I am thankful for Christmas, it’s a gift that keeps on giving
I gain a new perspective, with a view of eternal living
My creator to a cradle, who wonderfully made me
Makes me live with a greater sense of responsibility

Christmas is about waiting, there was 400 years of silence
It was a hopeless world, dark, oppressed and full of violence
But then “For unto us a child is born, a son is given,” the prophets decreed
Mighty God, wonderful counselor, everlasting father, the prince of peace

I’m thankful for Christmas, it’s about forgiveness, a gift offered freely
It makes me let go of past grudges and do it more quickly
I am grateful for an innocent baby willing to be punished
My life is based on Him growing up, opening his arms, saying, “It is Finished!

So this Christmas, receive the good news that brings everlasting joy
It the serious business of heaven given by that little baby boy
Take responsibility, don’t wait for perfect conditions, this is the day
The angels remind us a savior has been born, REJOICE and don’t delay



Two friends were walking down the sidewalk on a busy street during rush hour.  There were all sorts of noises in the city; car horns honking, feet shuffling, loud sirens, people talking! And amid all the noise, one of the friends turned to the other and said, “I hear a cricket.”

“No way,” her friend responded. “How could you hear a cricket with all of this noise? You must be imagining it. Besides, I’ve never seen a cricket in the city.”

“No really, I do hear a cricket. I’ll show you.”  She stopped for a moment, then led her friend across the street to a big cement planter with a tree in it.  Pushing back the leaves she found a little brown cricket.

“That’s amazing!” said her friend, “You must have a super-human hearing. What’s your secret?”

“No, my hearing is just the same as yours. There’s no secret,” The first woman replied. “Watch, I’ll show you.”

She reached into her pocket, pulled out some loose change, and threw it on the sidewalk.   Amid all of the noise of the city, everyone within thirty feet turned their head to see where the sound of the money was coming from.

“See,” she said. “It’s all a matter of what you are listening for.”

Jesus said, “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.” Matthew 7:24


Everyday there are voices competing for attention in our heads and the question is, “Which ones will we listen to?”

It’s funny how the voices in our head change very quickly and those voices can take you on a wild ride.

Last year, I ran in the “Run to Feed the Hungry.” It is a 10k run in Sacramento to raise money for the hungry. I did ok, but a voice in my head said, “You need to train more for next year.”

6 months later, I thought about the race and how I should be training but a voice in my head said, “Hey, you still have 6 months until the race, it’s all good.”

In September, of this year, I realized the race was in less than 3 months and a voice in my head said, “You better get training!”

3 Weeks before the run, I ran 3 miles on a high school track, and a voice in my head said, “You are in big trouble!!”

Thanksgiving morning, I woke up at 5:30 am, to get up to run the race that started at 8:15, and a voice in my head said, “You already paid for the race, they have your money, which is really what it’s about, to help feed the hungry, it doesn’t matter if you go and run, just roll over, keep sleeping, it’s Thanksgiving, you don’t need to go…”

I got to the race, I stood at the starting line with thousands of people, getting ready to run 6.2 miles, and there was a prayer, and the national anthem, and then the countdown, and when the race started, and I’m running fast and I’m listening to “Streets With No Name” in my headphones, and a voice in my head says, “You are invincible!!!”

And then I crossed the 1 mile marker and realized I had 5.2 miles left and a voice in my head screamed, “This is not good!”

About mile 2, as we were running through neighborhoods, someone was blaring the Rocky theme song out their window, and I got all pumped up, and a voice in my head began to shout out, “ADRIENNE!!”

About mile 4, I started hearing jingling bells behind me, and they kept getting closer, and finally, an 80 year old lady, about 4 foot nothing, passes me, with bells tied to her shoes. She passes me and a voice in my head says, “You are pathetic. You should be embarrassed.”

When I saw the mile 5 marker and realized I only had a mile to go, I found a renewed strength and motivation and a voice in my head said, “You can do it! Suck it up and finish strong!”

And I began to run faster, and then I saw the little lady with the jingling bells. And a voice in my head shouted, “You can take that old lady. Pass her. Don’t let those bells get the last laugh!”

And I passed her and finished the race in front of her. When I crossed the finish line, the voice in my head said, “You did it! You are awesome! Piece of Cake! You are so impressive!”

And as I got in my car, to drive back home, a voice in my head said, “Maybe you need to train a little bit more for next year.”

And the question is: Will I listen to that voice this year.


What voices do you listen to?
What voices do you trust?
What voices are the loudest to you?

One of the loudest voices in our head is THE VOICE OF OUR CULTURE.

They tell us who is important, beautiful and successful.

The voices in our culture shout out, “Look this way, act this way, WALK THIS WAY, live this way.” “This is how you can be happy.” “This is what success looks like.”

But Proverbs tells us that “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”

Another voice that competes in our head is THE VOICE FROM OUR PAST.

Phrases like, “You have blown it”, “You have burned too many bridges”, “You had your chance”, “Why would it be any different now”, and “You will always be this way”, scream at us all day long.

Another voice that is debilitating is THE VOICE OF OTHERS.

It is amazing how hard it is to forget words like, “You are fat.” “You are stupid.” “You are ugly.” “I wish I would of never had you.”  “Why can’t you be more like your sister?”

Besides the voices of our culture, past and others fighting for supremacy in our head, there is another voice at work full time and it is THE VOICE OF THE ACCUSER.

Jesus said, “…he is a liar and the father of lies.”

I recently met a single mom, who had been abandoned by her father, was involved in substance abuse and had compromised her values through many broken relationships.

She was listening to the voices in her head that were telling her that she was worthless, ugly and that God was done with her.

She felt it was too late and she had made too many mistakes.

She felt scared, alone and very fragile.
She was hurting so bad.

Someone invited her to church and she began to learn about a different voice.

She began to learn about God’s VOICE OF VALUE that says “You are not an accident and you are wonderfully and fearfully made.”

She started to listen to God’s VOICE OF SATISFACTION that says, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.”

She learned to obey God’s VOICE OF WISDOM that says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, you will hear a voice saying, “This is the road! Now follow it.”

She experienced God’s VOICE OF HEALING that says, “I have come to heal the brokenhearted and set captives free.”

And then she accepted God’s VOICE OF INVITATION that says, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”

She decided that day to begin to change the voices she listened to. I remember her being baptized.

Today, God is changing, healing and bringing joy and purpose to this beautiful mom’s life.

Everyday, we must choose, what voice will we listen to…because…WHO YOU LISTEN TO WILL DETERMINE THE DESTINY OF YOUR LIFE.

C.S. Lewis once wrote about voices that, “It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.”

Will you take a few moments and listen to God’s voice speak to you through scripture:

For those who are tired, listen to the voice of God who says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

For those who have been abandoned listen to the voice of God who says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

For those living with shame, listen to the voice of God who says, “…as far as the east is from the west, so far have I removed your transgressions from you.” Psalm 103:12

For those searching for significance, listen to the voice of God who says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

For those seeking eternal life, listen to the voice of God who says, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.” John 11:25

For those needing wisdom for the future, listen to the voice of God who says, “Call to me, and I will answer you; I will tell you wonderful and marvelous things that you know nothing about.” Jeremiah 33:3

For those figuring out what success is, listen to the voice of God who says, “If you try to save your life, you will lose it. But if you give it up for me, you will surely find it.” Matthew 10:39

For those tempted to take short-cuts in life, listen to the voice of God who says, “People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall.” Proverbs 10:9

For those needing financial wisdom, listen to the voice of God who says, “Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything.” Proverbs 11:24

For those who are buying into the cultural phrase that if it feels good do it, listen to the voice of God who says, “Save yourself for your wife and don’t have sex with other women.” Proverbs 5:17

For men looking for ways to be a better husband, listen to the voice of God who says, “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it.” Ephesians 5:25

For those sorting out their priorities in life, listen to the voice of God who says, “Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well.” Matthew 6:33

For those who are looking for good investment tips, listen to the voice of God who says, “Caring for the poor is lending to the Lord, and you will be well repaid.” Proverbs 19:17

For those who are feeling weak, listen to the voice of God who says, “My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

For those who are wanting to be productive, listen to the voice of God who says, “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

For those who are discouraged, listen to the voice of God who says, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

For those who need refreshing, listen to the voice of God who says, “The Lord’s love never ends; his mercies never stop. They are new every morning;” Lamentations 3:22-23

For those who want to be great, listen to the voice of God who says, “If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others.” Matthew 20:26

For those who love to worship, listen to the voice of God who says, “I’ll tell you what it really means to worship the Lord. Remove the chains of injustice. Free those who are abused! Share your food with everyone who is hungry; share your home with the poor and homeless. Give clothes to those in need; don’t turn away your relatives.” Isaiah 58:6-7

For those who want to meet Jesus, listen to the voice of God who says, “Whatever you did for the least of these, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.” Matthew 25:40

And to all of us who have lost someone close to us and need the hope of heaven, listen to the voice of God who says, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:4


And to those of us, who sometimes forget how much God loves us, listen to the voice of God who says, “He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief…it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down…and he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.” Isaiah 53:3-5

Letting Go of Old Identities

I wrote this a year ago. I needed my own pep talk today!



Life’s too short for drama and negativity,
Pointing out the problem doesn’t take much ability.
Saturate the day with encouragement and optimism,
It’ll take focus and work, the opposite of passivism.

Only you can go to places that will stretch & grow you,
It will be scary, difficult, but it will reward you.
No one will cheer you, but go there anyway,
Few will understand, it’s the price you must pay.

The sign of maturity is to become less dramatic,
Being the victim has now become anti-climatic.
Energizing those around, you’re no longer a drain,
Hope is your new choice, like the smell of spring rain.

Jesus came to remove the sin of exclusion,
The Pharisees felt threatened like he was an intrusion.
Gandhi was puzzled by the churches prejudice,
He stayed Hindu because there was no difference.

We create our own boxes, it’s time to get rid of them,

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A Scandalous Generosity


“Comparison is the death of joy.” ― Mark Twain

Jesus lived during a time of oppressive, exclusionary religion where everyone was comparing and judging their spirituality to one another.

He once told a scandalous, controversial story where a landowner went out early to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to hire them for a fair, daily wage.

During the day, at 9am, noon, 3pm and then again at 5pm, he continued to hire people to work in the vineyard.

That evening the landowner told the foreman to call in the workers and he paid all the workers, no matter what time they started, the same fair, full day’s pay.

When the ones who worked all day saw that everyone received equal pay, they protested and complained “Those people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.”

The landowner answered them, “Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage?  Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you.” 

He continued, “Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?”

The landowner in this story represented God.

This story REMINDS ME that it’s never good to compare God’s generosity with our generosity.

This parable was told by other rabbi’s of Jesus’ day, but those who arrived at the very end earned a whole days pay because they worked extra hard.

In Jesus’ version, however, the emphasis is not on the diligence of the workers but on the gratuitous generosity of the farmer.

IT WAS A MAD, CRAZY, insane act of generosity.

Today, we are offended by the overpayment of loafers and freeloaders. The other workers certainly were.

The workers complained and this was the response of the landowner: “It’s my money, it’s none of your business what I do with my generosity!”

2000 years later, this world is still scandalized and skeptical of God’s generosity.


The parables of Jesus reveal a God who is consistently overgenerous with His forgiveness and grace.

He portrays God as a lender canceling a debt, as a shepherd searching for a stray sheep, as a father forgiving his rebellious son.

In this parable, Jesus is loudly proclaiming!! “Salvation does not come from you working harder than someone else, it comes from my unconditional, crazy, irrational GENEROSITY.”

Henry Nouwen gave up his life of comfort to work with severely mentally challenged kids, in a home in Toronto, Canada. He writes, “When you work at this home, you see people who have no worth in our productive society. They don’t do anything. They are just there. Yet you never doubt that God loves them. The handicapped make us realize our handicaps. They strip off the masks we wear, the roles we play that give us a sense of earning our position with God and others. They challenge us to let go of everything we think we have earned all our lives, and open ourselves up to the mystery of the gracious, unconditional love of God.”

This story also REMINDS ME that it’s never good to compare your life to others.

The workers who worked all day, got everything they were promised but lost their joy when they compared their lives to those who seemingly were getting a better deal.

Have you ever compared? We all do it.

When I was in Jr. High, I had a friend who could grow full fledged beard. I still can’t grow one. I was so jealous.

When I was a kid, my favorite cereal was Lucky Charms. When I would go to my friend’s house they would have Lucky Charms in their cupboards. At my house, we bought generic cereal to save money, so we had generic Lucky Charms, which made me envy my friend. It also made me embarrassed to have him over for cereal. Even worse, the generic Lucky Charms were called “Marshmellow Maties” which was horrible for a 6th grade boy.

You can tell I had a rough childhood!!

You get the point though. How quickly we compare and lose our joy.

It gets worse as adults. We compare our looks, careers, titles, degrees, houses, money, kids, grandkids, even retirement plans.

Lailah Gifty Akita writes that “You will be bitter in life, when you compare yourself with others. Run the race of life at your own pace.”

The writer of Proverbs writes that, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”

Ultimately, comparing yourself to others dishonors God, because you are one of a kind. When we are trying to be like other people, we are telling God that he made a mistake.

We are all unique, and this broken world needs all of our uniqueness’ to do the will of God.

In fact, you and I only have enough time in our lives to do the will of God and comparing takes that time away.

Constance Chuks Friday stated, “Stop worrying about who’s doing better than you or not. Be better every new day than your previous day” 

Ultimately, this story REMINDS ME that it is never good to compare your good works for earning salvation.

The good news is, salvation is none of our business. Salvation is Jesus’ business!

The Apostle Paul wrote that when we accept what Christ did on the cross for our salvation, then we are adopted into God’s family and we can now call God our Daddy. (Abba Father)

Accepting the gift of the generous landowner gives us equal access to the family of the cross. Whether we joined the family early or late in life, we are now part of an eternal family and families operate differently than organizations, corporations or religion.

Robert DeMoor writes about how the parable of the vineyard workers offends our sense of fairness. Why should everyone get equal pay for unequal work?

“Back in Ontario, Canada when the apples ripened, Mom would sit all seven of us down, Dad included, with pans and paring knives until the mountain of fruit was reduced to neat rows of filled canning jars.


She never bothered keeping track of how many we did, though the younger ones undoubtedly proved more of a nuisance than a help: cut fingers, squabbles over who got which pan, apple core fights.


But when the job was done, the reward for everyone was the same: the largest chocolate-dipped cone money could buy.


A stickler might argue it wasn’t quite fair since the older ones actually peeled apples. But I can’t remember anyone complaining about it.


A family understands it operates under a different set of norms than a courtroom.


In fact, when the store ran out of ice cream and my younger brother had to make do with a pop-sicle, we felt sorry for him despite his lack of productivity (he’d eaten all the apples he’d peeled that day–both of them).


God wants all his children to enjoy the complete fullness of eternal life. No true child of God wants it any other way.”

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8


Don’t compare yourself to others

Live in the security of being a part of God’s family

Live in a spirit of gratitude because we serve such a generous LANDOWNER!

Take two minutes to watch this video. You will laugh, but it’s so profound.


A Tribute and Poem: Robin Williams


There is laughter on the outside, sadness on the inside

Searching for some kind of peace, but chaos you can’t hide

They exploit your talent, while demons haunt your mind

Your smile is mesmerizing, your blue eyes intensely kind


Success is deceiving, never delivering its promise

World takes you for granted, while taking your profits

Your intellect, underrated, your brilliance, infectious

Your joy, grace and kindness were unarguably contagious


The world will miss you, so much heartache, much need for humor

With hatred and revenge all around, we will miss your candor

If the wise man said, “Laughter is good medicine”

Then you were one of the greatest physicians


Everyone searches for approval, but it’s only a show

The higher the high, the lower the low

We must appreciate the gifts of people that God has given

While making sure we don’t ignore them, seeing their burden


Actors used to be called hypocrites, because they would pretend

They created an alter ego that they’d creatively invent

Look at are own lives, much made-up, knowing how to play

People see one thing, while reality is so far away


Known as the king jester, yet your absurdity was filled with fact

Such sincerity, so many characters, miraculous ability to act

You spoke the truth, “No matter what people tell you and reveal,

words and ideas can change the world.”


Rest in peace Robin Williams and God bless your soul!

6 Paradoxes of a Leader


Paradoxes can be funny like when comedian John Stewart said, “Religion. It’s given people hope in a world torn up by religion” or when Yogi Berra said, “Nobody comes here anymore. It’s too crowded.”

Paradoxes can be funny but they can also be very important in framing an effective leadership strategy. Soren Kierkegaard talked about the huge impact paradoxes can have in our thinking when he wrote, “One must not think slightingly of the paradoxical…for the paradox is the source of the thinker’s passion, and the thinker without a paradox is like a lover without feeling: a paltry mediocrity.” 

I love what Danish Physicist and Nobel Prize winner Niels Bohr stated about how things begin to move forward when a paradox shows up, “How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress.” 

Jesus was the ultimate paradoxical leader and turned the religious institutions of his day upside down when he stated “…that a grain of wheat that falls on the ground will never be more than one grain unless it dies. But if it dies, it will produce lots of wheat. If you love your life, you will lose it. If you give it up in this world, you will be given eternal life. If you serve me, you must go with me. My servants will be with me wherever I am. If you serve me, my Father will honor you.” John 12:24-26

Lots of paradoxical statements in those three verses!

To be a paradoxical leader you have to learn to embrace the subordinating conjunction “while”. “While” means 1) at or during same time: at or during the same time that  2) even though: in spite of the fact that.

Here are six paradoxes that every effective leader must face. The question is, how do you live out the “while”?

PARADOX #1 You must be building and recruiting and investing in leaders and getting out of the way, WHILE still being in the trenches.

PARADOX #2 You must be the inspiration, positive, optimistic voice for your team, WHILE making sure you take care of yourself when you are discouraged or drained.

PARADOX #3 You must invest in other people’s gifts and talents, helping to bring out the best in them, WHILE making sure you are growing and stretching and getting better at your gifts and talents.

PARADOX #4 You must do something for a long period of time (consistency) in order to grow an organization that has deep roots, an enduring vision and a sustainable future, WHILE making sure you try new things that allow you to get out of your comfort zone and to experience other passions in your life.

PARADOX #5 You must be a big picture, structure building, org-chart expanding leader, WHILE remembering that the most important part of your life is about close friendships, family and a personal faith.

PARADOX #6 You must never get too high or too low, knowing that leading is a long journey, and that it’s not a sprint but a marathon, WHILE remembering that every moment counts and every encounter is sacred and all you have is the present.

Would love to hear how you live out these paradoxes and what it looks like in your life or organization.

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”
― Carl R. Rogers

The World’s Most Powerful Weapon

“Society is culpable in not providing a free education for all and it must answer for the night which it produces.  If the soul is left in darkness sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.”  ―Victor Hugo

30 million African kids are missing primary school because of conflict and poverty, according to UNICEF, though they say the numbers are probably a lot higher.


As West and Central Africa struggle with extreme poverty and civil wars, according to Sarah DiLorenzo of the Associated Press, Burkina Faso has made extremely good progress of getting kids into school and keeping them enrolled. http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/30-million-african-kids-missing-primary-school-24175665#.U6CNZLbIiXU.twitter

I can testify to the truth of Burkina Faso’s progress first hand, having visited many schools and Compassion International projects where sponsored children are not only guaranteed an education but also mentored and additionally educated through their local Compassion project.

When you go on a Compassion trip to see the impact of sponsorship, people usually want to observe and interact with the very young children, because of their energy and innocence, but I would recommend you take the time to visit and interact with the older children who have been in the program for years.


Just recently I was in Burkina Faso and got to spend an afternoon with sponsored children from the ages of 13 to 18. It was very inspiring. You could see the impact education has had on them.

These students have such an advantage when it comes to navigating the world of jobs, careers and providing for themselves and their families and ultimately breaking the cycle of extreme poverty.

I love that Compassion has every sponsored child put together a career path which includes an education plan that will compliment and enhance their future vocation.

As we sat in classrooms, we asked students what they wanted to do as a career and every student had a plan. Doctor, nurse, teacher, policeman or woman, lawyer, farmer, business person, veterinarian, pastor were just some of the occupations these children from very extreme poverty backgrounds were shouting out to us.

What sent chills down my spine as the students were sharing was, because of Compassion, these students know Jesus and so as they lift themselves and their families and communities out of physical poverty, they will also be the influencers to introduce their communities to God’s grace.

Because they know the teachings of Christ, they won’t bury their talents, but will offer their education and their blessings to those around them, especially “the least of these.”

My wife and I have three sponsored children from Burkina Faso. Larissa, Lionel and Issouf.


Larissa, 13,  looks like a beauty queen, but wants to be a police woman. Don’t mess with her!

Lionel, 15,  is an amazing soccer player, but has cut back on his play to focus on his studies as he wants to go to medical school.

Issouf, 15, who is the oldest in his family, has decided to stay in school to become a policeman, when it would be very easy for him to drop out to get a job right now to support his single mom.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”  Nelson Mandela

Compassion’s impact and effectiveness is staggering.

Independent studies have found that sponsored children were up to 40% more likely to finish secondary school than non-sponsored children, they were up to 80% more likely to complete a university education than non-sponsored children, they were up to 75% more likely to become community leaders as adults than non-sponsored children and they were up to 70% more likely to become church leaders as adults than non-sponsored children. http://www.compassion.com/news-releases/first-ever-independent-study-on-child-sponsorship-finds-strong-impacts-from-compassion-internationals-program.htm

I’ve been to Burkina Faso three times now and I see how those statistics are true, but I also know that spiritual, physical, emotional, social and academic education doesn’t just accidentally happen. It happens INTENTIONALLY, and that is what Compassion International is deeply committed to and that is why I am deeply committed to them! http://www.compassion.com/

Photos by Kenneth Jordan http://www.kennethjordanphotography.com/#!theland/c1q5b