November 2010


I went up to Tennessee to visit with my family over the Thanksgiving weekend.  During the six-hour drive each way, I had plenty of time to think (when I wasn’t distracted by a whining two year-old).  We hear so much about what is going wrong these days.  There’s the recession, partisan politics, ongoing wars and potential new ones, the list goes on. 

While I was thinking about our problems, I was also thinking about my plans for traveling to Nicaragua and what I can do to help address some of their problems.  It was appropriate that I was doing all of this thinking on Thanksgiving weekend because we really do have so much for which to be thankful.  When you think about it, discouragement often stems from the things we should be thankful for.

If your family discourages you, first, be thankful that you have a family to discourage you.  Many people in the world have no family.  Secondly, be thankful that you care enough about them to be concerned about their wellbeing and how they treat you.

If your job discourages you, be thankful that you have one.  Even if you don’t have a job, be thankful that we live in a society where employment is still relatively easy to find.  I know this sounds counterintuitive with our current economic condition and 10% unemployment, but approximately two-thirds of the world would be blown away by your opportunities and comparative lavish living conditions even if you haven’t worked in two years.

If flight delays discourage you, be thankful that we live in era where you can step onto a metal cylinder, fly seven miles above the earth at 600 miles per hour, and safely end up halfway across the country in a couple of hours.

If politics discourage you, be thankful that you live in a country where you can speak your opinion and elect officials to govern us.  I know people get cynical about this, but do some research.  See what is going on in other nations.  We have much to be thankful for. 

Finally, if life in general discourages you, you can be thankful that you won’t be here forever.  I know it sounds morbid, but that is one of the things that I am most deeply thankful for.  I believe that we have much greater things in store for us and if we could maintain a little perspective, then we would realize that these frustrations really aren’t that bad.

 

My entire family has been a little under the weather for the past several days.  I woke up Saturday morning with what felt like a five-pound slug swimming through my sinus cavity so Sara suggested that I use her Neti Pot. 

For those of you who don’t know what it is, a Neti Pot looks something one of my kids would use to play tea party.  It’s this tiny little baby blue plastic kettle that you fill with saline solution.  What you do with it; however, is terrifying.  You tilt your head and stick the kettle up one of your nostrils allowing the solution to fill up your sinus cavity and run out the other nostril, flushing your sinuses in the process.

Insane.

Everyone who uses these things swears that they work amazingly, so I thought I would try it.  I inserted the kettle spout into my right nostril, tilted my head, and prayed.  At first, nothing happened.  Apparently, I was experiencing so much congestion that the saline solution had to build up enough hydrostatic pressure to break through. 

When the dam finally broke, I got a little trickle coming out of my left nostril while the rest of the solution poured out of my mouth.  This is not what the diagram on the box depicted.  It shows a smiling man joyfully opening up his sinuses while pouring a kettle of water through his head!

I felt like I just snorted up the Pacific Ocean and it was coming out of every hole in my head.  There were even streams of water coming out of my eyes, but that was probably because I was crying by that point.

I finally got the hang of it and learned that the Neti Pot actually works quite well.  After a few uses, I’ve become quite the pro at pouring kettles of warm saline solution through my head; however, it still just seems wrong. 

My faithful readers are probably trying to figure out what my moral is this week.  Sorry, I don’t have one.  You thought that my congestion would be some sort of clever metaphor, but it’s not.

Get it?

Sara and I were sitting in our living room watching television last week when we heard something scurrying around in the ceiling.  I muted the TV and started listening.  We could hear the scampering of clawed feet and what sounded like a marble rolling around.  The ceiling of our living room is also the floor of the guest bedroom on the second story, so I went up there and listened.  The noise went on for about fifteen minutes then stopped.

The next night, we heard the same thing – quick little feet, long claws, and the marble noise.  At first, I assumed it was a mouse, but from the sound of the feet, I knew it had to be something bigger.  Sara was getting squeamish, so I went up into the attic to see if I could spot anything.  At this point, I was thinking it might be a squirrel and I was hoping that I wouldn’t pull a Clark Griswold if it went on the offensive.

There have been several rabies cases in our area, so I was cautious.  Armed with a flashlight a plastic grocery bag, I started looking around.  While I didn’t see any mammals, I did see a few acorns laying on a joist near the framing around the chimney.  That solved the “marble” mystery.  I decided to set some mousetraps, hoping we were dealing with mice and not something bigger.

The next day, I went up to check the four traps I set the night before.  The first two I checked were missing.  I couldn’t help but think that I was about to crawl up on an irate, rabid raccoon foaming at the mouth with mouse traps dangling from its feet and tail.  I wished I had double-bagged my grocery sacks.

The third trap revealed the culprit – a chipmunk.  It was such a relief finally to know what I was facing.  I continued to set the traps and caught one chipmunk per night for three nights.  That seems to be the end of the chipmunks, which makes sense because they always travel in threes (Alvin, Simon, Theodore).  Before any of you write me about how evil I am for killing chipmunks, we are surrounded by woods and if I used a live trap, they just would have come right back.  Besides, did you see any of the Chipmunks movies?  They had it coming.

I’m glad that we got rid of culprits of our home invasion, but the most relief actually came when I saw my enemy and knew what I was dealing with.  Sometimes, the fear of the unknown prevents us from ever taking the necessary steps face our enemy.  That’s too bad because an enemy that we refuse to confront will always win.

I’ve decided to jump back into the ring.  Beginning in December, I will be working for a large logistics and distribution company.  Those of you who have my book might be wondering why I would do such a thing… there are a few reasons.

First, this company does not seem to have the same political atmosphere that I grew weary of at my former employer.  Second, and most importantly, my focus has changed since I had the opportunity to write a book that discusses the true meaning of success.  I once thought of my career as a means to wealth and power.  I now view it as tool to help me use my time and talents to improve the lives of others by meeting their needs and providing leadership.

I am still planning my trip to Nicaragua.  I hope to come back from that trip with a strategy for getting others involved by using their time, talents, and treasure helping those who are in desperate need.  For a while, I was contemplating focusing my efforts on Nicaragua and other mission fields on a full-time basis.  I wasn’t exactly sure what that would look like, but I felt drawn to the people of Nicaragua.

When this career opportunity came up, I was afraid it would interfere with my ability to serve those in need but I soon realized that it could actually be a platform, allowing me to influence others positively.  I believe my mission is to help others find their mission.  In doing so, I can multiply my efforts by effectively leading others to serve and find fulfillment in their work.

Of course, this will be a challenge… especially in the first few months.  I still have one more semester before I complete my MBA.  A demanding career, rigorous coursework, and a young family will be difficult to balance, but I feel this is where I need to be right now.  I’ll keep writing and (hopefully) will be able to find the time keep my postings up to date.  I think this blog is a good way for me to ensure that I continue to keep my focus on others rather than my own advancement.

 

Our first ever Halloween party took place last Saturday.  After Olivia’s soccer game, we spent the morning cleaning and decorating.  Our house has a lot of porch space where we planned to set up the food and house the adults.  My first duty of the day was to spend about an hour with the broom removing all of the real spider webs so Sara could put up fake ones… ironic.  It reminds me of a time when we were in Nebraska; I was out picking up sticks from a willow tree in the backyard and Sara came out to tell me she was going to Hobby Lobby to buy some willow branches for decorating.  I just held the sticks up and she said, “Oh.”

We had about a dozen five year-old girls and one big brother.  I felt sorry for the guy, but he was a good sport.  They started with a treasure hunt in our yard.  This primarily consisted of running and screaming for about fifteen minutes.  My ears are still ringing.

 

After a few more games and some snacks, Sara cut into the cake.  More sugar.  After a round of insulin shots, we put up the Halloween piñata.  Now we have five year-olds loaded on sugar swinging a bat in an attempt to get more candy.  Halloween really is scary!

I hung the piñata on the swing set and, as most piñatas do, the string holding it up broke and the piñata fell to the ground unbroken after a few swings.  When it hit the ground, the melee began.  I never knew five year-olds in princess costumes could possess such a capacity for violence. 

Sara suggested that I hold the piñata while they took turns striking it with the bat… easy for her to say.  I stood there with the piñata at arm’s length looking into the ravenous, sugar-buzzed eyes of the girls.  They looked like vampires at a blood drive.  I’ve watched enough of America’s Funniest Home Videos to know where this was going.  As I held the piñata, I looked at Sara as if to say, “We’re really going to do this?” but she wouldn’t make eye contact.

I kept hearing a cheesy Bob Saget voice-over in my head, but the girls were surprisingly accurate and I didn’t suffer any injuries.  When candy finally came out of the piñata, it was as if someone dumped a chum bucket in a shark tank.  I was standing in the middle of it almost lost my toes to Ariel and Snow White.

In all honesty, there really wasn’t that much chaos.  The girls all played together well and we had a beautiful day, so they were outside most of the day.  I guess I should just feel fortunate that I don’t have to deal with boy/girl parties yet.

Here are some pictures of our Halloween costumes as a bonus.  I don’t remember Fred being so… flamboyant.